Why I Had to Stop Watching '13 Reasons Why' Just 6 Minutes In


Editor's Note

If you struggle with self-harm or experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, visit this resource.

If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741741.

I read “13 Reasons Why” in middle school and loved it. I was dealing with depression, suicide and self-harm, and it was the first time I realized maybe I wasn’t alone in dealing with these thoughts and feelings.

Fast forward to last year when I heard they were making “13 Reasons Why” into a series. I had now been through years of therapy, two suicide attempts, a hospitalization, struggles with eating disorders, panic disorder and my depression was still very real. Nevertheless, I was ecstatic they were making this into a Netflix series. It didn’t help that the release of the first series coincided with the anniversary of my first suicide attempt, which brought up its own suicidal thoughts and heightened depression — so pretty much every sign was saying I should not watch it. But, of course, I did. And as much as I loved the book and aspects of this new TV adaptation, I was not in any place mentally to where I should’ve been watching it, and I paid the price for it.

So with the second series just coming out, I had made up my mind: I wasn’t going to watch it. I knew the entire plot had nothing to do with the book, and the whole concept of a second series seemed unnecessary and just a way to make more money. But when it came out and everyone started talking about it, I immediately wanted to watch it. Hannah had already died, so how triggering could it be?

I was talking with a friend about the second season last night at dinner and she said she had started watching it before work, but hadn’t watched enough to form a solid opinion about it. I shared with her how I didn’t want to watch it, but would probably end up watching it anyways out of curiosity. She texted me this morning: “Don’t watch season two.” Which, of course, just made me want to watch it even more.

So I started watching it and it’s fine, things are good. It doesn’t seem like it’ll be a good second series, but mentally I’m doing OK. And then about six minutes in, I immediately realized why she texted me. Once the scene with Sky came up about self-harm and cutting and her scars — I couldn’t do it. It was more triggering to me than I ever would have expected, even though it showed very little. The way Clay talked to Sky about always being there to talk whenever she had the urge to cut and how much he wanted her to stop was the same conversation so many people have had with me over the years, and I immediately broke down in tears.

I have stopped trying to keep track of how long I have gone without cutting, because in the end, I only kept disappointing myself. It’s been about six years on and off, with some stretches much worse than others. However, lately I’ve been doing OK with it. Like I said, I don’t know exactly how long it’s been, but it’s definitely been at least a few weeks, and only a few times over the last couple months, which might not seem like a lot to some, but it’s huge for me. Though after watching just those couple minutes where Sky and Clay were talking about it, I instantly had the desire to pull out one of my many box cutters. In the worst way, I missed it and I was completely triggered.

I texted the friend that had told me not to watch it and told her I now see why she said that, and I had turned it off after that scene. I know I’m going to want to watch it again, especially as more people start talking about it, but I also know that I shouldn’t; and if I do, it’s definitely not something I should do alone. I understand the purpose of the series is to start a conversation about these topics, which I completely agree with. And the trigger warnings this season are much better than the ones they had last season. But it really is so important to know yourself and know how triggering a series like this can be if you’re struggling and to respond appropriately.

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