How to Stop Self-Destructive Behavior With Actor Ethan Suplee

ethan suplee

Verywell / Julie Bang

Every Monday on The Verywell Mind Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Amy Morin, LCSW, interviews authors, experts, entrepreneurs, athletes, musicians, and other inspirational people about the strategies that help them think, feel, and do their best in life.

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Meet Ethan Suplee

Ethan Suplee is an actor who is known for his roles on TV shows like "Boy Meets World" and "My Name Is Earl" as well as movies like "American History X," "The Wolf of Wallstreet," "John Q," and "Remember the Titans."

In many of his acting roles, Ethan was morbidly obese. But food wasn’t his only addiction. He struggled with addiction to drugs and alcohol as well

After being told that he was going to die due to the severity of his health issues stemming from his weight and addiction, Ethan decided to try and get healthier. He went to rehab and lost hundreds of pounds and took control of his health.

Why Ethan Suplee Is Mentally Strong

Ethan is honest about the struggles he continues to have. Despite the changes he’s made to his behavior, he still struggles with negative self-talk

He talks openly about the fact that he has a hard time liking anything about himself. But despite those struggles, he continues to work on keeping his self-destructive tendencies at bay.

What You’ll Hear on the Show

  • How Ethan developed a weight problem and the things that happened during childhood that made it worse
  • How he developed an addiction to drugs and alcohol
  • What happened when a doctor told him he was going to die
  • Where his self-destructive tendencies come from
  • How Ethan never felt normal and how acting helped him feel like he was in a disguise
  • How he’s had to deal with his self-destructive behavior in different ways (eating in moderation and completely abstaining from drugs and alcohol)
  • How he deals with the ongoing negative thoughts that run through his head
  • Why changing his behavior didn’t completely change how he feels about himself
  • The steps Ethan takes to make progress every day
  • How he finds something he admires about himself on a daily basis

What You’ll Learn About Mental Health and Mental Strength

Sometimes people assume you can identify someone’s level of mental strength based on their behavior alone. But someone’s external behavior doesn’t reveal anything about the internal battle they’re fighting.

So even when Ethan started going to the gym regularly, he says he hated himself. And his workouts stemmed from his desire to punish himself and inflict pain.

That’s why building mental strength isn’t just about changing your behavior. It also involves learning skills to manage your thoughts and your emotions.

Ethan explains how he changed his behavior first. But now, he’s on a quest to keep working on learning to manage the unhealthy thoughts and uncomfortable emotions that plague him.

Quotes From Ethan

Ethan Suplee

I really just didn't like myself and I was terrified of [al]most everything except for playing a fat guy because it was OK to be fat in those moments.

— Ethan Suplee
  • "It takes decades to kill you usually. And so it's like, ‘What's this one day matter?’ And then you just string together thousands of ‘what's this one day matter?’ and you've got decades. Then you wind up dead because you're doing this thing that's not good for you."
  • "I will say with sobriety, that's fragile. One [drink] is too many. I've just experienced it too many times to know, but with food, when I am still eating, I don't want to be too rigid. So I'm fighting against that within myself."
  • "The problem I had for the longest time was I thought that weight loss was a solution. I think it is [a] mental illness, but it's like my feelings of dissatisfaction with myself and my angst and all of it was wrapped up in my weight. So, I was waiting for the day that I got to the ideal weight, [I thought] all that stuff [would] go away. None of it went away at all."

More About the Podcast

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Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript does not go through our standard editorial process and may contain inaccuracies and grammatical errors. Thank you.

For media or public speaking inquiries, contact Amy here.

Links and Resources

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By Amy Morin, LCSW
Amy Morin, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk,  "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time.