Charlottesville

I don’t understand politics.  But I don’t think this is completely political: the Nazis lost.  The Confederacy lost.  These are both facts, and you cannot wield either flag and consider yourself an American.  Fuck Donald Trump’s condemnation of “hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides.”  There is only one side.  But what scares me about what is happening in Charlottesville, with the Nazis, the KKK, the white supremacists, is that those men, with their torches and their hate, will go home to their families after this.  They’ll kiss their wives.  They’ll wash the dirt off their hands in their sinks.  They’ll go on and live their lives.  They’ll eat in their kitchens.  They’ll sleep soundly in their beds, believing they’ve accomplished something good.  They’ll raise their children; they’ll share their beliefs with their children.  They will also go back to their jobs after this; these men are not wearing hoods because they are confident in the fact that they will still have jobs once this is all over.  I keep seeing posts on Facebook of some of the faces from the photographs from the rally with the caption: “Are you my employer? I was at a Nazi rally in Charlottesville, VA” and that’s great, that’s great, but here’s the thing: I believe that a majority of these men will not face repercussions from their employers after this rally.  They’re not afraid.  And why should they be?  With a president in the White House that cannot outright condemn a Nazi rally, there’s no reason for them to fear consequences for their actions.  You have to wonder if, if Trump had not been elected, this rally would have even taken place.  The white supremacists have become emboldened – we’ve given them a government that will not raise a fist against them.  And that is frightening.

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Don’t Glamorize Mental Illness

“stop romanticizing things that hurt”

The following is a rant-introduction draft that I’m working on for my memoir project.  It still needs some work, obviously, but it’s a valuable start.

Putting a teenager in a psychiatric hospital is, in a word, problematic.  I’ve heard accusations that claim it’s not real life; it’s easy to fix problems in a controlled environment, but that it’s not representative of what those problems look like outside of a hospital setting.  I’m here today because, as it turns out, it’s not so easy to fix something a delicate as your mind, even in a controlled setting.  And, let me tell you, there are very few things that are “controlled” in an adolescent unit.

I, for one, needed the break from real life.  And if I needed it, I’m not the only one.  But it wasn’t the first choice.  Aside from drastic events such as virtually out-of-nowhere suicide attempts, hospitalization should be the last resort.  By the time I got to the hospital, I felt like I had exhausted my capacity for life.  I was a freshman in high school and had been battling untreated, misdiagnosed mental illness for years.

I’d like to tell you that I entered the white walls of the hospital and things were instantly washed clean, but if that were true, I wouldn’t have spent months of my time in and out of lock-up, in outpatient therapy groups, and in one-on-one therapy after I finally reached the point where I no longer needed inpatient intervention.  If everything had been washed clean, I wouldn’t be writing all of this out for you.

None of this is glamorous.  Facts are facts: I was so down for so long that I wanted to be dead. None of this is quirky, or cute.  The media tends to do this to stories of mental illness, but there is nothing desirable or romantic about hospital gowns and not being allowed to shave your legs and waking up at eight in the morning to stand in line for some pills.  There’s nothing hauntingly beautiful about deciding that you have nothing left to offer this world.  Don’t make this into something it’s not.

spoiler alert: my thoughts on Netflix’s ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’

So that ending sucked ass, right?

First of all, I’m so glad that they made the book into a mini-series and not a movie: I feel like it deserved that additional screen time.  I also liked that they took the story line outside of its first-person narrative: I feel like it would have been difficult to really get the story down onscreen without seeing some of the relationships build independently of Clay’s perspective.  I even enjoyed how long it took Clay to get through the tapes, though it was not true to the book, because it gave time for all the back story and drama to build upI also liked how the show was pretty true to high school life.  As someone who graduated less than a year ago, I understood a lot of it.  Sometimes it was blown up to extremes, but it worked.  I mean, I was never invited to, or wanted to go to any high school parties, so I don’t necessarily know the details on how wild they can get.  Anyways, the inclusion of 2017 technology was important to the show and I don’t discredit that.

