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Posts: 4
Reply with quote  #1 
my 13 year old daughter wants to be a professional dancer.
She was diagnosed with AN last October. We stopped her dancing immediately. She had to miss on some dance competitions she was really looking forward to. 

We are doing FBT and our team includes a paediatrician specialized in ED. 
In November she had to go in for a 3 wks IP at the local hospital.
Since then she has, steadily, been putting on weight. She went in hospital at 36.4 kgs on the 13th of November and she is now 42.5Kgs.

During all this time, we believe, her "dancing dream" has been the driving force for steady recovery.

Her moods are getting better too. We starting to get glimpses of her beautiful smile and she also started to play again with her younger brother. 

But last week we had few days when her mood was very low and CAMHS are considering an appointment with the psychiatric to investigate if she is suffering from depression. 
I have to say, I am not keen on her having medications if we can help it!
She is starting to get very very upset about not dancing and fearful she will be behind everyone else.
Sometimes when ED thoughts are strong she does not believe she will be able to go back dancing ever again. She says hate us and all the CAMHS team because we have taken dance away from her!! (I know this is ED talking)  

Last night, while she was crying so much, she started hyperventilating but my husband was very good at turning the situation around.
I wonder if she was on the verge of a panic attack!      

We try to keep it to a minimum but she does do stretches and exercise a little to keep her fitness for when she goes back.        

The paediatrician has just given us the go-ahead to take her back to school, which she will do gradually this week, building up one session a day.

Since she is physically stable and eating well,  I am starting to wonder if 
going back to dance for a lesson a week would be a good stimulus for her to keep going as well as given her some hope and try to help her with her anxiety and depression   

Does anyone has had a similar experience?
I wonder how long will take her to be able to dance again, even if only a little bit.


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Posts: 3,295
Reply with quote  #2 
There are many parents on here whose parents have wanted to be professional athletes/high level athletes/dancers. For the child it is often expressed as a reason for getting better. It is however a very tangled situation as the exercise involved can often be a means of soothing the anxiety associated with the illness, as well as a source of weight loss. Attaching too much importance to the exercise can be a big problem. With dancing the pressures for weight and appearance can add another layer of complexity, significantly increasing the risk of relapse. 

Did your D want to be a dancer from a little girl, or was this only a more recent desire? 

Ideally not returning to dance may be the best option, but of course we don't want to destroy our children's hopes and dreams. I would want her weight restored and stable with less anxiety before returning to any classes, a break of a year or more is not going to destroy her ambitions no matter what she says. When returning yes taking it very slowly would be the best option, monitoring all the while. 

D diagnosed restrictive AN June 2010 age 13.5. Weight restored July 2012. Relapse and now clawing our way back. Treatment: multiple hospitalisations and individual and family therapy.

Posts: 496
Reply with quote  #3 
Hi silali,
my d (18 now) loves to dance standard dance (not professionel) and has done her gold star diplom shortly. She goes to the dancing school once a week for 1,5 hours and every second or third week there is an extra dance time on sundays about 2-2,5 hours.
She loved to do that before ED started and it was a great incentive because there are her best social contacts in this group.
So we did it that way:
We set a limit together with the doctors. She had to gain 10 kg and we told her she is allowed to go back to the lesson once a week at 5 kg gain when she is eating enough to not lose weight by going there. We tried it and it was o.k. Than we set another aim: she could go to the extra dance time when she gained anouther 2,5 kg.
She is 6 months WR now and she can do that amount of dancing without eating extra. But we told her that any more sports will need more food.
So maybe you can set her a goal and try it once a week. If she is loosing weight again, stopp it or increase the calories (if possible). She must see that she must eat more if she wants to dance. A professional dancer needs a lot of power and the dancing schools here in Germany would not accept a student who is underweight. The friend of my d wants to go to a musical academy and she has problems getting there because she is naturally underweight (no ED, she is underweight her whole life). She needs to bring a physician paper and that sentence (is underweight) makes big problems for her at the moment. So maybe you can tell that your d.

Posts: 141
Reply with quote  #4 
Hi Silali,
My D was also 13 when diagnosed and dancing at least 10hrs a week.
We stopped all ballet until her weight was better ( she put on 6kg initially) then we slowly reintroduced ballet but it really was the worst thing we did for her, all the body image, looking at herself in the mirror was really bad for her. She was in the school dance team too and in 2016 we had to pull her halfway through the dance season as she was too sick. She hasn’t done any dance since then.
My D is now well on her way to recovery after 3 1/2 years and discusses every now and then that she wants to start taking a class but is so worried about her shape still I don’t think she could! She is doing Pilates weekly and enjoying that but AN takes a great deal from our children and dancing was one thing it has taken from my D!

I would think that at this point - dance may not be a good thing for her to do, but you need to weigh it up. We thought that going back to dance would provide the ability to move forward but realistically it was a huge back step for us!

Mum to 16yr old girl with AN. Fighting hard for recovery since she was 13.
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