Mental Illness vs Acting Part Five

When I was referred earlier this year I was glad; I agreed and still to do agree to a large extent, that I need further help for my mental health problems. I have a lot of anxiety and my mind always makes the worst out of everything, I’m an intensely emotional person but am terrified of showing it. All of this comes together to make my mind a very difficult and volatile place to live.

Ultimately we all fear rejection; we’re built to be social creatures and we all supress behaviours that we think will cause us to be rejected. For me, that’s expressing any kind of negative emotion. I get very scared when people are angry, especially when they raise their voices. It’s something that triggers a primal and often embarrassing reaction from me.

I’ve spent many years trying to hide myself and my emotions; it’s something that comes up time and time again when I’m acting. I hate the idea that I’m going to be constrained and stopped from doing what I love because of my crazy.

Earlier this year Kay told me that I probably wasn’t succeeding at auditions because I was ‘holding myself back’ and that this was apparent to anyone who saw me act. My one note when I act a serious, negative emotion is that I never fully let go. There’s always a line, it’s always apparent that I’m ‘acting’ it.

The few times that I haven’t ‘acted’ a negative emotion have been horrible, they’ve generally involved me losing control and not being able to do it. I’ve felt uncomfortable and awkward around the other people that I’ve been working with. I feel embarrassed when other people get upset whilst acting something serious.

The worst part is that I don’t want to change, I don’t want to get to a point where I can openly access those emotions; in my eyes those emotions are bad and the fact that I can lock them away and not show them is a success. I feel like a superior human being because I rule my emotions… but I don’t. I’m a fucked up human being.

There are people that I can cry in front of, there are people who I don’t mind seeing cry. I’m good at comforting and looking after people; but I can’t deal with anger. Either from myself or anyone else. It’s not because anger is a bad or inappropriate emotion; it’s because I grew up in a house where anger had no limit, where it was dangerous. My response to seeing anger is to run and hide and cry. I can’t deal with it.

9/10 My response to getting angry is to hurt myself; for me there’s no other way to express the extent of the rage that I feel. I get frustrated, I get annoyed, I get wound up- and eventually all of these things collect inside of me and wait. In the end someone or something (usually me) will do something stupid or petty and I’ll lose control. The only way that I’ve learnt to express anger is to hurt someone; and that someone is always myself.

So I suppose the conclusion to all of this is to say that I feel like I need to take a break from acting until I’ve sorted my head out a little. I don’t want my past to fuck up my future; sadly with mental illness this seems to be the curse. Even if we think we’ve got away we never really have. Mental health problems can change you, for better or worse, there’s no point running away from that fact.

’til next time,

Wren x

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