Mental Illness Vs Acting: Part Two

The other week we had to do an exercise where we sat down and slowly released the tension in different parts of our bodies, we did it limb my limb- kind of like a few meditations I’ve done before.

When we were all relaxed Kay (my principle) walked around and looked at each of us individually and told us to relaxed certain parts of our body that she felt were still holding tension. When it came to me she told me to relax my jaw- I couldn’t, and after several minutes of coaxing I found myself breaking down into hysterical but thankfully silent tears, I got hold of myself quickly and tensed my entire body as I swallowed the emotion back down.

We moved on after I declined to talk about ‘my experience’ with the group, I felt angry and emotional, something that I tend to feel a lot when I’ve been ‘weak’, I think it’s some kind of defensive reaction to having shown weakness- like I’m determined to remind people that I’m tough and defend myself.

Afterwards I was still struggling, I managed to make it through a couple of exercises but fell at the last one and had to leave the room. I just got to a point where I couldn’t do it. I ended up in my usual place; stood over a bathroom sink looking at my reflection. When I have moments like this I like to find a mirror and hold my own gaze- writing it here it seems like the epitome of narcissism (look who’s using big words today…) but it actually helps a lot. I just stare at myself and tell myself that it’s okay, and that I’m strong and loved.

Eventually Kay found me and took me into her office- we had a brief chat. She told me that what I’m going through and the way that I’m struggling with the acting technique bringing up old emotions is alright, and that it’s not affecting me- she said that the only thing that would have a negative effect on my career would be if I chose to bury my past.

We talked a little about why I was holding tension in my jaw- for me this wasn’t really a big puzzle; it comes from clenching my jaw to stop myself from crying or screaming, something that I used to have to do on a regular basis, what was weird for me was realising that it was so present… I honestly would never have guessed that I was holding any tension there.

Whilst I was in the office Kay warned me that in a few weeks she’s planning to hold a class where we explore the bad parts of ourselves and the parts of ourselves that we hide. She said that at some point I would probably have to tell the rest of the group what had happened to me in the past and about my mental illness. She did say that she’d give me a warning nearer to the time and let me duck out if I wanted to- but that feels horrible and dishonest to me. I really don’t want to tell them- but I don’t want to be the selfish girl who thinks that her problems are so much worse than everyone else’s.

Any thoughts?

’til next time,

Wren x



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