Portia de Rossi's Anorexia Battle

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Breaking Free

How did you ultimately break free of the disorder?

I collapsed on a movie set in 2000. I was told I had lupus and osteoporosis at age 25. My liver enzymes were dangerously high. At that moment I knew if I kept living this way, I was going to die.

You saw a counselor after your diagnosis. What did you learn from her?

The best thing my therapist told me was that I would recover. That was like a beacon of hope, because I didn't want to be on a diet for the rest of my life. And I wanted to be free of thinking about food. The idea that I could one day wake up and not wonder what I ate the night before made me hopeful. Most people think that you deal with an eating disorder for the rest of your life. If I had come across a counselor who told me it would be like a 12-step program, where I'd have to deal with food issues for the rest of my life, ugh, what a horrible thought. But I found one who said, "You'll get over it." It took several years after that to get better, but I did.

What else helped you?

I dated a girl who was naturally thin and ate whatever she wanted. So I thought, Well, why don't I try that? It was very difficult for a while. But eventually I came to realize that's the only way to live and maintain a consistent, healthy weight -- without restrictions. When you have restrictions they build up and you end up bingeing. Every diet I would go on, I would gain the weight back.

Continued on page 4:  Paying It Forward


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