Anorexic by Anna Paterson

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Anorexic by Anna Paterson

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Category: Lifestyle
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Karen Inskip-Hayward
Reviewed by Karen Inskip-Hayward
Summary: The incredible story of a young girl's journey to hell and back.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: September 2000
Publisher: Westworld International
ISBN: 978-0952921523

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It might seem strange and somewhat ironic that an obese woman is reviewing a book on anorexia. But it is a topic I have always found interesting. Despite my being at the opposite end of the weight scale to Anna Paterson, I could empathise with some of the things she felt.

While I would never say I have had an eating disorder, I have had what I call eating issues. I have a phobia of choking, which means I have to talk myself into swallowing every mouthful. I am very funny about food - if I associate a food with something bad, I can't eat it. (For instance, peanuts have a choking warning on the packet, so I don't eat them.) I can't eat off anyone else's plate. I comfort eat, then feel so guilty and worthless. Like Anna, I have also self-harmed and regularly have low self-esteem.

These are the reasons why I bought this book from Ebay. I wanted to learn about Anna and read her story. I also wondered if it would help me question some of my demons too.

Anna Paterson had an unhappy childhood. Her mother became addicted to tranquilisers; her father was a weak man. Her grandmother dominated the household with her bullying and abuse, which was centred on Anna.

She faced years of abuse from her grandmother. She was force-fed piles of food, then shouted at for being fat. She was repeatedly told her parents didn't love or want her. Her grandmother was poisonous, convincing Anna she was worthless and didn't deserve to live.

Anna took control over the one thing she could - her diet. Forbidding herself to consume more than a few calories a day, she felt every bit of weight lost was a personal victory. But soon, the mirror would convince her she was fat and her inner voice would taunt her.

At her lowest ebb, Anna weighed 4 stone 10lbs (66lbs) and was dying.

But this isn't a morbid story; it is an inspirational one, of a young woman who faces death and triumphs. Through caring health professionals and eventually, a wonderful friend, she finds the strength to fight and the will to live.

While I usually avoid spoilers in book reviews, revealing that Anna survives is an important thing to know. I am not sure I would have been so keen to read this, if Anna had died. While this book is often a disturbing and moving read, it is made clear throughout that it is a tale of survival and the interest is discovering how she copes and begins to rebuild a future for herself.

Like many other similar stories (A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer, Sickened by Julie Gregor), this book will make you angry. How could the grandmother be allowed to get away with what she does? How could the parents let it happen?

If someone asked me what I would do in that situation, I would answer unequivocally - I would protect my kids at any cost. But Anna's mother has problems of her own and is often very ill and weak herself, fighting her own mental health problems with addictions and obsessions.

I am all too aware that my own battle with depression (two years and still going) has sometimes prevented me giving my children 100%. There have been times when they have wanted to show me a dance routine or asked for help with homework and all I can do is sleep. So, how can I condemn Anna's mum? Sometimes, putting ourselves in other people's shoes isn't as straight-forward as it seems.

Anna's story is an honest one. She tells it in a frank way, which cannot have been easy to relive and write about. She tries to offer advice to others, but without preaching. She knows which pieces of advice can work and which will be dismissed by the anorexic voice. She even has her email address at the end, in case anyone wants to contact her.

The book has several full-page black and white photos in, which help to show you how she looked at each stage. From a beautiful, healthy young child, she becomes so thin you can see her bones sticking out. The photo of her at her thinnest is a disturbing one. This is also the cover image. For those that think all women's breasts are erotic, I defy anyone to see this anorexic nakedness as sexual in any way. It is only sad.

Thankfully, the final photos in the book show a much healthier and happier Anna. She found love and this helped her to win the battle against anorexia. She is now a beautiful woman of 35 and surely an inspiration to us all.

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Buy Anorexic by Anna Paterson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Anorexic by Anna Paterson at


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