This is what it was like for Troian Bellisario to re-examine eating disorders in her new film

Pretty Little Liars’ actress Troian Bellisario has struggled with anorexia for many years, and she has been very open about her journey. Inspired by her own experiences with her eating disorder, Bellisario has created a film that examines what it’s like to live with the illness. The 31-year-old not only stars in Feed, she also wrote and produced the film.

The actress first discussed her eating disorder publicly in a 2014 interview with Seventeen. She spoke out again back in November in an election PSA, urging voters to vote for Hillary Clinton, who promised to help improve the health care system, particularly for those coping with mental illnesses.

Bellisario is speaking out once again, but this time in a much bigger way — by making a film. She spoke to Interview Magazine and explained the inspiration behind the film, and why it was a challenge revisiting her eating disorder.

“It was not easy; it was like engaging with an addiction, Bellisario told Interview Magazine. “One of the things I really wanted the film to explore was that once you have this relationship, once you have this mental illness or this disease, it never really goes away.

Troian’s sentiment that resonates with many who have dealt with their own mental illness.

One of the reasons Bellisario decided to make the film is to help people understand that eating disorders aren’t just about being skinny or losing weight — they’re often about being in control.

“If I can tell a story that puts the audience in a position to make a similar choice to the one that I made in my young life, maybe I could get them to empathize, she said.

Bellisario said the process of making the film was like “poking a sleeping dragon.”

“It was amazing for me to realize, ‘Oh god, this is still all just lying under the surface. I’ve just gotten really good at either ignoring it or choosing to not engage with it,’ ” she explained. “But it’s amazing that you can have this huge, life-threatening thing be a part of you and still live inside of you, and almost tame it in a weird way.”

You’ll be able to catch Feed starting July 18th. It’ll be available on digital platforms and Video on Demand.