As a teenager, Gemma Walker suffered for years with anorexia and her parents watched helplessly as their daughter wasted away. The family from Australia was living a nightmare.
Every morning her father Steve would sneak into her room to make sure she was still breathing. "Sometimes," he said, "we sat on the ground next to her bed just to be with her. We couldn’t do anything."
When she was 14 and weighed just 62 lbs, Gemma's doctors were clear: if she didn’t get help, her situation would quickly become life-threatening. They gave her 48 hours to live.
If the weight loss didn’t stop, she wasn’t going to survive. "I felt numb, the days just melted into each other and I wished each day by, hoping that I would just pass peacefully in my sleep."
Instead, she was hospitalized multiple times over the next seven years, including once at the ER and twice at the psychiatric unit.
She still refused to eat, trying sometimes to trick doctors into thinking she’d gained weight by wearing gym weights around her ankles.
She even started cutting herself as well.
Her father recalled how agonizing the time was for Gemma and her parents too: "Seven years is a long time to have your baby suffering, a long time to have your child numb, with no voice, no personality — just a lethal, controlling obsession."
Then things seemed to take a turn for the better. Gemma began to eat again but now she went to the opposite extreme. She would consume enormous amounts of food, sometimes 6,500 calories in just 20 minutes, and then induce vomiting.
From anorexic to bulimic, Gemma would faint and have hallucinations.
"My recovery was very traumatic," she said later. "People believed because I looked healthier that I was better and no longer anorexic. Chronic binging and bulimia lasted almost 18 months. It was a complete 180 from strict obsessive rules to complete loss of control."
During that time her weight tripled, and slowly, with the help of her loved ones, she was taking real steps towards a healthy life.
Her father suggested writing a goodbye letter to anorexia. For six years, Gemma kept the letter in a drawer. Later, in addition to all the support from her family, she could also credit her boyfriend with providing her motivation: "He’s the reason why I am still alive."
Emma is now a young woman and has put the disorder behind her and started a healthy, new chapter of her life. "It’s such an amazing, surreal feeling."
To celebrate six months since her full recovery she posted pictures of herself online illustrating her extraordinary transformation.
And not only that, she launched her own skincare brand, revealing a source of passion and willpower she’s only just discovered in herself. Congratulations, Gemma! It was clearly a hard-fought battle, but she won and can now serve as a wonderful inspiration to others who are still fighting to free themselves from the deadly grip of anorexia.