Former Emmerdale actress shares her traumatizing experience with anorexia: "It wasn't for my dad, I would be dead"
Gemma's struggle with anorexia was so brutal that even the adolescent psychiatric unit she was admitted in, were at their wits end as her weight plummeted to 4.5 stone.
Actress Gemma Oaten left the star-studded audience at the charity SEED's ball at the Hippodrome Casino, in London, on, Tuesday night after she decided to take the stage and open up about her harrowing battle with anorexia. The charity organization, Support and Empathy for people with Eating Disorders (SEED), was inspired by Gemma and she's currently a patron of the same too.
Celebs like Strictly winner Joe McFadden, Lee Mead and former Britain's Got Talent winner Richard Jones watched Gemma share her struggles and experience; especially how she credited making it out alive to her father, Dennis - who was also present in the audience. “It wasn't for my dad, I would be dead. He saved my life. I owe him so much,” she shared with the crowd.
Gemma - who is a former Emmerdale actress - spent around 11 months in an adolescent psychiatric unit, while her doctors struggled to deal with her condition, as her weight kept plummeting and reach to just four-and-half-stone. It was then that her father decided to take her away from the center, as he believed the environment wasn't helping her cause for the better anyway.
Gemma said: “He was right. I just wanted it all to end. Had my dad not taken me home from the psychiatric unit, I would have died.” She also continued to share the horrors she faced at the unit, calling it "horrendous".
She says: “The memories of my time in the hospital were very bleak and full of despair. I found myself in quite scary situations. I had things thrown at my head, I’d have people discussing in detail how they were abused, people cutting themselves in front of me. It was horrendous. I wasn’t showing signs of psychosis, I was just a young girl suffering from an illness and, yes, it was a mental health illness but it is very different to somebody who is schizophrenic or who cuts herself."
Despite Gemma making out of that and being healthy now, she knows exactly why the unit didn't work for the longest time. “It all went wrong because it focused on getting the calories down me and not dealing with the reason I was struggling with an eating disorder," she added.
But sure enough, her parents were a supportive crutch when she needed them. "In the end my parents made the decision to take me out of there when they found out what was going on," she said.
In a blog post on SEED's website detailing Gemma's story, you will find her reason for involvement in this organization. She says: "No one will ever fully understand how unreal my journey has been. At 11 years old I was told if I didn't drink a cup of water I would die of dehydration...at 27 years old I was cast as Rachel Breckle in one of our biggest soaps, Emmerdale. I still have to pinch myself and remember that girl so frail and tormented...was me. That role in Emmerdale not only changed my life but it also gave me a little profile."