— Grey’s Anatomy: Season 6, Episode 2
From Grey’s Anatomy Season 11, Episode 14 – “The Distance”:
Dr. Amelia Shepard: “The key, though, win or lose, is not to fail. And the only way to fail is not to fight. So you fight until you can’t fight anymore. Hold up you head and enter the arena and face the enemy. Fight until you can’t fight anymore. Never let go. Never give up. Never run. Never surrender. Fight the good fight. You fight even when it seems inevitable that you’re about to go down swinging.”
I actually don’t have a lot to say about this quote – I think it pretty much speaks for itself. The process of recovery from an eating disorder is grueling, and it’s easy to feel like a failure. I often actually feel caught in this vicious cycle of failure – if I make pro-recovery decisions, I feel like I am failing the eating disorder, and if I choose to listen to the eating disorder, I feel like I am failing at recovery. It sets up this impossible scenario where I just feel bad 24/7.
Every time I have to go back into more intensive treatment I feel like a failure too. I don’t feel that way when friends tell me they are stepping up treatment though. I think this quote is a good reminder that continuing to fight, even if that means having to go back to more intensive treatment, is not failing.
It also gets exhausting fighting so hard, day after day. Some days it feels like I just can’t fight anymore. But as the quote says, I need to “Never let go. Never give up.” Just keep fighting.
From ER Season 8, Episode 7 “If I Should Fall From Grace”:
Carter: Want to tell us about the scars?
Grace: I used to be a cutter…I developed an eating disorder. It was my way of dealing with stress….
Lewis: And what about now, are you still cutting?
Carter: Show me your arm….Grace you have a fever…maybe from an infection. Maybe from using a dirty blade.
Grace: I told you I haven’t eaten.
Lewis: So the eating disorder continues?
Grace: No! I’ve just been cramming.
Carter: Let me see your thigh.
[Lewis lifts up her skirt, revealing fresh cuts, and Grace becomes angry]
Lewis: We just want to help.
Carter: If you don’t stay and agree to speak to somebody, you are going to force me to put you on a psych hold.
Grace: Stop. You are blowing this way out of proportion. Why are you doing this?
Carter: Because I know what it’s like to need help when you least want it.
Grace: Please just leave me alone.
Carter: I can’t.
I love Carter’s line “because I know what it’s like to need help when you least want it.” For those who are not familiar with the show, in Season 6 Carter developed a drug problem after being nearly fatally stabbed. He was confronted by the rest of the ER staff and ultimately went to rehab.
I wish I could find a clip of this scene online because the transcript really doesn’t do it justice. Noah Wyle (the actor who plays Carter) does a great job delivering the line with sincere empathy. I love the way he tells her that no, he can’t just leave her alone.
As much as I can be resistant to help, I am very grateful to all the people who continue to stick by me, and help me even when the eating disorder is fighting back and I appear not to want it. I know for me, it’s often when I least want support that I need it the most.
From Season 1, Episode 6 “If Tomorrow Never Comes”:
Meredith: I don’t know why we put things off, but if I had to guess, I’d say it has a lot to do with fear. Fear of failure. Fear of pain. Fear of rejection. Sometimes the fear is just of making a decision, because what if you’re wrong? What if you make a mistake you can’t undo? Whatever it is we’re afraid of, one thing holds true: that by the time the pain of not doing the thing gets worse than the fear of doing it, it can feel like we’re carrying around a giant tumor…Still sometimes we have to see for ourselves. We have to make our own mistakes. We have to learn our own lessons. We have to sweep today’s possibility under tomorrow’s rug until we can’t anymore, until we finally understand for ourselves…that knowing is better than wondering, that waking is better than sleeping. And that even the biggest failure, even the worst most intractable mistake beats the hell out of never trying.”
I am absolutely horrible at making decisions, and I think a lot of that has to do with fear. I am always worried that I am making the wrong decision, even if it’s something minor. As a result, I often put off making decisions until, by default, sometimes the decision gets made for me.
Even when I do make a decision, I often spend hours, days, or even weeks second guessing whether I made the right decision or not. As Meredith says, this can lead to feeling like you are carrying around a huge weight.Even after a decision is made, I still carry around the “what if?” and wonder if I truly made the right decision or not. I wish I could get to a point where I could make a decision and just leave it be. That is definitely something I am working on, but am not quite there yet.
I think it is helpful though to keep in mind what Meredith says about having to make our own mistakes, and that idea that a mistake is not the worst thing in the world. I will make the wrong decision sometimes, but that is ok. I can learn lessons from those mistakes so that I don’t make them in the future.
They key is I have to let go of this constant “what if?”. There are always going to be unanswered questions, and there is always going to be fear of not doing the right thing. While it may seem like constantly analyzing and second guessing my decisions will lead to making the right choice, often all it does is keep me spinning. Being able to let go and just try to roll with what seems to be the best, as opposed to over analyzing and asking all the “what if” questions in the quote, might just lead to the sort of mental freedom and peace that I crave so badly.
From The West Wing, Season 1, Episode 13 – “Take out the Trash Day”:
KAREN: Is that why you drank and took drugs?
