"I’m never going back, though. I wake up in the morning and I don't know what to expect. I'm excited in the morning. I'm Amber again. A few months ago, I couldn't say that. A few months ago, I didn't want to get out of bed in the morning, didn't even want to be a mom. To anyone. But now I'm singing in the shower again, putting Cody to bed and making chicken nuggets, and geeking out over him saying 'night night.'" - Amber Karev to Graham WhitakerAmber Karev is the younger sister of Alex Karev and the current head of Pediatric Psychiatry at Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital. She is the mother of Cody and fiancée to Graham Whitaker.
Early life Edit
Growing up the only girl with two older brothers, Amber's childhood was rather lonely and she didn't quite learn adequate social skills. Despite this, she was very close with her older brother Alex, who acted as a father figure to her, and enjoyed spending time with him. Her earliest memory is from the age of four, as she remembers spending hours on end locked inside of a closet by her mentally-ill mother until her brothers came home from school. As a result of this, she is severely claustrophobic. Nevertheless, she developed a close bond with her mother as she enjoyed helping her bake cookies on the days she was lucid. In fact, as a child, she considered her mother to be her closest friend. She spent a great deal of time alone during her early childhood given that her brothers were both at school during the day, thus giving her a very creative mind and imagination. Though she was very close with Alex, she quickly learned to fear her other brother, Aaron as he took pleasure in bossing her around and torturing her.
When she started grade school, she found that she had an even tougher time making and keeping friends as she had trouble socializing. She had very few friends and even so, she was never allowed to invite anyone over and she was rarely allowed to hang out over at their houses due to her mother’s increasing paranoia. An active and fearless child, she oftentimes created games for herself such as “gymnastics”, in which she would hang from trees and do flips off furniture.
At the age of ten, her life was turned upside down when Alex was accepted into college and announced that he would be leaving. After having their mother committed to a residential psychiatric hospital, Alex took off to further his education and never looked back. After two stints in two different foster homes, she and Aaron were finally split up as Aaron went and lived in a group home and she was placed with Karen and Bill McPherson.
Following Alex’s departure, she spiraled into a deep depression and, being that she was so young, didn't quite have the understanding of her emotions to know what she was feeling. She started to realize that, after being yanked out of the only stability she’d ever known, she did not like change. After starting a new school and being forced to make new friends, she started to realize that she thought differently than most children her age as she was more mature than most of them, and she began to believe that she’d never make deep connections with other people.
As a teenager, she found herself falling in with the popular crowd and she had a pretty extensive group of associates. Though she had quite a few popular people surrounding her, she never felt truly connected to any of them and felt that a lot of her self worth was superficial.
During her freshman year of high school, though she didn't think she’d make it, she tried out for the cheer squad and was pleasantly surprised when she found her name on the list. She quickly gained popularity as one of the squad’s flyers and was a skilled tumbler due to her petite size. Unlike all the members of the squad though, she refused to be rude or mean to her peers and didn't like to act stuck up or snobby. When she was 16, she apologized for being rude to one of the head cheerleaders’ arch nemesis, and this prompted a group of four girls to viciously attack her in the bathroom. Following this incident, she decided that she didn't want to fit in with the cheer squad if it meant that she had to be mean. She remained a cheerleader but also joined the volleyball team in an attempt to make new friends.
This same year, after a heated argument following one of his many dinners with Amber and her foster family, Aaron flew at her in a fit of rage and tried to strangle her to death. After she recovered from this and learned that he too had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, she felt as though she too was going to end up crazy, so she didn't have any plans to attend college and felt pretty worthless about herself.
Despite these feelings, with some encouragement from Aaron after finding out that she scored a 1250 on her SATs, she applied to Drake University and was accepted almost immediately and given an academic scholarship. She was voted “Biggest Sweetheart” and "Best To Take Hone To Mom" by her class.
Upon graduating from Drake, she moved in with her then boyfriend Elliot McCann and took a job at a local daycare center. Following a few rejections from higher level medical schools her self esteem plummeted to an all time low and she fell into a pattern of allowing herself to be both mentally and verbally abused by Elliot. When she got accepted into Carver College of Medicine, she cut her hours back and managed to work her way through med school, with the help of her foster parents paying some bills along the way.
During her final year of medical school, she did a clerkship in the children’s unit of Iowa Children’s Hospital and fell in love with the idea of Pediatric and Adolescent Psychiatry. Immediately upon graduating second at Carver, she took a job at Iowa Children’s Hospital, where she became the youngest head of pediatric psychiatry in history at that hospital.
At Elliot’s instruction, she quit her job at the Children’s Hospital and moved out of her hometown of Ames, away from her foster family and biological mother to live with him. She made an hour commute everyday from Sioux City to Ames to work in the children’s unit of Mount Pleasant, the same hospital her mother was committed into, all the while taking rigorous night courses to get her certificate in play therapy.
Following Elliot’s graduate school completion, Amber flew to Seattle to personally invite Alex to her wedding, where she learned that he had two children, Lyla and Alex and a wife, Jo. On February 14, 2014, the two were married in a large ceremony. She remained married to him and lived a very structured, traditional life as a trophy wife.
When she flew to Boston to be there for Alex’s Harper Avery Award Ceremony, she realized she was discontent with her life and, after two years of marriage, she made the bold decision to file for divorce. When Elliot refused to sign the papers, she lacked her bags while he was at work one day and moved across the country to Seattle, where she started a new life for herself as a single woman.
After taking a job at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital and again becoming one of the youngest female heads of pediatric psychiatry, she met the love of her life, Graham Whitaker and became a natural mother to his son, Cody.
