13 Reasons Why… We Shouldn’t Be Afraid To Talk About Depression

Ok I lied, this is not going to be another listicle.  

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would have noticed the buzz all over your newsfeed about Netflix's newest original series, ‘13 reasons why’.

The series was created by Brian Yorkey, executive produced by Selena Gomez, and based on Jay Asher's best-selling novel by the same name. ‘13 reasons why’ explores the dark traumas facing main character Hannah Baker and why she decided to end her life.

Hannah leaves behind a shoe box full of cassette tapes on which she recounts the ways that 13 people are collectively responsible for the 13 reasons she decided to take her own life. The box of cassettes, per Hannah’s instructions, are then passed around to each of these people so that they can listen to them and truly understand her pain (and feel guilty for their contribution to her misery).

It’s a very interesting and dark topic, but, really important to discuss. At the centre of a drama, the show deals with a number of heavy topics—from revenge porn to drunken driving to sexual assault and, of course, teenage suicide. Unlike many other teen shows which we could argue romanticizes death, this show depicted it graphically.

I’m no stranger to depression having battled and overcome it twice. This time last year, I was at a point where I couldn’t concentrate, sleep properly and was fearful. There was just too much for me to handle at one time and I couldn’t do it alone. My trigger was stress, but my high-pressure, long-hours job was the catalyst (not the cause).

The hardest moment I had was admitting to myself that I didn’t have it together. I remember clearly, sitting on my one hour train journey home crying, well, sobbing having had made my mind up that I was going to end my life by the end of the year once I got my affairs in order.

What made me change my mind? That very evening, my best friend picked me up, she told me that it was ok to not be ok. She let me ugly cry whilst poring my heart out and I realised it was the first time I was being honest with anyone (ever) about how I felt. Sometimes all you need is that one act of kindness to turn things around.

Why am I sharing this for the world to read? Because the ignorance about mental health issues that continues to exist among otherwise intelligent individuals is alarming. And although huge progress has been made in the UK over the past few years, it’s still quite taboo.

Managing a mental health problem can be difficult enough, just like managing a long-term physical health problem can, but imagine not feeling able to tell anyone that you've got asthma.

Talking about mental health can make a big difference and social contact (which is where people with and without mental health problems come together to have a conversation) is an extremely powerful approach in breaking down the taboo around this issue.

The series is a brutally honest portrayal of depression and prompts a useful discussion for everyone to assess their daily actions and think about the effects of the way they behave towards each other. And most importantly that depression exists and people do suffer. People also recover.

Do you need help? Useful contacts details below.

  • Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year.

  • Childline (0800 1111) runs a helpline for children and young people in the UK.

  • http://www.bps.org.uk/bpslegacy/dcp For a list of chartered psychologists within your area.

  • http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Suicide For further links and advice

  • www.feelstressfree.com Offers an app to build resilience to and help prevent stress, anxiety and mild depression through clinically proven techniques