This Thursday, September 27th, is the series premiere of the 15th season of "Grey's Anatomy" on ABC. "Grey's Anatomy" has always been on top of issues currently occurring in society. Not only do they tackle such issues, but they give different points of view through different characters that allow you to see multiple sides of an issue. The following are 12 struggles that many people face, with little to no support from the world's society.
*Trigger warning for depression, addiction, domestic abuse and PTSD*
1. Mental Illness
A patient struggling with Schizophrenia
Season 13, Episode 14: Schizophrenia
A girl runs into the hospital and the doctors don't know why she is acting so sporadic, but then she collapses and they realize she needs a new pacemaker. After tracking her pacemaker ID to identify who the girl was, the doctors contact her parents. Plot twist, the parents thought that their daughter was abducted and killed after she had disappeared from her apartment and never returned. She was reintroduced to her parents, and the doctors explained that schizophrenia can be managed with medication.
Season 10, Episode 8: OCD
Dr. Miranda Bailey had unintentionally infected three patients because of an unknown infection she had. It turned out that the gloves she wore leaked, so she wasn't at fault for her patients' deaths. Even though she was not the sole cause of the deaths, Miranda developed a severe case of OCD. She locked herself inside a lab studying her disease, and when she was ready for surgery, she was not able to operate efficiently due to her need to organize her tools, rewash her hands, and other rituals. Dr. Webber eventually convinced Miranda to take medication in order to fight her OCD and become again the great surgeon she is.
Depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder are also importantly depicted throughout various episodes of "Grey's Anatomy."
If you are suffering from a mental health disorder, you are not alone. You are not weak for asking for help. The Mental Disorder Hotline is 1-800-662-4357, and the Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.
Richard Webber at the bar trying not to drink
Season 6, Episode 10
Dr. Richard Webber, the former Chief of Surgery, had a problem with alcohol for many years. After it began to affect his work and personal life, he joined an alcoholic support group and began his bumpy journey to sobriety. In this episode, Richard began drinking again after the death of one of his medical interns, and he was forced to step down as Chief. After regaining his sobriety, he was able to become Chief again, and he managed his disease by working at the hospital.
If you are suffering from an alcohol addiction, don't be afraid to ask for help. There are many ways to help manage this disease. The Substance Use Disorder Hotline is 1-800-662-4357. It is free, confidential, and available 24/7.
3. Racial Discrimination
The police treat an innocent boy that they shot like a criminal
Season 14, Episode 11
In this episode, a 12-year-old boy is shot by police while attempting to enter his own house. The boy's family lived in a privileged neighborhood, and he forgot his key to get into the house. When he went to get in through the window, the police thought him to be a dangerous criminal and shot him multiple times. The boy was brought to the hospital where his family showed up, and eventually he succumbed to his gunshot wounds. This situation brings up the issue of police brutality, with an emphasis on racial bias by the police, an issue that has been very prominent for years. Dr. Miranda Bailey struggles to have a talk with her son about what he should do if he encounters the police, because by being black he is at a greater risk. She tells him to put his hands up, say his name and explain his actions. Part of her talk includes, "Your only goal is to get home safely [...] If your white friends are mouthing off you cannot [...]," and so on. The fact that some parents have to have this talk with their young children about how to protect themselves in the presence of police, shows that our society needs to do much, much better. The people who are supposed to protect us, are taking innocent lives for no reason other than the color of their skin.
We should start to compliment women more on who they are, rather than always what they look like
Feminism: "the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes."
Season 2, Episode 9
At the beginning of the first season, the medical interns are scared of one of the residents, known as "The Nazi." They expect a white male doctor. Turns out, The Nazi was a black female doctor, Dr. Miranda Bailey. In this iconic episode, a male doctor visiting the hospital is looking for The Nazi, and when he runs into Miranda, he says to her: "There's only one resident I want in my OR, a guy called The Nazi [...] Stellar rep, balls the size of Texas [...] For now you can work on smaller cases, page me if you get confused." Later on in the episode, the ignorant male doctor overheard Miranda being called The Nazi, and he looked at her flabbergasted. All she said was, "Happy Thanksgiving." Iconic.
