Breaking the Fourth Wall

A fan said something to me yesterday on Facebook about “punching a hole in the movie screen.” He couldn’t have said that more perfectly, and I’m not sure anything could have been more humanizing to me than to hear someone say that at this time.

When I approached Discovery Channel about how my prescription was withheld from me on the shoot of Naked and Afraid XL, they responded by censoring me. My Q&A was indefinitely postponed once again, and I was essentially cut off from all communication with my press contact. No help was offered, and nothing was said.

I have mentioned this issue time and time again, on-camera and off. I talked about the prescriptions every day in Colombia. I talked about it in private interviews, private messages to producers, and at the reunion shoot this last July. In fact, I pretty much got kicked out of my final interview because the producer was so pissed at me for once again bringing it up.

As a result, I have been watching this bizarrely edited story play out on television and been unable to advocate for or defend myself. My partner from my initial episode and I were not allowed to have the usual Q&A either, so I have now experienced this censorship continuously since signing up for the show.

The show has withheld all footage pertaining to my drama with production, of course, and focused on anything else that makes sense with their story line. Critics have poured every abusive label onto me and some of the other cast members, deeming themselves as self-proclaimed web psychiatrists and spouting diagnoses from bipolar to sociopath to BPD, etc, etc, etc.

Knowing what I know about what really happened in Brazil and Colombia, I have to say it would be detrimental to my physical and mental health to keep shut about it. Discovery made a mistake. A huge one.

To summarize the medical thing:

My first partner was taking amphetamines out in the Brazil sand dunes, and they created a false story line because the actual story line would have been “bad for the viewers, and bad for the show,” as Executive Producer Steve Rankin told me in Colombia. My partner told me on night 1 that he “could not believe they let him take Adderall” out there, and that he had managed to get a prescription right before leaving for Brazil. While I thought this was going to be a good thing, it was not. Twice a day, a PA would give him his amphetamine pill, and then he would proceed to sit in the shade and talk excessively with the crew members, like he was on speed. He was not focusing on anything, nor was he getting up and doing anything. He wasn’t hungry, and he was talking a lot. That is it.

Note: I actually do have ADD (inattentive ADHD), and have been prescribed Adderall myself in the past. It does not have a speedy effect on people with ADD; it usually does the opposite: it helps them focus. The chemical processes of someone with inattentive ADHD are different than those without. So for example, if I were to do cocaine, it would work more like Ritalin or Concerta; it would help me focus and would not affect me as a party drug like most people.

So, my partner was on amphetamines and I was on Malarone, dealing with its side effects such as UTIs, sun-sensitivity, nausea, nightmares, hallucinations, and intense emotions (though who knows, some of that could have also been from being asked to talk about my dad over and over again).

Hence, because the actual events were not something Discovery wanted to portray, they threw me under the bus. They cut me out of shelter building and did not show a single thing that I actually did: fishing, fish baskets, killing birds, finding moriche fruit and coconuts and sharing them with my partner, making charcoal for water filtration, doing a 24-hour toxicity test on the cactus they only show my partner eating, etc, etc. Instead, they focused on their fabricated story about “my dad’s magnifying glass” and made me look like I was running a daily marathon out in the dunes until I passed out. The producer told me I had done more than any other female contestant, but the edit portrayed the exact opposite.

I showed up in Colombia with a doctor’s note for salt and another supplement for my kidneys. Two days before we started the challenge, Steve Rankin and two field producers stepped into my hotel room to discuss my prescription. Steve Rankin told me that it would be unfair to the other contestants and thus they could not honor my prescription. He said to go home or do it without. (By the way, Steve Rankin was the executive producer for Man Vs. Wild).

On Day 1, I found out that one of my partners got homemade tincture, made by his brother, containing fish oil, alcohol, herbs, and “lots of other” unknown ingredients. He was allowed to take this tincture at-will, and it was always accessible to him in our dry-bag. He said he also was allowed to take a similar concoction in his last challenge. My other partner said one of the women in another camp got to take B-vitamins (which she has confirmed with me). Both of these things were substitutes for the Malarone many of us were told to take.

