There was a time when I wanted to kill myself.
This is the first time I’ve ever said that publicly. You have questions, I know. I mostly keep things light hearted here and leave the heavy conversations on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. I mean…How do we even talk about suicide? The truth is, we don’t. Let’s be real, these are things we never ever talk about. The culture basically sweeps mental health under the rug and we’re given a prescription to pray. Pray it away. Pray to be better. Pray. Nope. Life doesn’t work like that. We need to have these conversations with our kids and Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why opens the door to these conversations.
This time in my life all went down when I was in high school. I hated high school. You can check my school records, I ditched almost all the time. So much so that in order to graduate, I had to do 0 period to 9th period. Being a teenager is the worst if you are left to your own devices. The loneliness is real. I felt weird in my skin. I felt awkward. I felt like I was constantly letting down my family with my choices. I locked myself in the bathroom for hours. I cried myself to sleep. I didn’t know if this was normal. I didn’t know WTF was wrong with me. My parents were disciplinarians first and over anything. I couldn’t talk to them about anything. Especially not my feelings. We just didn’t do feelings. We weren’t that family.
All I ever wanted to hear was any variation of the following:
How was your day?
What’s going on?
Do you need to talk?
I love you.
I’m here for you.
Are these the type of questions you are currently asking your tweens + teens? Cause maybe you should. There were two adults that asked me what was going on. Mr. Curtin, my high school counselor and my first therapist. My mom took me once because she had enough and I wasn’t talking to her. It was a start. That therapy session didn’t all the way change my parents but it helped ME so so much. Adults get caught up in so much of their own shit that they forget to ask their kids these things or they don’t realize that we are going through our own shit. My parents got better. I got better. It gets better. I went from hurting to healing.
That cycle ended with me. I make sure my sons know they can talk to me about anything. One of my teenagers was bullied in jr. high and both were victims of gossip in high school. We have gone through some heavy together. While we don’t censor our kids, we did not let our 11 year old son watch 13 Reasons Why with us. We did have a talk about online + offline bullying and teen suicide. He said he feels comfortable talking to us about everything and I believe him.
So while tv shows come with warning labels. While the pros debate about whether or not this show is glorifying suicide, whether parents of non-teenagers are sharing their insensitive comments on Facebook discussions. Just remember that none of that shit matters to kids who are hurting.
Ask the questions now. Please see 13 Reasons Why Talking Points here.
(Please don’t confuse Hannah’s story and mine. Hannah’s story is fictional and a cautionary tale. I could relate to the character’s feelings and to be honest, the series gave me A LOT of flashbacks of high school life.)
If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, text “start” to 741741 or call 1-800-273-8255
Thank you to Netflix for sponsoring this discussion. I’m a member of Netflix #StreamTeam. All thoughts are my own.