Battling back from the brink

A healthy Catherine Kerr-Phillips, author of Hoping For Rain, about battling anorexia, having fun on holiday
A healthy Catherine Kerr-Phillips, author of Hoping For Rain, about battling anorexia, having fun on holiday

AFTER battling anorexia for ten years, a Hebden Bridge author is hoping to inspire others suffering from the illness with her debut book.

Catherine Kerr-Phillips, 28, first developed the illness when she was a teenager, and hopes that “Hoping For Rain: The Secret World of An Anorexic” will offer advice and inspiration to the reader - as well as making them smile.

Catherine, who currently works as a translator in Paris, said: “I think there’s a stigma attached to all mental illnesses. When you have the flu, the doctor cures you and people are nice to you. Anorexia patients are very difficult to be around and people often just call them ‘faddy’ when they’re really suffering from a disease they can’t control. A patient’s mind is completely altered and I often remember feeling that I was going ‘mad’.

“Anorexia is incredibly distressing for the sufferer as well as their family, and it’s not just a case of ‘get some cake down you’. I got the impression that in a society where nearly everyone wants to ‘lose a few pounds’, people’s sympathy for anorexics is often tinged with a kind of jealousy.”

Catherine’s own battle started after she felt isolated amongst her friends and turned to food. Piling on weight, she became a target for bullies and believed the only solution was to get thin - like the popular girls. But Catherine went too far and, despite her family’s pleas for her to stop, lost more and more weight - even shedding five stone in four months.

After a long struggle Catherine has learned to love her body and is determined to help others do the same.

“I read several books on the subject and they all felt like they were lacking in the hope a sufferer needs; either they were too full of psychology references or they seemed a little self-pitying,” she said. “I would love to be able to help others whose lives are touched by this devastating and still widely-misunderstood illness, to give them hope and make people realise that anorexia isn’t a cult or a way of life.”

Catherine said she is worried about the effects that magazines and the modelling industry are having on young girls and is terrified about the rise of websites which encourage young girls to lose weight and post pictures of their “success”.

The book is available at and Catherine hopes it will soon be stocked in local bookshops.