Gemma Oaten on her struggle with anorexia: ‘I was killing myself in front of my parents’

Gemma Oaten has bravely opened up about her battle with anorexia.

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 13.07.40

by Jack White |
Published on

The Emmerdale star appeared on ITV’s This Morning to share her story, confessing she spent years struggling with the disorder.

Speaking to Ruth Langsford and Eamonn Holmes, Gemma said: “My journey was a roller coaster really, I had peaks of being well and then would go into relapse.

“It was very difficult. But now I’m 30 and I feel like I’m starting to live again. A lot of people doubt that recovery exists.”

Revealing how her obsession with her weight started, Gemma admitted she was just 10-years-old.

Gemma admitted she struggled with her disorder for a long time
Gemma admitted she struggled with her disorder for a long time

“For me, I’m very passionate about the fact that an eating disorder is a mental illness,” she said. “It’s nothing to do with vanity, I didn’t look at a magazine one day and think ‘I want to be like her’ – there was just one moment when I was younger and growing up and I remember looking down and saying to my dad, ‘Am I fat?’”

Heartbreakingly Gemma suggested that her eating disorder developed as a way of dealing with her school bullies. She added: “I remember thinking if there was less of me, there would be less for people to see and hurt.”

Gemma, who plays Rachel Breckle on the ITV soap, also touched upon the effect her disorder had on those around her.

It was with the help of her parents – and the last words of her best friend – that Gemma managed to get better

She continued: “It’s not just about the sufferers, it’s about the carers and the torture of them seeing their loved ones going through hell and back. Effectively I was killing myself in front of my parents and loved ones. And that caused a lot of heartache.”

Praising her parents for her recovery, Gemma said it was also the tragic death of a friend that made her realise what she was doing to herself.

She said: “I think the turning point was when I was about 20 or 21 when one of my best friends killed himself. And I remember being at the funeral looking around at the devastation thinking I am doing the same thing as what he did… I can’t do this anymore.

“He had spoken to me the week before and said, ‘Gemma, please get better’ and I didn’t realise then, but those were his parting words to me.”

See also "My obsession with Victoria's Secret models led me to the brink of death"

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us