Literature Study GuidesEat Pray LoveBook 1 Chapters 16 18 Summary

Eat, Pray, Love | Study Guide

Elizabeth Gilbert

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Eat, Pray, Love | Book 1, Chapters 16–18 | Summary

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Summary

Book 1, Chapter 16

After about ten days in Italy, Gilbert is hit with something horribly familiar: depression and loneliness. She feels her joy ebb away, and she begins to beat herself up for how her life has gone. Even the fabulous Italian food she has been enjoying holds no allure for her, and she goes to bed feeling lonely and sorry for herself.

Book 1, Chapter 17

Gilbert explains that she had stopped taking her prescription medications for depression a few days earlier, reasoning that anyone in Italy doing exactly what they want to do should not need them. She also says she never wanted to start taking them in the first place. She stresses that she battled her depression "like it was the fight of my life," reading self-help books and trying every remedy she heard about before finally going on medication. Her pain had become so great that she finally reached out for help to her best friend, Susan, who wasted no time in finding a psychiatrist for her. The psychiatrist worked with Gilbert to find her the right blend of helpful pharmaceuticals; the drugs helped her immediately, but she still didn't like being on them.

Book 1, Chapter 18

Gilbert does have some of her medication left, but she is stubborn about not taking it. Instead she turns to her journal, in which she communicates with God, writing "I need your help." The reply she records is about how much she is loved and protected. She remembers a time when she glimpsed herself in a mirror and thought, "That's a friend of yours." She reasons that if she is her own friend, she should help herself feel confident enough to overcome this depression and loneliness. The next morning, both troubling feelings are gone.

Analysis

Gilbert personifies her negative feelings, giving them the names Depression and Loneliness and characterizing them as Pinkerton detectives who flank her and interrogate her in a "good cop, bad cop" way. Depression "confiscates" her identity, and Loneliness asks her question after question in an attempt to make her feel guilty. Depression smokes stinky cigars, and Loneliness gets in her bed, forcing her to sleep with him.

Gilbert's resistance to taking medication for her depression is not at all atypical. For many depression patients, however, medication is a temporary, vital measure to get the brain's chemistry rebalanced. It may be noble to want to get better without drugs, but, as in Gilbert's case, sometimes it is just not possible.

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