How Haley James Scott From 'One Tree Hill' Gave Me Hope for My Depression


I am the kid who walks around school with phone in hand and earbuds in ear watching “One Tree Hill” on Netflix. I’m the kid who carries around huge DVD cases (yes, those do still exist) so I can watch “One Tree Hill.” I’m the kid who rushes home after school to watch one more episode of “One Tree Hill.” I’m obsessed. When I watched the pilot, I related to Haley James (Scott!) because she was an innocent, nerdy, people pleasing tutor girl. Throughout seasons two through six Haley remained my favorite character (despite her brief stint with Chris Keller).

Then I watched season seven and my love for Haley surpassed all of the other characters combined because we now had one more thing in common: depression. As I watched Haley’s depression unfold, I experienced so many relatable moments, emotions and realizations.

Here’s what we have in common:

1. We both experience the feeling of numbness.

“I have to tell myself to just be happy, but I don’t feel happy. And when I try to change it, when I try to remember what being happy felt like, I… can’t. I don’t feel joy. I don’t feel inspired. I feel numb.” — Haley (season 7 episode 21)

Feeling numb is one of the parts of depression that is the hardest to explain. Haley called her deceased mom’s phone and left her voicemails about how she doesn’t feel anything, although she tries so hard to. All of the happiness she once felt has vanished to the point of no return. I too, hate feeling numb. I long to feel anything, even if it is painful. I write in my journal how I just want to feel happy again. I beat myself up for being so numb.

2. We can unintentionally be jerks.

One time Haley yelled at Jamie, skipped work and blew off Nathan, I realized how I am such a jerk at times as well. Regardless of how Haley acted, she didn’t intend to be a jerk. Depression makes you someone you are not. Like Haley, I can be a total jerk. I blow up at the littlest of things, lash out at my family and sometimes am the rudest person you’ll ever meet.

3. We both have a great support system.

“One Tree Hill” shows how despite how jerky we may be, people still love us. For example, Nathan parks his car in the middle of traffic to follow Haley. Haley’s son Jamie draws his mom a picture to make her feel better and Brooke gets Haley out of the house. In my life, my support system is made up of my parents who force me to make plans, my sister who drags me along with her, my friends who call me and my church who sends me scripture.

4. We’ve both had times of realizing our passion for life is gone.

“Someone once said that death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside of us while we live.” — Haley (season 7 episode 21)

As Haley lost her passion for motherhood, her career, her music and her life, I realized I had lost my passion for my joy, my relationships, my business and my life, too. This realization should hurt, but the sad thing is when you’re so deep in depression, you don’t even care.

5. We’ve both struggled with trying to feel something.

Regardless of my support system, sometimes the feeling of numbness overpowers me. I seek out something to replace the numbness, something that would just let me feel something, anything. For Haley, it was setting her piano on fire and then trying to drown herself in her pool (season 7 episode 20). Did she know what she was doing? No. But she was so desperate to feel something, she would go to such extreme measures. For me, when I am so numb, I can listen to my favorite song and feel nothing. However, I want so badly to feel something so I hop in my car and drive with the radio blaring forcing myself to sing along the way I once did.

6. We’ve both wanted to live again.

Haley: “I was just trying to feel something. Like alive, I guess.”

Therapist: “And did that make you feel alive?”

Haley: “No. But it made me want to.” (season 7 episode 22)

Finally, once we try to feel something, we realize maybe one day if we keep trying to feel, we will. We might do activities mundanely for a little while in hopes of feeling alive again and one day eventually the clouds will blow away and the sun will shine again.

Depression isn’t glamorous and I am so thankful “One Tree Hill” portrayed it in a realistic way. Haley showed how badly it hurts, how unexplained it is and how eventually gets better.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Photo via “One Tree Hill” Facebook


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