CBS/Getty Images Elisa Donovan
Elisa Donovan is opening up about her past struggles with severe anorexia.
During Wednesday’s episode of the Celebrity Catch Up: Life After That Thing I Did podcast, the 50-year-old actress revealed that she nearly suffered a heart attack while filming Clueless as a result of the eating disorder.
“I was suffering greatly from anorexia, and I had been in denial about it,” Donovan recalled. “I had maybe three or four days off in one 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 urgent care center at the time.
“The doctor started talking to me about eating disorders and all these things,” she remembered. “And I said, ‘Well you’re crazy,’ because I thought I was too fat to be anorexic, which is part of the malady.”
Jean-Paul Aussenard/WireImage Elisa Donovan
“At that moment, I was so afraid I was going to lose my job,” Donovan continued. “My life had started taking off in the way I wanted it to with my career, and I was concerned that this was now suddenly going to prevent me from that.”
The Sabrina the Teenage Witch alum said she realized she needed help with her food issues from that point forward.
“Initially, the only reason I started to really get help was because I was worried I’d not be able to continue,” she explained. “But then ultimately, that isn’t what helps you to recover. It has to come from a more pure place of wanting to be better.”
Donovan added that her decision to seek treatment “began in the middle of shooting” Clueless.
“It changed my life in a lot of ways,” she said of the film. “It helped me to get healthy.”
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The star also spoke about her recovery in a 2009 celebrity blog post with PEOPLE, sharing that it “many years of therapy, determination and love to overcome my disorder.”
“Having recovered from anorexia many years ago, I’ve made it a way of life not to talk about my body, or your body or anybody else’s body,” she wrote. “I learned long ago that at their core, eating disorders and ‘body image’ issues have very little to do with the physical body at all. They’re about control, perfection and the size of our feelings and desires — not the size of our hips.”
“Through my persistence and care, I have come to be grateful for the challenges I once faced. For my recovery brought me not only to the spiritual basis from which I now lead my life, but also gave me great knowledge and insight into the true goals and desires I have for my future.”
If you or someone you know is battling an eating disorder, please contact the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) at 1-800-931-2237 or go to NationalEatingDisorders.org.