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June 23, 2018

Style Files | What 13 Reasons Why taught me about healing

Whether you didn't care enough to watch the show or couldn't stop raving about it, ever since its release in 2017, 13 Reasons Why couldn't be ignored. Amidst many warnings of it being unnecessary and too graphic, I decided to watch it last summer and found the experience a slightly uncomfortable necessity. Before I say any more, a spoiler alert is in effect as I'll be diving right into the show so expect to see sensitive material of the plot and my opinions on it.

13 Reasons Why was unlike most shows I'm used to watching. It touched upon depression, rape, substance abuse and suicide; something I barely expected from a TV show about high school students. The second season of the show released last month and got even murkier. Along with the previous premise of Hannah's very graphic suicide and her notes left via cassette tapes, the new season also depicted more bullying, mental health disorders and loss. As you'd imagine, the death of their classmate left a Hannah-shaped hole in the lives of the teens at Liberty High. But that's only the start of the turmoil going on in their lives.

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Clay, the closest to Hannah, is seen to be hallucinating and even communicating with a vision of Hannah, at one time almost pulling a trigger because she won't stop talking. It's evident that Clay is heartbroken, lost and seeming to sink deeper into the dark end. He finds temporary solace in Skye, tries to right the wrongs done to Hannah and even attempts to get inked but healing is a far more complicated process. Thankfully, Clay seems to find some semblance of balance when he opens up about his love for Hannah during her eulogy where he finally accepts the grief and anger to let her go.

Jessica, Hannah's ex-friend, has her own devastating ball game going on. Besides being dragged into Hannah's trial, she is also coming to terms with her own rape. Jess coping with her situation has got to be the most heart-wrenching of them all. From the bold, bright cheerleader and part of Liberty's it couples, she turned into a quiet, scared little girl who went into a shell. Her friend Nina on the other hand, copes with things a bit differently by reaching out and taking charge of how she wants her story to be heard. Alex's failed suicide attempt was possibly the most drastic of coping mechanisms seen in the show's two seasons. It wasn't only Hannah's death that drove him to take the step but also the mix of guilt and grief that weighed on his shoulders.

There were many more characters like Zack and Tyler who were affected by the events but these stood out to me the most. Although Clay seems to have finally started moving forward, him asking for help about Hannah's manifestations would have been ideal. Because like it or not, they did affect him mentally and almost physically. Jess opens up steadily through the season, especially post the trial and falling back into old habits (i.e. Justin Foley) may be her way of doing so. Friendship, self-deprecating humour and physical therapy is what seemed to have put Alex back on track. For Nina to put her traumatic rape behind her, erasing it once and for all by burning the Polaroids seems to be her method of choice.

Healing is a funny thing. Everyone does it in their own way; sometimes that's with meditation, other times it's more destructive. That was one of the stand-out points for me on the second season of 13 Reasons Why. There was a lot more going on but how the characters cope with loss and pain play a crucial part, especially at a time when healing is key for me. Thing is, you can't put a time limit on it, imitate someone else's method or quicken the process. All you can do is create an environment that's conducive and hope for the best. To heal, the destination is far more important than the journey you take to get there.

xo
Dayle

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