Tag: Suits

Hollywood and Mental Illness III (also Suits “Mea Culpa” episode)

***Warning: Suits episode 8 spoiler***

Jeez! I feel like I am so behind in the critique of last week’s episode “Mea Culpa” (episode 8) on Suits. I mean the new episode is tomorrow! I didn’t even have time to discuss the previous episode, “Hitting Home (episode 7).” But I guess I’ll tie a little bit of episode 7 with last week’s episode.

In episode 7 of Suits, Lois found out he slept Harvey’s sister, after Harvey promised not to. Out of anger Lois, let’s just say he said somethings in regard to Harvey’s mama and relationship issues. In that moment, Harvey snapped and almost beat the crap out Lois. Upon that moment, Jessica walked in on the fight and told Harvey to get out of his office. In one of the opening scenes of episode 8, Jessica visits Harvey at his house and tells him, he needs to take vacation in order to prevent him from getting a 3 month suspension. She also tells him to tell Lois that he was wrong to start a fight with him.

In another scene, we see Harvey at his therapy session with Dr. Agard. What I love about this scene is seeing Harvey’s human side. And that as attractive and successful he is, he still has issues. This I feel serves as a reminder no matter what part of life you come from, mental illness will affect you. Also, therapy serves as a place where not only can you learn to accept your humanity, but learn to accept the humanity of others. Not to mention, this scene makes for a great TV show.

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Anyway, Dr. Agard tells Harvey how it was good he received vacation time, especially since he has been letting his emotions rule him. However, Harvey says, “Wanting to shut Louis up isn’t being ruled by your emotions. It’s being human.”

Dr. Agard said there are other ways he could have done that, for example walking out the door. But Harvey said he’s not going to walk out of his own office.

She asks why not and he says:

“Because when someone points a gun, you don’t turn around and run away. You take it out of their hand and you point it right back.”

So defensive.

“Well sometimes the best way to get someone to stop firing bullets at you is to take off your armor,” She tells him.

Eesh, being vulnerable. Growing up I thought being vulnerable was the same as being weak, however as I’ve grown up, I’ve learned ironically it’s a show of strength and humility.

“What the hell kind of bullets are you talking about?” He asked defensively.

“Emotional ones,” She answered. “Harvey, Louis lashed out you because he was feeling pain, and instead of showing you his hurt he covers it with anger.”

Yet again, Harvey still shows no regret of his actions toward Louis. Dr. Agard says they both have the same problem of lashing out their anger. The only difference was that Louis didn’t do it with fists, but with words. She also states the only way Louis can admit his wrongs, is if Harvey does as well. But in the meantime, Louis is still mad as hell and tells Jessica he’s gonna sue him for assault and battery. Jessica knows he hasn’t filed the suit yet, so she asks what he really wants. To make a long story short, Louis basically wants Harvey humiliated. However she says he might not feel the same in two weeks due to Harvey being on vacation. He doesn’t buy that and believes it was made up. Jessica still on her ground says he has no proof and for him to say it’s pretty bold statement.

Jessica is so cool! 😀

In a much later scene, we see Harvey go to see Louis in his office and apologize for his actions. Despite his efforts Louis does not accept his apology.

Harvey and Lois

“There is something wrong with you and there is nothing you could ever possibly say to me—“

“I have been seeing a psychologist.” He said.

Yeah. That’s kinda of a tough one. Telling people in your workplace about your illness is pretty risky. Even if you’d want to, you’d preferably only  tell your boss and maybe your closest coworker/friend. In this case, the only people who know about Harvey’s panic attack are Jessica and Mike.  To tell other colleagues about it, would only be when necessary; which for Harvey would make sense for him to tell Louis. In my personal experience, I only told my colleague about mental illnesses, because I was late to help her with her class due to a panic attack.

“What? No you haven’t. This is some kind of trick—“

Why is when say to you that you have issues, they don’t believe you? What do they expect mental illness to look like?

“I’ve been seeing someone to get help for panic attacks.” Harvey said cutting Louis off.

“You’ve been having panic attacks?” Louis said.

“Yes.” Harvey said admittedly.

“Where?” Asks Louis.

“Look I don’t want to get into it.” Harvey said trying to dodge the question.

“Where?” Demanded Louis.

“In the Office.” Harvey answered

“When?” Louis asked.

When??? Yeah Louis…like panic attacks have a set schedule.

“They happen when they happen,” Harvey told him. “Louis, I am telling you the truth.”

In that moment, Louis seemed to showed empathy for him. “My God—How long have they—“

“They started a few months ago.” He stated.

“A few—“  Then it “donned” upon Louis. “When Donna left.”

“Yes when Donna left,” Harvey continues “But it isn’t really about Donna. That was a trigger—at least that’s what they’re telling me. It goes deeper. My family, my relationships… Let’s just say I’m trying to work through some shit.”

Louis then really seems now show compassion and understanding to Harvey’s inner plight. “So when I said those things it struck a nerve.”

