Law & Order: Organized Crime is giving us a peek inside Elliot Stabler’s world. Lately, he’s been having a rough time pulling himself together after the murder of his wife, Kathy. His family is worried about the way Elliot has been acting since Kathy’s death. Olivia Benson is also concerned. He has been wandering down a dark road and they’re afraid he might hurt himself or someone else.
The ‘Law & Order’ franchise is putting a spotlight on mental health
During Law & Order: SVU Season 22 Episode 12 (titled “The Year We All Fell Down”), Olivia (Mariska Hargitay) intervenes during a crisis with her friend Vanessa. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on Vanessa, who is about to lose her restaurant.
During 2020, Vanessa’s husband lost his job and then left, her mother died from COVID, and she threw her son out of the house. She blamed him for getting her mother sick. He wasn’t careful during the pandemic and would often go outside without a mask.
When Vanessa receives a call that she has to go to her restaurant to collect her things and hand over the keys, she has a breakdown. Vanessa pulls a knife on the man who met her to collect the keys. She then threatens him with a gun. Olivia happens to be passing by the restaurant when she sees police waiting outside. She asks what’s going on and learns Vanessa is having a mental health crisis.
Fortunately, Oliva is able to talk to Vanessa and reason with her. She convinces her not to hurt anyone or end her life. This episode puts a spotlight on how the pandemic is negatively affecting mental health.
Olivia Benson thinks Elliot Stabler has PTSD
Olivia is worried about Elliot (Christopher Meloni). She believes he has PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and she wants him to see a professional. Dr. Shauna Springer, trauma expert and chief psychologist of Stella, says PTSD is rooted in anxiety.
“Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is an anxiety disorder,” Springer tells Showbiz Cheat Sheet. “Exposure to trauma can cause a biological injury and can leave us locked in a state of continual fight or flight. Our thinking, our way of relating to others, and the ways we navigate the world can also change. PTSD makes us feel unsafe and makes us question whether others can be trusted.”
Elliot has been anxious and there is one scene where he’s afraid to get into his car. He’s fearful he might die in a car explosion the way his wife, Kathy Stabler, died. His daughter, Kathleen, also thinks he needs help. “You have to see someone, you can’t function like this,” she pleads.
Kathleen even reaches out to Olivia and asks her to join the family for an intervention. She wants to confront her father about his behavior and encourage him to get help. Olivia and Kathleen have good reason to be worried.
Elliot has been having nightmares about Kathy and he’s been jumpy ever since her death. Elliot also hasn’t been sleeping in his own bed. When his son, Eli, checks on him after he hears him having a nightmare, he’s on the couch.
Elliot’s nightmares are becoming so frequent that he can’t sleep through the night, so he gets up to work. During season 1 episode 4 (titled “What Dreams Are Made Of”) Elliot is seen re-watching the security video of the night his wife was killed. This can’t be helpful.
Elliot is also dealing with anger issues. His wife’s murder case is bothering him so much that one day when he gets home, he punches a hole in the wall. His son, Eli, sees this happen and runs away before Elliot sees him.
Elliot Stabler’s intervention
During an intervention with Olivia and his family, Elliot admits he feels like he’s drowning. However, he didn’t appreciate the intervention. He said what they did was only pushing him further down. He then goes to Angela Wheatley’s house for comfort.
Elliot talks to Angela about his grief and how he’s not sleeping well. Angela tells him it’s important to make sure he’s getting enough sleep. “You need to sleep,” says Angela. “If you don’t, you really will lose your mind.”
Hopefully, Elliot will reach out and seek professional help. It’s the only way he will be able to do his best on the job and heal from his trauma.
How to get help: In the U.S. and Canada, text the Crisis Text Line at 741741 to reach a crisis counselor for support.
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