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Emmerdale star Gemma Oaten reveals she was hours from death during anorexia battle

The actress battled anorexia for 13 years

Hanna Fillingham

Actress Gemma Oaten, who played Rachel Breckle in Emmerdale, has opened up about her battle with anorexia, and revealed that at the height of her illness she was told by doctors that she had just 24 hours to live. The 34-year-old weighed just four and a half stone, and opened up about the dark times during an interview with Sunday Express. She said: "One year later I was admitted to a children's psychiatric unit and told if I didn't drink water, let alone eat, I would be dead in 24 hours. I nearly died four times and also contemplated suicide."

Gemma Oaten has spoken out about her annorexia battle 

Gemma added: "My family went to hell and back because we didn't get the help we needed when we asked for it. My eyes fill with tears as I think and talk about this. The guilt I feel for putting my family through that, the grief I feel for the years I lost and, ultimately, the anger I feel that this happened and still does." The Holby City star is supporting Hope Virgo's Dump the Scales campaign ahead of eating disorders awareness week, and shared a lengthy post on Instagram urging her followers to help change the way people view the illness. "Eating disorder is a mental health illness, not a weight issue," she wrote.

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The actress played Rachel Breckle in Emmerdale

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The actress has been an advocate for eating disorder awareness and has spoken out in the past about her struggles and the impact it had on her family. During an appearance on Lorraine with her mum Marg in 2016, Gemma confessed she was emotional looking back at the photos of herself when she was younger – and credited her parents for having helped her through her struggle. "Yeah I think seeing those pictures – to be honest I haven't seen those in five or six years – and wow, it brings back a lot of memories," she told Fiona Phillips, revealing she first began suffering from anorexia when she was 10 years old. "I was petrified of starting school because I was being bullied. But here I am today and it's down to this wonderful woman, my mum, and my dad who's off camera."

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