11/02/2010 at 01:19 PM EDT
Even as a fully grown woman, Portia de Rossi once weighed just 82 lbs. and only consumed 300 calories a day. As she became increasingly famous for her work in shows like Ally McBeal
and Arrested Development
, but was still struggling to come to terms with her sexual identity, the actress battled anorexia and bulimia.
De Rossi opened up to Oprah Winfrey on the latter's talk show
yesterday, discussing her new book, Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain
, which chronicles de Rossi's battle to regain her health.
The actress also took the audience on a tour of the 26-acre farm she shares with wife Ellen DeGeneres
. "This is where Ellen and I come almost every weekend just to get away from it all," de Rossi says. "It's been the most amazing, relaxing place for us. It's my most favorite place on earth."
The farm is home to de Rossi's horses, which she rides several times a week. She credits one horse, May, which she got in 2001, with helping her through her eating disorder.
"It was really at the height of my illness when I found love with a horse," she says. "When I started riding, I just kind of forgot about counting calories and what I looked like. I wanted energy so I could learn how to ride her and take care of her."
The horse and the actress still share a very special bond, and de Rossi doesn't hesitate to credit the animal for her help. "This horse saved my life," she says. "She definitely turned an insane person into a sane one."Read more about celebrities and their pets on PEOPLEPets.com:Richard Gere is the 'Alpha Male' to Rescue Dog BillieMeet Jenna von Oy's Five Rescue Dogs!