The suicide texting case involving Michelle Carter, 17, and Conrad Roy, 18, shook the country, leaving everyone dismayed and saddened by Carter’s audacity, contributing to Roy’s death.
Other than the shock, the case depicted in shows such as Hulu’s The Girl From Plainville, I Love You, Now Die, and If Words Could Kill also spotlighted the role of mental illness in the many horrific crimes witnessed these days.
Michelle Carter’s defense argued that a change in anti-depressant medicine and an eating disorder drove her to convince her boyfriend to kill himself.
But did Michelle Carter have an eating disorder? If so, what role did the illness play in her aiding Conrad’s suicide?
Let’s find out!
Michelle Seemed To Seek Comfort From Food
In The Girl From Plainville, we are first introduced to Michelle Carter’s (Elle Fanning) problematic relationship with food when she runs up to her bedroom, grabs, and furiously chows down a packet of chocolate.
Throughout the series, the young teen regularly snacks on chips and candy. Whether she is texting her friends, talking to her boyfriend on the phone, or scrolling through social media, there is always a comforting bag of snacks by her side.
At first, this seems like normal teenage behavior until she starts hiding those empty snack bags, not wanting anyone to know about the food she’s binging on.
In one episode, Carter stuffs her face with food, eating until she becomes sick, and eventually vomiting inside a trash can in her bedroom. From then on, it was clear that Michelle had an eating disorder.
Did Michelle Carter have an eating disorder in real life? In the TV shows, Carter is depicted as having an unhealthy relationship with food, but was this the case in real life?
She Texted Friends About Her Anxiety and Problems With Food
In real life, Michelle Carter did not have many close friends; in fact, the teenager struggled to make friends and clung on desperately to the few schoolmates who were friendly to her.
One such friend was Samantha Boardman, who testified in court during Carter’s trial. Boardman and Carter met in their junior year of high school and started talking in math class but rarely hung out outside of school.
The two girls mostly connected over Carter’s issues with an eating disorder, with Samantha lending a listening ear and a supportive shoulder for Michelle to cry on.
In court, Samantha said, “I watched out for her and what she was eating.”
In one of a series of text messages that Carter would bombard Boardman with, she wrote, ” I am having a mental breakdown. I was okay until I had pasta for dinner, and I totally lost it.”
“It created so much anxiety I did not know what to do,” she added, implying that she had harmed herself using a knife, an act that seemed they she regularly performed.
From the real-life text messages between Boardman and Michelle and based on the depictions in the television shows, it is safe to say that Michelle did have an eating disorder.
A Psychiatric Defense Witness Confirmed Michelle’s Eating Disorder
In the fifth episode of The Girl From Plainville, the audience is introduced to Dr. Peter Breggin, who plays a pivotal role in explaining the connection between Carter’s bizarre behavior, her personality change, and the use of Prozac.
In a meeting with Michelle’s defense attorney, Joseph Cataldo, Breggin explains that taking certain medications can intoxicate a person with a pre-existing eating disorder, causing severe behavioral problems.
Specifically, Breggins used the term ”intoxicated” to describe Michelle’s state of mind when she was texting her boyfriend, Conrad.
In real life, Breggin gave a four-hour testimony in which he explained that Carter’s doctors had prescribed Prozac, a powerful medication used to treat illnesses such as panic disorder, depressive disorder, and eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia nervosa.
Breggin, a long-time advocate against anti-depressants, claimed that Carter’s doctors gave her the medication to treat her mental illness and eating disorder but that this same medication can have serious side effects.
For example, Prozac can increase the risk of mania and make one less apathetic to other people’s plight.
The psychiatrist’s real-life testimony proves that Mitchel Carter suffered from an eating disorder.
Mental Illness and Body Image Issues Alienated Michelle From Her Friends
Not only did Michelle Carter have an eating disorder, but she also suffered from mental illnesses, over which she bonded with her boyfriend, who also had a history of depression.
Jesse Barron, whose Esquire article was the basis of the Hulu TV series, explained that Michelle had serious mental health problems throughout her adolescence, making it hard for her to connect with others and leaving her feeling incredibly lonely.
Her schoolmates who testified in court said that Carter would text incessantly, often being dramatic about one thing or the other, revealing too much personal information, or whining about whether or not they were really friends.
Michelle, who was once on the school softball team, was a lifelong giver who would try to please anyone and everyone in a desperate attempt to be loved, validated, and belong.
In an attempt to fit in, she would lose weight so drastically and gain it back equally fast that her schoolmates would find the fluctuation bizarre and avoid her more.
According to one of her school friends, Evan Andrews, one time Michelle lost so much weight and was hospitalized, so she had to drop out of the softball team.
“Michelle wanted to be as confident as others, but she was too needy, and people frequently walked over her,” said Andrews.
Conrad Knew About Michelle’s Eating Disorder
In his article, Jesse Barron suggested that Michelle revealed to her boyfriend her condition, claiming that her liver was out of shape due to her eating disorder.
Carter’s revelation was in response to Roy’s own revelation in which he tells her, in a text message, that he had serious stomach problems after his suicide attempt, during which he consumed a whole bottle of Tylenol.
Conrad and Michelle’s relationship was toxic, fuelled by mental health issues, adolescent instability, and co-dependency.
Unfortunately, it ended tragically with Conrad Roy III losing his life and Michelle Carter spending 15 months in jail for an involuntary manslaughter charge.
Where is Michelle Carter Now?
The judge, in her case, sentenced Michelle Carter to 2 years in prison with a 15-month suspended sentence and five years probation.
The teenager was released from Bristol County Jail in Massachusetts in January 2020, four months before her official release date, on good behavior.
She completed her five-year probation in August 2022 but is keeping a low profile. Due to her probation, she cannot gain monies from any commercial activity that makes money from her story. Once she completes her probation, she can benefit from her story if she wishes.
Despite the popular Hulu series, The Girl From Plainville, and HBO documentary, I Love You, Now Die, Carter has not made a public statement, nor does she have a presence on social media to date.
Her decision to keep a low profile is understandable, given all the media frenzy and intense public interest around her case.