Before I begin let me get some things out of the way. I am NOT a counsellor. I’m not even the parent of a teenager, my kids are 9 and 6. So I don’t even know what it’s like to parent a teenager. However, I do volunteer with teens. And, maybe more importantly, I was a teenager that battled mental illness. Undiagnosed clinical depression, complete with suicidal thoughts. Maybe that qualifies me to write this, maybe not. But after watching 13 Reasons Why I believe that my insight may help someone and that’s enough for me. FYI – SPOILER ALERT. If you haven’t watched the show and don’t want to know what happens because you plan on watching it. Wait until after to read this.
I’ve heard talk that 13 Reasons Why glamorized suicide. That it portrays suicide as a viable option. After watching it and digesting everything I can understand that maybe someone watching this show would see how Hannah Baker was brought justice through her tapes. This is rarely the case with suicide. Maybe in real life that could have happened, but let’s be honest, it just wouldn’t happen that way. You know what would have brought her justice? Talking. Reaching out. I know, I know, she tried. I get that. I don’t blame the counsellor. He had just been told that she had been raped and that she didn’t want to do anything about it. I went through a situation in high school where this guy would wait for me outside my class to grab me in private places or hurl sexual innuendo or insults at me. It was awful. I felt dirty and violated. What was worse? I couldn’t get away because I had to go down that hall to get to my class. Finally, one day my teacher noticed that I came into class upset about yet another encounter and sent me to talk to the VP. I got much the same answer. If I didn’t want to face him, and I was terrified to, then I had to find my way around him. Now, my VP also said other girls had the same problem and offered a solution. We could write anonymous letters to the guy and he would give them to him. I was afraid but I did it. Shortly after, it stopped. Thank God, it stopped.
What I’m trying to get to is the point that I opened up about it. I didn’t want to but I did. I find that this series didn’t do enough to provide help in the form of the faculty of the school. Hannah Baker was visibly upset and not one teacher suggested an option to help her out, other than to move on. Move on, yes. But do so with the proper help that only someone who is trained for those situations can provide. There are rape counsellors, grief counsellors, support groups. There are SO MANY options out there. Now, there are even places online that people can go to talk to others about their feelings anonymously. Reach out. Those resources are there for a reason.
Leaving something for after your death may change some things and it may not. You may “teach someone a lesson” or you may not. Keeping quiet and then committing suicide doesn’t really teach people a lesson though. You know what will? Talking about it. Maybe right after the trauma you don’t want to think about what happened but through proper help you can begin to process it. Maybe you will never press charges, maybe you will gain the strength you need to put that person in jail. Trust me. You aren’t alone, you aren’t the only one. Like the show correctly did with Bryce- Hannah was not the only girl he raped. In the show it happened to Jessica too. But I’m sure there were many, many others. It just takes one person to stand up for those girls. Maybe it isn’t you, but someone will. I have never been raped, thank God. But when I was 12, my grandpa’s best friend touched me inappropriately and tried to shove his tongue in my mouth. I felt dirty. I felt violated. It has affected me for the rest of my life. I told my mom and do you know what her response was? Just stay from him. A brush off. Like it was my fault. I don’t blame her, that’s what she had done and other women in my family had done. That was their answer to it. Finally after months of him coming up and putting his arm around me and many attempts to hug me he asked if I hated him. I looked him right in the face and said “yes, yes I do” and walked away. Years later, like when I was 28, in counselling I was finally able to process what happened to me. By talking to someone. A professional. I was finally able to begin the healing process. That’s what counselling does for you.
One of the things that really stuck out to me was the way that medication was portrayed. Clay’s mom practically forces an old type of med he was on a few years earlier. She was so pushy that it made me just really dislike her. It was such a bad representation on something that can really help. Let me put it this way. When you have a cold, do you take medicine for it? Of course! You want to feel better. Would you tell a diabetic not to take insulin? Of course not! They need it to live. There is absolutely no shame in needing to take medication. The problem with depression is that you already feel like a failure and the fact that you can’t handle your emotions? Well, that’s just icing on the cake. It’s hard to admit you need help. But would someone with heart problems throw away their medication? No. And people shouldn’t feel that way about antidepressants either.
I know that being a teenager is hard. I remember. I know it can be isolating and it can seem like no one understands you. And your parents? They’re overbearing or over protective and ask all these stupid questions. Or maybe they don’t ask the right ones, the ones you really need to be asked. They pry too much. They can possibly understand, right?
That may be the case, but consider this. That stubborn streak, that fiery temper, that ability to shoulder so much and still be strong – where do you think that came from? Where do you think you get it from? Because let me tell you something. We may have mellowed out with age, or learned to tame our emotions, but we haven’t always been this way. You didn’t just get your looks from your parents. You didn’t just get your moms smile or your dads’ forehead. Your genetics involve your personality too.