“Oh it did more than that Louis,” Harvey said “It hurt.”

“You hurt me too Harvey” Louis replied shortly.

“I know and I’m sorry.” Harvey says apologetically. “And it’s not an excuse but I wanted you know why I did what I did and where it was coming from.”

Louis then blurts he’s not going to vacation. Harvey states what really he has been doing was seeing his therapist and figuring out how to apologize to him. Harvey then continues to apologize for his actions and Louis forgives him.  Harvey however still unsure asks if Louis was still going to suspend him. I think he shouldn’t have said that too soon. Louis said no and said he understood why Jessica gave him vacation. In fact, Louis has him come to work the next day especially since the committee was announcing Mike’s partnership. Aww! It looks everything is going work out between them again. Er, Wrong!

The following day, during the same time the committee announces Mike’s partnership, Louis says in front of the committee that Harvey is the one who gave him the scars on his face and wants him suspended. But Jack Soloff, the head of the committee says they can’t do it right away. However, the committee has till Friday to decide if Harvey should be suspended. That son of a bitch!!!! Just when you think Louis to seemed to understand Harvey’s situation he still retaliates. I’m tired of Louis’ petty behavior!
In a much later scene, we see Harvey confront Louis in the men’s restroom about the stunt he pulled in front of the committee. Louis says he doesn’t believe that he had a panic attack, because Harvey asked if he was still going to be suspended or not.

Okay maybe Harvey shouldn’t have asked too soon and just kept to the apology. But why the hell would anyone lie about having mental illness to one up somebody??? It’s a very hard topic for someone with mental illness to talk anyone about.

“You think being opening up about panic attacks is manipulation?!” Harvey said disgustingly.

Why do people think showing them your vulnerable side is a way of taking advantage of them or getting attention? It isn’t. As someone being part of the mentally ill community, I don’t believe we show our weaknesses to win people over, but to show that we are trying our best take ownership of our lives.

“I don’t think you really had panic attacks, let alone are going to therapy.” Louis chortled.

“Well I am,” Harvey bellowed. “And I opened up to you about it and then you looked me in the eye and you used mike’s partnership to lure me back in.”

Louis admitted saying that to lure him back in and in order to teach him a lesson. Oi, Louis…making things go from bad to worse. What Louis did to Harvey does worry me when whenever I feel like telling anyone at my work, especially my boss that I have mental illness. I fear that if I do tell someone I confined to at work about my illness, I could end up being blackballed.

In one of the last scenes of Suits, we see Donna seeing in a chair in Louis office holding his Dictaphone. She then plays the confrontation that happened between him and Harvey in the bathroom. Donna states she understands why he’d want Harvey suspended, but not to play dirty by using Harvey’s weakness to do it. Good going Donna! Way to go saving the day, perhaps even the firm.

So, will Louis still get Harvey suspended? Will Harvey’s weakness still be revealed to his entire firm? I guess we’re going to find out in the next episode of Suits.
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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.

Hollywood and Mental Illness

I am happy how Hollywood is slowly talking about mental illness. They still glamorize it a little for dramatic effect, but they don’t over glamorize it like they have in time’s past. Hollywood is also showcasing mental illness on the small screen too. Two of my favorite shows, “Empire” and “Suits” have discussed how it impacts the character’s life and the lives of their loved ones.

In the season premiere of “Suits” episode, “Denial”, Attorney Harvey Spector (Gabriel Macht) meets with his therapist, Dr. Paula Agard (Christina Cole), regarding the changes he been going through since the last season. Of course—if you know the character very well—he denies how the changes are affecting his life. Instead of facing it, he’d rather have his therapist give him sleeping pills. Dr. Agard says she will not give him any pills; that the only way he is going to overcome his symptoms is by admitting his problems. Upset at her decline, Harvey tells her he doesn’t need her. Dr. Agard replies if she is not needed, then why does he keep coming to her? She reminds him again to own up to his problems, so it will not have power over him. However as the episode progresses, so does his symptoms: his heart races faster, becomes dizzy and eventually throws up (but not in front of his colleagues. He has a rep to keep. He does it in the bathroom). He then returns to his therapist still denying his problems and still requesting for pills. Dr. Agard, standing on her ground, lets him have it! She tells him the reason why he is throwing up is because he has been having panic attacks. Also, the reason why he keeps returning to her is because he’s afraid he is going to go through another one. *Harvey gives her a blank look* Dr. Agard tells him she wouldn’t be a good doctor if she just gave him pills. However, she does give him pills to subside the symptoms of a future panic attack. Eventually, Harvey comes to terms with his fears and he gets his swag back.

