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Troian Bellisario on Mental Illness: ‘There Is a Part of my Brain That Defies Logic’

Troian Bellisario isn’t afraid to put mental health issues in the spotlight. The actress has discussed her struggles with an eating disorder many times, and she even wrote a movie about her personal story that she will direct and star in, called Feed.

Now, in an essay penned for Lenny Letter, Bellisario describes a relatable battle between her body and her mind.

“There is a part of my brain that defies logic,” Bellisario wrote in the essay.

“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.”

To illustrate how those negative thoughts still seep into her daily life, Bellisario tells a story of filming a scene for the first episode of Pretty Little Liars that was set in July, but actually was filmed in December in Canada. During the shoot, she mentioned not being able to feel her feet, and a crew member swooped in to help. But Bellisario could only focus on getting through the scene. She writes: “I started to panic: 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.”

A more recent example comes from a time when she went swimming with a friend in a cold lake, determined to take three laps around an island even though her body was warning her not to. “As someone who struggles with a mental illness, my biggest challenge is that I don’t always know which voice inside me is speaking,” Bellisario wrote in the essay. “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.

Bellisario also mentioned that she hopes her new film will serve as inspiration not only for herself, but also for others who are fighting against negative thoughts. She says, “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.”

If you think you, or someone you know, may be suffering from an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association information and referral helpline at 800-931-2237 or visit for more information.


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