a note from the creator
"on beauty, borderline, and being normal"
I have a mental illness. As I write those words, I realize how strange that sounds, how not used I am to writing them. It’s not something I’ve ever felt comfortable talking about. Or rather, it’s not something I thought other people would ever feel comfortable hearing about. I would assume that I was the only person in the history of the world that had ever had these feelings, that had ever felt the world this intensely. I would try to explain to people my issues with attachment, abandonment, manipulation, and my tendency towards self-destruction, without ever using those words. I didn’t acknowledge it to myself for a long time. Borderline personality disorder is a label that, without a doubt, fits me perfectly. But it’s not one I have felt comfortable owning until now.
Borderline is not something that gets a lot of attention in the media. It is denigrated just as often as it is talked about. In the mental health field, patients with BPD are considered to be the most difficult to work with. When you Google “borderline personality disorder,” a vast majority of the results you receive are articles with titles like “11 Things To Do If You Think Your Significant Other Might Have Borderline Personality Disorder” and “How To Deal With Having a Friend with BPD.” The films and tv shows that have dealt with this subject have done so in such a way that the borderline person is treated as irrational and menacing in their need for others.
I have never gotten to see a borderline person tell their own story. But, in addition to that, I feel that there is a substantive lack of real stories being told about women with mental illness and the way that they relate to the world. Average, everyday women who struggle and wake up in the morning and take their medication and try to see their lives as beautiful.
There was a moment in the past year when I realized what I want to do, exactly the kind of stories I wanted to tell. It was a moment of euphoria, followed by one of deep, all-consuming fear. Because the stories I want to tell are, on their fundamental level, love stories. They are, like this project, stories about the nature of intimacy, about what it means to love someone and what it takes to do that while fighting your own demons. And this means that in this industry, my face and my body would not be enough to tell them. I would need to hand over my stories to someone else, to someone who people felt could be more believably, more easily, loved.
We all know this industry has a fascination with beauty. It has a fascination with thinness, with long, flowing hair, with big, wide eyes. And while myself and other actors I know joke about this all the time, trying to acknowledge our own self-awareness of how strange this whole job is, truthfully, it is leaving so many people behind. I was told time and time again that I would only ever play the “best friend.” I was told that someone would really need to “take a chance on me” for me to ever get to play a romantic lead. So after a while, I decided to stop trying to fit myself into other people’s stories, and instead, write my own.
My flawed body, face, and brain make up the person that has lived these stories. They make up a person that is always, constantly, passionately, ridiculously in love. They make up a person who has been loved, and desired, and told she is beautiful. They make up a person whose ugliness is lovable, whose love is valid.
I wrote this story to make a place for normal people in love stories. I wrote it for the women who, like myself, have struggled from an early age in a society where our bodies and our faces were never good enough. I wrote it for the people that have tried to convince me that love stories are somehow antithetical to feminism, as if exploring women in love is a somehow less important pursuit. A love story featuring a flawed woman, a woman whose face isn’t beautiful, whose body has fat and cellulite and scars, who struggles with a mental illness that she can’t control, is nothing less than a radical idea in this industry. A love story featuring a young woman with all of these qualities, when young women in this society are constantly condescended to for the way we act, dress, and speak, is nothing less than a kind of revolution.
With this project, I wanted to tell a story that I knew. I wanted to tell my own stories, and the stories of those close to me. I wanted to take those moments that feel just on the edge of cinematic, and explore them through the lenses of all of our flaws, all of our rough edges. I want to do so with comedy, and with light, and with awkwardness, and with joy. I want to do so with so, so, so much love and compassion.
Many people cautioned me against naming borderline personality disorder specifically in this series. They said that it would make it a story about that, rather than a story about love and relationships. But in my life, those things are inextricably combined. It is a story about borderline, and it’s also a story about love, and those two things are not separate whatsoever. I can't begin to speak for everyone that suffers from borderline personality disorder. I can only speak for myself, and hopefully that is enough.
This series is for all of my friends that have struggled with mental illness and all of my friends that have no idea what that struggle is like. It’s for the women at the checkout counter at CVS that noticed the scars on my arms and showed me hers. It’s for the people that have become convinced that they’re not meant to take up space in the world, and for the people that have done that convincing. It’s for me, to convince myself that I know how.
I’m still here, and it’s time for you to look at me.