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Gemma Oaten opens up about anorexia battle

Gemma Oaten opens up about anorexia battle

Gemma Oaten got emotional as she opened up about her 13-year anorexia battle which saw her go "to hell and back".

The 31-year-old actress heaped praise on her mother Marg, who has set up a helpline to support others with similar problems, and her father on live TV today (17.02.16) for helping her through such a torrid time in her life.

She said: "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. I was petrified of starting school cause 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.

"It's such a weird thing to go through at that age because I don't think I really understood where I was at and what was happening and it wasn't until my mum and dad sat me down and said, 'Gem this isn't you, this isn't the bubbly girl we know', and this is what anorexia and many mental health illnesses do to young children. It strips away the person they once was and it makes them a shell.

"That's one of my biggest heartbreaks and probably why I get upset because of what I put my mum and my dad and my siblings through."

The former 'Emmerdale' star's TV appearance came ahead of Eating Disorders Awareness week, and her mum is hoping to help more people with her helpline.

Speaking on ITV's 'Lorraine', Gemma added: "I think what we want to try and say is that there's a light at the end of the tunnel and people will look at me and mum, and our family unit and see that we went to hell and back but we did it."