Mental Illness vs Acting

In acting technique class the other day we learnt about something called ‘circles of focus/attention’ the idea is that your circle of attention can be large or small, it can cover just you or part of the stage, or the whole stage… etc, etc.

We experimented with making our circles of attention larger and smaller, we even ended up walking around Harrogate town centre at about 8pm without coats (it was cold, believe me it was bloody, bloody cold) practising.

It completely threw me.

I found it almost impossible to snap out of being in my smallest circle of attention (one that was just me) I was totally spaced and detached and the others in the group commented on this. At one point I went and stood by one of the windows in the studio and just stared out, unable to communicate with anyone else. I felt tearful and shaky and just really, really crap.

I know myself well enough to know where this comes from. I’ve spent most of my life detaching and trying to be invisible. I used to completely detach a lot when I was very depressed, I found that it was the only way to get through the days. Another, more distressing, time when I would detach was when I was being molested, it was the only way that my mind could protect itself- as well as this I would detach when my Dad lost his temper with me.

Altogether this pretty much completely explains why I reacted in the way that I did, feeling shaky and tearful for the rest of the night and probably into Thursday as well. Even though this happened two weeks ago I can almost still feel it- I hadn’t properly detached in so long that doing it and realising how bad it made me feel has really thrown me.

It scares me when my mentalism starts to interfere with my career. To be an actress you have to be as resilient as fuck, and if a simple focussing exercise has that effect on me then I’m worried about what else could throw me off.

I won’t let this affect my career or my dreams- I don’t care how long it takes or what I have to do to get over this, I’m going to work through things and build up some resilience. Acting comes first, everything else just has to fall into place.

’til next time,

Wren x


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