It is challenging to say how you really feel without doubting yourself, but for one Pretty Little Liars star that was part of the key to unlocking the strength to overcome hardships. In an essay for Lenny Letter, Troian Bellisario wrote about coping with mental illness and struggling with anorexia, and how she hopes her new film is able to connect with others going through similar struggles. Although the 31-year-old wrote that she would like to tell herself, "I AM ENOUGH!" she described how her pervasive illness occasionally overpowers her positive thinking.
"It's just not that easy. Sometimes I still find myself being pushed by an invisible taskmaster, working to the point of exhaustion, swimming with numb toes. 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. That's partially why I wrote Feed. I wanted to channel that voice into a story and out of myself. I wanted to create a character who also wondered how she could be enough."
The actor noted that while "writing, producing, and acting" in her new film Feed helped her cope with her mental illness, she also realized she will spend "a lifetime of work in recovery." Bellisario doesn't offer Lenny Letter readers a quick remedy to overcoming an eating disorder or mental illness. Instead, she wrote that calming the voice in her head was just one of many steps that she used to help overcome her issues.
"As someone who struggles with a mental illness, my biggest challenge is that I don't always know which voice inside me is speaking." The actor wrote that the "insidious" illness of her eating disorder still manifests in her mind to this day. However, she chooses to rebel against it.
"It was a difficult journey finding my way back to health," the actor wrote. "Through hard introspection, intense medical and mental care, a supportive family, friends, and a patient and loving partner, I survived, which is rare. But I don't want to just survive that part of my life. I want to create in rebellion."
The producer has been open about overcoming her eating disorder in the past. When Bellisario spoke with Interview magazine in May, she said writing Feed was cathartic. The indie film forced her to confront her disorder in order to allow audiences to empathize with her character, Olivia Grey. She told Interview, "But it's amazing that you can have this huge, life-threatening thing be a part of you and still live inside of you, and almost tame it in a weird way."
Bellisario wrote in Lenny Letter that her dream is for the film to help others realize their worth. "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."
Bellisario's essay shows that even if she doesn't always feel like she's enough, time, persistence, and unwavering support helped her discover that she has more tools to realize her worth and inspire others to do the same.