* Trigger warning & sorry for length: my thoughts on buffering *
I’ve read the book once and listened to it twice. To say I enjoyed this book would be an understatement. I was supporting this book to the fullest before it even came out, a lot of you know I got the buffering tattoo inspired by this book the day before the release, it’s honestly the one of the most important tattoo I have on my body, lets get back to the book though, It was so well spoken, raw and eye opening. I can honestly say this Is one of the most raw and breathtaking books to ever exist, Hannah did a remarkable job! She’s not only beautiful on the outside but she’s one of the strongest people I’ve ever come across. Her courage, bravery and honesty in this book was remarkable. She’s worked so hard to get where she is today, there’s been hard times and good times but she’s made it through, I’m so proud of her for everything she’s accomplished. She’s defiantly taught me to practice reckless optimism. A few days ago i posted on tumblr about how reading & hearing the book was a completely different experience & hannah rebloged it. She said recording the audio was the hardest part & I don’t blame her. I couldn’t imagine having to relive those moments & read my life story for people to hear but she did such a good job! I’m so proud of her! Hearing her read it was heartbreaking though because at times you could feel her emotions, I felt like I could feel the memories & pain in her words. For me personally the hardest parts of her reading it were during things I could relate to. I related to a lot In the book but there’s four parts that hit me the most, her sisters death, her mom’s house, her struggle accepting her sexuality and self harm.
My family has had a history of suicide, I didn’t know that until I was in middle school dealing with suicidal thoughts myself. After a few suicide attempts I got the help I needed, I still deal with depression today but I haven’t had a suicide attempt since 2014. Hannah you’re part of that reason so thank you. But I’m getting off track, the reason that part of her life hit me the hardest is because my cousin shot himself in the head in 2012. We found him by the creek and later found a suicide note left at his work place. When hannah talked about her sister it was triggering, I cried and everything was okay but the similarities where crazy to me. The shooting, the way hannah was told about it, just so much about that part of her life brought back vivid memories of find out and not understanding why he’d do this, I always thought If I was there maybe I could have helped him, survivors guilt tore me apart. Before I read this book I didn’t know anyone who dealt with a loved one killing themselves other than my family, I knew people related obviously because suicide happened’s more than it should but I just didn’t talk to anyone that I knew who had. So hearing hannah talk about it defiantly made me feel less alone and that my feelings were valid.
In chapter 19 hannah goes to her moms house with Kati to take photos of the house for evidence, what she said reminded me of my moms house. I remember being 3 years old and told my dog had cancer and was put down, I remember being able to get to the bedroom without struggling through a mess, it was a clear path. I don’t know when things started to change but less people came around the house and you could hardly get around the house without stepping on things by the time I was 7. For whatever reason my mom couldn’t let go of things, she became a hoarder but never wanted to admit it. Hannah’s experiences with her mom’s house are on a whole different scale than mine ever was, the house never had cockroaches, maggots or mice but it was pilled with stuff, the bathroom had water damage and a bit of mold, something would fall apart at lest once a week whither it was the door or sink-something always went, most of the food had mold, dishes were everywhere, you couldn’t escape dust it was on everything, the list goes on. The worst of it was the bathroom and kitchen, no matter how much you would clean you wouldn’t look like you even made a dint in the room. I remember coming home in the winter from school and all I could smell was dog pee and poop, during the day while everyone was away the dog was in the house because of the winter cold. My sister and I would clean the floor of the kitchen as much as we could but it was almost impossible to get rid of because of how many things were in the way. That smell will never leave my mind, it was the worst smell I’ve ever smelt. The one time my sister got rid of a random bag that was near it and when my mom found out let’s just say that was the last time we ever made that choice.I remember my sister and I building this dog house and using insulation we found to try and keep it warm for our dog the one year, it took forever to build but we were proud. Once mom left for work we’d let her out and go to school. It helped a lot, no more coming home to the smell of feces on the floor. But that only lasted one winter, by summer my mom got angry about not having “enough space” in the yard for guests to visit or something like that so she got rid of it. No one ever came over though, our yard was small we couldn’t do much anyway but that dog house came in handy, I didn’t understand what she was thinking getting rid of it. I didn’t understand why our house was always such a mess until I was in middle school and my friend mentioned to me