Gemma Oaten spent time in a children’s psychiatric unit as she battled anorexia as a teenager. She has now shared a moving picture showing her enjoying a rare day out during her treatment stint as her brother prepares to run the London Marathon in aid of a easting disorder charity
Gemma Oaten has shared a childhood snap of herself on day release from a children’s psychiatric unit as she continues to raise awareness for eating disorder support groups.
The Emmerdale star, 37, took to social media on Thursday to post the picture with a poignant message attached to the image.
In the image shared to Instagram, Gemma is seen aged 12 waving two flags as she headed to Wembley to watch her brother Chris play in a rugby game.
She revealed it was taken during a rare day out while she was being treated for anorexia.
“This photo was taken before I went to watch [brother] Chris play for @hullkingstonroversofficial in the challenge plate Cup final at Wembley,” the actress wrote in the caption.
“The children’s psychiatric unit is was in, where I’d nearly lost my life, allowed me to go after months of refeeding and on bed rest,” she continued.
“I hadn’t been allowed a weekend out before and I was petrified.”
Gemma continued to explain the pride she felt as she watched her brother score a try at Wembley – describing herself feeling “human” during her brief break from the medical setting.
“I’ve never been prouder of him or forgotten that day. The next day I had to go back in the unit and I was heartbroken,” the Rachel Breckle actress added.
“All I wanted was my family and friends. I wanted my life back. I was 12 years old.”
Gemma posted the image to support her brother Chris as he prepares to run the London Marathon next month in aid of eating disorder charity Eating Disorder Support Services (Support and Empathy for people with Eating Disorders).
The charity was created by their parents 21 years ago and offers confidential, independent and non-judgemental advice and support to those impacted by eating disorders.
In her recent Instagram post, the former Emmerdale star urged her followers to keep donating to her sibling’s GoFundMe page prior to his long-distance run on October 4.
“Please if you can keep sharing and donating in support of Chris not just running for SEED and our family, but all those out there affected by eating disorders,” the Hull-born actress pleaded.
“Thank you to everyone who has donated already. You’re incredible. We are nearly 25% of the way to our target and we are all overwhelmed. One month til the marathon…we can do this…” she concluded.
Gemma struggled with anorexia throughout her teenage years prior to finding fame playing Rachel Breckle on Emmerdale.
The star, who briefly dated DIY SOS host Nick Knowles, appeared on the ITV soap from 2011 until 2015.
In the description of the campaign on the GoFundMe website, Gemma’s brother opens up about the “devastating impact” eating disorders can have on the friends and family of those who suffer from them.
“I speak from the heart when I say that if by running the marathon I can help 1 person, 1 family, 1 friend not have to watch their loved ones go through this then it will be truly worthwhile,” Chris writes in the emotional statement.
“I have seen my sister, Gemma, go through many tough battles, visited her in referral units and hospitals not knowing if she would pull through and know that I would not wish this illness on any person or family.”
The fundraiser has currently raised just over £2,000 of its £10,000 target.
For help and support on eating disorders contact Beat Eating Disorders on 0808 801 0677.