Actress Christy Carlson Romano has opened up about her battle with mental health, alcohol and more in an essay published on Tuesday by Teen Vogue titled "Christy Carlson Romano: My Private Breakdown."
Carlson Romano starred on the Disney Channel show Even Stevens from 2000 to 2003, with the actress playing Ren Stevens — the high-achieving, type-A sister of main character Louis Stevens (Shia LaBeouf).
"I am an actress and if you were going to define my 'brand' you might say I was 'perfect' or 'pulled together,'" Romano wrote in her essay. "I'm here to throw a wrench at that image."
"While many witnessed my co-star Shia LaBeouf struggle publicly, I have largely suffered in silence," she shared. "I am not a victim, but I have never been perfect or pulled together as my reputation or the successes of my young adulthood might suggest. During a period of time in my life, I grappled with depression, drinking, and more, desperate to find fixes for how I felt."
Carlson Romano revealed that during her time on television, she had few friends her own age and "lacked the ability to communicate my emotions effectively due to my insecurities with being different."
After Even Stevens, Carlson Romano headed to college, writing that "the idea of one day having a college life became my greatest fantasy"
Once she got to an Ivy League school, she "put on a brave face but still felt out of place, like a misfit."
"My heart broke when I realized that I was never going to experience the teen-movie happy ending with a group of friends in a Jeep on their way to the beach," she shared. "I felt like I failed myself, and the tape that had started playing years before now started to play louder, faster, and angrier."
In addition to her work on Even Stevens, the Connecticut native has appeared in multiple Disney Channel original movies and voiced the titular character on the network's Kim Possible from 2002-2007. She has also starred on Broadway and in Lifetime films, writing that she turned to the New York City theater community while in college.
"I was highly criticized for my youth, which fueled my desire to prove everybody wrong," she recalled of that time. "I became a bit harder-edged, binge-drank more at loud nightclubs, and started to accept the transient natures of love, sex, and friendship. Growing up, I entertained thousands of families only to feel completely lonely. People were as replaceable as they had deemed me to be. Imposter syndrome had stiff competition against my self-hatred at that point."
"Then I began to flirt with other methods of self-destruction," she continued. "I tried to scratch my skin with my fingernail because I was too scared to use a knife. I chickened out and honestly felt like I had failed some important race to win the trophy for 'most tragic, beautiful girl.'"
Carlson Romano is now married, and she and husband Brendan Rooney share two daughters. The 35-year-old wrote that her return to school, where she got her film studies degree at Barnard College, and meeting her husband helped to break her toxic cycle.
"I struggled with all of my relationships, alcohol usage, and career path for 10 years before going back to school and re-centering myself," she shared. "I ended up meeting my husband in a screenwriting class and found in him a companionship that would take a mallet to the tape that had been screaming in my head all those years."
She concluded by noting that she hasn't had a drink since her first pregnancy before issuing some advice to those hoping to enter the entertainment industry.0comments
"Having a clear understanding of your personal value helps to positively shape everything you do," she wrote. "If you don't, if you aren't careful, you just might end up getting what everyone else wishes for but wondering what you want yourself."
Photo Credit: Getty / Paul Archuleta