Women can have power and women work hard for power. The sad thing is that often women have to be a b*tch in order for people to actually take them seriously and in order to get shit done. The successful creator, head writer and producer of Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes, does an amazing job of empowering the women in her shows, as well as explaining the obstacles that women face in the workplace.
This article highlights some great feminist moments throughout Grey's Anatomy.
5. LGBTQ+ Acceptance
The emotional scene where a young girl's father lovingly defends her sexuality to his wife
Season 12, Episode 1
Two young girls arrived at the hospital after being grazed by a train. When Dr. Callie Torres asked one of the girls, Jessica, if she knew the other girl, Jessica told her that the two were in love. The girls weren't suicidal when they almost died from the train's impact, but they thought it was the only way for them to be together forever. Jessica's parents wanted to send her to a conversion camp because they didn't want her to love girls. Callie called child protective services, and Jessica's mom threatened to sue the hospital. At that point, Jessica's dad stepped in and with a change of heart, defended his daughter in a beautiful way.
This is one of many episodes in "Grey's Anatomy" that does an amazing job at depicting how LGBTQ+ members are treated by their family members and society. Grey's shows how as humans we all crave love, but it is unfairly more difficult for some people than others.
6. Mass Shootings
Dr. Cristina Yang and Dr. Jackson Avery are in the middle of operating on Dr. Derek Shepherd, one of the shooter's victims, when he enters the operating room to stop them from saving Derek
Season 6, Episode 23
A few episodes after a man's wife is taken off of life support by Dr. Derek Shepherd, he reenters the hospital and begins a shooting rampage on his way to Derek's office. He kills Dr. Reed Adamson, Dr. Charles Percy, and other people at the hospital. He non-fatally shoots Dr. Alex Karev, Dr. Owen Hunt, and Dr. Derek Shepherd. 11 out of the 18 people shot were killed. After a conversation with Dr. Richard Webber, the gunman eventually shoots himself. Many of the doctors suffer from PTSD and the following episodes explain how the shooting affected their lives and their careers.
Owen Hunt was a trauma surgeon in the military
Season 5, Episode 9
Both veteran PTSD and traumatic life event PTSD are shown throughout "Grey's Anatomy." Dr. Owen Hunt had PTSD from being in the military. One night he began to strangle his wife, Dr. Cristina Yang, in her sleep because the ceiling fan reminded him of helicopter propellers from the war. Luckily a friend was in the apartment and was able to get Owen to wake up. He worked through his PTSD by talking with a therapist and found a fan room in the hospital that actually relaxed him instead of triggering him. Cristina also suffered from PTSD after coming face to face with a mass shooter in the hospital. She was performing surgery on her best friend's husband as he threatened to kill her if she didn't stop operating.
The Veteran Crisis Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.
Cristina and Owen's marriage struggles when she finds out she's pregnant, but wants to have an abortion
Season 7, Episode 22
In this episode, Cristina finds out that she is pregnant. When she tells her husband, Owen, he is ecstatic. Cristina is the opposite and knows immediately that she does not want a baby. Owen begs her to have their child, and she begs him to let her exercise her right to choose. Eventually, he goes to the abortion appointment with her and supports her. Later in the series, Owen screams at a party "You killed our baby!" to Cristina, and their marriage is strained from that point on. Even though Cristina knew that she did not want a baby, choosing to have an abortion was still difficult for her, as it is for many women who choose this option. This is one of the most controversial arguments in society, and this situation may help pro-lifers see that abortion isn't a split-second decision. It can be emotionally destructive.
In another episode, Dr. April Kepner thinks that she may be pregnant with a child from her boyfriend. He immediately wants to get married and raise their child together. Although April ended up not pregnant at the time, this situation shows that each woman reacts to her pregnancy differently, and has options for how to go forward with being pregnant.
