Ellen DeGeneres saved wife Portia after eating disorder almost cost her life

Ellen Degeneres

Ellen DeGeneres saved wife Portia after devastating eating disorder almost cost her life

Ellen Degeneres

3/24/2020

Ellen DeGeneres saved wife Portia after devastating eating disorder almost cost her life

Portia de Rossi was locked in a terrifying battle with an eating disorder when she met and fell in love with wife Ellen DeGeneres

When Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi first clapped eyes on each other at a party in 2001, it was love at first sight. But locked in the grips of a devastating eating disorder and terrified of going public with her sexuality, it would be three long years before Portia could tell Ellen how she really felt. “[I knew Ellen was the one] when I first laid eyes on her, but I was closeted and very, very afraid that if I talked about being gay, it would be the end of my career, so I wasn’t about to date the most famous lesbian in the world," she would later recall. From being told she needed to lose weight as a child model, Portia, 47, had been suffering from disordered eating since she was 12 - starving herself before a big job and binging the second it was over. And when her big break came as lawyer Nelle Porter in 1998 legal drama Ally McBeal, feelings of inadequacy and fear of her sexuality being made public sent her spiralling. She met her brother for dinner and ate 'practically everything on the menu' after her first day on set, before binging on junk food alone in her car and forcing herself to throw up. "I hated purging. It was punishment that I couldn't stick to a diet," she previously told online docuseries, It Got Better. "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." Mortified over being unable to fit into the miniscule suits on one shoot, she then turned to obsessive dieting and exercise and by the year 2000, the 5ft 7 actress weighed just 5st 12lbs. But her brother was so shocked by her gaunt frame when she returned home to Australia for Christmas that he burst into tears. She recalled: "He saw me working out at the gym and he saw how emaciated I'd become. "I'd never seen him cry before but he just broke down and said you're going to die... It kind of punctured that obsessive mind of the anorexic thinking and it made me try to get a little healthier." But one year later, she passed out on the set of the film Who Is Cletis Tout? and a medical examination revealed she was suffering from cirrhosis, oesteoperosis and organ failure. "She hated herself," Ellen would later tell OPrah Winfrey. "I mean, she absolutely hated herself. I don't know, I look at her and I just think, 'How did you ever – I mean, how did you not know how amazing you were?' It's heartbreaking." Portia entered rehab but her demons were still there. She said: "Just because I stopped starving myself, it didn’t mean that I no longer had an eating disorder. Instead, the pendulum swung the other way. I grossly overate and became severely bulimic. I went from 82lb to 168lb (12st) in ten months." However, everything changed when she reconnected with Ellen at a photoshoot in 2004 and the TV star 'took her breath away'. “That had never happened to me in my life, where I saw somebody and [experienced] all of those things you hear about in songs and read about in poetry. My knees were weak. It was amazing," she previously remembered. That very night then ran into each other again at VH1's Big in '04 awards show where they got talking and quickly realised the attraction was mutual. And Portia credits her wife with saving her from the grips of her eating disorder hell, explaining how Ellen saw who she was beneath her skin and 'reached in and pulled me out'. Read More Best selection of showbiz long reads Writing in her autobiography Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain, Portia said: "I met Ellen when I was 168 pounds and she loved me. She only saw the person inside. My two greatest fears, being fat and being fat and being gay, when realized, led to my greatest joy. "When I sit quietly and silently thank the universe for all the blessings in my life, I start with Ellen and end with my thighs. I thank my body for not punishing me for what I put it through and for being a healthy vessel in which I get to experience this beautiful life. "I think her love for me is so unconditional that it actually makes me feel like maybe I should kind of start accepting myself for exactly who I am, because she seems to. Read more: Mirror Celeb

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