Portia De Rossi began counting calories at age twelve. With modeling and acting putting a spotlight on her life, she felt she had to be fit for her pictures and roles. She also used self punishment to deal with her ashamed and fearful feelings of being a lesbian.
Everyday was a difficult and tedious process of making sure calories were at an exact 300 and trying to get rid of the intense feelings of guilt and self-betrayal. Special containers and utensils had to be used for eating. Exercises were to be done a certain times. De Rossi pushed herself to the breaking point by not only starving herself, but by turning to compulsive physical exercise and eventually to purging. She also exhausted her spirits by thinking worthless and critical thoughts about herself and struggling with the fact that she is a lesbian.
While family and friends were noticing a dramatic decline is her appearance, she collapsed on a movie set in Toronto and knew she needed help. At first, Portia was not dedicated and it took an alarming message from her brother Michael to snap her into changing: that she would die if she didn't get help. Portia weighed only 82 pounds. She was extremely malnourished, she hadn't had her period in over a year, her liver was one level away from cirrhosis, her organs were malfunctioning and were in danger of failing, and she was diagnosed with lupus. Without recovery she really would die.
After struggling to put on weight but finally making her way to a healthy life, De Rossi met Ellen Degeneres in 2004. Ellen was accepting and loving. Just what Portia needed. Ellen helped her through recovery and "showed her what beauty is." De Rossi felt comfortable at her highest weight ever, 168 pounds, with Ellen. De Rossi was finally comfortable to be openly gay also. De Rossi says that Ellen saved her, along with recovery, and owes her life to her.