Sure, you’re just a bit different. That makes you, you. Don’t think, for one second, that you’re alone though. Don’t ever think that. Even if your mom doesn’t understand, or you don’t want to talk to her. Even if your dad couldn’t possibly know what it’s like. I’m begging you, try. Try talking to them. You see what we are now. Not what we were then. We tell you the “good stuff” in the hopes that you’ll never experience the bad stuff. But if you truly feel you can’t talk to your parents try that fun uncle or that awesome aunt. Maybe you have a cool older cousin. Reach out! There are people out there who love you and only want to help.
I really hated how self-harm was depicted. Like it was a viable alternative to suicide. Even preferred because suicide was for “pussies”. Harm in any way, whether suicide or self-harm, isn’t okay. I have never self-harmed so I don’t know much about it and unfortunately don’t have much more to offer. I just really didn’t like how it seemed “okay”.
One of the things I think the show did right was Tony’s character. Him being there for Clay through everything. I especially like how when Clay was talking about people not knowing what was going on in Hannah’s life he quipped “You don’t know what goes on in Skye’s life”. Be kind, always. Another thing I liked was how at the end of tape 12 Hannah had changed a bit. She wanted to give it one more change. THAT is the power of getting that emotion out. Sure, it was on tape, but she had started the healing process. A doctor or counsellor could have helped her further process what had happened to her and ultimately heal from it.
I don’t think that Clay wasn’t supposed to be on Hannah’s list. I think she knew that deep down he would do what needed to be done with those tapes. She knew he wouldn’t pass them onto Bryce but instead to Mr. Porter. It was really upsetting to me that he thought he killed her because he was afraid to tell her he loved her. That’s just sad. Incredibly, incredibly sad. Maybe even selfish on her part. But that’s what it like when battling depression. When you isolate yourself, like Hannah had done, you want any kind of positive interactions and you can go so much deeper into depression when that doesn’t happen. I don’t blame Hannah, or Clay. It’s a very sad situation where the help that was needed just wasn’t there.
So at the end of it all I guess what I have to say this. Suicide doesn’t teach anyone anything. Life is hard and being in high school can suck. Those moments when you’re feeling so lonely in a crowded room – tell someone about those. Open up. I think perhaps Hannah could have talked more to her friend Kat. I mean, where did that girl go? If you feel like you just can’t be happy, make a doctors’ appointment. There is help out there. Maybe it’s not a big deal, but maybe it is. Why would you take that chance?
Please share this. Maybe it could help someone.
There are times when isolation is almost deafening. It surrounds me in the middle of a room full of people. My thoughts are like a cage that keep me captive and away from everyone. I feel raw and beaten. Mostly by my own mind. These are the moments when I wonder if I will ever be myself again. These are the moments that can happen at any time, even on the great days. This is my depression in its truest form.
I read somewhere that if someone has three bad moments happen to them in one day, it will wreck their day. Sometimes I only need to have one thing that I've done wrong and that will be end of my day. I'm not writing this in search of pity. I'm not looking for attention and, before you ask, I'm doing just fine, thankyouverymuch. I don't need to be committed. I just need to get the point across that depression, chronic depression like mine, doesn't just go away. In the midst of great things, there are still niggling emotions that can overpower and eclipse everything.
So then, what do I do? I put a smile on my face... no, I don't. That's just a boldfaced lie. I go about what I'm doing quietly. I keep my conversation with God going. I put one foot in front of the other and pray. I pray about all things that are going great and I pray about the things that are dragging me down. I recite bible verses that bring me comfort. I rest in the arms of Jesus and know that he is there. I persevere and continue on so that when I see someone else battling their way through I can use my own experience to help lift them up. To make them aware that in the midst of their isolation someone knows and is waiting with them to get through to a better mindset.
I found John 18 to be the chapter that, so far, has given me the most to think about. I mean, it's all about Jesus getting arrested and as a follower of Jesus this is the pivotal part of the New Testament. This is the beginning. This is where the climax of His story starts to move. We hear of the denial by Peter three times that is predicted by Jesus. We read about Jesus being questioned by the High Priest. Lastly, we learn about Jesus' conversation with Pontius Pilate. This is the chapter that marks... I want to say the beginning of the end... but we know there's no end. So I guess it should be... the beginning of the beginning? I'm not sure. All I know is that in my heart, this chapter moved me.
It moved me to dig deeper. To study things I didn't look at before. It moved me read and re-read passages. To look at word definitions. To recall, ponder and process conversations. First he is taken to the High Priest. When Jesus is questioned about his teachings he answers plainly. I've done everything out in the open. There were no secrets (paraphrase). He healed people. He taught about God. The real God, not the lies and the laws that the "Leaders" were following. He spoke of the Father. In the temple, right under the noses of the Leaders.
