In her new guidebook to motherhood, You & I, as Mothers, actress Laura Prepon bravely reveals that her mother taught her how to be bulimic when she was 15 years old, a cycle of dysfunction that lasted until her late twenties.

“I think she was trying to help me in her own way,” she tells PEOPLE of their complicated history. “To her, being thin equaled success.”

The Orange Is the New Black actress, 40, is sharing her story with the hope that being honest about her own struggles with her body, as well as the emotions and stress that come with being a new mom, will let others know they are not alone.

For more from Laura Prepon, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

RELATED: Laura Prepon Reveals ‘My Mother Taught Me Bulimia’ in New Book: It Was Our ‘Shared Secret’

“In order to have a real conversation about motherhood, we need to drop our defenses and share truth,” she says. “We need to talk about what is really going on.”

The bulimia, which began when Prepon was a young model, continued through her early acting career, including her seven years on That ’70s Show. “My weight fluctuated a lot on that show,” she says. “I had to have two wardrobes. I used my period as an excuse. I get really bloated.”

“When I see an episode of the show, I can tell by the way I looked whether I was doing it or not,” she notes.

“Craft services was new then, too,” she adds. “It was freshly baked everything. It wasn’t just M&Ms in a bowl, so there were triggers all the time.”

Her costars on the show were not aware of her eating disorder. “I was very, very private,” says Prepon. “I’d have spurts where I would get a …read more



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