“And, yeah, I’m a fucking weak, pathetic loser who ruined the one good thing that I ever had because I wanted a rapist to think I was just like him.”
~ Alex Standall, EP12
Some people have a difficult time to face him/herself, but they are courageous enough to face their true self. To face one’s true feelings, real thoughts, true behaviors, and real reactions from other people are not easy. It brings you extremely painful reactions such as shame, guilt, disappointment, hopeless, etc., and possibly rejection to oneself.
When a person faces his/her real self and starts to judge him/herself, it might bring out many negative thoughts and feelings. These judgments about oneself tie to our concerns of other people’s opinion about ourselves. There is nothing wrong to care about other people’s opinion. Human beings are social beings. We crave a sense of belonging to live in the society. To belong, naturally, we care about how other people see us or judge us.
When the other people’s judgment on us becomes how we judge ourselves and when that becomes our standards to evaluate ourselves, we are running into the danger to feel disappointment, anger, guilt, and shame about ourselves and these feelings often leads to helplessness and hopelessness.
“I’m not talking the garden variety lonely in a crowd lonely. That’s everyone, every day. And it’s not that “when will I find love” kind of lonely. Or that “the popular kids are mean to me” kind of lonely. The popular kids are always mean. That’s how they get popular. I know. Ironic.The kind of lonely I’m talking about is when you feel you’ve got nothing left. Nothing and no one. Like you’re drowning and no one will throw you a line.”
~Hannah Baker, Episode 6
“See, I never told you, Clay, but I’ve always admired you. You are who you are, and you don’t care. And I always cared what other people thought of me, as much as I acted like I didn’t.”
Hannah Baker, EP 12
So, Hannah’s judgment about herself leads to her depression, and helplessness and eventually leads to suicide. I don’t blame Hannah’s circumstances all on her. It is clear that she has suffered a lot of bully, rejection, and hurt. What I do want to point out is her self-judgment also adds to her sense of guilt, shamed and helplessness. For example, in the episode where she witnessed Jessica’s rape and the episode where Sheri runs away from the car accident, it is clear she blames herself tremendously. Combined with the bully and rejection she suffers, as Tony said: “everyone in this tape let her down.” (Ep 10).
“There is so much wrong in the world. There is so much hurt. I couldn’t take it knowing I made it worse. And I couldn’t take it knowing it would never get any better.”
~ Hannah Baker, EP10
“It seems no matter what I did, I kept letting people down.”
~ Hannah Baker, EP 12
Clay’s judgment about himself leads to the guilt, fear, and anxiety. Sheri’s self-judgment about herself leads to shame and lies. Alex judgment about himself leads him to feel guilty and disgusted with himself and drives him to suicide himself, a very similar path Hannah takes.
Facing one’s true self is courageous. It is a painful process. If you have gone through the exercise from the previous two entries, you have known how difficult it is to face your fear, hurt, and anger. Judging oneself after seeing one’s true self can push you towards depression, hopelessness, guilt, shame, etc..
“Life is unpredictable, and control is just an illusion. And sometimes all that unpredictability is overwhelming.”
~ Hannah Baker, EP 12
The truth is that none of us is perfect and none of us can be perfect. We are human beings who make mistakes all the time. Also, things happened in life, and there is no way we can control life no matter how hard we try. If the process of learning about yourself is also the process to judge yourself, it is understandable why some people try to avoid this painful process by either lie to oneself (like Justin, Jessica, and Tyler) or lie to others (such as Courtney and people who try to uphold their images by sabotaging other people).
There is this common sentence we say to our clients as a mental health professional: “Suicide is a permanent solution to the temporary problem.” These emotions, guilt, shame, helpless, depressions are part of ourselves. When we identified these emotions as who we are as a person, that’s a dangerous zone and often push us to believe “nothing can be done to end these feelings.”
(Reflection Exercise to be continued.)
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
13 Reasons Why series articles