Now, Malarone is not supposed to be taken by people with any kind of history of kidney problems, because it filters through the kidneys. But I was never given an option to bring my own homemade tincture, or to take B-vitamins as a substitute. There was NEVER an option for any alternative, ever.

I was pissed. I felt betrayed and discriminated against. I spoke about this daily. In fact, I pretty much refused to answer any interview question because I was so pissed off. Then one of the producers informed me that “many of the cast members got to take supplements.” This was after he stood idly by in my hotel room while Rankin told me it would be “unfair” to honor my supplement prescription. So, knowing that “many of the cast” got supplements, there was still an executive decision to disallow mine, though mine came prescribed.

I had brought salt and my other supplement out to Colombia with me. When I was told I could not bring them on the show, I ended up dumping the bag of salt onto my head and scrubbing it into my scalp, so that I had salt in my hair for a couple of days. I was picking at salt like head lice until I got so hot that I had to go for a dip in the creek and it dissolved.

In fact, I had so much salt on my head that when I stripped on Day 1, it literally poured out from my shirt and down my torso. (FYI, they also had us film the initial strip-down/walk into the jungle scene two days before the actual start of the show, to save time when we actually started, so there is footage of me stripping without salt pouring off as well).

After three days of telling the producers they were corrupted, they conceded to find me some salt pills. Apparently in the whole of Eastern Colombia they could only find 10 tiny salt packets, and so they said I could have one pill every few days. They did not honor the other half of my supplement prescription, and the amount of salt given to me was not what was recommended.

I think they had gotten the point that I would not answer any questions on-camera if I was going to be discriminated against, and since the only drama I was speaking about had to do with THEM, they needed to do something.

The day before I tapped out, I told production I wanted to go home. The Malarone was building up in my system because it filters through the kidneys and my kidneys were not functioning properly due to low salt and electrolyte levels. I was having severe UTI symptoms as well as an intense pain in my left kidney alarm point. (By the way, as soon as I was medically examined post-tap out, the doctor said to immediately cease taking Malarone because of my kidneys).

So back to the challenge… I tried tapping out and they begged me to stick it out another day.

The day I tapped out, the medics arrived first thing in the morning to check me out. Then they left to get me antibiotics. I was laying down and my partner proceeded to tell me for about 15 minutes that I needed to get up and pull my own weight.

What you saw on the show was the very tail-end of a 15 minute berating session from my partner. Like in the Brazil episode, nearly everything my male partner said got completely edited out and they cut to my reaction, resulting in what appears to be an irrational response to absolutely nothing. This is not what happened.

It seems to me that when a major television network or its affiliates realize they have made any kind of mistake that could possibly get them in trouble or damage their reputation, they throw whomever was injured under the bus. They edit that person to make them look irrational, crazy, untrustworthy, or any other stereotype so that if they do choose to speak out, no one listens to or believes them. This is what happened with me in Brazil and at least one other cast member on the XL show. This is also what they did to the honorable Cody Lundin from Dual Survival.

This is what television does when it is a major network channel funded by dirty politics. They have the power to essentially brainwash viewers by using the power of suggestion. They edit, cut, delete, dub, sub, and repeat certain lines or scenes so that the viewer hears and sees something enough times that they actually believe it.

(They say if you hear something three time, it starts to become a truth in your mind.)

Well, back to the fourth wall. In theater, when an actor communicates with the audience, it is called breaking the fourth wall. As my fan commented, I essentially broke the television screen when I threw my partners’ tools in the creek. I broke the fourth wall.

I was rebelling against the entire system.

This was not just about me and my partners. Not at all. This was production, this was Discovery. This was manipulation, exploitation, discrimination, starvation. This was dehumanizing a woman for television so someone in a leather office chair can make a buck.

This was my primal scream.

My only wish is that I could have climbed out of the television at that point.

But, now that the metaphorical wall has been broken, perhaps people will see the show for what it really is.