Portia De Rossi lived on 300 calories per day during the height of her anorexia, a fact she shared with another well documented eating disorder victim, Oprah WInfrey.
A tearful De Rossi admitted that it was almost a proud achievement to weigh in at just 82 lbs.
“It wasn’t that I was proud of it,“ she told her host, “But it was certainly a recognition for my self control.“
As part of her purging ritual she would take up to 20 laxatives a day and her sense of personal perspective was seriously derailed by a ‘win or oblivion’ mentality
“I would prefer to die than fail another diet.“ Became her clarion call.
De Rossi’s problems began when she left her native Australia for Hollywood and landed a role in US drama ‘Ally McBeal’, starring alongside Calista Flockhart, who was also battling anorexia at the time.
“I’ve often wondered if I wasn’t on that show if it (anorexia) may not have happened. I didn’t really know at that point what it was like to be a celebrity, and the only people I knew at the time who had a similar experience were these women whom I worked with. They became my role models.”
De Rossi though was fortunate to have help on hand and were it not for the love of her wife, Ellen Degeneres, she fears she would have been consumed by the illness.
The couple were introduced at concert for ‘Rock The Vote’ in March 2001 and De Rossi admitted she was instantly smitten. In that year things had gone awry as she’d been diagnosed with oesteoporosis, cirrhosis of the liver, organ failure and the auto-immune disease lupus.
“Ellen has taught me not to care about other people’s opinions,“
“She saw a glimpse of my inner being from underneath the flesh and bone, reached in and pulled me out.“
In August 2008 De Rossi married Degeneres, who is 15 years her senior, in a private ceremony in their Beverly Hills home.
Now, with her life on track, she has written a memoir detailing her struggles with anorexia called ‘Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain.’