Check out a few highlights from Miss Bellisario’s interview below. For more, be sure to visit Seventeen!
On her stressful childhood:
“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.
On her ways of hiding her problems:
“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. I became imprisoned by [my eating disorder and self-harm]. And it was something I fought with.”
On her self-critical lifestyle:
“I started self-harming when I was a junior. 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.
On her friends saving her:
“They got a hold of my journal and basically said, ‘We don’t trust you, and we’re gonna tell your parents.’ That was when my world kind of exploded. It was kind of like an intervention. It made me ask myself, What do I really want to be doing? What would make me happy?”
On her overcoming the disorders:
“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 [Hale], Shay [Mitchell], and Ashley [Benson], 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.”
Source: Gossip Centre