Portia de Rossi

In a recent interview with Oprah, celebrity Portia de Rossi described her struggle with anorexia and bulimia.

In her new book, Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain, she details how her image of herself deteriorated into a place of hatred and self-loathing. She spent her days obsessed with losing more and more weight. At one point she weighed a mere 82 pounds.

Eventually she found her way out of the living hell of having an eating disorder, and is now talking about it as a way to help others who may be struggling.

On the interview, she takes Oprah (and the audience) on a tour of the 26-acre farm she shares with her wife Ellen DeGeneres. She takes us to the stable and introduces us to her horses. She so clearly loves them. We meet May, a horse she acquired in 2001. Portia tells us that May literally saved her life. She wanted to get healthy and strong so that she could ride this lovely mare.

Not too long ago, I wrote a post entitled Animals Make Us Better Humans. I totally believe it. Not only in my life, but I see it in the lives of others too.

Have they saved me?


Who’s to say for sure what saving a life really means?

As I’ve cared for my horses and the wonderful cats who have graced my life, I’ve learned the benefits of having and following a routine. It was something I needed to learn. Interesting how that works!

I learned to trust myself more.

I learned to make good decisions on the fly.

I learned to present myself with confidence.

I learned to face fears.

I learned to live more deeply and notice, really notice, my surroundings.

I am learning what it means to be in the moment.

I am learning to be less judgmental – less critical of myself and others.

I am learning that I can do things I never thought possible.

A few years back I left a job under difficult circumstances to say the least. The whole thing was miserable, partly because I thought it was going to be the perfect job. It should have been, but that’s another story. I left carrying an emotional bag filled with hurt, anger, disappointment, and fear. I felt embarrassed, humiliated, let down, and cynical about people.

Letting go of that job (or it letting go of me), gave me more time to spend with my horses. And in the process of caring for them, spending time in the pasture and hanging out with Bud, Pepper and their herd of oldsters, I began to feel better. I was able to put my life into perspective. It was only a job. It wasn’t my whole life. It wasn’t the definition of who I am as a woman. It was just one small experience in a very large and good life.

They helped me heal. Those sweet old horses expected nothing from me except to be consistent and kind. And as I gave those things to them, I gave them to me. Day by day, I found that the raw places inside me were going away. I wasn’t so angry or defensive. I could talk about what happened without tearing up. Mostly.

So did they save me? Yes, I’m thinking they did. And I’m exceedingly grateful.

How have animals changed or saved you?