Gemma Oaten has bravely opened up about her 13-year battle with anorexia.
In honour of World Mental Health Day, the former Emmerdale actress took to Instagram to recall how she was admitted to hospitals and psychiatric units when she was younger and nearly died four times whilst battling the illness.
Gemma, 34, shared photos of herself from the age of nine through to 22, showing the impact the eating disorder had on her body.
Gemma captioned the post: "For 13 years anorexia took over my life and nearly took my life. It was a rollercoaster. Truly.
"One minute I'd be fed up (literally) in hospital, a psychiatric unit or an eating disorders unit and the next I'd lose the weight because my mind still wasn't fed properly... the issues I had were in my state of mental health."
The actress continued: "Anorexia was my control, my comfort, my escape... Or so I thought. No problem we have mentally is ever resolved unless we talk and feel it. I spent my teens in and out of these units and hospitals."
Gemma said she only "truly began to get better" when she started talking about and addressing her issues.
She added: "I nearly died 4 times... That's the power mental health has when it goes wrong. I was unsure whether to share the photos but they are mild in terms of how truly ill I was, I don't think I could ever show those ones.
"It's too disturbing, for me and others. My point is, I'm not ashamed of my past struggles. They moulded the woman I am today in so many ways. I wish I had spoke out sooner and had the correct help I needed but that was then and this is now."
For 13 years anorexia took over my life and nearly took my life. It was a rollercoaster.
Gemma said she still suffers from anxiety but because she talks about it, she "feels in control".
She said she hopes that telling her story will help others talk about their own problems.
Gemma concluded her lengthy post: "Don't be blinkered by this image of flawless social media... Know that everyone you meet has their own battles.
"One day I may tell of mine the past year and what I've had to face, but what I want you to see is that by talking, by addressing, by unashamedly you, you can get through (sic)."
Read more: Gemma Oaten is returning to Holby City
Her fans rushed to comment on the post to praise Gemma for bravely talking about her struggles.
One person said: "Thanks for sharing, you're such an inspiration," while another wrote: "You are a true star for sharing."
A third added: "Your story made me cry, you're such an inspirational woman. I am so proud of you Gemma."
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