Troian Bellisario has penned a powerful personal essay discussing how it feels to live with mental illness.
The Pretty Little Liars star wrote the eye-opening piece for Lenny Letter, Lena Dunham’s feminist newsletter and website, with hopes of raising awareness around the struggles of mental illness, specifically anorexia.
Bellisario describes how, when experiencing mental health issues, the mind and the body can feud against each other – with the mind ignoring the body’s calls for help.
The actress recounts going swimming in a cold lake with a friend, after they challenged themselves to swim three laps around an island.
Bellisario thoughtfully explains that her fear of being perceived as weak and inner doubts that she is “not enough”, have throughout the last decade forced her to prove herself at the cost of her own health. In her letter she looks back at how “we were swimming our second lap in the lake when I lost the feeling in my toes”.
“Suddenly, I'm in very familiar territory. 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. 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,” Bellisario writes.
The actress, writer and producer admits she feels pressure not to disappoint those around her.
“As someone who struggles with a mental illness, my biggest challenge is that I don’t always know which voice inside me is speaking,” she writes. “My body voice, the one that says, Troian, I’m cold, get out of the lake, or my illness: You told everyone three times, so you can’t disappoint them. You are not enough.”
A self-proclaimed survivor, the former anorexia sufferer describes how she learnt to “scream back in the face of my disease: I AM ENOUGH!”, and urges others to do the same.
The essay has received floods of support from fans and those dealing with mental health issues themselves, with many calling the piece “brave” and “inspiring”.
You can read Bellisario's full essay about mental illness here.