Former Disney star Christy Carlson Romano struggled with drinking and depression following the end of “Even Stevens.”
“While many witnessed my costar Shia LaBeouf struggle publicly, I have largely suffered in silence,” the 35-year-old actress wrote in a new Teen Vogue essay. “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.”
Romano, who began acting when she was 6, landed the role of perfectionist Ren Stevens when she 14 years old.
“Nothing could have prepared me for fame and the responsibilities that came with being on television screens everywhere,” she wrote, adding that she clung on to a fantasy of attending college and having a normal life. “A tape inside my head softly began to play, telling me I wasn’t good enough in either the normal or entertainment world. Despite all my public successes, inside I was insecure.”
When “Even Stevens” ended in 2003, Romano attempted to attend college like a normal kid, but felt out of place and couldn’t fit in. She ended up dropping out and doing theater in New York, leading her to binge drink.
“Growing up, I entertained thousands of families only to feel completely lonely,” she wrote. “People were as replaceable as they had deemed me to be. Imposter syndrome had stiff competition against my self-hatred at that point.”
At one point, Romano admits to dropping $40,000 on a crystal from a psychic, hoping it would help her. It took a few days to realize the woman had conned her.
“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 wrote, adding it was at school at Barnard where she met her husband Brendan Rooney.
The couple has two daughters and Romano says she hasn’t had a drink since before her first pregnancy around 2016.
She ended her essay, advising, “Anyone reading this, or anyone who decides to go into the entertainment business (including my daughters, should that time come), know this: having a clear understanding of your personal value helps to positively shape everything you do. 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.”
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