Former iCarly star Jennette McCurdy is opening up about her struggle with eating disorders.
In a HuffPost essay published Friday, March 8, and in support of the recent National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, McCurdy opened up about her struggles with anorexia, bulimia and disordered eating, which she said began at the age of 11.
"As a child actress working in Hollywood, I quickly learned that remaining physically small for my age meant I had a better chance of booking more roles. Unfortunately, I had a trusty and dedicated companion ready to help me with my burgeoning anorexia: my mom!" she wrote.
According to the former Nickelodeon star, her mother, who struggled with anorexia in her teenage years, would "regularly compare [her] size to that of other girls," help her portion meals, and help her count calories. By the time she was cast in iCarly at the age of 14, her eating disorders were in full swing.
"I became even more fixated on food and my body," she said. "I monitored every bite I took. I exercised obsessively. I measured my thighs with a measuring tape every night before bed."
When she turned 18 and her mother was diagnosed with cancer for the second time, McCurdy began "my binge eating phase," and by 21, she turned to bulimia, writing that at the time it seemed like "the best of both worlds!"
Her disordered eating was encouraged by those in Hollywood, who would congratulate her when she dropped a size, and she felt as though she were in competition with other stars suffering from eating disorders.
"Before I knew it, I was having five, six or seven purging sessions a day. By definition of the disorder, I was truly succeeding," she said. "And yet my bulimia always felt like a failure ― like I was coming up short of what a true disordered eater could (and should) accomplish."
After 13 years of disordered eating, McCurdy's sister-in-law confronted her and encouraged her to seek help, and she eventually found a specialist who used a combination of cognitive behavioral, dialectical behavioral and scheme-based therapies.
"Recovery was brutal," McCurdy wrote. "It felt like breaking up with a bad boyfriend whom I loved even though I knew I shouldn't," Jennette wrote. "He treated me poorly, he ruined my life, he consistently devastated me, and yet, without him, who was I really?"
Although she has had several "slips," her focus remains on forward progress.0comments
"It's been two years and I'm doing well, recovering and moving forward," she said. "I still get eating disorder urges, compulsions and occasional fantasies. I still hear that old eating disorder voice, but luckily I hear it less and less often. And when I do hear it, I now have the tools to muffle it."
If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline at 1-800-931-2237.