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Celebrities like Demi Lovato open up about eating disorders to help others

Learn about Demi Lovato's battle with bulimia.
Photo by Valerie Macon/Getty Images

Years ago, Karen Carpenter's struggle with anorexia was viewed as a rarity. Now, however, even as more celebrities talk about their own eating disorders, it still can be challenging to recover, reported the New York Daily News on Friday.

Brother of Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, Brian Cuban battled anorexia and bulimia for 27 years. His journey began in the late 1970s, and he notes that it was particularly difficult for him to get help.

"Karen Carpenter (who died from an eating disorder) brought eating disorders in the pre-cable era into the national spotlight, but really cemented the stereotype as a women's disorder," Brian pointed out. But now he hopes to help others.

Brian authored a book about his struggles: "Shattered Image: My Triumph Over Body Dysmorphic Disorder." His message to others: Regardless of your age, you can get a fresh start on your life.

"I want people to know that as someone who was 45 before he began his eating disorder recovery, it's never too late to begin a life free from eating disorders no matter how old you are," he declared. He hopes his openness will help others.

Singer Demi Lovato also chose to open up about her eating disorder to help others. After trying to hide her condition, which included bulimia, she talked about her rehabilitation. Now she's revealing that her father also suffered from mental illness, reported MTV News on Friday.

It's been a year since Demi's father died from cancer. She created the Lovato Treatment Scholarship, which covers treatment for those who need it, in his honor.

Demi revealed that she underwent treatment for cutting, anorexia and bulimia. She has authored a book of affirmations, which she hopes will help others: "Staying Strong: 365 Days a Year."

In an exclusive interview, Marya Hornbacher talked with us about her book "Wasted Updated Edition: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia (P.S.)." She describes her journey from eating disorder to recovery as the account of "a horrifying illness."

Some have said that the book "triggers" eating disorders, and Marya urges that those in recovery "identify their own triggers, and put those things away from themselves. If 'Wasted' is triggering, I encourage people to come back to it when their own recovery is more firmly in place."

In recent years, sites encouraging eating disorders have emerged. "Pro-ana and pro-mia sites are horrifying, and if I was the loved one of a suffering person, I would do anything in my power to help my loved one keep her- or himself away from triggering factors," said Marya firmly.

To recover, Marya feels that the person must "summon the strength, support, and self-direction needed to make recovery the real goal." And it takes time, she emphasizes.

"The progress we make is more an emergent force than a one-time lightning bolt to the head. There is no 'one day I was sick, and the next day I decided to get well.' There is a process of healing, and that is what we must expect, and what we must cultivate in ourselves," she added.

What does it mean to achieve recovery? "I eat when I want and when I’m hungry, and I eat what I want," Marya reflects. She no longer weighs herself, and feels that she has made peace with food.