It seems that this year, Glee is all about morals. On the whole, I’m not sure I love this aspect of the show, but tonight’s episode was on self-love, and I sure have a lot of thoughts on that.
I think I’m going to have to break my thoughts up into several posts, so let’s start with Emma and her OCD. Will’s attempt to help Emma with her OCD is not too far from experiences I’ve had with friends trying to help me with my eating disorder (both good and bad):
- Expressing care and concern – important. Just ignoring her issue (like the rest of the faculty) doesn’t help her, and kind of gives her the impression that her OCD is okay and maybe even normal.
- Helping Emma clean her fruit - just enabling the disorder. It reminds me of when I first started treatment — my mother took me to the grocery store so that I could buy safe food. You know, sugar-free jelly, pickles, light yogurt, etc. Sure, it eased my anxiety around food, but it also just helped perpetuate the eating disordered behavior.
- Bringing Emma unwashed fruit — frustrating. In my experience, while my mom realized was filling the house with fat free foods, my boyfriend at the time was headed the complete opposite direction with trying to force me to eat a lot of dessert. This, along with all the “just eat” comments, was also not helpful.
I’m personally glad that they are at least seriously addressing Emma’s OCD, because up until now (with a few exceptions), I feel like they (Will and the other faculty) have largely ignored it and maybe even mislead her to believe it’s not really a problem. Sure, Will makes a comment every once in awhile about how he thinks she’s doing better/worse, but for the most part he just eats with her and lets her clean her fruit like it’s a normal thing to do. It’s become Emma’s identity and a large basis of her character: she’s OCD; it’s just the way she is. As a result, I wasn’t surprised when she made this comment tonight:
“I’m not sure I want to lay on a couch and tell some stranger all of my secrets and I don’t want to start popping pills just so I can turn into someone that other people want me to be. This is how I am, this is who I’m supposed to be.”
I think this does bring up a really good point though, and something that I know I struggle with when it comes to mental illness: How much of my issues (anorexia, depression, anxiety, etc) is mental illness, and how much of it is me?
I’m pretty sure that I’m a perfectionist by nature and that I’ve always had obsessive compulsive tendencies. These are definitely pieces of my personality and they definitely contribute to my eating and anxiety issues. However, I am very certain that I’m not “supposed” to be anorexic or depressed. Even the genetic predisposition and biological contribution to mental illness doesn’t make these struggles my identity. They’re just that — struggles. Something that I have to deal with and work to manage or overcome.
When I was younger and first starting treatment, I worried that something would happen in therapy that would change me when I didn’t want to change. Somehow my psychologist would change my thoughts and I would be a different person. Ha, if only! I’m sure a lot of therapists out there would love for it to work that way. The reality though, is that you are the one doing all the work in treatment. Maybe you can be forced to gain weight or to take care of yourself while in intensive treatment, but it’s your personal responsibility to maintain that change.