` Impetus


'13 Reasons Why' and its Utterly Poor Representation of Mental Health

*If you have not finished the show and don't want to read spoilers, click away now*

13 Reasons Why has been repeatedly slammed for its misogyny, graphic rape scenes and graphic suicide. It has also been criticised for its depiction of mental health. I'm going to jump on that bandwagon too, but hear me out.

The show has also been widely praised for fighting the stigma of suicide, rape and bullying on screen and for raising awareness. Whilst awareness is always good, it is the concept of the tapes, the way in which Hannah blames others and the reaction of her classmates to her death that make this representation of depression very wrong. Watching the series personally affected me and frustrated me, especially since I had gone through a bad period of depression and self-harm at secondary school. Don't take this the wrong way; I'm not saying that I am all knowing because of that. But, it certainly misrepresented my own experience of the mental illness.

One of the many reasons why this show makes me feel uncomfortable is the way that it allows people to romanticise it. The concept of the tapes brings about a dualistic interpretation of depression where the students that Hannah blames are the bad guys, whilst Hannah and Clay are the good guys. Clay Jenson egotistically believes that his love for Hannah could have prevented her suicide, as though a relationship could cure her. It's like thinking that someone with a broken foot will be cured if you tell them that it'll get better eventually. He also thoughtlessly went after those who 'let down Hannah' without considering their feelings and their stories as well as Hannah's. Clay became the bully by sending a naked photo of Tyler round the school. Yet, he is still celebrated by fans as the 'good guy'.
Whilst what led Hannah down a spiral of depression and suicidal thoughts began with shame and guilt, Clay relentlessly pushes shame and guilt onto those who 'let her down'. He seems to want to stop what happened to Hannah, happening to everyone else but he is unknowingly increasing the chances of those who were the subjects of the tapes, slipping into depression themselves.

"Did I Kill Hannah Baker?', asks Clay to Tony just before he listens to his tape. Reluctantly, Tony replies yes. In this case, not enough credit is given to Mr. Porter, who tries to reason with Clay that we are all imperfect people and perhaps, taking responsibility for Hannah's death isn't quite the right thing to do. Suicide is not anyone's fault, nor is depression. Clay preaches that we could all treat people better, which seems to be the message of the show. This is true, but again, it paints the picture that mental health can be solved by being nice to each other. The classmates that Hannah blamed were, of course, flawed. But, in some of the situations, what would you have done? Admittedly, a few individuals were a little more than flawed - Bryce for example. Other examples were things that happen everyday because of human nature.

Each of the individuals who Hannah blamed also had their own difficulties, which are largely brushed over. And yet, our sympathies are almost entirely with Clay and Hannah. It seems as though, because they had their flaws, their troubles and feelings weren't as valid as Hannah's, especially according to Clay himself who the story is told through.

Again, when it comes to depicting depression itself, the series does not do anything to help any viewers who might be suffering themselves and might be seeking something to relate to. The show does not mention depression once and even seems to encourage the idea that suicide is the only option. Hannah certainly thinks so in the last episode, and throughout, characters such as Justin and Clay suggest that they think it might be too. For Alex, it was.
Hannah did 'give life one last try' in the final episode, and she went to a councillor, who, she says, helped her confirm that suicide was the only option. Surely its better to encourage the idea that councillors can actually offer quality support rather than showing Hannah dismissing Mr. Porter's hard efforts. It was disappointing to hear Hannah talk about how she wished that Mr. Porter had run after her once she'd left his office, and therefore putting him partially at blame for her suicide. Was Mr. Porter really in the wrong here, for not running after a girl whose plight he had very little knowledge of? There is only so much a teacher can do. For someone struggling with depression, it is perfectly legitimate for Hannah to have felt that way. However, the show left it with the viewers considering Mr. Porter to have been at fault, when the real 'baddie' here was depression itself. Again, as Clay said, everyone could have done better. But, it's always easier said than done.

Again, by showing the suicide itself, it romanticised and idealised it. Twitter fans of the show have condemned this criticism, failing to understand why seeing a girl slit her wrists could possibly be encouraging or romanticising. If I had seen that 7 years ago, I would have romanticised it all. When you're in that mindset, its hard not to. If anything, it shows people how they can do it.

