The second season of 13 Reasons Why came out a few days ago and for a second year, I’m having a bit of FOMO. Sure, nothing’s technically stopping me from watching the Netflix adaptation of Jay Asher’s YA novel, except for my own self-awareness that watching the show will do more harm for me, personally, than good.
Last year, the first season of 13 Reasons Why was extremely controversial; both praised and critiqued for its portrayals of depression, suicide, bullying, etc. I never read the book, specifically because I knew I wasn’t in the right place when it was first out/popular. Then, the show came out and the hype was real. At first I was curious, of course, as the pop culture junkie that I am. But I held off for a little bit, unsure of how the show was going to deal with issues so close to my own experiences.
Then of course it came out that the show was extremely graphic in its depictions of suicide.
At the time, I was about 1.5 years clean of self harm and in recovery. I was hypomanic and about to steer into mania (which of course I didn’t know) and everything felt… good. And weird. I had spent so much of my adolescence and early adulthood entrenched in depression, so the onset of my Bipolar Disorder was well, disorienting. I had no idea what was going on but I knew I felt invincible. I won’t go into the details because that’s not what this is about. But. One thing I was strangely self-aware about was the fact that watching 13 Reasons Why was not going to be something my super-hero manic brain would be able to overcome. And I am so so grateful for this.
Sure, I am curious. Sure, I would love to know firsthand the details of this show and it’s story. I feel like the internet is constantly talking about it and, as an internet person, it’s weird for me to not have even watched one episode of something so popular (that being said I’ve literally never seen a second of Keeping Up with the Kardashians so maybe that says something too). But I am self aware enough of my triggers and my… vices, when it comes to self harm and suicidal ideation. I know watching this show may satisfy my curiosity but also lead to a devastating relapse. And my FOMO isn’t that intense to justify it.
With the second season just released, I once again felt like I was missing out on something big. Until I heard about the last episode and its graphic depiction of a traumatic event. And I remembered once again that no matter how much I may be curious about a show or something in pop culture, sacrificing my well being and safety to be caught up in the trending show of the moment is not worth it.
So this is for anyone who has been afraid to watch 13 Reasons Why because they recognize it will be triggering. You DON’T have to watch this show. You never have to watch something or listen to something popular just to keep up with pop culture, but especially if it is going to be harmful for you. It is okay to stay distant from something like this. In fact, for me, it’s a conscious act of self care to not watch this show. If you can watch it and/or love the show or find it helpful/not triggering, that’s incredible and I’m happy for you. But for those of you in the same boat as me? Don’t worry. Your well being is more important than a television show. Always.