My Mother, Munchausen’s and Me by Helen Naylor

Published:25 Nov 2021

Publisher: Thread Books

Length: 276 Pages

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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

My Review:

Munchausen’s is such a complicated illness. I work in mental health and I’ve rarely come across it. This is an illness that is frustrating for the healthcare provider but more importantly for the family.

The family are either aware that their family member is feigning illness or they are constantly worried and caring for there relative. In this story Helen firmly believes her mother is genuinely ill but as she grows to adulthood she begins to be suspicious.

Once her mother has passed Helen’s eyes are firmly open to her mother’s behavior. My heart broke as she tried to get someone to help her, in particular health care teams who were passing the issue around. it was left to Helen to try and pick up the pieces.

As the story concludes we see how many times Helen was failed particularly when she was younger. There was so many adults who could and should have stepped in but did nothing. This book is not Helen trying to play the victim as some people are describing it. She is telling Her truth in the hopes that others who may be in a similar situation know they are not alone. I hope writing this book was cathartic for her and she can leave her mother in the past.

I was hooked throughout this entire read. It was emotional and eye opening. If you are interested in true life, mental illness or simply an entertaining read I suggest you pick this up.

I received an arc of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. *Blurb and cover image via Goodreads.


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