13 reasons why takes on a number of important topics in the last season, but one of the topics is the continuation of a story we've been following since season one: Clay & # 39; s waning mental health. Although his health has deteriorated significantly this season, there is evidence that he has been experiencing anxiety from season one when his parents ask him if he wants to take his medication again after Hannah Baker's death. They fear that his nightmares will come back and give him the opportunity to speak to someone who is not a parent: in this case, a therapist.
In the second season Clay begins to have visions of Hannah and interrupts his attempts to become intimate with the then girlfriend Skye. It could be viewed as a stressful psychosis or obsession, but extreme grief can also distort your mindset. Hallucinations of dead relatives are a common phenomenon, even in people without mental illness and in people with PTSD. It can be a way the mind deals with an unexpected and overwhelming loss. Until then, whatever the problem is, it is clear that Clay is more than just general fear.
Season three has an episode titled "There are a number of issues with Clay Jensen," but we don't get specific answers to his specific issues. As the season progresses, we see him driving through a series of extreme emotions, including anger, but his fear is mainly manifested in the relentless desire to protect his friends after Bryce's murder at the expense of his own health.
In the fourth and final season, Clay has a complete nervous breakdown due to a combination of troubling factors. He not only has routine nightmares with the now deceased Bryce and Monty, but also hallucinates them during his waking hours. He receives calls where the caller claims to know the truth about Monty and his need to find the caller's identity isolates him from Ani and his friends. He's suspended from school after showing up for a Valentine's Day dance with a knife, and when he's allowed to return, he feels paranoid and thinks people talk about him when they're not.
"Going back to school after a two-week suspension was like returning from the war," he tells his therapist Dr. Ellman. These therapy sessions finally give us some answers to what's going on with Clay. He confirms that he has anxiety and that trying not to feel anxious only makes things worse. It is only later in the season that we learn the full extent of Clay's diagnosis.
After the school's active target practice, Clay Principal yells at Bolan and steals a gun from an armed guard. He is pulled out on a stretcher, and when the next episode begins, he's locked up in a hospital while his therapist explains to his parents that he had a breakdown. This breakdown is relativized at the end of the eighth episode "Acceptance / Rejection" when Clay is confronted with film material in which he sets fire to Principal Bolan's car. He has no memory until that moment when this memory and others flow into his consciousness. Suddenly he realizes that he is the one who sprayed "Monty was framed" at school, jailed Jessica and members of the soccer team during the elderly's camping trip, and destroyed the school's security cameras.
Dr. Ellman confirms that Clay is a dissociation that, according to Mental Health America, is "a mental process that causes a lack of connection in a person's thoughts, memory, and sense of identity". Although Dr. Ellman doesn't specifically call it, it seems that Clay has a form of the disorder called psychogenic amnesia, namely the inability to remember personally important memories. His condition is likely triggered by all of the personal trauma and loss he has struggled with throughout the seasons.
By the time the series finale ends, Clay will make it clear to his classmates in his closing speech that they are suffering from anxiety and depression – "but mostly from anxiety". "Whatever happens, keep moving," he says. "Make it through. Decide to live. Because even on the worst day, there are people who love you." While talking to his colleagues, it is clear that he is really talking to himself and making sure that he can survive his anxiety and depression.
If you or someone you know would like more information on the mental health issues discussed here or on the show, visit the National Helpline of the Administration for Substance Abuse and Mental Health or call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline for help and resources receive.
– Additional reporting from Maggie Panos