Wednesday 23 May 2018

‘I looked like death but I still thought I had more weight to lose’: Republic of Telly’s Joanne McNally on her battle with Eating Disorders

Comedian Joanne McNally
Comedian Joanne McNally
Patricia Murphy

Patricia Murphy

Irish comedian Joanne McNally has opened up about her struggle with Anorexia and Bulimia which haunted her life for years in her twenties.

The Republic of Telly star has spoken about her battle with mental illness ahead of her play, Bite Me, which debuts at Tiger Fringe Festival later this month.

“I was always weird with weight,” Joanne told The Star’s Chic magazine.

“I thought being thin equalled success, that it was the be all and end all of life.

“Bulima was my way of coping with the world. I dealt with things by purging, but it got to the point where I was being sick all day every day.

“I was very underweight, I looked like death but I thought I looked great. I thought I had more weight to lose.

Joanne (32) revealed that after battling with her mental health for years, a night out with friends shone some clarity on just how ill she was.

“The point I realised something must be wrong was when I went on a night out and one of the girls burst out crying when she saw me because I was so thin, I looked horrific. I thought, ‘if she’s taking this so seriously, why aren’t I?’

Joanne McNally. Photo: Patrick Bolger
Joanne McNally. Photo: Patrick Bolger

“I had to move back home and it was terrible. I stole my man’s credit cards to buy food and I’d lie to anyone. I didn’t come to work for three days straight and I told them my brother had an affair and his wife had left him and taken the kids. I didn’t care if they believed me or not, and there was no one I wouldn’t throw under the bus,” she said.

After encouragement from her friends and family, Joanne began to seek the treatment she needed and began the long process of getting well.

“I left work and went into full-time treatment and that is how I actually came into comedy. I do think the change in career and being able to perform gave me a bigger impetus to recover,” she said.

The comedian has written a play about her experiences, Bite Me, which will debut at Tiger Fringe Festival later this month.

“I was worried that other people wouldn’t find the show funny but I did a short 10 minute performance and it went really well.

“For so long I was ashamed and embarrassed, I thought I was flawed, vain and insecure. Now I don’t think about that anymore. I had a mental illness and I came out the other side,” she said.

For information and support on Anorexia Nervosa or other eating disorders visit or or call the Irish Helpline on: 1890 200 444

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