- A true story

Written by Maureen Dunbar

1) Main Characters:

Catherine Dunbar:

Catherine was an ambitious child but she hated her father.

That was the reason of the break out of Anorexia Nervosa.

During her illness she became moody and full of self-hatred, but her faith in god never disappeared. Nevertheless she realized how difficult she had to appear and her biggest wish was to reunite the family which seemed to be impossible.

The routine was all-important to her. She bathed at the same time each day and her room was cleaned each day and always at the same time.

Despite the warmth and love her mother gave her, she wanted to die and in the end Catherine achieved her desire.

Maureen Dunbar:

Maureen was Catherine's mother and later the author of this book. She was Catherine's strength and the only person Catherine could trust. Although she was a mother of four children she had the power to take care of Catherine all the time and to be her support.

2) Summary:

That was a true story, written by the mother of Catherine. She wrote Catherine's story of her point of view with extracts from Catherine's diary:

Catherine has never been a good eater. Since her childhood she refused meals. Particularly in her puberty she ate few. When she refused eating the food, her father always became very angry. That was the starting point of her illness.

Catherine's normal weight was established as eight stone and this was her target weight while she was in hospital. Whenever Catherine gained weight she was allowed a privilege more like having visitors or wearing her own clothes. Soon she achieved her target weight and was allowed to leave hospital but she suffered from lack of confidence, depression and loneliness. Then she only wanted to eat without anyone in presence. A break from home was beneficial therefore she went to attend a school in France. She appeared to have a renewed interest in everything but after a visit at home she returned to France tearful and homesick. There she became depressed and her mother arranged for her a return home. She constantly lost weight but she wanted to finish her O-Levels and A-Levels therefore she became very ambitious. After her challenge she had to go back into hospital and when she finally was allowed visitors she only wanted to see her mother; she was her strength. Catherine was torn in two, one part of her was urging her to eat and get well but the other part forced her not to eat and made her feel guilty whenever she did. If anyone walked into a room while she was eating she would panic and scream. Once a doctor wanted her to write down every unhappy experience she could remember, going back into her childhood. this was a traumatic exercise for her. Every instance was either connected with food or her father. Each time they were moving into another house she was losing weight but when her father has been in Saudi Arabia for some months she put on weight. But later she once more looked very thin. The doctors wanted her to come back into hospital but she promised that she would eat three meals a day and if she broke the promise she would go into hospital. After her father's return home she stopped eating and Mrs. Dunbar left her husband but some months later Catherine could reunite the family by persuading her mother to come back. Then she gave up hope once more and took lots of laxatives. A short holiday with her mother in Italy didn't make her feel good and her physical situation still was bad and she was very weak. It was about this time that she decided that she didn't want to live longer and constantly talked of death as her only possibility of release from anorexia.

The next hospital visit she refused any kind of treatment. After a while she was forced to get tube-fed because her weight limited up to 3stones. The treatment at hospital always helped her physically but she couldn't bear being left alone because her mother was the only person who was able to stand by her and making her hope to find the door to life. After six full months in hospital Catherine returned home. She was a living skeleton and had lost all muscle control and could only stand when supported but she further found back her zest of life. Nine weeks after her release she weight five stones and had recovered her muscle control and mental energy. So she was able to practise a job looking after two little girls.

At the wedding day of her parents, Catherine organised a party but these challenge and efforts were the reasons for being deeply depressed the next day and so she took an overdose and her stomach had to get pumped out. Her big desire to die was back and further she didn't return to work. One afternoon she told Maureen why she stopped eating: she made her ill by stopping eating to come home from boarding school to protect her mother in order not to be alone with her husband. A short entry from her diary of her feelings: " I need my mother, my home, my room and all my things to keep me alive. I am a lonesome invalid who lives in a world , with room for my mother."

Some times she came back into hospital again but at the end she died at home alone at anorexia nervosa. She starved herself to death to avoid that her mother had to be alone with her husband. All the kindness and love Catherine was given, didn't help to save her from anorexia nervosa.

3) Personal Opinion:

On the one hand this book shocked me deeply because it was a good experience to hear about the destiny of such a girl but on the other hand the book got sometimes boring. Because the mother had written the book from her point of view, I think she wasn't able to express her daughter's feelings although some diary-entries were included.