Overall, the series places all the emphasis on individuals and nothing on the way that depression skews your sense of reality. It preaches that Hannah's feeling of emptiness was a direct consequence of what had happened to her, not that depression had anything to do with it. After watching the show, it is clear that this was meant for an audience with already very little awareness of what depression really is and it merely confirms what they think they already know.


An Ode To Lost Interests

At the tender age of 17, I prided myself in my 'cutting-edge' music taste and how my favourite literature included the beat poets and Lolita. On The Road was my Bible, Alt-J were just so cool. I wrote blogs on thought-provoking topics and worshipped Wes Anderson. I adored American Beauty and the Virgin Suicides and read the classics to expand my cultural knowledge.

Nearly four years later, I no longer have time to read two classics a month, write a blog post a week or take an hour out of my day just to look for great new music. My Netflix consumption consists largely of Disney movies, Gilmore Girls and Stranger Things. I haven't watched a classic movie since god knows when and I've even started listening to old Avril Lavigne again. I'm not afraid to enjoy Little Mix.

I no longer fit in with the kind of crowd who gather at the Philosophy Bar at King's, full of English Literature students in turtle necks, discussing Ulysses over a fag.

But, it's not that I really want to.

I still love Lolita and The Grand Budapest Hotel remains one of my all time favourite movies. I never stopped liking those things. It's just that I never moved on.

There are still so many classic movies I haven't seen, stunning books I haven't read, beautiful music yet to be discovered. I can still be cultured without resorting back to my pretentious idealistic phase.

Whilst I feel that I've sobered up a little, that I'm less afraid to immerse myself in the mainstream, I'm not really embracing all that I can. Have I given up? Have I become too much of a boring adult to enjoy an intellectual book?

If I had the time... that phrase repeated over and over. I, a busy and responsible final year student, do not have time even to read the shortest novel.

This is an ode to all the things I wish I did and hope that in the near future, I will once again embrace.


Confessions of a To Do List Addict

I can't get through a day without checking my to do list several times - or..er...lists plural. I have a list on my phone, a list on a little board in my room, a list in my notebook, a list on my laptop and a list written down on a post-it on my desk. I even bought one of those pretty Paperchase pads that say 'To do' in floral lettering on them.

When I've completed half of my to do list, I start another one so the page looks a little bit tidier and a little bit clearer. I'm not uptight, I'm not a perfectionist. I just have a lot on my plate and I can't relax until I've written it down.

I keep my phone by my bed at night so I can quickly get down what my brain inevitably will remember at midnight rather than during the day.

There's just something kind of soothing about a list. It makes me feel a little more relaxed knowing that, away from them, I can just forget about my responsibilities. When I finally get round to opening up my notebook, they'll all be there to remind me just how much I've been putting off.

I said it was soothing right?

As a thoroughly modern and internet literate woman who will click on any article that claims it can help de-stress or show me "8 Ways You Can Boost Your Productivity", I've seen all the other ways I could write down what needs doing.

"Instead of writing a list that says 'To do' at the top, just write 'I can...'."

I've tried it and trust me, it makes me feel like a middle aged woman running her life on the advice of a trashy self-help book.

Mass to-do lists are most likely one of the most stress-inducing things I could do to myself. But, the humble to list is probably the only way I can keep my life together without relying on the help of a Pinterest board or taking inspiration from a skinny, tanned lifestyle blogger with a secret death-wish claiming that a banana-only diet is the answer to life, the universe and everything.

  1. Un-bookmark all those Buzzfeed self-care articles
  2. Get your life together
  3. Write another list
Part of my problem is this damning need to constantly be productive. I panic when the lists get under 5 points. Where is my life going? Am I doing enough to be successful? I should create more unnecessary tasks to make this list more satisfying. I absolutely need to enter this writing competition. Come to think of it, my room needs a hoover. 

Maybe I should write a list of steps I need to take to achieve this thing? Like a sub to do list. Then I'll have more to tick off. 

My bin is full of post-its with a list of five things from my 'big' to do list that I'm going to complete that day. It's infinite.

