I caught last night's episode of Intervention with the story of Marquel, an exercise addict and alcoholic. Although there have been a number of episodes on eating disorders on Intervention, there were a few unique aspects I appreciated about this one: 1) The show represented a minority. I know they have in the past, I just don't recall any with eating disorders but perhaps I'm wrong here. 2) The individual refused treatment despite all the actions of her family and friends. I don't think this has happened in many episodes, but I haven't been watching Intervention on a regular basis lately. I remember a few episodes of people having huge lash-outs or escaping the premise, but all eventually went to treatment. With Marquel, she suspected the intervention and flat out refused, walking away and not speaking to her family and friends for 4 1//2 months as of this date.
A brief synopsis of Marquel: Marquel is a 30 year old Hispanic woman with two young children and a roommate in South Beach Florida. She was an elementary school teacher after college for several years but is now a fitness instructor. Her family feels she is an exercise addict, but Marquel does not, viewing exercise as "therapeutic:" She questions her exercise addiction (up to many hours per day) but does not feel like it has taken over her life.
Marquel also has a history of bulimia and alcoholism with symptoms of restriction and amenorrhea. On several occasions, she has passed out, been hospitalized for alcoholic poisoning, and was pulled over for a DUI and hit and run. Marquel does not view her alcoholism as a problem but says as many addicts do she has control over it and "I can stop drinking when I feel like it, I just never feel like it."
Growing up Marquel's family was a typical close-knit Hispanic family. When Marquel was 15 years old, her mother died of breast cancer which was very difficult for her, feeling like she never got a chance to mourn her death. Her father began dating soon after which was also hard on Marquel, wanting his affection.
When Marquel moved a way to college in FL, that was when her heavy binge drinking appeared. She found love, got married, and had two children. She presented herself as a "perfect" mom, but eventually that took its toll. She began to party, consume a high amount of alcohol, and neglect her kids. Five months ago, she separated from her husband and moved to South Beach with her children and began as a fitness instructor.
Marquel's entire family is very concerned for her and especially worried about her children. When the family tried the intervention, Marquel suspiciously picked up on it (possibly by her roommate who her family felt like enabled Marquel) and walked out, chased by her father who desperately tried to convince her to get help. She eventually agrees to come back to talk to her family which was not very productive. In the end, despite what everyone thought, Marquel did not agree to go to treatment.
As I said before, I liked the fact that this episode featured a Hispanic individual struggling with addictons and an eating disorder. In recent years, there has been an increase in Hispanics with eating disorders, making researchers realize they are not immune as once thought with better body image and different cultural expectations. And I have to admit that I don't think it is helpful that many live in South Beach which adheres to a similar lifestyle of "lookism" as Los Angelos.
In terms of treatment, it is obvious that Marquel needs help. She is at risk of hurting herself, others, and her kids. But like most addicts, will she have a rock bottom, will she get tired of the lifestyle she is living, tired of missing her kids enough to stop, or the lack of communication with her family? I think whenever many of us watch this show, we always hope that the individual will decide willingly to go to treatment. In many of the shows, it seems like it takes just a few minutes of tears, and then they decide to go (we really don't know how long this takes due to editing). But in reality, unless there is absolutely no other option, it usually takes awhile and with multiple attempts. Everyone is different when it comes to treatment and when they decide to get help. We hope that when they do decide, it is not too late.
I'll be interested to see whether Intervention will do a follow up story if Marquel does decide to enter treatment.
Related posts on Intervention:
Sonia and Julia