The whole interaction with Pilate and his reactions though, that's what really got to me. When Jesus is brought before Pilate, the governor of Jerusalem, he asks the leaders why he should charge him when they can charge him by their own laws. Why should he be involved? Jerusalem at the time had been conquered and was run by the Roman empire. Hence, a Roman governor to settle disputes. The leaders make it clear that they want Jesus executed. They want to get rid of him. Take him out of the picture completely and wipe their hands of him and his followers. Get rid of the leader and wipe out the followers, right? Wrong!
So Pilate goes back inside the palace and summons Jesus to speak with him privately. This is where I perked up and really started to pour over the scripture and study. To me it seems that Pilate really doesn't want anything to do with this whole situation. He questions Jesus a bit, then goes out and basically tells the leaders, there is no reason to charge Jesus. Here is the actual scripture:
Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”
“Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”
Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
“What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him.
John 18: 33-38
The thing that really grabbed my attention is when Pilate says "What is truth?". So many of us wonder the same things. When I was wandering around as a very proud atheist the truth is what I was searching for. Maybe Pilate is searching for that to? Maybe he has seen and done so much, like so many of us have, that he feels there are no chances left for him. Maybe he's looking at this man, who had performed miracles, waiting for him to perform a miracle on him. On his heart. The search for truth can have such a compelling impact on us. On our inner beings. On our hearts. I pray so often that my loved ones who don't know Jesus have the eyes of their hearts opened. I want them to see things like I see them. I want them to know what I know and hope what I hope.
So... what is truth? The Miriam-Webster dictionary defines it as- real facts about something; a quality or state of being true; a statement of idea accepted as true. I looked further into it and defined the word true- in accordance with fact or reality; accurate or exact; steadfast, loyal and honest. The truth is a statement that accepted as fact or reality.
I don't think that Pilate really wanted that question to remain rhetorical. I think maybe he did want an answer. But he was part of God's ultimate rescue plan for His people. He was being used by God to carry out the ultimate sacrifice. I believe that Pilate gets a bad rap because of what happened. I don't think that he deserves it. I think that he was in a bad position. He had been brought something that he ultimately didn't agree with but had to complete as a result of his place in the Roman empire. I don't hate Pilate. I almost pity him. There are so many of us that ask what truth is all the time. Here is a man that had the Truth brought right in front of him.
Things get even more interesting in John 19. I have spent a lot of time there this week. What started as a 21 Day Challenge has broadened into so much more. It has helped me to remember things when I'm upset. I have started reading Isaiah and Psalms at night and hope to continue writing posts on those books. I have to admit that I didn't think this would happen when I started this challenge. I've read John a few times. This time though, I am studying it... and I am loving every second.
How is the challenge going for you?
What do you think "truth" is?
I have to admit that the last couple of days I haven't read the morning scripture. I have stopped at John 19. Not because I don't want to read anymore, because I hit a part in John that has me pondering for a couple days. I have read and re-read a part of John 19 a few times and recalled it many times to go over it. That is a couple posts away and I will go more in depth into what I read and why I have been reflecting on it so much. I can't believe that I'm over 2 weeks into this challenge and how it has shaped me. When I started I was reading and finding interesting things that reflected how I feel about present circumstances. While this still happens I actually find myself studying parts of the scripture. Today is about John 17, let's dive in.
John 17 is amazing in so many ways. First and foremost on my list is that this chapter is composed of prayer. This whole chapter is one big prayer from Jesus to God. Let me tell you right now that I don't know if I have ever prayed the way that Jesus prayed. My prayer life is pretty standard. Thanks for the day, please help in different things, amen. Those are my prayers in a nutshell. Throughout the day I will send short prayers that are maybe a sentence long of blessings, thanks or aid in situations as they arise. I find most often when I'm dealing with my kids it goes something like this "Please God, give me patience." I pray for patience a lot. What are your prayers like? Let's take the a few minutes to look at how my (maybe our?) prayers are different from Jesus'.
