I never really understood trigger warnings, I mean I understood the importance and purpose of them, but I had never experienced any sort of trigger when watching or reading anything with a trigger warning, so I felt like I didn’t completely understand, until yesterday.
I was the biggest fan of 13 Reasons Why season 1 and even told my husband when I started season 2 that I think it is my all-time favourite show. I loved how real it was and how it tackled serious issues that are often never shown, or if they are, are watered down in a typical high school movie where a girl gets bullied and then becomes the hottie after her makeover.
I had watched the trailer for season 2, I had read blog posts, tweets and reviews, I had watched people talk about it, I had a friend who kept telling me how “hectic” it was but none of it could have prepared me for how I would end up feeling.
I am not sure what exactly it was that triggered me because I have never gone through anything close to what the characters in the show were going through but it did something to me which I am still trying to figure out.
I started watching on Saturday night and had watched the first three episodes before going to bed and I battled to fall asleep. My mind was racing and I just felt uneasy but I put it down to being “one of those nights”. I carried on watching yesterday and half way through episode 7 I just felt a panic attack starting. I got up and paused and then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I cried, I couldn’t breathe, my heart was racing and my chest was closing and pounding at the same time.
I didn’t know how to describe how I was feeling so I said that I was feeling overwhelmed (which often happens to me). After I managed to calm down my husband said to me “Are you sure it’s not this show because it’s so intense that it even has me feeling a bit sif”. And that’s when it clicked.
There is so much happening and everyone is suffering (in silence most of the time) and it just makes you feel so much! Anger towards the people who are in the wrong, sympathy for what these poor kids are going through, anxious for what is going to happen and I think it just rocks the boat if you suffer with mental illness or have experienced anything that the characters have.
Once it had passed (although I was still feeling unpleasant and restless) I messaged Cheyenne Pillay from The Princess Warrior blog who had written a post titled “13 Reasons Why S2: Why Not” because I felt like I needed to speak to someone (give the post a read and you might understand why I chose to speak to her). To be completely honest when I first saw her sharing the post, I thought to myself that we all have a choice and “just don’t watch it if you don’t agree with it” (that was the fan girl in me) but when I read the post I could see where she was coming from even though I hadn’t yet watched the second season. I decided to watch it and make up my own mind.
I will not be finishing the show – I asked friends a few questions and Googled spoilers to find out what happens (because I still wanted to know but couldn’t watch it anymore) and now I am done with it. If there is a third season I will not be watching.
I don’t know yet how I feel about the show as a whole because I was a fan but now I’m a bit shook. I think it raises important issues but perhaps they could have done it differently? Maybe they tackled too many important issues at once and it’s just too much to handle? But then again for the people living it, they don’t get to choose how many issues get thrown at them at once and that proves how difficult it must be and how important it is for help to always be available because if I felt like this from watching people I don’t know act it all out, imagine how it must feel for someone actually experiencing it.
If anything it has made me want to help others wherever I can and be more understanding and kind. Also to just pay more attention to how I and others are feeling.
I am not going to say much more about the show because I don’t want to spoil anything and I don’t actually know how I feel about it right now but I needed to post this because this experience taught me a few things. By writing this post I may just prevent someone from watching it who would have felt the same way as I did, or someone else can go into the show with even more of warning.
We need to speak and we need to make speaking safer. Mental illness is not a bad day, or a phase, it’s very, very real and often so crippling that your options may seem limited but with a bit of help those options become less limited.
I would love to know your thoughts. Have you watched it? How did it make you feel?
Don’t be afraid to seek help, contact SADAG if you are not sure where to seek help