In this week’s activity post, I watched an episode of MTV’s True Life called “I’m drunkorexic.” In this episode, MTV followed two teens that limit their daily intake of calories from food so that they can binge drink at parties and throughout the day. As one may be able to imagine, the conflicts that the main characters of the episode are experiencing are often unknown to the public.
In “I’m drunkorexic,” Laura and DJ are two young adults that starve themselves for the sake of alcohol. Both of them are in the chaos narrative in the beginning of the episode – knowing what they’re doing wrong but don’t have a positive outlook on solving their problems. Laura cries to her boyfriend, proclaiming that she knows what she’s doing but can’t stop, and constantly tells the camera that she feels hopeless. Laura’s sick role is taking a toll on her relationship with her boyfriend, as she stays home all day and counts calories and drinks. Her boyfriend is having a hard time understanding her illness and has trouble believing it because of the duration of her sick role. Because Laura’s boyfriend threatened to leave, she agreed to attend weekly AA meetings in order to save her relationship. She started a new job that got her mind off of counting calories and excessive drinking, which helped her focus on eating 3 square meals a day.
The other character of the show, DJ, feels as if he needs to be the life of the party when his group of friends goes out, and his friends worry about him. After getting cut off from drinking at bars and clubs, DJ eventually saw a doctor who told him that his lifestyle was not sustainable for his health, and that he needed to restrict his alcohol intake and begin a steady diet regimen. In the end, both characters switch to a quest narrative, speaking about the changes they’ve made and how many months they’ve been sober and eating regularly.
As stated in W4’s 4.2 Illness Narratives lecture , the usefulness of illness narratives to patients, family, and healthcare providers is extremely important due to support systems and treatment. Both characters in the film remained in the sick role too long for people to accept it as legitimate, and harmed their bodies in the process which concerned loved ones.