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Posts: 27
Reply with quote  #1 
OK, so my daughter is an Irish dancer and has had to stop because of ED (was IP the beginning of January and been struggling ever since). A couple of weeks ago, she missed the annual recital and made our lives hell around that time. Since St. Patrick's Day is coming up, I know that we're in for more fun around that time since she won't be dancing. We've been trying to distract her and have her do other things (she's supposed to volunteer on Saturday with a local dog shelter), but she still mopes around depressed and angry, like a toddler throwing a tantrum trying to get her way. She's not dancing for this, we've got a contract for when she can start dancing again and she's not there yet. We've not said never, and I've told her to treat this like an injury, where you physically CAN'T do it until your body is ready. But she prefers to brood and complain instead of accepting what is, and making the best of the situation. The doctor talked about letting her start back in sooner (before fully WR), but we tried that last year and it didn't work, and with how she's acting now, I think we're in the right here. So other parents of dancers, did you have issues around times of big shows/recitals and how did you deal with them?

Also, did anyone else have issues with lying along with ED and not just about food/exercise? She is telling tall tales about EVERYTHING, including what classmates say to her, whether she studied with someone or alone, or what a teacher said to her. I'm trying to ignore it since I think it's to make her life seem more interesting, but it's very frustrating, since I can't believe anything she tells me. I've mentioned before that I believe she may be on the autism spectrum, not just because of ED, but from behaviors her whole life that we've had to deal with. I'm going to get her tested, but there's a delay for that. She is so prideful that she won't admit that she's struggling until it shows up later in ED behaviors and rages. Sorry this is so long, but I think the two things are related.

Posts: 1,534
Reply with quote  #2 
Hi deetz,
I don´t understand all these excuses for posting more than 5 words [wink]
I think it is very helpful that you describe your situation. Please keep doing that.

My d is a standard/latin dancer and she had to quit this last year just in the middle of a course and her partner had to find a new dancer to finish with him which was even more hard for her. We set a goal weight to start dancing again. It was hard for her to miss this and the annual spring ball, too. We tried not to talk about it and I asked her NOT to look for pictures and videos in the internet about it because it made her sad and she fortunately did that. On the spring ball weekend we distracted her by doing a short holiday trip. Try to be strict with this, you are not saying never and she can do that later again. My d reached the goal weight and joined in again and they learned her what she missed and her partner is dancing again with her now. So everything fine...[wink]

The lying is difficult. In our case my d is a very hard lyer and I always know it. But she tried to do it to make us feel more comfortable and to make us think she is o.k. and has friends and everything is fine in school and it wasn´t. AN patients are great actors.
The autism test will be difficult at the moment, because a lot of AN behaviour is very similar to autistic behaviour and you will not know wether it is AN related or not. Normally autism is shown long time before adolescence and AN start. A realistic test would show that at least when she is in total recovery and no AN behaviour left, I fear. But there are parents here with kids that are autistc and have AN, so I am sure somebody will help you with that, soon. Maybe you can split your questions to show this in the threat title, too?

Posts: 92
Reply with quote  #3 
Hello deetz

I'm not sure I really have much to offer, except to say I understand.  My d, now 14 and WR for the last few months, is a dancer.  Before it all came tumbling down almost exactly a year ago, she was dancing several hours a week AND doing squad swimming even more hours a week, as well as other extramural activities.  Being overcommitted had been a real issue for some time and we had been putting some pressure on her to choose one or the other.  Long story short... during her hospitalisation and long weeks and months of refeeding, being able to return to dance once she was WR was a huge motivator for her.  However, during this time, she had to miss several dance-related events and an important exam.  Like your d, she was devastated.  Angry, resentful, reproachful.  It was heartbreaking, but we stood our ground.  Once she was fully WR and she discovered we were serious about her having to choose, and she was not allowed to return to swimming as well, her despair was even harder to bear.  I'm sorry to say we did not really find any way to make it easier for her or us except to be absolutely firm, to weather the storm, and to be as compassionate as possible.  She is still struggling to make up the skills and strength she missed/lost while she was not dancing, and she literally mourns for her swimming days.  BUT she's WR and making slow but steady progress.  Others here have reported that years later their loved ones thank them for 'rescuing' them from the activity they seemed so passionate about, as it was ED and not them who was passionate.  We're still waiting...!

I LOVE your idea of treating the AN and enforced inactivity as a physical injury.  Over the last year we've tried to rekindle her interest in various non-sporting/dancing activities, with some success.  

Can I suggest you make sure she knows it's ED and not you, her parents, who are preventing her from taking part in the dancing she loves.  It is ED, not you, with whom she should be furious!  ED won't let her admit that, but possibly at some level it will sink in.

I can't really comment on the lying, as this hasn't been something we've encountered.  When I think back, though, to some of the situations and incidents which were so upsetting for my d when she returned to school, particularly big issues with friends last year, in retrospect I now think they did not happen exactly as she reported them.  She was genuinely upset and clearly believed they happened, but I now think she was a little paranoid.  That has passed, thank goodness.  Could your d be experiencing a slightly altered reality on account of her undernourished brain?