I feel guilty about watching Netflix. I procrastinate all day and stop myself from watching a movie in the evening or going out because I haven't done all 5 things, when realistically I've probably done a lot of things that I never even bothered to write down. 

4. Write another blog post
5. Buy more post-its
6. Scrap the last list and write another one

Me? Addicted? Never. 



Today, I arrived back home after more than two months away. It's longest I've ever been away from home and I'm only here for one night.

I have realised that home isn't quite where I feel the most comfortable anymore. After all, almost every one of my most loved possessions remain in Southampton. The room I have at university is something which I have made my own and it is full of things that I have bought with my own money.
There is no sign of childhood rag dolls, gifts from distant relatives, certificates from my grade 2 piano. My bedroom walls at home are still adorned with self-painted green spots - a very non-aesthetically pleasing brainwave of my 13 year old self. At 20 years old, it feels childish.

In the right frame of mind, I do enjoy sleeping in my childhood room once again. The nostalgia is warm and welcoming. Yet, I'm at a crucial time of transition from student to employed adult and the lure of full independence renders me giddy with excitement and sometimes nauseous with nerves. My desire to launch myself into a journalism career fills every crevice in my brain and when memories of full dependence gets in the way, I'm irritable.

After all, my university bedroom is where I plan everything for the university paper. It's where I write all my applications, finalise my CV and flick through post-graduate prospectuses. Naturally, I've come to associate it with the place where I can safely look at my future and know that I am heading in the right direction.

Home is where the heart is and my heart is set on something other than a place where there is a power shower and Dad's bolognese.

In addition to that, what was home has changed. Since my brother now lives with my mum during the week, and I live in Southampton, my Dad is usually alone in the house apart from an attention hungry cat and a geeky lodger who works for a rice company. After one cat dies and a lodger moves in, dynamics change. Thus, predictably, it starts to feel less and less like home.

And so, I feel as though I am heading towards displacement. Once I graduate, I highly doubt I'll be renting straight away. I'll probably move back home for a little while and find my feet as an unemployed graduate seeking any kind of grounding.


Father John Misty @ Southampton O2 Guildhall

On 21st May, I saw Father John Misty in Southampton.

The support act from Texas set the scene. Khruangbin, a soulful, funk, guitar band, were smooth and sexy. The frontman and frontwoman were beautiful sights to behold for the typical Father John Misty fan - one very well dressed bearded guitarist and a glittery faced bassist with a black bob and killer lacy culottes, who moved her hips perfectly to the beat. Father John Misty himself even came on for a few songs to play bongos at the back of the stage.

From the very beginning of his set, Father John Misty was mesmerizing to watch. This man is not only a musician and song writer, but a true performer with remarkably fluid hips and a way of moving that is somehow simultaneously camp and ridiculously sexy.

Thrusting and gyrating his groin in every direction, floor to ceiling, left to right, it is not surprising how much sweat this man could produce - distinctly noticeable when, twice, he came into the audience. Father John Misty was a mere two inches from my face. A famous and sexy man no less, I refused to stroke his beard or grab his hand like every other member of the audience felt the need to do. He was a liquid mess, a true rock-star.

During 'True Affection', Father John Misty's silhouette, in a flashing neon pink light, truly danced as though no one was watching with gesticulating arms and a torso that moved like a snake. Such a distinct way of dancing simply takes you away to another place, another dimension, to Father John Misty's world.

Despite a real lack of chatter in between songs, Father John Misty communicated to each and every member of the crowd through his lyrics and through his movement. Most notably during 'Bored in the USA', he sang the lyrics as though he was telling a story. He is an actor as well as an artist. There were laughs and cheers after each lyric he sang, as he paused for effect.

'By this afternoon, I'll live in debt. By tomorrow, be replaced by children'

He sang, with a careless kind of melancholy. We all laughed at the truth behind the words that he sang - despite not being in the USA at all. We all sang along as though we really were bored in the USA.

This artist pulled out all the stops. This is genuinely one of the best gigs I have ever been to. Father John Misty didn't rely on just his music to excite the crowd. He really performed with energy and an electric personality that charmed each and every member of the crowd.