Hollywood and Mental Illness II

Harvey Spector Panic Attack
Name Partner and Attorney Harvey Spector experiencing a panic attack: derealization of surroundings

Wow, I still can’t believe how Hollywood is touching on mental illness. Which is kinda great, but of course you know Hollywood is going to over exaggerate things for emphasis in their show. But hey, better than the latter days. Hopefully the Hollywood industry will shed a more positive light on mental illness. Not just showing people going through it, but people overcoming it, people relapsing from it, people receiving love, people receiving rejection…basically giving audiences a look at a day in the life of one going through mental illness. Before I go on, I am going to make an abridged version of the show of an episode of “Suits” called “No Refills”. I just want to talk about the parts of the show that relate to mental illness.

On the last episode of “Suits” (Episode “No Refills”) …. Attorney Harvey Spector had another panic attack, because he was afraid he was going to lose his grandiose income and his Associate/friend Mike Ross. Let’s start with Harvey’s income.  Unknown to Harvey, Jack Soloff, senior partner at Pearson Spector Litt and the head the head of the firm’s compensation committee, wanted to take Harvey’s huge paycheck (unrevealed to the audience. But we get it; he makes a lot of money) and use it to pay the compensation resolution of the Pearson Spector and Litt Firm. Louis Litt, lawyer and name partner, who was told of this by Jack himself, refused to take part of that action. Jack still decided to take the plan unto the compensation committee. The next day, Harvey & Louis attended the compensation meeting and it was then Jack revealed the compensation resolution and how Harvey’s paycheck was to be involved it. Although, Louis struck down the plan, Harvey showed indifference to Louis’ defense and Jack’s plan.  So, Louis, now disappointed by Harvey’s lack of appreciation, now wants to partner with Jack to get back at Harvey. It was at that moment, Louis decided to expose Harvey’s paycheck (which is illegal by the way) to the whole firm in order to have the committee approve of the plan. The whole firm is pissed at Harvey’s massive salary and Harvey is pissed that Litt exposed it. Then when Harvey couldn’t think things could get any worse, he finds Mike is working with the firm’s competitor, Robert Zane. Two seasons ago, it was hard enough for Harvey to accept that Mike was leaving the firm to work for someone else. Now to lose him to Robert Zane??? Damn. However, unknowingly to Harvey, this was only a brief partnership to fight for clients who have lost their love one’s to their health insurance’s incompetence. Regardless, as he walked back to his office, he began to experience a panic attack: fear of losing control, the derealization of his surroundings, heart racing, and the choking feeling. When he arrived at his office, his hands were trembling as he was reaching for his water bottle.

Harveys hands trembling

Mike, who just happened to be in his office making a phone call, saw Harvey and was concerned he was having a heart attack. Just as Mike was about to change the dial to call 911, Harvey quickly told Mike not to call them; he informed him he was having a heart attack.

Harvey and Mike

And oh…great. Jack Soloff comes into his office while this is happening and tells him he’s going to lose it all when the compensation kicks in. Harvey who had his back turned to Soloff was trying to compose himself, before he could tell Jack he was still going to kick his ass regardless.

In the next scene, we find Harvey at the house/office of his therapist, Dr. Paula Agard. He begs her to let him in, but she refuses (she was having dinner with her family). She said she knew he was only at her house for medication and last time he was with her, he failed to continue his session with her. She refuses to work with clients who are not serious about their therapy sessions. Harvey pleaded with her and let her know he threw out the last batch of medication, but his panic attacks still kept coming back. A few minutes later, she invited him into her house and explained why he still continues to have panic attacks: displacement. Dr. Agard tells him, he bottled up his anger towards his former secretary, Donna Paulsen.

Harvey at Therapy

Harveys Therapist

However, he then took out that anger out on Louis, but only to end up burying his bottled anger towards Donna even further. So upon telling him this, she has Harvey to pretend she is Donna in order for him to let his anger out at “her”. At first, Harvey scoffs at the idea, telling her the idea his stupid and she’s not Donna. Though as Dr. Agard began talking as Donna, Harvey begins to “see” Donna and lets out all the rage out at her.

Harvey and Donna Therapy

Though apparently he got so into it, he forgot he was talking to Dr. Agard. Harvey began to feel a little better again.

Sorry for the looong summary. I know, I might as well could have rewrote the whole script, but I had to tell you this…Harvey relapsed. Just as soon he thought he moved on about Donna leaving him (well he did it to himself. For those who have not watched the series, if you want to know what happened between them, watch the last episode from the last season or read it on a Suits-Wiki.), he relapsed due to further changes in his firm. And that sort of thing will happen on the way to recovery. Just when you think you’re doing better, you’re on top of the world….bam…an event crosses your path to recovery. However, this doesn’t mean you’re weak and that doesn’t mean you should give up. Speaking of giving up, don’t give up on your therapy sessions too soon either. Harvey didn’t complete his sessions, because they were “stupid” or they were slow. But I felt, what Harvey really wanted was a magic bullet for his problems. Though what also helped him at the end was having his support group, such as Mike, Gretchen and Dr. Agard. For instance, Mike was awesome by putting his phone down and tending to Harvey. Though (bless his soul), Mike mistook Harvey’s panic attack for a heart attack. Though if you look at the symptoms of a heart attack and a panic attack they are quite similar:

Panic Attack and Heart Attack Symptoms

This is why mental health has to be taught in communities, including the workplace environment so people can learn how to recognize mental health symptoms and help their loved one or peers overcome these issues. But one of the most important actions to remind communities is to how to care for their loved ones or peers is love, compassion and respect. Why? Because speaking as someone with mental illness, it’s not an easy thing to disclose to those who don’t understand especially to loved ones. Harvey’s secretary, Gretchen also did something I am doing and many bloggers are doing…sharing our story. Doing so, encourages others suffering from the mental illness to be remain empowered and enlightened. It provides trust and respect of ourselves and the other person. Also, what helps is having a great psychiatrist. Not a “Dr. Feelgood.” Find a psychiatrist that treats you like a person, not just a patient or number. Find one that will challenges you…the one who will challenge you to go into the places within yourself you don’t like. Lastly, what I liked about the episode is the scene where you see Harvey trying to compose himself, before putting on his game face and shutting Jack Soloff down. When going through mental illness, I feel at most times, I have to put on a mask before I encounter anyone. Like Harvey, I always want to remain cool and collected when meeting with anyone. Doing so makes it hard for anyone to believe I live with with mental illness, because I carry myself like I’m worth a million bucks. Although, when I’m not “charged” up, I feel I am worth 2 bucks. Does it suck to pretend around others that everything is fine? Yes, but sometimes I feel the deception helps me believe I’m okay and I don’t have anxiety and depression. After all, the mind is a powerful thing.

Anyway, thanks for sticking with my summary and thoughts on “Suits”. Will Harvey have another panic attack? I guess you are going to have stay tuned to this week upcoming episode. And yo, USA Network if you’re reading this, thank you for showing “Denial” and “No Refills.” I appreciate it.

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