Troian Bellisario is opening up once again about her battle with anorexia, and this time she’s bringing up a very important point.
In an essay for Lenny Letter, which was published Tuesday, the former Pretty Little Liars star eloquently describes how her eating disorder not only affected her body, but also her mind.
She begins her essay by recounting a time she went swimming in the lake with a friend. Despite feeling numb from the cold, she continued, determined to complete the three laps they had agreed on.
“I know I should get out of the water before I hurt myself or make myself sick, but I just don’t. I keep swimming,” Bellisario writes. “Here I am, 31 years old, and I’m still denying my body the one thing it is asking me to do: take care of it.”
She then describes a similar experience, seven years prior, when filming the first season of Pretty Little Liars. The production took place in Vancouver in December, however, the scene was set in the summer, meaning the actors and film crew were under pressure to “get the scene before [the actors’] jaws locked or [their] shoulders unintentionally rose around our ears” from the cold. At one point, Troian expressed she couldn’t feel her feet, but immediately regretted it when a crew member halted production to care for her, thinking, “Everyone is going to think I’m a diva, that I can’t hack it, that I’m a horrible actor, and they’ll never want to work with me again.”
Her perception was, of course, untrue. But for anyone with mental health issues, it’s most definitely familiar.
For Troian, she says as a person who struggles with mental illness, her “biggest challenge is that I don’t always know which voice inside me is speaking,” the body or the illness.
“There is a part of my brain that defies logic. Once, it completely convinced me I should live off 300 calories a day, and at some point, it told me even that was too much,” she explains. “That part of my brain is my disease, and there was a time when it had absolute authority over me. It almost killed me.”
Despite having recovered from her anorexia, the actress says the mental aspect is something she still struggles with. It is for this reason, she wrote, produced and starred in the film Feed, which is a loose recounting of her struggle with an eating disorder.
“The voice of my disease is with me every day. I am practiced at ignoring it, for the most part, but it’s still there, finding new ways to undermine me.”
She continues, “It was a difficult journey finding my way back to health. Through hard introspection, intense medical and mental care, a supportive family, friends, and a patient and loving partner, I survived, which is rare.”
You can read the full letter here.
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