Monday, November 1, 2010
She shared how when she went home for Christmas dinner and finally had some potatoes with her family at the dinner, from panic she got up mid dinner and started doing jumping jacks MID CHRISTMAS DINNER, frantically trying to burn the "potato" off. Subsisting on no more than 300 calories, and starving herself down to 82 lbs.
Dieting for a large portion of her life, she eventually turned to binging and then purging from starvation:
"I hated purging. It was punishment that I couldn't stick to a diet," she says. "I hated binging, [but] binging momentarily gave me relief, because I'd been starving, really. Psychologically, I just wanted to fill the void. But the purging, the purging made me feel more pathetic than just having failed yet another diet."
We all remember her from her sexy striptease on Ally McBeal, which was one of my favorite shows at the time. In fact, I loved Portia's character! The way Portia remembers that day was characterized by paranoia about her body: '"I was constantly looking for external validation," she says. "'How was it? How did I look?' And one friend of mine, one very good friend, said to me, 'You looked like a normal, healthy woman.' And those three words really sent me into shock."
To Portia, those words translated to robust and curvy—far from the skinny and narrow ideal that she was reaching for at the time. She says the scene sent her into a downward spiral.
When Oprah asked if she felt proud of falling to such a low weight at the time, she answered: "It wasn't that I was proud of it, but it was certainly a recognition for my self-control,” says Portia. “I definitely had some amazing willpower to get down to 82 pounds, and that's what I was holding on to. I didn't think about anything else."
I think the key was that it was THE THING SHE WAS HOLDING ON TO. She felt empty and alone, and Anorexia for lack of a better term, was her true friend and the one thing constant that she could control.
Ultimately collapsing on a set, Portia was diagnosed with Osteoporosis, Cirrhosis of the Liver, and near organ failure at the age of 25. This, my friends, is an Eating Disorder. "At that point, I thought, 'I have a choice,'" she says. "And I didn't want to live like a sick person. I thought that maybe there was something out there that was going to give me joy. I just didn't want it to be all over.
Today she is radiant, happy and free of the demons of her past. She has also overcome her anorexia and chronic dieting. She says she did this by putting an end to food restriction. Of her relationship with exercise and food now, she says: "That really is the only way that food loses its power over you," Portia says. "If you can have something every day, as much as you want, you tend not to want it as much anymore. And after a period of time, you actually eat what you body needs, you eat what makes you happy and you don't think about food ever again.
She is a true survivor, and is going to help so many people not only suffering from it, but hopefully help the misinformed understand the cruelty and horror that this disease brings.
I urge anyone who is struggling, suffering, or knows someone that is: REACH OUT FOR HELP! Love yourself and love the person who is suffering!
As Portia so poignantly put it: "Love save us. Love Heals us".
Her book comes out tomorrow, November 2 2010. Get it on sale here.
I encourage all of you to read it. The more awareness there is on this horrific disease, the more people suffering can feel comfortable reaching out for help and the more lives can be saved. I am not an Eating Disorder expert by any means! But my heart bleeds for those suffering!
From the publisher:
In this searing, unflinchingly honest book, Portia de Rossi captures the complex emotional truth of what it is like when food, weight, and body image take priority over every other human impulse or action. She recounts the elaborate rituals around eating that came to dominate hours of every day, from keeping her daily calorie intake below 300 to eating precisely measured amounts of food out of specific bowls and only with certain utensils. When this wasn't enough, she resorted to purging and compulsive physical exercise, driving her body and spirit to the breaking point.
Even as she rose to fame as a cast member of the hit television shows Ally McBeal and Arrested Development, Portia alternately starved herself and binged, all the while terrified that the truth of her sexuality would be exposed in the tabloids. She reveals the heartache and fear that accompany a life lived in the closet, a sense of isolation that was only magnified by her unrelenting desire to be ever thinner. With the storytelling skills of a great novelist and the eye for detail of a poet, Portia makes transparent as never before the behaviors and emotions of someone living with an eating disorder.
From her lowest point, Portia began the painful climb back to a life of health and honesty, falling in love with and eventually marrying Ellen DeGeneres, and emerging as an outspoken and articulate advocate for gay rights and women's health issues.
In this remarkable and beautifully written work, Portia shines a bright light on a dark subject. A crucial book for all those who might sometimes feel at war with themselves or their bodies, Unbearable Lightness is a story that inspires hope and nourishes the spirit