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Woman Reveals How Mom ‘Feigned Illness’ All Her Childhood Because of Munchausen Syndrome

A woman has revealed how her mother “stole her youth” by deliberately pretending she had serious illnesses for 30 years.

Helen Naylor, 38, from Nottingham, was seven years old when her mother Elinor told her she had myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), a debilitating condition that causes extreme exhaustion.

Throughout her childhood, Helen was “expected to fend for herself” as life revolved around Elinor’s illness.

After Elinor died in a nursing home in 2016 at the age of 69, Helen found her diaries, which she had written daily for more than 50 years, and discovered that her mother had faked the illnesses.

She now believes her mother showed signs of Munchausen syndrome, in which someone produces symptoms of a fake disease.

In her new book My Mother, Munchausen’s and Me, to be published on Thursday, Helen explains: ‘My mother suffered for thirty years with debilitating illnesses and her pretense of disability shaped my family and stole my childhood.

“Her manipulations forced me to make sacrifices and compromises because she seemed unwell, and I did it because I loved her.

“Everything I knew about myself—my identity and my upbringing—was based on the belief that I was the daughter of two physically challenged parents. Only that was a lie.’

In her new book My Mother, Munchausen's and Me, Helen Naylor, 38, of Nottingham reveals how her mother Elinor faked illnesses, including myalgic encephalomyelitis and Parkinson's disease.

In her new book My Mother, Munchausen’s and Me, Helen Naylor, 38, of Nottingham reveals how her mother Elinor faked illnesses, including myalgic encephalomyelitis and Parkinson’s disease.

Meanwhile in conversation with The sunshe revealed: “I was shocked and heartbroken to discover a very different side to the story — one in which I had been locked up and neglected all my childhood as my mother weaved her web of lies to victimize herself.”

Helen’s childhood was defined by her mother’s illnesses, with Elinor first telling her she had ME when she was just seven years old.

She writes: ‘There are no tests, no treatment, no medical intervention. It’s the perfect hideout for someone pretending to be sick.

Meanwhile, she said Elinor was “fascinated by the ME, she spent all her time researching it, talking about it and going to the ME group. I knew it was her favorite child.’

Helen was seven years old when her mother Elinor told her she had myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), a debilitating condition that causes extreme exhaustion

Helen was seven years old when her mother Elinor told her she had myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), a debilitating condition that causes extreme exhaustion

Helen was seven years old when her mother Elinor told her she had myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), a debilitating condition that causes extreme exhaustion

She was taught from an early age that her mother “shouldn’t be harassed,” explaining, “She sometimes said taking care of me had made her condition worse.”

Helen said she was “expected” to take care of herself and take care of herself on weekends and holidays, assuming her mother was in bed all day while she was at school.

In her new memoir, Helen reveals how she learned the truth about her mother's deceit by reading her diaries after her death

In her new memoir, Helen reveals how she learned the truth about her mother's deceit by reading her diaries after her death

In her new memoir, Helen reveals how she learned the truth about her mother’s deceit by reading her diaries after her death

However, the reality was documented in the diaries—in fact, Elinor was often out shopping with friends or having lunch with her father.

In one of the diary entries, Elinor said she had spent all day picking apples and having fun on a day out.

Still, she told Helen — and doctors — she slept 18 hours a day.

Helen also learned about how her mother had neglected her as she read the diaries, realizing that she had been left alone for hours as a baby while her parents went out drinking and going for a walk on the beach.

Another entry revealed how Elinor had given her daughter whiskey when she was having trouble sleeping.

Meanwhile, when Helen was only ten, her mother told her that her father Alan “could drop dead at any moment from a heart condition.

Helen wrote in her memoir: “I waited, expected something more, but she just shrugged again to fire me… My father who did all the chores around the house, who looked after Mama, who kept everything running.

One of the few photos of Helen as a baby.  The film of the first six months of Helen's life was 'accidentally' destroyed by Elinor before the photos could be developed

One of the few photos of Helen as a baby.  The film of the first six months of Helen's life was 'accidentally' destroyed by Elinor before the photos could be developed

One of the few photos of Helen as a baby. The film of the first six months of Helen’s life was ‘accidentally’ destroyed by Elinor before the photos could be developed

What is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Also known as ME – or myalgic encephalomyelitis – CFS can affect anyone but is most common in women in their mid-20s to mid-40s.

