Playing a character on the twisted yet addictive "Pretty Little Liars" could drive any actor down a dark path. But what happens when that path has already been traveled? If you are Troian Bellisario aka Spencer Hastings, you chat about it in "Seventeen" magazine. "I was the youngest daughter, the perfect little girl. My school was a very intense college prep school. So it was about wanting to please my father and mother and wanting to be perfect to everybody. I just thought if I ever expressed to [my parents] any sadness or anger or anything that's going on with me, they would disown me. I kept a lot of it bottled up inside, and it turned into self-destructive behavior," Bellisario shared in next month's issue.
She went on to talk about "self-harming" when she was a junior in high school along with developing an eating disorder. "I would withhold food or withhold going out with my friends, based on how well I did that day in school. Being a teenager is chaotic because you're kind of coming into your own, but you're not an adult; you're fighting with your parents over responsibilities and freedom. I didn't know what was right and what was wrong, so I think I created this bizarre system of checks and balances to create order in my world. But it really backfired...I felt this sadness, and I thought if people really knew what was going on inside me, they wouldn't want to hang out with me. So I tried to keep it light and funny." But it all came to a halt in a fashion much like one would see on PLL; her friends found her journal...and gave her somewhat of an intervention, threatening to tell her parents.
Now, in her mid-twenties, Bellisario says that she still struggles with life issues but it is the family that she has formed between co-stars Ashley Benson (Hanna), Lucy Hale (Aria) and Shay Mitchell (Emily) that has helped her the most. "Honestly, it's an ongoing struggle. Especially for a woman on a show that has the word 'pretty' in it! Sometimes I feel like I'm trying too hard, like I don't belong. I just look around at Lucy, Shay and Ashley and I'm just like, 'Why am I on this show?' Sometimes I've felt like a fraud. Like, I'm not like these other girls—I don't dress like that and I don't know how to do my hair. The minute I'm off that stage, I try to get as 'me' as possible. I do that by piling on my black eyeliner, and I put on my ripped tights. Dressing like myself again helps." We commend her for opening up in a teen forum where these type of issues run rampant. And they don't end just because one finds happiness; it is a life long struggle to understand and accept who you are fully and completely. Bellisario's co-star, Hale has also admitted to a past eating disorder. Remember: it is never too late to give or get help!
*Pretty Little Liars returns to ABCFamily tomorrow night at 8p.m.!