“I have heard so many stories about me now, but I don’t know which one is the most popular, but I do know which is the least popular: the truth.”
~ Hannah Baker, EP 1.
When I started watching this drama, I didn’t know what to expect. I was like a detective trying to piece out the clue at each episode as to “what went wrong”? I wrote down different quotes from different characters to realize the entire drama can be summarized around this word: “Truth.”
The plot of the drama described how Hannah reviewed how her life gets to where she was to take her own life. As I watched through each episode, I also noticed “truth” also is related to each character as to how they see themselves, others, and Bryce’s sexual assault behaviors.
Each one of us has a relationship with oneself and to other people. None of us is perfect in any way. In our daily life, we strive to do our best we can to get through each moment. However, most of the people, including myself, have a difficult time to either face the truth about themselves or others.
The characters in this drama also experienced these difficulties. I conceptualized these characters and the plot into this figure. For the description of this show and each character, please check their website.
In this drama, there are 14 main characters, including Hannah, that have contributed to Hannah’s suicide. Based on their primary reaction towards Hannah’s suicide and Bryce’s sexual assault, I identified them into four main categories. Some people can face the truth of themselves (such as Clay, Hannah, Alex, Tony, and Sheri). Some people cannot face who they are (such as Courtney, Marcus, etc.). Some people cannot face who they are and refuse to see other people’s behaviors, too (such as Justin and Jessica).
By all means, this is not a perfect categorization, and some of the characters’ changes/reactions can put them into two different categories. To describe the relationship between a person’s level of truthfulness to him/herself and others, I tried to put each character into a clear category.
Also, before I go on to talk about each category here, I want to clarify the definition of “truth” first.
“Clay: But she’s not telling the truth about the way things happened.
Tony: She’s telling her truth.
Clay: Why do you always act like you know?
Tony: Because I do. From the tapes, I know her truth.
Clay: So, why do you have to be here, knowing? ‘
Tony: Cause I don’t know what your truth is. And I don’t know what’s gonna happen when you find out hers.”
~ Clay & Tony, EP 11
As some of the characters in the drama doubting Hannah’s truth, you might wonder, what’s right and how is truth related to the depression, suicide, and rape?
Here are two things to clarify:
1. Truth is not about right or wrong. It’s Hannah’s truth of her experience. It may not be Clay’s truth. Just because it’s not Clay’s truth doesn’t make Hannah’s wrong or right.
2. The way I use truth here is its relationship to oneself. That is, can I see who I am? Can I accept who I am? Can I see my true self? Can I see who the other person truly is? It has nothing to do with judging a person being a better or worse person than anyone else.
In the next few entries, I will focus on five issues based on each character’s acceptance of his/her true self, and the truth about rape. At the end of each entry, I will offer some activities for you to evaluate your relationship with yourself.
I hope that you find the activities I offered helpfully. During this process, I hope you can take these activities as a way to work on yourself. These activities are to help you get in touch with your true self more. It will be helpful to keep a journal to reflect on yourself. Some of the activities might be related to your relationship with others. However, these activities are for you, not others. It is to help you know your truth, not others. Please focus on yourself instead of trying to change other people.
If you are willing to share your reflection about yourself via these activities, I want to hear from you. If you are willing to share with us how you overcome your issues, please share with us. My sincere hope is that we will be able to build a community to support another Hannah Baker.
Friendly Reminder (Again)
If I have learned something about being a therapist, that is: no one is perfect, and there is no therapist or a friend can be your savior. You have to be your savior no matter what happened. I tell my clients all the time: “If I am not a good match for you as a therapist, by all means, please fire me and go find someone else. At the end of the day, your life is much more important than my feelings.”
Please remember: “YOU ARE IMPORTANT” and don’t let anyone decide whether you are going to seek help or not. If you are in a difficult spot in your life right now, please continue to seek help no matter how many people you have to talk to find that person who can help you.
Here is the link to the original novel of “13 reasons why”
Here is the link to the Netflix drama of “13 reasons why”
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network hotline 800-656-4673
National Suicide Prevention Hotline hotline 1-800-273-8255
From Fiction to Reality: “13 Reasons Why” Series Articles: