Michelle Duggar is opening up about her struggle with bulimia as a teenager.
The reality star's daughters, Jill, Jinger, Jessa and Jana, reveal in their book Growing Up Duggar that the 47-year-old suffered from the eating disorder when she was in high school. The sisters disguise their mother as "Marie" and then share her identity.
"On the outside, Marie had what everyone else wanted, but on the inside, she felt sad and empty," according to excerpts obtained by People. "She began to envy the girl who tried to control her weight through what turned out to be a destructive eating disorder. Not realizing how dangerous it was, Marie thought it might work for her, and soon her obsession to stay thin started controlling her life."
The girls continue that Marie's "teenage struggle for self-acceptance led her into some difficult emotional times and a very destructive habit that could have destroyed her health."
Michelle opened up to the magazine and shared the reason for coming forward right now with her personal battle.
"I have been open with my struggles with the kids before," the mother of 19 said. "We talk about how God has brought us out of different things along life's way. When the girls were writing their book, they brought this up and I thought, if my sharing it is going to help another young lady, then I want to share it."
Michelle explained that even though she did cheerleading and gymnastics, she put on weight easily as a teen. Beginning at age 14, she would force herself to throw up whenever she thought she consumed more calories than she thought she should, or if she had any sweets.
She didn't tell anyone about her struggles but all of that changed when she met her future husband Jim Bob [Duggar] at age 16.
"We were talking future together and I remember that I felt like I had to tell him everything, everything about myself," Michelle said. "You can't keep secrets from the man you want to share your life with. I shared this struggle with him and he said he would help me and help keep me accountable."
The duo worked together during the first six months of their relationship to overcome Michelle's urges to purge.
"He told me to call him anytime," Michelle said. "I just know that I would be tempted and I would have the crazy thought that I wanted to throw up, not hold onto the calories. Thank God it didn't go on longer than it did or I could have done horrible damage to my body."
Michelle is healthy today and says that she often uses Weight Watchers and their "method of accountability."