'I was very, very unhappy,' the actress said.
Jane Fonda is opening up about her past eating disorder battle. The 85-year-old actress appeared on the latest episode of Spotify's Call Her Daddy podcast, and revealed how much bulimia impacted her life in her younger years.
"In my 20s I was starting to be a movie actor. I suffered from bulimia very, very bad. I led a secret life," Fonda said, later confirming that her secret life was due to her eating disorder. "I was very, very unhappy. I assumed I wouldn't live past 30... I didn't go out. I didn't hardly date 'cause I was unhappy and I had this eating disorder. And then I was also making movies that I didn't very much like."
Fonda noted that, in her case, bulimia seemed "so innocent" and "so innocuous" in the beginning, but it quickly became "a terrible addiction" that took over her life.
"It harms the way you look. You end up looking tired. It becomes impossible to have an authentic relationship when you're doing this secretly. Your day becomes organized around getting food and then eating it, which requires that you're by yourself and that no one knows what you're doing," she said. "It's a very lonely thing. And you're addicted. If you put any food in you, you want to get rid of it."
For Fonda, her eating disorder struggle began because her life was "inauthentic," though she noted that "being that you're fat" can also be the impetus for a problem. Then, she said, "It takes over your life."
While Fonda thought she could "get away with it" when she was young," she explained that "as you get older, the toll that it takes on you, it becomes worse and worse."
"It takes days and then at least a week to get over one single binge. It's not just the fatigue. You become angry. You become hostile," she said. "All of the trouble that I got in was because of that anger and that hostility."
Eventually, when Fonda was in her 40s, it got to a place where she thought, "If I keep on like this, I'm going to die."
"I was living a very full life. I had children, I had a husband -- I'd had two husbands by then -- I was doing political work, I was doing all of these things," she said. "My life was important, but I was becoming less and less able to continue it."
When that realization hit, Fonda quit "cold turkey."
"I didn't realize there were groups you could join. I didn't know anything about that. Nobody talked about it! I didn't even know there was a word for it," she said. "And so I just went cold turkey and it was really hard. But the fact is, the more distance you can put between you and the last binge, then the better it is. It becomes easier and easier."
Fonda also shared that getting on the right medication -- for her that was Prozac -- helped in her recovery.
"A lot of the cause of it was anxiety-driven, and Prozac helped me deal with anxiety," she explained. "And then, gradually, I just stopped doing it."
"I left [acting] for 15 years, when I married Ted Turner, and I did not think I was gonna come back, 'cause when I married him, I thought it'd be forever," Fonda recently told ET while promoting 80 For Brady. "But I came back, and frankly, if anybody told me that at 85, I'd be doing this kind of movie, I would have not believed them. So I feel very lucky."