I liked the way the show did this, but I totally didn’t read Tony as gay, or Ryan, or Courtney (I didn’t like how they blew up Courtney’s story into a full make-out session, either).  And I totally didn’t read Courtney as Asian, or Marcus as black.  I don’t know if that’s just me, though, or if everyone felt that way.  At first, it threw me off, because I pictured the town that the story takes place in as a really white suburban town or whatever, but it didn’t interfere with experiencing the show.

Something I didn’t like was how a lot of the show focuses on this lawsuit the Bakers have against the school.  The lawsuit, if I remember correctly, did not exist in the book at all.  I wanted the show to focus more on the kids and how they dealt with each other.  I also don’t remember reading about this idea that all the other kids on the tapes started teaming up against Clay.  I’m not mad about that, though.  I feel like kids would do that if they were afraid of the world finding out that they were shitty ass people to a girl who killed herself.

This is a small thing, but I did enjoy how many parents there were in this show.  I remember thinking while I was reading the book, “how could all these kids’ parents know nothing about this?” Like, I get that often times parents are clueless (I know mine can be at times), but ALL of them?  Helicopter parents exist in this world, you know.  I think in the book we barely get a glimpse of even Clay’s parents – and he’s the main character.  Also worth noting; Clay’s Dad in the show is kind of a cool dude.  So yeah, the fact that parents got involved was nice.  I especially liked seeing Justin’s family situation – it really played into him protecting Bryce, because Bryce helped him for all that time.

Now onto the gritty stuff.

So, I read this book when I was a suicidal teenager.  I’m watching the show as a recovered college student, post-suicide attempts, post-hospitalizations, post-getting help, even post-sexual assault.  I remember reading the book and totally relating to Hannah, totally on her side all the way through.  Watching the show, I can’t help but kind of be a little bitch about how unlikable her character is.  I don’t know if she was always this way and I’m just now seeing it because I’m in a different place in my life, but – okay, I don’t know how to put this in a way that won’t piss someone off – shit happens to everyone.  I guess I just inadvertently try to unload my own history with suicidal thinking into Hannah Baker, like if I was able to go out and tell someone what was happening to me and get help, why wasn’t she?  I have sympathy for her most of the time, but not all of the time.  I get angry about that, though I’m not sure who or what I’m angry towards.

Let us talk about that unneeded suicide scene, though.  What in the ever loving fuck was that?  In the book, she swallows some pills.  In the show, we get the actual onscreen image of Hannah slitting her wrists in a bathtub.  I’m not squeamish, but because of my history with self-injury, I had to look away.  I wish that scene hadn’t been so much.

Something I did like, though, was the scene where her parents find her.  That was powerful.  I sobbed my fucking eyes out.  I started thinking about what would have happened, had I managed to successfully kill myself in high school; who would’ve found me, what would’ve happened next.  I’m so grateful that something like that never happened.

But fuck the ending of this show.  Seriously.

The book wrapped things up nicely, for me at least.  Clay, having learned from Hannah’s story, went over to talk to Skye, who was hurting (by the way, I totally didn’t read Skye as being as out-there as she was appearance-wise, but I totally dug that) herself.  That happened in the show, sure, but it was so understated – then all this other crazy shit happened as well.  Alex Standall shooting himself? The fuck?  Giving the tapes to Hannah’s parents? Why? I guess that happened because the tapes came out during the depositions in the lawsuit anyways, but, well, we already know my not-so-positive feelings on the whole lawsuit arc.

The only things I truly liked about the ending was the interaction between Justin and Bryce (fuck Bryce and his whole fucking existence, by the way) and Jessica telling her dad what happened to her.  As someone who has been sexually assaulted, I totally felt for her in that moment.

So yeah.  The show was a good watch and a lot of it was very good, but the end was definitely not my favorite thing in the world.  They kind of left it open for a second season with possible arcs for other characters – like Alex Standall being in critical condition, for example, or Hannah’s parents experiencing the tapes, for another.  I really, really hope that doesn’t happen.