Pretty Little Liars star Troian Bellisario has previously spoken about her struggles with an eating disorder and self-harm, but with Feed, a film written by and starring Bellisario, she’s telling her story in a new way, and it’s one that she hopes helps others. And with Feed now available on VOD and all digital platforms, Belliario has penned an essay for Lena Dunham’s Lenny Letter, in which she talks about her struggle to take care of herself.
Writing about moments in which she ignored her body’s needs — from swimming in a cold lake for too long to ignoring how cold she was while shooting the Pretty Little Liars pilot — Bellisario goes in depth about the “greatest and best of enemies.”
“As someone who struggles with a mental illness, my biggest challenge is that I don’t always know which voice inside me is speaking. 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,” Bellisario writes.
Writing specifically about her eating disorder, Bellisario recalls the time she lived off 300 calories a day: “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.”
Bellisario recognizes that she survived, something that’s a rarity, and in response to that, she says, “But I don’t want to just survive that part of my life. I want to create in rebellion.”
In creating Feed, Bellisario writes: “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.”
Read her full essay here.