There are also episodes where the mother may die if she gives birth, where the child will be born dead or die soon after birth and miscarriages. Again, each woman is affected by the news differently and chooses to act differently depending on a variety of factors.
9. Questioning of Religion
April Kepner has a crisis of faith after four of her cases result in death in one day
Season 14, Episode 10
A few seasons ago, April had left her fiancé, Matthew, at the altar and ran off with her ex-boyfriend, Dr. Jackson Avery, who she ended up marrying. In this episode, Matthew and his pregnant wife, Karen, went to the hospital because she was in labor, and April ended up being her doctor. When Matthew and April talked, Matthew said that even though their broken wedding was painful, he believed that God made that happen so that April could marry Jackson and have a baby, and he could marry Karen and have a baby. April didn't tell him that her baby died and she and Jackson divorced.
Karen's blood pressure suddenly spikes, and she internally bleeds to death. Karen's death, grouped with three other deaths that day that April was unable to save, caused her to lose her faith with God and enter a dark state of mind.
Later on, April was involved in a car accident and Jackson, who formerly didn't believed in God, prayed to him asking for April to live. After April survived surgery, Jackson began to grow his faith and be more open to religion.
10. Domestic Abuse
After years of hiding from her abusive husband, he and his fiancé run into her at the hospital, and she is terrified
Season 14, Episode 10
The biggest example of domestic abuse comes from the character Jo Wilson. Jo, a resident at the hospital, falls in love with doctor Alex Karev. When Alex asks Jo to marry him, she has to say no and Alex is heartbroken. What he doesn't know is that Jo is still legally married, and she can't get divorced because her husband, Paul, doesn't know where she is. Jo ran away from Paul because he was emotionally and mentally abusive. After being sick of hiding from him and not being able to marry Alex, Jo files for divorce and hopes for the best. Eventually, Paul shows up to the hospital with his new fiancé and terrifies Jo. He agrees to sign the divorce papers so that he can get remarried as well, but Jo is scared that Paul's new fiancé is in the same horrible situation that she was in. She attempts to intervene, and later that night Paul is hit by a drunk driver. While in the hospital bed, Jo and Paul's fiancé tell him that they are taking him to court. In anger he tries to attack them and hits his head on the bed, resulting in a fatal head injury. Jo and the fiancé are relieved and can finally feel safe.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-7233.
11. Heart Attacks in Women
Miranda's husband comforts her after her surgery
Season 14, Episode 11
The first symptoms of a heart attack in women don't always appear the same as they do in men. Many women go to the ER with heart attack symptoms but are dismissed as stress. Dr. Miranda Bailey goes to a hospital's ER and tells them that she is having a heart attack. The male cardio doctor asks her questions about her mental health and current lifestyle. He refuses to take her seriously when she insists that she is having a heart attack. Miranda insists on staying at the hospital, and requests a second opinion from another doctor. A psychotherapist is sent, and he claims that Dr. Bailey is simply feeling overwhelmed by stress and her OCD. Eventually, Miranda does have a heart attack and must go into emergency surgery.
12. Drug Addiction
Amelia Shepherd is a successful brain surgeon who struggled with drug addiction
Season 11, Episode 7
Dr. Amelia Shepherd, Derek Shepherd's sister, is the head of neurosurgery at the hospital. Amelia had become addicted to drugs after seeing her father killed in front of her, but had straightened out to go to medical school. As a surgeon, she suffered with drug abuse again after her boyfriend died from an overdose, and she went into rehab. This example of Amelia's addiction shows that people can appear to be high functioning, but still be suffering on the inside. It also shows that recovery is possible, even after multiple relapses.
The Substance Use Disorder Hotline is 1-800-662-4357, and is available for free, 24/7.
Thank you, "Grey's Anatomy," for putting these issues on a major platform, and giving those who can't speak out about their struggles a voice.