Ellen Degeneres' Love Saved Her Life

Portia de Rossi says her eating disorder almost killed her -- until she met Ellen DeGeneres and realized she was worthy of life and love.

Portia De Rossi & Ellen Degeneres

In her new memoir Unbearable Lightness, Portia de Rossi reveals that at the height of her eating disorder -- a near-fatal combination of both anorexia and bulimia -- she was eating as little as 150 calories a day, ingested 20 laxatives at a time and worked out like a fiend. The end result? A skeletal 82 pounds on her 5'8" frame.

"I'd never known a day when my weight wasn't the determining factor for my self esteem," she wrote. "The more effort I put into starving myself, the more satisfaction I would feel."

After she collapsed on the set of the film Who Is Cletis Tout? in 2001, she was diagnosed with osteoporosis, cirrhosis of the liver, multiple organ failure and lupus -- which caused her eating disorder to swing in the opposite direction, becoming a compulsive eater and ballooning to 168 pounds.

It wasn't until she met Ellen DeGeneres in 2001 that she began to feel worthy of truly good health. "Ellen has taught me not to care about other people's opinions," she said. "Ellen saw a glimpse of my inner being from underneath the flesh and bone, reached in and pulled me out."

Portia and Ellen wed in 2008. While Portia is certainly still slender, she has much more meat on her bones than she used to and is enjoying living life at a healthy weight.

But Portia's statements beg the question: Is it truly possible for someone to save you from yourself? Many people who suffer from the ravages of eating disorders are surrounded by people who love and support them, like Ellen does Portia, yet they are still fighting to recover. Do you think Portia is oversimplifying her struggle?


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Comments on "Portia de Rossi reveals ravages of eating disorder"

Lindsay H November 03, 2010 | 12:00 PM

I think that it is possible for someone to make you feel that much better about yourself if that is what you need. Some people may be missing that part of their lives. Others may need something else in order to help them see what they are doing to themselves enough to change. We all have different wants and needs, therefore each person's road to recovery looks different. I also think that those who know someone with an eating disorder can't expect to be the one to help them. We can't all be to our loved ones what Ellen is to Portia. Not that anyone should give up or ignore the signs. Be there for them and try to help them but don't beat yourself up if it seems impossible. Just keep being there for them and educate yourself. Do your best to help, love them, and pray for them.

Ashley Boreckyi November 03, 2010 | 6:14 AM

Good on you portia, i too sufferd from anorexia and bulimia combined during my last years of high school, i would eat nothing all day not even water and then have my dinner at night and throw it up immediately, all the while exercising 4 hrs a day, at 5ft 1inch i went down to 62pounds and was almost hospitalised before finally turning it around, it takes so much strength to get better but even more to speak openly about it, i admire her so much for comming forth and trying to help others

DanaT October 29, 2010 | 2:23 PM

I totally understand what Portia de Rossi is going through.I suffered from an eating disorder in college. I'm 5'4 and whittled down to 92 pounds. I tried to consume no more than 400 calories per day, even though I LOVED food. Sometimes I'd think I'd give in, go out or dinner, eat pasta, then punish myself by going home and throwing up. It never escalated to anything terribly serious, but boy is it a serious illness. I'm much healthier now, but I can't approach a meal without first thinking about the calories. At least now, though, I have the conviction to just say, "Aw, screw it. Life's too short."

Johanna Kandel October 29, 2010 | 12:40 PM

Although I am grateful that Portia is speaking about her personal struggle with eating disorders and creating awareness, I am also extremely concerned at the specifics in which she speaks of her struggle (i.e. weights, numbers, calorie intake, etc.) For someone who is struggling with an eating disorder, this could be very triggering. Johanna Kandel Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness

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