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PLL’s Troian shares her mental illness struggles

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We love PLL as much as the next girl, and Troian Bellisario, aka Spencer, has always been our favourite. In a recent letter published on Lena Dunham’s Lenny website, Troian has shared her experience with mental issues. Crippled with a fear of disappointing others or letting people down, the now 31 year old also had a voice inside her head that “convinced” her to eat no more than 300 calories per day. She says that she finds it hard to look after herself, and often relies on others to remind her.

During the filing of the very first episode of PLL, when she was 24, her feet were numb as they were outside in December, and she was wearing summer clothes. But she was worried that she would be branded a diva if she objected. She was terrified of being “yelled at by someone” and now wonders why she needed  the permission of a stranger to “take care of myself”.

Even more recently, Torian felt a similar coldness creeping into her body while swimming in a lake, but instead of getting out of the water, she pushed on to swim further with her friend because of a voice in her head, saying..

“That voice, that familiar voice in the back of my skull that tells me it cares. It cares if I demand things of a production, it cares if I quit early, if I fail. It is a voice I know intimately; it is my greatest and best of enemies. I know what that voice will say if I stop. I know the trouble I’ll be in.”

She also wrote “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. 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. 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.”

Torian says that she is determined not just to survive these challenges, but to “create in rebellion”, even though she still has to occasionally face her demons. This was her motivation for writing “Feed”, the new movie she stars in with Harry Potter’s Tom Felton, in which she channelled that voice into a story “and out of myself”. She hopes that this story will help those who have similar issues, writing, “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.”

You can read the letter in full here.

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