I spent a good chunk of my weekend watching reruns of House season 6, and came across some great scenes that had escaped my memory. Specifically, there was a scene in the episode Epic Fail that could have been taken out of one of my recent therapy sessions. Seriously, it was as if the writers not only read my mind, but also knew what my therapist says in response.
In the episode House has recently been discharged from the psychiatric hospital after spending time in there due to Vicodin-induced hallucinations at the end of season 5. He is now off vicodin and is doing outpatient therapy, so his mangled leg is really hurting him. At the beginning of the episode he announces that he is leaving his position at the hospital because he needs a change, and when his leg pain starts getting worse his therapist, Dr. Nolan, suggests that he needs a hobby or something to keep his mind off of the leg pain. He tries distracting from the pain by taking up cooking, but that wears off after a few days. He then has the following exchange with Dr. Nolan:
Dr. Nolan: What are you worried about?
House: That nothing’s gonna help. That I end up in the very dark place. I’m fine… Just not happy.
Dr. Nolan: I didn’t let you out [of the psych hospital] because you were happy. I let you out, because I believe you had the skills to cope with that. You tried one thing. It didn’t work. So move on. Write. Play chess.
House: What if nothing works? What if nothing gives me more than a few days before my brain starts looking for the next fix, before my leg feels like someone’s shoving nails into it? What do I do then?
Dr. Nolan: If nothing in the world can hold your interest, uh, we’ll deal with that when we get to it. But you have to trust me, and you have to be patient.
I am constantly telling my therapist that I feel hopeless and am worried that nothing is going to help. I have been doing a good job following my meal plan and maintaining my weight for awhile, but I am still tired all the time and having a lot of ED thoughts. I am also still really depressed. As I have blogged about previously, I am terrified that I am never going to feel better, and I also have a hard time trusting that certain things, especially weight gain, are key to helping me feel better. Just as Dr. Nolan says, my therapist me that in the grand scheme of things, I have not given recovery a lot of time. I need to be patient.
I also like Dr. Nolan’s point about discharging House because he had the skills to cope with being unhappy, as opposed to discharging him because he was happy. People often think “oh, you got discharged, you must be better,” but the reality of the situation is that most people still have a long way to go once they are discharged from inpatient or partial programs. To apply what Dr. Nolan says to eating disorders, people are not discharged from inpatient or partial because they no longer have the ED voices or urges, but because they have developed sufficient skills to keep the urges in check (ideally that is…we all know that in this day and age many insurance companies pull out before then).