13 Reasons Why I Watched 13 Reasons Why (5 minute read)

This blog is dedicated to my high school self. You were a really important part of my life. 

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I'm so glad you saw the light at the end of the tunnel before your self-harming ways got to a point where I couldn't be here today to write this blog.

Here are 13 Reasons Why I watched 13 Reasons Why

1. I watched this show during my maternity leave and every time the baby was napping, I would turn Netflix on and there it was, creepy dead girl voice and all

2. The creepy dead girl was gorgeous and wasn’t a bony skeleton

3. There were Asian characters in it

4. I was curious to know what teenage life is like now

5. It was all the buzz on social media at the time

6. My friend recommended it and told me she binge-watched it all in one weekend

7. It seemed dark and controversial

8. Hello, cassette tapes! (Brings me back to the radio recording days and the urgent need to press the square button when the commercial came on or the guy started talking)

9. My guilty pleasure for watching high school drama (Eyes wide, inhaling handfuls of popcorn)

10. My soft spot for quiet nerdy boys with squinty, brooding eyes (although my husband is a loud, outgoing boy with large, round eyes…more thinking out loud and less brooding)

11. I had just finished White Collar and craved a completely different setting...less cunning, suave New York and more gawky, awkward small town.

12. Many moons ago, I worked at a forensic psychiatric hospital. Part of my role was to conduct audits to see if the hospital met certain guidelines for assessing the suicide risk for its clients. 

So for months on end, I went to units, reviewing charts and reading the histories of folks who had done horrendous things (while checking to see if a mental status exam was performed by the nurse that shift). 

If we look at the “fucked up spectrum” of humanity, these lives were outliers and suicide would almost go hand in hand. It’s like of all the people on earth who would end their life, these folks would be sitting at the top (at the edge of a building?...I have a dark sense of humour). 

I could not relate to the stories I was reading but my job made sense; I had a purpose and I felt fulfilled to know that I was helping those who were most vulnerable. So when I saw the preview for 13 Reasons, I thought, “Suicide for a seemingly normal teenage girl? Now that’s something I can relate to.” 

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13. I have a history of self-harm, disordered eating, and depression. The journey began during my pre-teens and I recovered before my 17th birthday. In Grade 6, I thought a lot about death, about what happens to our minds when we no longer exist, about how it feels to die, the experience, how I want to die and when, reincarnation, heaven, hell etc. It was my short stint as a goth girl and I wrote a lot of poetry. I wrote a poem about drowning and how it would feel to drown. Lungs burning while water filled them like water balloons type of darkness. 
I started a diary during this time and fell in love with writing. It was my way to escape and my outlet to release and be creative. 

So during my grade 6 talent show, I decided to share a couple of my works to the entire school. My music teacher was the organizer of the show and bless her heart was a free spirit with an open mind. She admired my talents and encouraged me to share my creativity. So there I was at the lunchtime talent show, on stage, sitting on a stool, low lights, as I begin to read my poem. 

Let’s just say it was received with a lot of confusion, a bit of fear and a lot of classmates thinking I was weird. My teacher called my house that week and chats with my mom and oldest sister (for interpretation). It was like the breakfast conversation all over again.

Jump forward to high school and I’m now an overachiever who is volunteering at a seniors centre, working two part-time jobs as a French Tutor and barista, going to basketball practices, studying for her Chinese school exams, going out with her girlfriends, competing at piano festivals, trying to get boys attention...while trying to fit in, figuring out where I belonged in the social ladder of high school. 

I had a lot going on in my life at that time and on the outside, it seemed like I was the “perfect” kid. She’s got a bright future ahead! Look at all the opportunities she will have after graduation! The world is her oyster! In truth, I was tired, depressed and I hated myself.

In Grade 8, I experienced insomnia for 3 months straight. My parents brought me to our family doctor and he thought I had a possible brain tumour (hmmm...I don’t exactly remember how that assessment was done). I got my first MRI at 13. It came back clean.

In Grade 9, I developed an eating disorder after having lost a significant amount of weight from bronchitis. The control I had over my food became my addiction. I needed the ability to control something in my life since high school was so volatile.  

The fact that the addiction lets me fit into a pair of size 0 Silver Jeans also made it very difficult to stop. Whenever I lost control of my food, I would be so angry at myself that I forced myself to throw up meals that I “wasn’t supposed to eat”.  

The sour taste, chalky feeling behind my teeth and a sore throat were my punishments for not following my own outrageous food rules. I will write another post another time about body image and dieting, growing up in a Chinese family.

I was a ridiculously talented kid. I was one of those naturally smart people. (I like to speak in the past about my abilities because I have a different perspective of myself now). Essentially, academics were easy. Give me an assignment, quiz, exam, essay, project, anything and I can procrastinate until the night before and be able to spit some shit and get an A on it. 

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It's not like I didn't work hard. I just didn't need to work as hard as some others to get that top mark. So I became extremely hard on myself because I thought since these tasks were so easy, I am a total fuck up if I don't get a perfect mark on them. 
I felt I mastered the school system and anything less than perfect was deemed a failure in my eyes. That’s why I constantly challenged myself. Being academically smart wasn’t a real challenge so I started focusing on other aspects of my life and trying to be “perfect” in those. I had to excel in all areas:

Academics (Come on, get those grades up. School is easy peasy for you so don’t be a fuck up)

Musical Talent (Your finger slipped on F#! You didn’t crescendo in bar 12!)

Sports (Basketball, Rugby, you need to be able to run a 10k now)

Friendships (Be a good friend, make a lot of friends, increase that number of ICQ and MSN contacts, go to parties)

Dating (Get a boyfriend, you need a boyfriend because he will completely understand you, it’s cool to have one)

Physical Appearance (Lose that weight, you need a gap between your thighs, you’ll be so much happier if you have the perfect body)

Cultural Preservation (You don’t want to be called a Banana at family dinners, do you?)

Work experience (Make money, get experience, you’re going to need it for your CV, get those financial management skills already, you need to save money, be independent now)

Volunteer experience (more CV items, help those in need, be selfless, be a humanitarian)

So as Grade 10 finished, I had accumulated so many standards and goals for myself, I couldn’t maintain my top grades. I went from a 97% average to a 93% average. Yes, this small decrease was a big deal for me at the time. 

I started cutting. Whenever I didn’t meet my own expectation, I would punish myself by using my dad’s disposable, blue, Bic razor to make superficial cuts along the natural lines of my wrist (you know so it would look like my wrists were just extra wrinkly).  It was the worst year of my life (as in that was my first time hitting rock bottom life so I didn't have the experience or the confidence to know it does get better). 

How did I get back up? I guess you’ll have to stay tuned to hear more, just like season 2 of 13 Reasons Why.

Second Part is here!

So Readers, did you know anyone who was one of those "perfect kids" growing up? Are you a perfectionist yourself? Do you see any of these perfectionism tendencies in your kids? 

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