“During a period of time in my life, I grappled with depression, drinking, and more, desperate to find fixes for how I felt.”
As a star on the Disney Channel hit shows Even Stevens and Kim Possible, Christy Carlson Romano came across as poised and polished—but really she was struggling with depression and tendencies toward self-harm.
“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,” Romano wrote in an essay for Teen Vogue. “During a period of time in my life, I grappled with depression, drinking, and more, desperate to find fixes for how I felt.”
Although Romano had career success at a very young age, she wasn’t able to experience a normal childhood, she wrote. That loss affected her social and emotional development, she said.
“While I was adept at change and very driven in my art form, I was delayed in some developmental milestones that one often has in their preteen years that adequately inform their early adulthood and help them make the right decisions during hard times,” she said. “I only learned to ride a bike at 12 years old because I had a callback for a cereal commercial. I had very few friends my own age and lacked the ability to communicate my emotions effectively due to my insecurities with being different. Needing to be liked was my full-time job and constant concern of mine.”
After leaving Disney, Romano tried her hand at New York theater, where her mental health began to slip.
“I became a bit harder-edged, binge-drank more at loud nightclubs, and started to accept the transient natures of love, sex, and friendship,” she said. “Then I began to flirt with other methods of self-destruction. 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.’”
When a so-called psychic approach Romano, the star formed a relationship with her, eventually paying $40,000 for a crystal that the psychic promised would change her life.
“I felt marked, used, and violated so I started to blame myself for everything instead of learning from my past mistakes and growing as a person,” she said.
After ten years, Romano said she got her life on track when she met her husband, with whom she now has two daughters. Today she is sober and has a more robust sense of purpose.
“I haven’t had a drink since before my first pregnancy and am going to continue to abstain from alcohol so that I can continue to make clear-headed decisions that keep me on the right path,” she wrote.
She’s now able to look back on her life and see where she went wrong, and she has some advice to share with others.
“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.”