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***Harvey Specter with his therapist Dr. Paula Agard***

When I watched this episode, I felt Harvey represents people who don’t want to face their problems. They just want a shortcut for their pain; they don’t want to go through it. However, going through the pain is the only way to have a successful recovery. Taking pills doesn’t make it better. I feel that pills only takes care of physiological parts of mental illness, not the cognitive part. That’s where having a good therapist comes in. A therapist’s job help you uncover the reasons behind your behavior and help you develop healthier ones .  I like his therapist, Dr. Agard. I feel she is the kind of doctor people should have. Now that I think about it, she kinda reminds me of my doctor. She challenges him to overcome his fears and did not give into his demands just because he was an attorney (not saying I have those issues). She wants the best for him, she just needed him to see it for himself. As I continued watching the show, his recovery was hard on him. He was always on the verge of having a panic attack which had an impact on his performance at work: his appointments were a mess, he nearly lost a deal with one of his clients, his colleagues were worried about him. His symptoms were so bad, some of his closest colleagues had to help him with his work. It was that horrible. It was weird to see Harvey loose his cool. Anyways, before the show ended he came in terms with the changes in his life and became his old arrogant, but bad ass self again. And he was able to save his client’s company. Okay, so may your mental illness may not turn around as quickly as Harvey’s. Yet, this goes to show what happens when you do not face your problem and/or your condition: the quality of your work, health and relationships spiral downward. So it is a must, must, must you face your obstacle(s) so you can be a victor of them. Not a victim. In addition to that, it helps to have a good support team of peers and doctors around you.

In “Empire” the eldest son, Andre Lyon (Trai Byers), suffers from Bipolar Disorder. In spite of that, he helped put his dad’s—Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard)—company, Empire Entertainment, become a public owned stock company. Yet despite of this accomplishment, his dad still would not allow him become the future CEO of Empire. Lucious felt he lacked knowledge of the music industry, although Andre was well versed in the business industry. So with the help of his wife, Rhonda Lyon (Kaitlin Doubleday) they planned to sabotage the company. Though what really pushed Andre over the edge, was when his dad announced he was dying. In one point of the show, Andre planned to take his life in his family’s recording studio with a gun. Fortunately, there was no bullet, but he sobbed greatly because he felt like the black sheep in his musically talented family. As the show progressed he was transferred into a recovery clinic where he underwent music therapy. Ironic, huh? What I also noticed about the show was the lack of acceptance his family—more specifically his parents—had on his mental illness. In one flashback, it was discovered he had bipolar disorder during his junior year of college. Worst of all, he was having a breakdown at his dad’s music release party. He had a manic episode where he was impulsively buying items, displaying unusual talkativeness and inflated grandiosity. Lucious, embarrassed by his behavior, had people escort him out of the house. Someone told Lucious about Andre’s condition and Lucious grabbed the man by the shirt and threatened him not to tell anybody about it. We are then thrown back in the present, where we find most of the Lyon family with Andre and his psychiatrist. His psychiatrist announced to his family that he has bipolar disorder. Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson) then says, “What is this bipolar disorder…that’s white people problems.” *She looks over towards Andre’s wife (for those who may not watch the show, his wife is white)* His psychiatrist then announces (or Rhonda. It’s been awhile since I watched that show) that it’s not just a white problem. Mental illness can happen to anyone regardless of color.

Rhonda stays by Andre's side as he tries to recover.
Rhonda stays by Andre’s side as he tries to recover.
Cookie is angry when Lucious doesn't show up to support Andre.
Cookie is angry when Lucious doesn’t show up to support Andre.
Hakeem and Jamal try to cheer up Andre and talk him into attending the IPO events.
Hakeem and Jamal try to cheer up Andre and talk him into attending the IPO events.

***The Lyon Family at Andre’s Recovery Clinic***

Although, there have been comments on the exaggeration of Andre’s illness (again done for dramatization. What do you expect? It’s Hollywood.), I do like how they show how the African-American community views mental illness. According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), only ¼ of African Americans seek mental health treatment. This is a serious issue that needs to be discussed within the community. Hopefully, I will be the first. Also the show has shown reoccurring flashbacks of a young Andre, when he was just a child himself, protecting his dad and younger brothers when his dad was selling drugs and his mom was jail. I am sure all of that has put him through duress as he grew up. Nevertheless, it shows how despite how one may have a mental illness and still go through the various odds of life, it doesn’t stop them from being successful. Andre was able to complete college, become the CFO of his father’s company and help Empire Entertainment achieve IPO status. Touché… Also, you can look as totally gorgeous like Andre and Harvey and still undergo mental illness. People may think you have to look like this to have mental illness:

But it doesn’t. Even if so, who are we to judge? Homelessness much like mental illness can happen to anyone.

All in all, people with mental illness come from many walks of life: rich, poor, young, old, black, white, beautiful…not so beautiful looking…. No matter who you are or where you come from as long as you believe in yourself and your recovery, you can be anything you want to be.

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And by the way,  thanks Hollywood for trying to put a better face on the mental illness population than in times past. You still have some work to do on  the representation of people living with mental illness, but like I said it’s a much better improvement. Hopefully with your influence on both the silver and small screen, you will hopefully correct the negative views people have on mental illness.

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Also, Suits is now showing this summer on Wednesdays on the USA channel and Empire will return this fall on Wednesdays only on Fox.