Emmerdale’s Gemma Oaten vows to help others after being ‘at death’s door’

Gemma Oaten, known for her roles in Emmerdale , Casualty and Holby City has never been one to shy away about her battle with an eating disorder.

The Hull-born actress has continually pledged to help those who may also be suffering and has spoken out during Eating Disorder Awareness Week after results showed eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental health issue.

Standing at just 5ft 4in, Gemma has battled anorexia since the age of ten and at one point, was just 5 stone – risking death.

At the age of 12, Gemma was admitted to a children's psychiatric unit.

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Two decades on from her initial battle, Gemma, 37, is continuing to raise awareness of the conditions and hopes that her work with her parents' charity SEED will help sufferers.

Her battle with anorexia has led to her being hospitalised on multiple occasions and raised fears that she could have died.

Speaking to Closer, Gemma said: "I lost my periods, I was tired all the time, I was at death's door. At one point, doctors told my parents that if I didn't eat or drink anything in the next 24 hours, I would die. But I just couldn't and didn't want to."

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She claims that she got to grips with the eating disorder at around 13 when she was bullied and taunted in school.

"I was a carefree, happy young girl, but the anorexia began when I started getting bullied. It was almost like I thought that if there was less of me, there would be less for the bullies to say about me.

"It was also around the time puberty hit – I became aware of my body in a different way and I wanted to stay small," recalled Gemma.

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Speaking about her parents, the actress added: "They were devastated, seeing me slowly killing myself. So I told myself I'd get better for them, no matter what."

"Eventually, by the age of 25, I finally started living. But the disorder took so many years of my life, and I have so many regrets over how it affected my loved ones."

Gemma is a patron of SEED and often visits schools to give talks to raise awareness.

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When offering advice, Gemma said: "Reach out for help as soon as possible and share your struggles with those who love you. The sooner you can, the sooner you'll work towards getting better.

"It's hard and you have to be brave, but it'll be so worth it to get your life back."

If you're worried about your health or the health of somebody else, you can contact SEED, an eating disorder support service on 01482 718130 or on their website.

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