Alliance Profile - Kristen Renton
An American Actress who had a Recurring Role as Ima Tite on Sons of Anarchy and also Portrayed Morgan Hollingsworth on NBC’s Soap Opera, Days of Our Lives
What past life experiences, physical traumas or genetics do you believe have had an effect on your mental health?
I come from a military family – my father was in the Air Force for 30 years, and we moved around a lot during my childhood. That’s never easy for any child. When I was 16, I left home on my own to begin my career. I had to grow up very quickly. I was thrust into a world I truly knew nothing about. And thus began my crash course in “life.” After an abusive relationship, I was diagnosed with Lupus. It was then, when my body began to turn against me, I decided to take my life back.
How did the effects on your mental health appear in terms of symptoms?
I began doubting myself and my capabilities. I lost all confidence I had in myself. I felt at times that I was really just a waste of space. I developed severe body dysmorphia. There have been many times I have been events, or standing in a room of executives, producers, directors, and truly never felt more alone. At times, I have felt that I am the only one who still has some goodness left in them.. .which can make things feel hopeless. I am a perfectionist in a world where there is no such thing as perfection. I have been told on a consistent basis how I wasn’t good enough – not pretty enough, not tall enough, not skinny enough, not unique enough… unfortunately, it is only a matter of time before you start to believe it.
When and why did you decide to ask for help to get relief?
After finally leaving an abusive relationship and being diagnosed with Lupus, I decide to take time to get to know myself. To work on my mental health and find a way to learn to love myself again. I began therapy, which I absolutely love. I focused on saying “No” more, which for me is very difficult. I made sure I got sleep. And I decided to only surround myself with people who truly had good intentions, which in Hollywood, I learned, can be very hard to do.
What methods helped you individually get/feel better?
I love going hiking, doing yoga, spending time with animals or volunteering at animal rescues. I focus in eating healthy and try to get a full nights sleep. I listen to my body – it always tells you when you need to slow down, or when things are beginning to get out of control. I have realized that certain dramatic moments or events in your life that seem drastic and catastrophic, can really be just a blip on the radar.
Why did you decide to go public with your story? Who were/are you hoping to help and how?
I have always believed in open honest communication. There is a stigma that still surrounds discussing “mental health issues” and I believe we are doing ourselves a massive disservice by continuing to honor that stigma. Many people feel too embarrassed or ashamed to talk about what they are going through.. even though everyone is going through something. I have always wanted people to know they are not alone. We all have things from our past – experiences, moments, tragedies, and loss – that shape us into who we are. Being honest about our individual journeys, and sharing our stories, helps us all to know we are not alone. There is someone out there who, not only understands, but cares. Beautiful growth and healing can come from letting go of our darkest secrets.
How did people react when you went public with your story?
I have never hidden my experiences or how they have shaped me. I have always vocal about my desire for the world to have a more open and honest dialogue about mental health, and the stigmas that surround it. I am happy to share my stories if it means helping others.