Sunday, January 17, 2010

Eglantine Died and I'm Still Alive

I just had some deep thoughts while peeing on the toilet. I swear. I think I have most of my deep thoughts on the toilet or in the shower.

Anyway, it started with me thinking about how I get so much into my blogging that I sometimes am cruel to my poor waiting bladder. I LOVE writing this blog.

I compared it to how I used to write novels in high school. I was obsessed with my writing, and worked very hard at it. I received the same joy back from my fiction writing as I do now with my nonfiction.

I had very strict quotas for myself. I think maybe it was something fairly reasonable like ten pages a day. But when I make quotas like that, I usually don't feel okay unless I greatly exceed the minimum. I remember sometimes writing 20-30 pages a day.

Yeah. I'm like that. I get obsessed with my plans, and I make very strict rules for myself. In the toilet, I thought about how I have such an eating disorder personality.

I read a recent book by Catherine Jinks that deals with a ghost who has died of anorexia. Sorry. That's kind of a spoiler. But I really want to talk about this, so I'm hoping you'll forgive me. Plus, I'm guessing most people who read this blog don't read Catherine Jink's ghost hunter series. If you do, and I've ruined things for you....please accept my sincere apologies.

Okay, now I'm feeling a little less guilty. The entry for the book has the keyword anorexia. So they kind of give it away too. Anorexia is not the whole mystery anyway. There's a lot more to the book.

In the book, they talk about anorexia and the protagonist reads about the typical anorexic. She learns they're often moody, sensitive to the needs of others, desperate for approval, highly intelligent, and angry with their brothers and sisters. That description reminded me so much of myself, except for maybe the highly intelligent part. And I've heard from other sources that we're very competitive and high achieving.

This eating disorder website says: Someone who may develop anorexia nervosa is typically an introverted, conscientious and well-behaved child who seldom present problems either at home or at school. The 2 personality traits consistently found amongst those with anorexia are perfectionism and obsessive behaviour. It is when these last two are combined with a general dissatisfaction with life, or life presents an individual with events which they feel unable to cope with, that anorexia nervosa becomes a viable alternative. It may be seen as a coping mechanism.
That describes me and my situation very well too.

Now unlike the ghost in the book, I never actually had full-blown anorexia. I'm still alive and no longer underweight. I recovered. There was no medical intervention , and no psychological intervention. I received very little help and support from family and friends. Why am I still alive?

Well, basically I failed.

First of all, I didn't manage to limit my calories enough. I've read of more successful anorexics (those who managed to grow hair all over their body and achieve cardiac arrest). They made MUCH better calorie limits then I did. I've see minimums of about four hundred calories, and some stop eating almost all together. I think the lowest I ever got was about 800 calories.

I never managed to get thin to cause major organ failure or damage. I DID manage to get an underweight BMI, but in my family that wasn't quite impressive because my cute petite sister has ALWAYS naturally had an underweight BMI. My parents were vocally proud of me for managing to get as thin as my sister. My accomplishment wasn't ignored. But when I announced that I had an eating disorder and was going to make myself better....they reacted as if I was a bit nuts.

That announcement came about two years after the eating disorder began. So, see? I failed at endurance as well. Despite my perfectionism and perseverance, apparently I do not have the willpower needed to fully starve oneself. I got sick of calorie counting. I got sick of exercising almost all day. I got sick of being so obsessed with food. When my sister and a stranger called me on the whole eating disorder thing, I think a part of me was relieved. I was ready to give it up.

All was well. Then a few years later, I brought up my eating disorder with my mom and she told me I had never had one. I had simply been yo-yo dieting like most women do. Eating disordered people weigh fifty pounds and are in the hospital. Well, I fought back the tears. I blamed my anger and tears on feeling invalidated. And that's definitely PART of it. But now I realize the truth. I felt like a failure! I had totally failed in having a proper eating disorder. When I got home, I rushed to the computer to read about eating disorders. I wanted to prove myself right. I DID have an eating disorder. Most of the websites took my side of the argument. I DID have an eating disorder. But I did not have the impressive anorexia or bulimia. I had the half-assed EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified).

I ended up going through a minor relapse. There was a part of me that wanted to do it all over again, and this time get it RIGHT. I stopped myself fairly quickly. Now part of the reason for this was that, in my research, I got a better idea of how physically dangerous an eating disorder can be. I had never wanted to leave my child an orphan, so I think I had previously always ignored/downplayed the whole deadly part. I never aimed for death or ugly brown body hairs. I aimed for a size zero and the end of menstruation. I mean who wouldn't want to quit having their period?