She currently enjoys being a loving mother to her boys Cody and fianceé to Graham.
Eating Disorder Edit
In Down That Road, we learned that Amber has a very extensive history with self image issues and developed an eating disorder in her early adolescence.
Following Alex’s departure when she was ten years old, she found herself feeling lonelier than ever and shaken up by the sudden change. She started to turn to food for comfort as she felt as though food was the only thing to ease the emptiness she felt inside of herself. She quickly found herself in a pattern, bingeing when she felt any emotion (happy, sad, excited, anxious, etc.). As her eating habits worsened, her weight fluctuated and she developed very poor self esteem as she was now considered “chubby.”
During her usual ritual of crying into Alex’s old t-shirt while eating in her closet where no one could see her, she found that eating so much food made her feel queasy when coupled with excessive crying and to ease herself of this pain, she wound up making herself purge for the first time when she was only eleven. This started a vicious cycle of bingeing and purging and by the time she was thirteen, she was a full-fledged bulimic, though she didn't see anything wrong with her behavior at the time.
When she was fifteen, she tried to stop herself from bingeing and purging when she found herself throwing up an excessive amount of blood. This is when she started to think that something deeper was wrong as she found stopping was nearly impossible. Though this experience scared her, her sickness only deepened as she couldn't stop and didn't get professional help.
Eventually she found herself denying that she had a problem, even going as far as telling herself that she could stop whenever she wanted. It wasn't until she was nearly 22 that she finally saw an issue with her behavior and recognized herself as having a psychological disorder.
Thanks to her psychology courses, she officially diagnosed herself with bulimia and started treating herself using the knowledge from her classes. In order to help herself, she took several intensive courses that focused specifically on eating disorders during her junior year of college.
When she graduated college, she had been almost one year clean and was able to control her excessive eating habits, though she still found it difficult to stomach sugary foods and even more difficult to eat in front of other people. Her weight stabilized and her body started to become more normal. She even found herself menstruating again.
She opened up about her eating disorder to Amelia Shepherd, when she noticed Gracie Shepherd-Hunt exhibiting pre-eating disorder behaviors. This exchange also prompted her to open up to Graham Whitaker, who is the first person she ever truly revealed how dark her adolescence was to. Since opening up and sharing her story with many members of the hospital, she is now surrounded by a strong support system.
Although she still has minor hiccups every now and again, mostly because she never has had proper psychological treatment for her bulimia, she is healthy and stable with her illness today. As some days are good when she can have a slice of pizza without bingeing on an entire box and other days are bad when she vomits alone in the shower, she realizes that she will have issues with food for the rest of her life but she works hard to contain it and keep her illness at bay.
Amber is very intelligent and has always been very studious and eager to learn. Throughout her entire high school career, she never made a grade lower than an A and never failed a single test. Despite this, she never really saw herself going to college and when everyone was taking their SATs junior year, she opted out. Eventually, she used a fee-waiver and took the test late junior year, scoring a 1250 on her first try. Upon learning this, Aaron took her out for ice cream and encouraged her to apply to a college, stating that she was smart and had potential. With this encouragement, she applied to Drake University and was accepted almost immediately and awarded a partial academic scholarship. She easily graduated second in her class, the salutatorian at Ames High School in 2001 with a 4.0.
She entered college as a psychology major, hoping to eventually become nothing more than a psychologist. After taking a few higher level psychology classes and understanding that her family history with mental illness was hereditary, she realized she wanted to treat and prevent mental illnesses, thus inspiring her to attend medical school. She worked hard to keep her grades up in order to make herself for marketable to medical schools and ended up graduating third in her class at Drake University in 2005, boasting a 3.92 cumulative GPA.
Straight out of undergraduate school, she applied to Harvard Medical School, Johns Hopkins Medical School and Baylor Medical School, only to receive rejection letters from all three. Though her grades were nearly perfect and she had all necessary credentials, the higher level schools overlooked her applications due to the fact that she attained a degree from a university that wasn't nationally ranked. She eventually settled and applied to Carver College of Medicine in Iowa and was easily accepted.
Upon graduating from medical school with highest honors in 2009, she enrolled in additional night courses and received a certification in play as a form of psychotherapy.
- Her favorite color is yellow.
- Her favorite animals are puppies because they're cute, elephants because they're cute, giraffes because they're yellow and sloths because they're lazy like her.
- She thinks cats are sneaky and birds are disgusting.
- She is a very good cook and baker.
- Due to years of bingeing, she has developed an aversion to anything sweet. She will occasionally stomach ice cream, but most sweets are unappealing to her.
- Pizza is her trigger food.
- She is a very good singer.
- She is an insomniac and is used to running on very little sleep.
- She excels at doing DIY projects as she is very artistic and creative.
- Her instagram handle is amberkarev.
- Back in high school, she was a cheerleader. As a result of this, she still retains the ability to tumble.
- Blood makes her nauseous.
- She estimates that she spends at least seven hours a day on Pinterest.
- She has a long, oval-shaped brown birthmark on her right forearm, which she is very insecure about.
- Her mentally ill mother used to lock her in closets. She is now extremely claustrophobic.
- Though she writes with her left hand, she is ambidextrous because she does everything else riguy-handed.
- Because she is left-handed, she will go to the grave believing that it's because she had a twin that died in the womb.
- She tends to speak in redundant terms. (i.e.: PIN number, ATM machine, hot water heater, etc.)
- When she smiles, she avoids showing teeth as she is very insecure about her dental health following her struggle with an eating disorder.
- She wears glasses as her vision is actually horrible.