that she thought my mom was a hoarder. At the time I honestly had no idea what that word meant but when I found out I felt as though we found an answer to why our house was always cluttered. I was embarrassed, I wouldn’t bring friends home. I remember one time a family friend dropped me off and asked if she could use the washroom and I froze- I was scared and embarrassed but my mouth said “yes” to be polite. She called my mom a hoarder too, that was the second person ever to say that.. Being the type of kid who had anxiety about not being clean, this was the worst environment for me but it was home. No matter how inhabitable it was, it was still home. When my sister and I moved out things got worse in her home but everything changed for us, the main one for me was moving out gave me less anxiety attacks because my house is clean. If I’m really busy or just don’t feel like doing laundry i can leave it for a week and not worry about having nothing to wear or about having an anxiety attack Because i know I’ll get it done. My mom has always been a really hard worker, she worked 4 jobs and still does today. I love my mom and over the years we’ve got her to go to a psychologist and get the help she needs, we found out that the mental illness that she has brought out and feeds her hoarder tendencies. Its a work in progress but things are looking up.
For me being gay came off as natural, my first kiss was with a girl in 6th grade, maybe it was the relationship I had with my uncle who was also gay or maybe it was just the fact that I was so open minded growing up but either way I followed what felt right. However in high school I did happen to struggle with understanding my true sexuality, I started questioning myself as to what I was. I knew I liked girls but everyone expected me to marry a man, what if I’m not attracted to men because I haven’t met the right one? So many questions I had no answers to, luckily I had friends who were open minded and we were able to figure something’s out. My friend Logan hated labels, always has so through out high school she’d always say not to label your sexuality. Growing up with my uncle being gay, I knew who in the family was accepting and who wasn’t. When I came to terms with my sexuality I knew who I’d come out to first. I’d say I had it pretty easy though, I lost a few family members and received hate from them because of their religious values but at the end of the day it could have been alot worse. I came out at 17 as a lesbian and by the time I was 19 most of my family knew. Throughout the time I’ve been openly gay I’ve only had a few scary experiences but I defiantly consider myself lucky.
Hannah’s so good with words, the way she spoke about depression was on point. Now I don’t remember the first time I started to self harm, my sister says she remembers me being 10 punching the side walk while we waited for the bus. I don’t remember that but that was the year I watched my sister have her first of many seizure’s, crying in her best friends arms asking if she’s going to die. That day has never left my mind, at that age I was already dealing with bullying maybe that was the tipping point. That was also the year after my mom betrayed me for the second time which is a whole other story so maybe that was the first time, maybe it did start that young or maybe it started even younger than that, I remember being 7 years old just wanting to fight and I always put myself in dangerous situations that I knew I couldn’t get out of because I wanted to get hurt, would that be self harm? I’m not sure but if it does my self harm journey started a lot earlier than I thought. If I was to say when I started self harming, personally I’d say 12 because to be honest my first vivid memory of self harm was at 12 (unless the age 7 thing counts), As a kid I didn’t know how to deal with my anxiety or emotions, instead I would pull out hair and punch any surface I could find. One specific memory that’s coming to mind was during Christmas, I remember being in the basement of my grandmas house alone while everyone else was having a good time. I’m not sure what was wrong or if something happened that morning but I remember repeatedly slamming my head against the wall. From then on forward there’s just a lot of memories of punching things, I even did what hannah said in the book- I use to press my fist against a wall as hard as I could. It wasn’t until I was 14 I moved from punching things to cutting, I soon realized that was the worst thing I could have done. I tried to hide it but it didn’t always work out. My scars became aggressive, almost impossible to hide. Grade 9 was the first year anyone asked me what they saw, we were close friends and she just wanted to help but it drove us away from each other. Later that year she was actually the one who got me the help i needed but didn’t appreciate at the time but am so grateful for today. She told the counselor she talked to and later that day I was called down. The help I received was on and off for 2 years but by the time I was in grade 11 I was receiving the help i needed for self harm and depression constantly. I still receive help today and its a everyday struggle but I haven’t relapsed for 3 years, which is the longest I’ve ever gone. There’s times when I put my fist against a wall wanting to do it but Instead I take a deep breath and go do something that’ll distract me from whatever is making me want to do it, which really does work.