The first thing I noticed about Jesus' prayer is that his whole object is to bring glory to God. He wants God to be glorified through his actions. While I often thank God for the day and the many blessings he has given me, I rarely ask that my actions glorify Him. I don't often come full circle and bring everything back to God. I hope that my actions glorify God, but I don't often ask that what I'm about to do will bring glory to Him. For instance, this year (2016) has been financially very stressful and strained for us. First we fixed our van not once, but twice within a short period of time. After that, within the next couple of weeks (on the coldest day in January) our furnace stopped working so we had to replace it. That pretty used all the savings and more we had set aside to go to Cuba. Bummer! This summer our septic system backed up into our basement bedroom. We needed a whole new septic bed so we had to do that. Our bed is still set up in the guest room and I have a table, not a dresser to store my clothes on. All of this culminated in our signing of a Consumer Proposal. Basically baby bankruptcy. Yet when people ask me how I got through it all my answer was very simple. He knows the plans He's made for me, I just have to trust Him. Sometimes that isn't so easy. This week I'm not sure that we're going to have enough money to put gas in our cars so that we can go to work. I have begun incorporating more of Gods word into my prayers. My more recent ones go something like this:
God, I know you are good and I know you will take care of me. Just like you took care of your
people while they were in the desert and how you make sure that all the animals and plants
have what they need, you will make sure I have what I need too. This week, Lord, our funds are
super low. Please help us get through this Lord. A gas card would be great. In Jesus' name, Amen.
I have an assurance that God will provide for us, it's right in the bible. I just have to trust.
The second part of Jesus' prayer is for his disciples. He doesn't pray for the world because he knows that the world doesn't understand him. He also knows what's going to happen next and how much these people will need to rely on God. He prays for their unity together, with God. According to my Google search on unity here is the definition of unity - a state of being united or joined as a whole. To further that I looked up united - in harmony or agreed. Therefore unity means a stated of being in harmony. A state of working well together because you agree. Unity is important in the bible because God wants us to have a united front. If His people have a problem holding together of course they're going to be called hypocrites. We need to put ourselves aside, and let God be shown. Easier said that done. That's where the Holy Spirit comes in. Maybe you refer to it as a conscience? He directs you down the right path.
The concept of unity comes back again in the final section of Jesus' prayer. As he is prayer for all believers, that includes you and me, he prayers for unity. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one-- I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me (v. 22-23). It's not just a passing phase, it's a way of life. To live in unity with others. It's hard, I know. Trust me, I know. Perhaps the first step is to pick up the phone and apologize to someone. Maybe it's going to see that family member that really upset you or vice versa. After all, how are we supposed to show unity when we have conflict in our own lives? If you are convicted to give someone a call or go see them, do it. Put your pride aside and listen to the Holy Spirit. He is guiding you down the path where your actions will glorify God in so many ways.
I feel as though I should make a disclaimer right off the hop here. I have fallen behind in writing posts to match up with the daily readings. However! I am still completing the daily readings. The time change has certainly helped because it's not dark at 7am anymore so I get up a lot easier. So while I'm not keeping up with this part of the challenge I do make a point to complete the readings before I leave for work in the morning. I can truthfully say that it has helped me stay grounded and close to God throughout the day. Here's a great example.
On Saturday I got pulled over by a police officer. What makes it weird for me is that I wasn't speeding and I was obeying all the laws of the road. I actually thought it was a joke (I have a joker cousin who is an officer) and when he pulled in behind me I thought perhaps something terrible had happened and this was the only way I could be reached. Don't laugh. It happens. Anyway, long story short (too late) my license had expired. I had no idea. None. Zip. Zilch. Nadda. Imagine my chagrin when this lovely officer handed me a ticket... for $325. Ugh!! While he had been writing the ticket I used the opportunity to explain to my children that even though I didn't realize my license was expired it was my responsibility to keep my ID's up to date. We have been trying to teach them responsibility for a long time and this was a great object lesson. When he handed me the ticket I didn't get angry (I was still in shock) and I didn't say anything rude. Perhaps I made a comment about a $325 ticket right before Christmas. I mean, come on! That's a huge slice of the pie of our income. So the officer started telling me about Option 2 (guilty but hoping for a lesser fine). From the backseat we hear a very exasperated "UGGHHH!!! We're NEVER going to get home!!!" My son, who's 6. I turned and assured him it wouldn't be much longer then turned back to the officer and muttered a "Sorry about that". Looking back I'm glad I was able to model my walk with Jesus in that situation. Afterwards, well, I'm afraid to say my mind got away from me and I couldn't control it so I eventually went for a nap.
I'm using this example because this chapter in John talks about the Holy Spirit and how it will work in your life. The world will persecute us. Satan will target us, much like I felt targeted on Saturday but we can't let the world bring us down. This chapter ends with one of my favourite verses. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world! (v. 33) The world will try to hurt you and bring you down but take heart, Jesus has already taken care of all of that. We just need to know to put our trust in Him.
This is a short entry and maybe I didn't do John 16 justice. Help me out by sharing some of the things that you took away from this chapter.
You know the saying, the grass is always greener on the other side? This is my attempt to find greener grass right where I am in my life.
BTW - I'm the one on the right, just in case you didn't already know that.