An Introverted Actress

Day Seventeen and Eighteen: Create and Social

I'm combining "Create" with "Social" as I personally feel there's a link. Over the years, my creativity seems to just keep increasing. A shelf full of books I've written in various different languages. A CV full of colourful, brilliant characters. A stage door full of smiling faces. I've been so lucky and I am so grateful for this career I've built and have had lots of help creating. It's my greatest achievement and if it all went tits up tomorrow, I've had an amazing run. 

However, there seems to be a stereotype around performing in particular that I naturally don't conform to. It's not an active choice I make but a feeling deep in my gut that repels me, like a magnet. You'd think those who stand on stages, who willingly put themselves in the spotlight, who have chosen a life of promoting themselves in order to earn a living, would enjoy attention. I've talked about this before but recently, Patti Murin, the actress currently starring as Anna in Broadway's Frozen, reached out to her followers on Twitter and opened up about a recent anxiety attack that prevented her from performing. I can't speak on behalf of an actress I don't know. I can't pretend to know the ins and outs of what Ms Murin is going through but I do have my own experiences, that I'd like to take this opportunity to talk about. 

So last night I called out of the show because I had a massive anxiety attack in the afternoon. It had been building up for a while, and while the past month has been incredible, all of the ups and downs and stress and excitement really takes a toll on my mental health. I’ve learned that these situations aren’t something to “deal with” or “push through.” Anxiety and depression are real diseases that affect so many of us. It requires a lot of rest and self care to heal every time it becomes more than I can handle in my daily life. While I hate missing the show for any reason at all, Disney has been nothing but supportive of me as I navigate my life and work, and I’m so grateful to them. Just remember that you’re not alone, your feelings are real, and this is not your fault. Even Disney princesses are terrified sometimes.
A post shared by Pattimurin (@pattimurin) on

This blog's subtitle is 'An Introverted Actress' and I very almost hit backspace on that before  publishing. I've had people scoff the few times before the creation of this blog when I referred to myself as an introvert. When I took the 16personalities.com test for a bit of fun and got INFP, 'I' standing for 'Introvert', there were a couple of "funny" tweets, accusing me of making things harder for real introverts. Whether it was through fear of more judgement or fear of making anxiety sound like the cool thing to have, I'm not sure, but I'm glad I stuck to my guns and left the subtitle where it was. 

It's been a very strange journey for me, getting to this point. I used to feel like the life and soul of the party. I was a people loving, party going, social butterfly but put simply, a series of unfortunate events within my own personal life and a few encounters in my professional life caused me to shrink in on myself a bit. At first, I wanted to resist the natural urges to stay inside between shows when my brain felt a bit fuzzy. I ignored the dread in my heart, I blinked back the tears and I battled onwards, forcing myself into situations that had once felt natural but now felt like wars. (Oh no. I'm crying. I think I hit a nerve with that last line.) I hated that what now felt normal was so unlike the person I had previously been but I also hated that I wasn't able to turn up to work, do my job and then go home again. I had set a precedent, encouraged an expectation and I knew the reception to the introvert I had become over the years wasn't going to be accommodating...and it wasn't. After all, trying to explain to young teenagers who had travelled for miles to come and see me in a show that "Carrie won't be coming out of stage door because her brain hurts" doesn't really fly (and explaining it to their parents is another barrel of fish altogether!).  I get it. I don't blame anyone for anything that's been said because I understand the reasons why and who else was there to blame but me? Whilst, I maintain that no one has an entitlement to meeting actors at stage door and that audiences pay for a show, not a meet and greet, it's taken me a long time to hold my hands up and say that the reasons behind my lack of appearances after performances is my own anxiety. My heart hurts when I think of all the people I've disappointed over the years and I'm so sorry to anyone who feels wronged by me in that respect who happens to be reading this. Know that it never comes from a place of superiority or arrogance but a much darker place of angst and fear. (Oh no. Tears again!). Many dressing rooms across the UK have seen many tears, deep breaths and more camomile teabags than I'm prepared to put a number on but to echo Patti Murin, sometimes you can't "deal with" or "push through" those feelings of anxiety and sadness. Or more that no one should deal with or push through them. In the same way that had Patti Murin physically injured herself, no one would have expected her to perform. It's difficult to grasp but we're all talking more these days and slowly, we're getting there. We'll get there.