In grade 3 I was diagnosed with ADHD, and saw a psychiatrist again at 20 because growing up I always heard “ADHD isn’t real” or “you’ll outgrow it” or “you just need to focus” the stigma around it made me felt like it didn’t exist and that something else must be going on and that I was misdiagnosed, turns out I wasn’t. I learned a lot about ADHD after that and realized a lot of the little things I did was because of it. Things like having to start reading whole chapters over when I’m basically done it because I got distracted by something else, or when my mind is racing because there is so many things I want to do but I don’t know where to start, why i always detect the slightest sounds and stop everything I’m doing to see what it was, How my mind only becomes a sponge to the things i ’m passionate about, why I always have to be doing something with my hands and Why my mind will be filled with a million thoughts and i’ll forget about what I was supposed to do but i’ll come upon a topic that’s so amazing that I put 110% into that topic. In that moment I can’t think about anything else. Lets just say thank god for therapists and psychologists!
I kept feeling drawn back to my own memories while reading this book but It also had things I’ve never dealt with so it was really eye opening. It showed me a side of hannah we rarely ever see. I’ve taken so many things away from this book to use to better my life and I’m grateful to be alive in a generation that hannah is apart of. I do feel bad she had to relive those memories to write this book though but she’s created such a beautiful written book, that will be forever imprinted in millions of minds, creating a more united community in understanding issues most people don’t talk about while braking stigmas and I hope she realizes how amazing that is. I. Do want to say Everyone should listen to chapter 22. It breaks my heart knowing how many family’s in the world don’t receive the help they need with mental illness because of legal reasons. Everyone deserves to be treated and live as “normal” of a life as possible but in today’s world it feels like mental illness is swept under the rug and left for dead and that’s not okay! Our system is broken, always has been. If we are capable of change, why can’t a system be to? Why do we feel things are out of our reach? Is it because the government makes some of us feel small, maybe because we fear we’ll fail, or is it because we don’t think it’s our problem? But if its not our problem, then who’s is it? There’s a quote I love to live by “if not now, then when?. If not you, then who?”. I think that fits perfectly here, a lot of us have been affected by loved ones having mental illnesses un medicated or you’re dealing with it yourself but either way we all know someone or will in our life time. The legal system when it comes to things like sexual assault, mental illness/health, foster care, etc is horrible. Hannah has made the impossible possible with getting her mom help, but it was hard enough for her to do that so what about the rest of the world? Things NEED to change, breaking the stigma and raising awareness is a start but beyond the stigma, laws need to be changed too. I recommend everyone to read or listen to the audio of this breathtaking book, you won’t regret it. To you Hannah thank you so much for being such a kind, honest, humble human. You stand up for what you believe in and that’s really inspiring. I hope the best for your family and if there’s honestly anything at all I could do, simply just let me know. Everyday is a struggle that we don’t know until its already happening and the hardest thing to do is be positive in those moments, even hannah deals with moments insecurity, struggle, depression, etc but to anyone reading this you’re worthy of happiness and a good life. In times of struggle try your best to practice reckless optimism. It won’t be easy but you have the power to choose some of the battles you face. We have the power to break stigma, the power to make change. Hannah has shown us time after time we have a voice, we have the ability to impact lives. So lets practice reckless optimism, stand for something and make a difference. Whither it’s with one life or hundreds, go out and try to make a difference and be kind to one another.