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Living With Anorexia: Carré Otis

The supermodel's bout with poor self-image and anorexia led to emotional breakdowns and finally heart surgery at age 30.

Addicted to Denying Food continued...

One day in Paris I had an amazing photo shoot for Vogue magazine. I had been up all night and was terrified that I would look fat and not fit into anything. The morning of the shoot I had a panic attack and in a state of hysteria and self-loathing I raked my face and body with my fingernails, opening the skin and drawing blood.

I was tremendously ashamed that I was so out of control. The saddest memory for me was that the shoot was already planned and money was at stake so I was covered up with makeup, no questions asked, and put in front of the camera. I had a job to do and that was that.

I later saw those photos and was astonished at the image I saw. I had thought I was too fat to shoot the pictures but in reality I was under 100 pounds.

By that point, I felt insane. My mind was unable to be still yet I had an absolute inability to focus on any subject for any period of time. I slept when I should have been awake and felt wired when it was time to rest. I was depressed and manic and exhausted in every way. I was prone to bouts of hysteria and crying that were impossible for me to control. My life and mind were out of hand. My body was spiraling into a danger zone.

Finally, Anorexia Takes Its Toll

Just as I was turning 30 I got an offer to shoot Sports Illustrated. I was touted as being the "oldest" girl to be in the pages of such an issue, and interviewed with major news and magazines on this premise. To get myself in shape I over-trained and under-ate.

My body could not take it any more. By Christmas I had a seizure, and was taken to the hospital where tests revealed that years of malnutrition had taken their toll on my heart. I needed heart surgery.

At that point, I had life decisions to make. I needed help. I needed to make a change, or clearly my body would not hold up. At that moment, I finally admitted how out of control I was, and knew that I was not ready to die. I was ready to embark on the road to recovery.

Several years later, the struggle is no longer the reigning factor in my life. My size and shape no longer determine how I feel on any given day.

I still have a nutritionist I call and check in with, as well as many friends who I call when I feel triggered and in need of support. But today I have the tools to deal with the emotional triggers that arise. My focus has shifted from an obsession with weight to a desire for optimum health. I try to approach food and eating from a nutritional standpoint, and make sure that what I put in my body is balanced and beneficial as well as responsible towards my needs both physically and mentally.

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