Blacked Out on Reality TV

This blog post is a passage straight out of Chapter 5 of my book, Girl, Wasted. The chapter is titled “Bachelor Pad Blackout,” and describes my alcoholism as it affected my ability to function as a normal contestant on reality TV.

On the first day, we were given a challenge that would give the winning couple immunity from elimination and the losing couple a vote against them. When we walked outside of the mansion into the front terrace, we were greeted by seven giant hearts, made of wood. These contraptions were large enough to fit two people inside of them and were suspended into the air. We had to wedge ourselves into the heart-shaped box and basically hang without falling out. Whoever stayed in the heart-shaped boxes the longest were the winners. This was literally the easiest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. I could have sat, wedged in that heart all day. The other contestants were sweating and groaning. They were dropping like flies. Within ten minutes, I was the last man hanging.

(Photo by Matt Brown/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images) BRITTANY TALTOS, ERICA TALTOS, DAVID MALLET, CHRIS HARRISON

When my sister and I won the first challenge, we received even more adverse feedback because we were safe from going home. The entire house had planned on voting us out first. By winning, we were unknowingly throwing a wrench in the other contestants’ unanimous plan. I felt alone, shunned, and miserable. All I wanted to do was drink and forget where I was.

 Since we won the challenge, we were rewarded with a date night at the Santa Monica Pier with our male partner on the show. During the date, we had a glass of alcohol in our hands at all times; I couldn’t function with it and I certainly couldn’t function without it. We drank throughout the entire night—I couldn’t stop. I needed it for clarity, and I needed it for my anxiety. The last thing I remember is my sister passed out. She was lying sprawled across the center row of the white production van. Producers were insistently handing her bottles of water to sober her up. She was gone. I was shortly behind her.

When I woke up the next morning, my head was screaming for more booze. My brain was murky and my body was frail. I could barely wobble down the stairs without losing my balance. My withdrawals, disguised as hangovers, were my little secret. I didn’t want the world to witness my withdrawals; they certainly weren’t for the faint of heart. My symptoms were ugly and distasteful, nothing that my fellow castmates could relate to. I felt even more alone.

I casually scrolled downstairs around 10 a.m. and started concocting a Bloody Mary because that’s what contestants on reality TV do, right? With a camera in my face, recording my every move, I chugged the vodka with tomato juice. I immediately felt more amicable; I could function again. Most importantly, I could complete my confessional interviews without feeling nauseous and shaky.

By nightfall, my sister and I were shitfaced, for lack of a better adjective. I was blacked out by noon and I don’t remember a damn thing. I vaguely remember arguing with my sister. I think she called me a whore. We went at it like we were starring on an episode of Jerry Springer. We carried ourselves like white trash. We were slurring our words and behaving like juveniles. Every single contestant loathed our high-pitched voices. We were two animals that needed to be exterminated. I was barely able to stand during the first rose ceremony. If we didn’t hold immunity from winning the first challenge, we would have been eliminated, right then and there. I was supposed to hand out the roses during the ceremony, but I was too intoxicated.

By sunrise, my sister and I had packed up our belongings and left the show. I was angry at myself for drinking like a fool. I was angry at myself for exposing my alcoholism, which I couldn’t even control for one week. It reared its ugly head during my most vulnerable times. That’s the thing about addiction; you can’t control it under any circumstance.

When the show aired, I was mortified. It was almost worse than our Jersey Shore charade. Watching yourself on the big screen in a total blackout is excruciating. I don’t wish it upon my worst enemy. I looked into my own eyes, on that screen, and witnessed a girl possessed by alcohol. My actions and behaviors were infantile and humiliating. I refused to believe that I was watching myself. I was intelligent, witty, and beautiful; I was not that hideous and repulsive contestant on Bachelor Pad.

This was our only chance to restore our reputation and we unequivocally blew it faster and harder than an air horn. The reality TV scene is simply not cut out for an alcoholic. It’s an environment that oozes alcohol. The temptation to continuously drink is prevalent and profound. It was an alcoholic booby trap. I didn’t learn my lesson the first go-around, and I repeated history. I hated myself. Most importantly, I hated my alcoholism.

Click here to read the entire chapter:

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