CBS/Getty Images Elisa Donovan
Elisa Donovan talks about her past struggle with severe anorexia.
“I suffered terribly from anorexia, and I had denied it,” remembers Donovan. “I had maybe three or four days off in a week, and I almost had a heart attack.”
According to Donovan, who played Amber Mariens in the iconic 1995 teen comedy, a friend had to rush her to an emergency room at the time.
“The doctor started talking to me about eating disorders and all these things,” she recalled. “And I said, ‘Well, you’re crazy,’ because I thought I was too fat to be anorexic, which is part of the disease.”
Jean-Paul Aussenard/WireImage Elisa Donovan
“At that point, I was so afraid that I would lose my job,” Donovan continued. “My life was starting to run the way I wanted it to with my career, and I was worried that this would suddenly hold me back.”
The Sabrina the teenage witch alum said she realized she needed help with her food problems from then on.
“Initially, the only reason I really got help was because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to continue,” she explains. “But ultimately that’s not what helps you recover. It has to come from a more pure place of wanting to get better.”
Donovan added that her decision to seek treatment “started in the middle of shooting” ignorant.
“It has changed my life in many ways,” she said of the film. “It helped me get healthy.”
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The star also spoke about her recovery in a 2009 celebrity blog post with PEOPLE, sharing that it took “many years of therapy, determination and love to overcome my disorder.”
“After recovering from anorexia many years ago, I have made it a way of life not to talk about my body, or your body or anyone else’s,” she wrote. “I learned a long time ago that eating disorders and ‘body image’ problems have very little to do with the physical body at their core. They are about control, perfection and the size of our feelings and desires – not the size of our hips. “
“Through persistence and care, I have become grateful for the challenges I once faced. For my recovery not only brought me to the spiritual foundation from which I now live my life, but also gave me great knowledge and insight into its true goals. and desires I have for my future.”
If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, contact the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) at 1-800-931-2237 or visit NationalEatingDisorders.org.