LEO: I drank and took drugs because I’m a drug addict and an alcoholic.
KAREN: How long did it take you to get cured?
LEO: I’m not cured. You don’t get cured. I haven’t had a drink or a pill in six
and a half years, which isn’t to say I won’t have one tomorrow.
KAREN: What would happen if you did?
LEO: I don’t know. But probably a nightmare the likes of which both our fathers
experienced. And me too.
KAREN: So after six and a half years you’re still not allowed to have a drink?
LEO: The problem is, I don’t want a drink, I want ten drinks.
KAREN: Are things that bad?
KAREN: Then why?
LEO: ‘Cause I’m an alcoholic.
KAREN: I don’t understand.
LEO: I know. It’s okay. Hardly anyone does. It’s very hard to understand.
Thankfully I don’t struggle with alcohol or drug addiction, but I could relate a lot of what Leo says about his struggle with alcoholism and drug addiction to the eating disorder. Even though restricting often starts out for me with “I’ll just miss a couple of exchanges here or there”, or the goal of losing weight just starts with “I only want to lose a couple of pounds”, the problem is I don’t just want to restrict an exchange or lose a pound. What I really want is to lose 10 pounds. The eating disorder is very tricky and I often don’t see that at the outset, but if I take a step back, I can see that just how Leo says that his problem is that he doesn’t just want one drink, he want’s ten drinks, I don’t want to just lose a couple of pounds. I want to just keep losing.
I also liked how he responds to Karen’s question “they why?” with “’cause I’m an alcoholic.” People have often told me things like “I don’t understand why you hang onto the eating disorder, you have so much going for you.” As Leo points out though, it has nothing to do with whether or not things in life are going poorly. Things could be going great, and I will still want to restrict and lose weight because I have an eating disorder. I think the thing is that when life things are going well, I am better able to fight off the eating disorder voice. I am able to remind myself of the things I have going for me, and what I stand to lose if I give into the eating disorder. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t still have an eating disorder, and don’t still have to fight that urge everyday. I do think that with time it gets easier, but I know that it will probably never fully go away.
I agree with Leo too that you are never fully cured. I believe in recovery for sure, but I do think it is something one always has to be diligent about. Again, that’s not to say that it doesn’t get better, or that one day I might hardly notice the eating disorder voice. But it is something I will always have to be diligent about, and as Leo points out, continue to resist day by day.
I also agree that hardly anyone understands. Unless you have lived it, it’s really hard to explain to people just how strong that desire is, and how you really are fighting every day to keep it at bay.
This is not related to eating disorders in anyway, but it is related to television and something I found quite interesting:
The article points out a number of ways that TV could be affected by the election of Trump (I’m sorry, I refuse to call him President Trump). First, networks might be afraid to lose audience members who voted for Trump, which might make them less likely to greenlight projects that are seen as more creative or creative risks. Broadcasters might be less willing to air shows featuring LGBTQ characters, although on the flip side creators might be more inspired to create shows with these characters as protagonists.
The article also mentions how existing shows will deal with the election. For example, Jane the Virgin will feature episodes that deal with immigration and the potential repeal of the ACA. The article doesn’t mention medical dramas, but I would be interested to see if medical dramas will bring up the ACA issue at all, as a few years ago when it was passed Grey’s Anatomy had a plot line about a young girl who had waited for months to have surgery for a tumor until she could get health insurance under the law.
The article also mentions perhaps TV shows will try to steer clear of politics and focus on their primary mission: entertainment.
What do you think? How will TV be different with Donald Trump as President?
From Grey’s Anatomy Season 3, Episode 23 – The Other Side of Life, Part 2:
Meredith: At some point maybe we accept the dream has become a nightmare. We tell ourselves that reality is better. We convince ourselves it’s better that we never dream at all. But, the strongest of us, the most determined of us, we hold on to the dream or we find ourselves faced with a fresh dream we never considered. We wake to find ourselves, against all odds, feeling hopeful. And, if we’re lucky, we realize in the face of everything, in the face of life, the true dream is being able to dream at all.
I think there is a huge tendency, both in the press and among individuals, to glamorize eating disorders. I know I am definitely guilty of falling prey to the “dream” that the eating disorder promises. The eating disorder promises that I will be thin, that I will be happy, that it will solve my problems. As the quote says, however, at some point there has to be an acceptance that this is not a dream after all – it is a nightmare. The eating disorder does nothing but wreck things. It wrecks real dreams, life goals, and relationships.
When that realization happens, it’s easy to just give up all together. The eating disorder is not the answer, but in the face of years of destruction, life doesn’t look all that great either. The original path I set out on after graduating from college doesn’t exist anymore, and it’s really tempting to just give up.
I know logically, however, that it’s not time to give up. As Meredith says, it’s time to find a fresh dream. While several doors have been closed due to past decisions and past struggles, that doesn’t mean that all doors are closed. It is so easy to lose hope when things do not seem to be improving at the pace that I want, or when reminders of the dreams lost keep popping up. But I do hope that if I keep going, that hope will come. That I will continue to be able to dream, and realize that if I can just keep fighting through recovery, the dreams can be far bigger than I ever imagined.