Former child star Christy Carlson Romano is getting real about her battle with depression, drinking and self harm. In a story she wrote for Teen Vogue, the Disney Channel alum explained what it was like growing up in the spotlight and how her childhood led her to dark places.

“Many of you know me as the girl from that TV show or movie you once saw on the Disney Channel. Maybe you saw me on Broadway or in a Lifetime Movie. I am an actress and if you were going to define my ‘brand’ you might say I was ‘perfect’ or ‘pulled together.’ I’m here to throw a wrench at that image,” the 35-year-old said. “While many witnessed my costar Shia LaBeouf struggle publicly, I have largely suffered in silence. 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.”

Getty Images

The Cadet Kelly actress explained, “I started acting at six years old, a time when most kids are just going into elementary school and learning to socialize with their peers. I learned phrases like triple threat while mastering singing, dancing, and acting lessons in an effort to be one. Until I landed my first main role on Even Stevens when I was 14 — which relocated me to Los Angeles, away from my family on the East Coast — I traveled the country with musical road shows and took the train into New York City from my small town in Connecticut.”

“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. 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,” the Kim Possible star continued. “The idea of one day having a college life became my greatest fantasy. I would watch teen movies and become intensely jealous of ‘normal’ kids, feeling, at my moodiest, like a misfit.”

The actress, who played Belle in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast on Broadway in 2004, went on to explain how seeking a “normal” life didn’t work out the way she had planned.

Beauty and the Beast - Dress Rehearsal
Getty Images

“Even Stevens ended the summer before my start at an Ivy League school that fall,” she said. “I ran from school and back into the arms of the New York theater community. What I didn’t realize was that starring in a Broadway show was very hard work for a 19-year-old. I was highly criticized for my youth, which fueled my desire to prove everybody wrong. I became a bit harder-edged, binge-drank more at loud nightclubs, and started to accept the transient natures of love, sex, and friendship… 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.”

She even got to the point where she paid a psychic $40,000 for a crystal that she believed would turn her life around.

“Days later when the psychic stopped returning my calls and began threatening me, I had some clarity on having been conned,” she confessed.

But it was the love of her life who helped her really get on the right track.

“I ended up meeting my husband [Brendan Rooney] in a screenwriting class,” she said. “I am happy to say that we got married and now have two beautiful daughters. 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. All that matters now is my amazing family. When I look back I can see that it’s all I ever wanted.”

And now, she’s the one in control of her career!

“Since I’m obsessed with cooking, my team and I are officially launching my YouTube series Christy’s Kitchen Throwback on June 27. Through these videos, fans will get to see a new side of me where I’m geeking out over kitchenware and cooking themed dishes with everyone from fellow stars of the ‘90s and aughts to some of today’s biggest YouTube personalities,” she shared.

We’re so glad Christy was brave enough to share her story in hopes of helping others who might be dealing with a similar situation.

If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Youth Crisis Hotline at 1-800-448-4663.

Love J-14? Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for fun, exclusive videos with your favorite stars.