TL;DR, not all creatives should be expected to be social because not all natural creatives are naturally social. However, all introverts are capable of having, not only creative careers, but careers in the spotlight. I have worked with countless creatives who suffer with anxiety, depression, BPD and a variety of different mental health issues and yet they have thriving careers simply because they are outstanding at what they do. It's possible. You can do it. You got this. 

#BlurtSelfCareathon

xxx






6 comments

  1. Yes! I am an amateur actress and people always get's really annoyed if I don't want to go out after a performance. I don't have fans, but my cast-mates seem not to understand that as a full-time student and part time drama student that 1. I don't have confidence off stage. The stage is different, it feels safe, and it isn't like I am myself on stage. I'm a character, things are easier. I can be confident while performing but people think I'm cold and snobby if I'm not like my character off-stage.

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  2. I have the sort of same story. I was a total social butterfly who loved to start singing and dancing at parties and around school. However, this year I got back a maths teacher I had had in year 7 and she took me aside one day and asked if i was ok. Apparently I had lost all of my courage and was now silent and shy when I used to always chat and answer questions. It dawned on me that in the 2 years that had passed, I had changed so much due to events that have hurt me and a develop of anxiety, both of which I'm too scared to tell anyone about. Reading this has made me feel so much better. None of us are alone and I just want to thank you Carrie, even if you don't read this, for helping me so much and spreading love. Make a wish and smile because you deserve it.

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  3. i'm so sorry on behalf of all those people who were mad at you for not coming to stage door and for those people who have accused you of lying when you said you are an introvert. You don't deserve the crap and rudeness people give you. It isn't right. It angers me how closed minded people can be you know ? They don't stop and THINK and try to see from your perspective or try to put themselves in your shoes. You've made videos explaining why you couldn't stay for stage door and yet you had people- parents and fans angrily tweet you and like !! it's as if they didn't even watch any of the videos or tweets you had put out EXPLAINING WHY it made me so mad !!! I'm so sorry Carrie that there's people who just assume things and don't believe you and stuff. It's messed up and you deserve better. I want to give you a big hug ! Hopefully those people will learn. love you xxxx

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  4. This is my favourite blog yet! I’m 16, about to go to drama school but last year I suffered really badly with panic attacks and still suffer with anxiety today. So many times I’ve ‘freaked’ myself out telling myself ‘an actress can’t have anxiety’ ‘you’ll never get hired if you keep acting like this’. To the point where I question even applying for schools and carrying on with the arts. But this has just reminded me that there are millions of performers out there, all of which deal with different things, and for many of those people that thing is mental health problems. Thank you for being so open and vibrant all the time despite feeling these things!!! Thank you for this, I love you xx

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  5. That’s such a good post! I completely agree that it’s wrong to assume that just because someone’s work is in the spotlight, that doesn’t mean that they themselves want to be there too. However, something that I take a teeny amount of grievance with (and I really hope I don’t come off as rude, because that’s not my intention at all!) is that being an introvert doesn’t mean that you have mental health issues, and vice versa. I’m sure that’s not what you mean, but that last paragraph kinda makes it seem like that’s what you’re saying... again, really sorry if this comes off as offensive! It’s just because I consider myself to be introvert, but I think my mental health isn’t too bad. Anyway, I’m absolutely loving your blog posts Carrie, thank you so much for writing them!

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  6. High five fellow INFP! We’re a seriously good bunch.
    I really liked your blog post. I believe that somewhere along the line, being introverted has become a slightly negative trait. To me, it means after socialising/giving a presentation/being on stage (I presume), an introvert prefers peace and quiet to recharge as they give their energy to others, whereas an extrovert will be pumped as they get their energy from others.
    What you were saying makes total sense to me. After a performance where you could be feeling drained as it is, having a low dip can really make you feel like not having to see more people as you’re totally shattered physically and mentally. Big hugs and keep the conversation going x

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