Gemma Oaten has opened up about her 13-year battle with anorexia that almost took her life.
The 35-year-old former Emmerdale actress has said that the eating disorder left her so weak that it brought on a heart attack while she was still a teenager.
Gemma, who made her name playing Rachel Breckle in the ITV soap, gave a Ted Talk about the severity of her anorexia and the moment she was taken into psychiatric care.
She said: “At 12 years old a medical assessment pulled me from my home and into a psychiatric unit.
“I was so weak they had to push me in a wheelchair and I was told that if I didn’t eat and drink within 24 hours that I’d be dead.”
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It would have been a wake-up call for many but Gemma continued to struggle with the the disorder as she carried on the battle into her teens.
Gemma continued: “I’ve had some amazing experiences. But I’ve also had some really frightening ones, like a heart attack in my late teens.
“That heart attack was my body failing in the grips of an eating disorder.
“I was in the grips of that monster for 13 years.”
Speaking about how anorexia could lead to a fatal conclusion, Gemma warned others about how deadly it could be.
She continued: “People often think and hear that an eating disorder is a way of controlling something and that’s what I believed, but ultimately you lose control of everything.”
While Gemma faced the majority of her battle during her teenage years, her parents had spotted that there was an issue around eating from the age of 10.
They approached their doctor but the problem was ‘not taken seriously’.
Taking a proactive outlook to the problem, they set up SEED (Support and Empathy for Eating Disorders) in the hope of helping other families that have struggled for help and facing an uphill battle to give the right advice to their offspring.
Gemma said: “Eating disorders are deadly and no-one has to die from them but people still do. Rapid weight loss or weight gain that has no medical cause is an external expression of something that is already there.
“Waiting for the weight to change isn’t going to stop what is already there.”
Gemma has also shared her experience at a TEDx event.Writing on Twitter , she shared: “I wrote this and applied to tedx because people need to to know the reality of eating disorders and how early intervention is key.”
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