But yeah.... in my further research, as a recovered person, I saw a lot of death stuff. So that did put a curb on my new and improved starvation plans. But I have to admit this. One of the other main reasons I didn't have a full-blown relapse is that I FAILED. I tried to not eat for a few days, but I just didn't have it in me anymore. I would limit my food intake, then say screw this, and grab a handful of candy. Did I throw it up like a talented Bulimic? No, because I have a phobia of vomiting.

So, there you go.

I am a very competitive person. But in the end, it was my failure that saved my life.

My heart still beats.

I didn't end up like Eglantine.


HappyOrganist said...

Are you dying to see my comment? You're not watching me on your stats page, are you? I've started to comment a dozen times (well 2 or 3) but been interrupted.

And then I thought about just teasing you by showing up a lot and not saying anything.


Dina said...


lol. You are totally psycho. I have been stalking you on Statcounter, but I thought you were just coming to see if anyone else was saying anything.

I open up people's comment thing a lot, plan to say something, and then don't. Or sometimes I write this long thing...takes a bunch of time...and then I decide it's not worth saying.

HappyOrganist said...

We all do that.

So that ghost story looked interesting until I realized IT'S a GHOST story. I quit reading those years ago for a reason (even the tame ones seem to scare me).

I'd comment on the rest of the post, but you'd delete it. =)

I looked up "Eglantine" 'cause I've never heard that name/word before. It's interesting to look at the roots. french/latin.. aiglent (I think that's what it was). And I was too lazy to look that up. But it was interesting to me that the french word looked familiar, but they traced it back further and I was surprised by the meaning (meaning I think they got it wrong). They probably didn't, though.

yeah, I'm avoiding the food subject.

But I'm glad you wrote on it, since you wanted to.


Amy Michelle said...

I really love your honesty. I did the starvation thing once, it was the 17/18 years of age and my life was spiralling out of control. I didn't callorie count, I just stopped eating and then took medication when I got headaches/stomachaches. But I quit school and got a stable job and then was able to eat again. I wish I had some obsessive and perfectionist behaviours. I'm really casual.

My Grandparents verbally beat things like eating disorders out of us kids. They had that very English lived through 'the War' attitude about everything. I wasn't even allowed to be a vegetarian because it was impractical during a war.

Guess what? We're currently looking into jobs for my husband in Texas! If we were to be sucessful, I wish I could offer your family a swap program - family for a family kind of thing, although if you hate heat like me then this isn't the place you'd want to be.

B said...

I'm glad that your "failure" did save you, Dina!

Dina said...

HappyOrganist: But if I deleted it, you could complain about me on Facebook. See? I'd give you something to talk about. You're way too quiet over there.

So what did you learn about Eglantine. I heard it's a type of flower.

Amy Michelle: Thank you : ). I think you might be in the for loving my honesty.

I think it's awesome that you were able to find a path that was more fitting for you.

I've never stopped eating all together. I think the longest I've gone without food is 48 hours. Usually, I'll stop eating for just 24. It happens when I'm very angry and depressed. Some people pig out when upset, and some people stop eating.

We all have our unhealthy coping methods.

I'll be SO excited if you move to Texas!!! But probably more for me than you. I'll probably be a little sad for you. But I guess you'll get your winter Christmas...not much snow though.

What part of Texas are you looking at? I'll be very happy if it's Fort Worth.

B: Thank you!! I'm glad too : )

HappyOrganist said...

Dina, I'd never complain about you. I don't know what you're talking about.

Yes, apparently it's a flower or something. weird b/c I thought aigle meant eagle (I could look it up. I probably will right after I post this. ;D )

Dina said...


Stop making me look paranoid!!! I'm going to have to delete your comment.

Hey, maybe it's a flower that looks like an eagle?

Have fun looking it up : )

HappyOrganist said...

oh, I was all prepared to say I was wrong, but it turns out I'm right. ha!

[Middle English eglentin, from Old French eglantine, diminutive of aiglent, from Vulgar Latin *aculentum, from neuter of *aculentus, spiny, from Latin aculeus, spine, from acus, needle; see ak- in Indo-European roots.]

ok - so I stopped at "aiglent" ("hey, that looks like eagle.") And yes - aigle does mean eagle. oh I'm smart

But.. aiglent looks like a verb..
anyway, like I said - they traced it back to something different (and i'm lost)

but I was right about it looking like the word eagle.

At any rate - WHAT kind of a name is that?


HappyOrganist said...

it's okay to look Paranoid

(oh dang it, now i'm punch drunk)

Dina said...


You are very impressive with your language origin skills.

And stop making fun of me. You're making me feel very persecuted ; )

HappyOrganist said...

dang - I can't think of a clever response. You win this time.

Dina said...


And now I'm struggling to think of how to respond to your lack of clever response.

Well, this is my response. It's not clever either. I guess we both lose.