by Helen Naylor
There was a time when I loved my mother. It's shocking to imply that I stopped loving my mum because mothers always love their children and always do their best for them. Mothers are supposed to be good. But my mother wasn't good. Ten years ago, Helen Naylor discovered her mother, Elinor, had been faking debilitating illnesses for thirty years. After Elinor's self-induced death, Helen found her diaries, which Elinor wrote daily for over fifty years. The diaries reveal not only the inner workings of Elinor's twisted mind and self-delusion, but also shocking revelations about Helen's childhood. Everything Helen knew about herself and her upbringing was founded on a lie. The unexplained accidents and days spent entirely on her own as a little girl, imagining herself climbing into the loft and disappearing into a different world, tell a story of neglect. As a teenager, her mother's advice to Helen on her body and mental health speaks of dangerous manipulation. With Elinor's behaviour becoming increasingly destructive, and Helen now herself a mother, she was left with a stark choice: to collude with Elinor's lies or be accused of abandoning her. My Mother, Munchausen's and Me is a heart-breaking, honest and brave account of a daughter unravelling the truth about her mother and herself. It's a story of a stolen childhood, mental illness, and the redemptive power of breaking a complex and toxic bond.
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Date of Publication: 22/11/2021