I recently read Unbearable Lightness by Portia De Rossi, about her struggle with an eating disorder. Having recovered from an eating disorder myself I found this book especially touching. Here are some quotes that I loved:
“Gaining weight is a critical time. ..Being sick allows you to check out of life. Getting well again means you have to check back in. It is absolutely crucial that you are ready to check back into life because you feel as though something has changed from the time before you were sick. Whatever it was that made you feel insecure, less than, or pressured to live in a way that was uncomfortable to you has to change before you want to go back there and start life over. And with all the time it takes to have an eating disorder –literally the day is consumed by it, both mentally and physically—it’s important to find something other than your body image to be passionate about. You have to create a whole new life to check into, and the life I knew was waiting for me was a future relationship and the acceptance of it from my family. I had the key ingredient to want to check back in:I had hope.”(279-280)
“I hate the word exercise. I am allergic to gyms. But I don’t think that ‘formal’ exercise in a gym is the only way to achieve a healthy, toned body. I have discovered that enjoyable daily activities that are easy, like walking, can be equally beneficial. I have noticed on my daily walk with my dogs that I rarely see an overweight person walking a dog, whereas I see many overweight people walking on treadmills in a gym.” (301)
“Recovery feels like shit. It didn’t feel like I was doing something good; it felt like giving up. It feels like having to learn how to walk all over again.” (280).
“I didn’t decide to become anorexic. It snuck up on me disguised as a healthy diet, a professional attitude. Being as thin as possible was a way to make the job of being an actress easier by fitting into a sample size dress, by never worrying that I couldn’t zip up my wardrobe from episode to episode, day after day. Just as I didn’t decide to become anorexic, I didn’t decide to not be anorexic. I didn’t decide to become healthy. I decided not to die.” (277).
“I’m sick. I’ve successfully lowered the bar. I don’t have to be a straight-A student or be a movie star to be proud of myself. I just have to live. I accept myself just as I am. I accept myself. The voice stops. Apart from laughter coming from the hallway I can’t hear anything. It is deathly quiet in my head. And then I said something to the voice I have always wanted to say:‘Go to hell.’” (272).
“I realized that I was a misfit in the gay world as I was in society at large. I was half butch, half femme, neither here nor there. At that point in my life, I didn’t understand that playing roles in any relationship is false and will inevitably lead to the relationship’s collapse. No one can be any one thing all the time. There is a great deal of lying done while a role is being played in any relationship, homosexual or heterosexual. As I had tried to fit into the sample size clothing, I also tried to fit into a preconceived idea of what it meant to be gay. And any time I try to fit into a mold made by someone else, whether that means sample size clothing or a strict label of ‘butch’ or ‘femme,’ I lose myself.” (291).
“I highly recommend inviting the worse-case scenario into your life. I met Ellen when I was 168 pounds and she loved me. She didn’t see that I was heavy; she only saw the person inside. My two greatest fears, being fat and being gay, when realized, led to my greatest joy. It’s ironic, really, when all I’ve ever wanted is to be loved for my true self, and yet I tried so hard to present myself as anything other than who I am. And I didn’t just one day wake up and be true to myself. Ellen saw a glimpse of my inner being from underneath the flesh and bone, reached in, and pulled me out.” (305).