Keep up the hero parenting, and let us know how it goes.


Posts: 650
Reply with quote  #4 
Hi, I'm just going to comment on the lying. My d used to stretch the truth a bit before ED, but with her illness she lied about everything, not just the food. Now that she is weight restored she is a lot more honest, even about the food she ate at school!
D became obsessed with exercise at age 9. Started eating 'healthy' at age 9.5. Restricting couple of months later. IP for 2 weeks at age 10. Slowly refed for months on Ensures alone, followed by swap over with food at a snails pace. WR after a year at age 11 in March 2017. She is back to her old happy self and can eat anything put in front of her. Now working on intuitive eating.

Posts: 165
Reply with quote  #5 
Hey Deetz
I think having the contract is a great idea and I would be very strong and stick to full WR before allowing your d to start dancing and blaming the ed also a great idea “yep sucks to have ed”
My d is a dancer and we were advised against her continuing by the wise parents on this site
My d was suicidal and begged (or ed begged??) us to allow her to dance
She missed MANY classes, to start our d didn’t have the strength to get out of bed
As she gained weight and strength and if she ate ALL meals with no fuss we allowed her to attend a class with careful monitoring by her teacher if she wasn’t keeping up she missed the following class
My d had left school and as this was the ONLY friendship group she had and had experienced withdrawal and isolation this was the main reason we decided on this path
It definately was not easy though and I would not recommend it
This year she is having a break and at the moment I have no idea if she will get back to her previous commitments she was also teaching and adored by her students
Her dream was to be in a full time dance course and had been accepted by 3 dance schools this year, so as you can imagine this has been very hard for her to come to terms with
Sucks to see your kids dreams taken away by this horrible illness [frown]
Wish I had of noticed the signs earlier [frown]

Lying wasn’t an issue for us my d was the “perfect kid” but she did experience extreme anxiety at high school and missed many social events sitting on the couch crying unable to tell me what was wrong and unable to socialise due to the anxiety
We thought this would pass [frown]
Pity we didn’t have a crystal ball as this seemed to turn into the ed

Posts: 14
Reply with quote  #6 


Our D was and is a dancer.  AN came on very quickly (12), although anxiety had long been there, and dancing was taken away very quickly, one week after the official diagnosis.  All dancing went through weight restoration (6 months and a combination of home and IP) and until weight reached a target level agreed with her treatment.    She had to miss festivals, lose her place in a group dance etc, etc.  We tried to keep her off social media for a while as it was hard for her to see the others dance.  When she hit her weight target, it was 30 min per week and slowly but surely we added it back, for fun.  This included me standing outside the dance school with snacks for between rehearsals.  Two years later she has never returned to everything.  She is back in dance class and back in festival groups, and fun activities with her dance school, but some of the dance extracurriculars outside her local school have gone.  We just felt that she couldn't return to a fully competitive environment and that dance had to be for fun and not for a future career.  One year after discharge and with weight doing really well, she had a complete melt down about doing more dance, her friends were doing it, so why could she.  We just held our ground - "let's keep it fun - and also you need rest time on the weekends".  It is now two years later, school is getting more challenging as she approached GCSEs and we are navigating the challenges of the balance between dance and school work and down time, with down time being the most important.  She is watching other girls pursue their dance dreams and I think that this is hard for her.  The other day, she said "dance isn't going to be my career mum, I dance for fun".  I hope she dances for the rest of her life.  



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Posts: 1,411
Reply with quote  #7 
My d was not a dancer, but a competitive figure skater.  We dealt with all the same challenges...a d who claimed this was 'the most important thing in her life' and 'her dream' and we were taking that all away.  Lots of crying & tantruming and ugliness....

We had to stop all activity for a long while, and then d was allowed to slowly add some skating in, with enough extra fuel both before and after practice to manage energy needs.  In fact, her coaches were fantastic and helped our d to come to terms with her situation.  They told her that skating was just one tiny part of her life, and they wanted her to be healthy and to be able to engage fully in all that life had to offer.  And that they would love to have her help them with coaching some day.

She was never able to continue on a competitive track.  That 'window' had ended, and truthfully I'm not a bit sad.  She has gone on to continue to skate recreationally, and with other goals in mind, testing and judging.  She loves the sport, and is able to give back.  She had a summer internship a couple of years ago with Figure Skating in Harlem, teaching young girls math and science in the morning and figure skating skills in the afternoon.  It was a wonderful experience.

I say all this to let you know that there is life beyond a competitive dancing career, and it may or may not be possible for your d to continue this activity at the highest level, given her risk factors.  

Certainly, you need to keep in mind that you are protecting her health first and foremost and that she will have the ability for a rich and full life, free of an ED in the future.

It is so hard to see the pain & anguish that not dancing and competing may bring in the short term, but you are doing the very best you can to help and protect your d's health.  Hang in there.

Sending warm support, 

It is good to not only hope to be successful, but to expect it and accept it--Maya Angelou
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