Troian Bellisario is opening up about her struggle with mental health in a self-written letter. The ‘Pretty Little Liars’ star recalls times where she deprived her body of self-care and admits that she convinced herself to live off of just 300 calories a day.
Troian Bellisario, 31, hasn’t tried to hide her struggles with an eating disorder. And, now, she is taking the conversation further. The Pretty Little Liars actress is opening up about dealing with mental health issues, which coincided with her other struggles. In an essay for Lena Dunham‘s newsletter, Lenny Letter [published July 18], Troian detailed a frightening encounter she had when shooting the pilot for PLL [at age 24]. Troian and her co-stars — Ashley Benson, Lucy Hale and Shay Mitchell — were swimming in a lake in Vancouver, where the water was freezing cold. She explained her struggle between her body wanting to get out of the cold water, however, her brain was telling her that she was weak. Although Troian described the scene as feeling “extra-alive,” she was unable to explore that feeling due to her mental health issues. At the time, she even questioned if she was cut out for the job.
Troian then explained how her mental health issues were tied to her eating disorder. “There is a part of my brain that defies logic,” she confessed. “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. That part of my brain is my disease, and there was a time when it had absolute authority over me. It almost killed me, and you can see that even though I have lived in recovery for ten years now, it still finds loads of fun, insidious ways to thwart me to this day.”
Then, seven years after shooting the PLL pilot, Troian had a similar experience when she found herself swimming in a lake. “Here I am, 31 years old,” the actress wrote, while recalling a time she was swimming in freezing cold water. “And I’m still denying my body the one thing it is asking me to do: take care of it.” Eventually, Troian fought her way back to a healthy state. “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,” she admitted.
To this day, Troian still deals with her struggles. “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.”
Troian admitted that mental care and her close family and friends helped her become healthy. But, her latest project Feed, also aided in helping her cope with her issues. Troian wrote and starred in Feed, which tells a story about a teenager who struggles with an eating disorder after the death of her twin brother.
Happy she survived, Troian doesn’t just want to be a survival story. Now, she wants to help people struggling with the same issues and she wants to “create in rebellion.” She explained further: “Writing, producing, and acting in it helped me to get one more degree of separation from my disease in what I know will be a lifetime of work in recovery. It is my greatest hope that someone watching it, struggling with the same challenges I do, might think, What if I were enough too? So with all the courage I can muster, I give it to you, I give it to that one person, in hopes that it could make them feel enough.”
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