The most notable symptom is extreme fatigue, but other symptoms include difficulty sleeping, joint or muscle pain, headache, flu-like symptoms, and a fast or irregular heartbeat.

Treatments include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), specific exercises, or medication to address nausea, pain, or trouble sleeping.

Source: NHS

“When Daddy died – or was it when Daddy died? – I should have replaced him as Mom’s caretaker because there was no one else to help us.

“Instinctively I knew I would have to give up all my dreams to get out of the house and go to college.”

Revealing that she felt “unloved and unloved,” she said: “From that moment on, I felt an enormous responsibility towards my parents, believing that I would have to be the sole caregiver for my mother if the worst happened.”

But at the age of 19, Helen met her husband Peter, now 40.

But when Naylor became pregnant, her mother raised the stakes, declaring she had Parkinson’s.

The couple then welcomed two children, Bailey, ten, and Blossom, eight.

Elinor did not welcome the children into the family, however, with Helen revealing that her mother “couldn’t handle being the center of attention” and “played tricks” to bring attention back to herself.

However, Helen’s suspicions were aroused when her mother’s behavior became increasingly strange and she began researching Narcissistic Personality Disorder online.

It was then that she learned about Munchausen syndrome.

These photos were taken at home when Helen was three, found confused in a large box labeled 'Photos, mostly Helen'.

These photos were taken at home when Helen was three, found confused in a large box labeled 'Photos, mostly Helen'.

These photos were taken at home when Helen was three, found confused in a large box labeled ‘Photos, mostly Helen’.

FAKING IT: WHAT IS MUNCHAUSEN?

Munchausen by Proxy is a condition where an adult makes up medical conditions for his or her child so that they can get attention or sympathy.

A dangerous aspect of this is that they often cause symptoms in the child to better illustrate the lie.

Munchausen by Proxy is generally considered a serious form of child abuse.

Munchausen syndrome is when a person invents his own ailment or illness for sympathy or attention.

Both are mental disorders.

Meanwhile, her mother had moved into a nursing home, and Helen dutifully came to visit every time she fell — which she said went up to over $100 a month.

Helen writes in the book how nurses became suspicious of Elinor’s behavior.

She remembers Elinor saying, ”[The nurse] told me to stop making up diseases and cheating and enjoy my life. Not that they were all fake, just that one. Anyway, my notes say I can’t be hospitalized because of a fall.”

On another occasion Elinor made a controlled fall and when Helen tried to help her up, her mother exclaimed, “You little bastard! Look what you did to me. You’re trying to destroy me.’

Finally, Elinor died in a nursing home in 2016, after starving herself, tying her hands to create contractions, and retiring to bed permanently.

It was then that Helen discovered her diaries, but she was too consumed with grief to read them.

It wasn’t until Helen began reading the tomes two years later that she discovered that her mother liked the act of pretending she wasn’t right, and the attention it gave her.

Everything Helen knew about herself and her upbringing was based on a lie.

Helen felt devastated by her mother’s death and said, “I felt crushed by the contradictions, the twists and turns and outright lies… There was no affection and she was always the victim.”

Helen said she was 'expected' to entertain and fend for herself on weekends and holidays, assuming that while she was at school her mother was in bed all day

Helen said she was 'expected' to entertain and fend for herself on weekends and holidays, assuming that while she was at school her mother was in bed all day

Helen said she was ‘expected’ to entertain and fend for herself on weekends and holidays, assuming that while she was at school her mother was in bed all day

Helen, age 10, on holiday with Elinor.  Elinor uses her black cane in both pictures and claims to have ME

Helen, age 10, on holiday with Elinor.  Elinor uses her black cane in both pictures and claims to have ME

Helen, age 10, on holiday with Elinor. Elinor uses her black cane in both pictures and claims to have ME

While describing her mother calling her a “monster”, “screaming banshee” and saying Blossom and Bailey were “fat”, she said she will “never forget” how her childhood was “stolen” from her.

Ultimately, Elinor’s pursuit of the patient role led her to starve herself, tie her hands to create contractions, and retire to bed permanently. In the end, she was so weakened that she died of what should have been a minor infection.

Since learning the truth, Helen writes, “Although I now have a clear picture of who my mother was and what she did to me, I still feel like I’ll never really know the whole story, never really.” will come to grips with what happened. .

“I have days when nothing feels real, when I don’t know who to trust.”

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