How Dance Helped Me Survive Anorexia (and Literally Everything Else)

My body has been through A LOT. I’m not just talking about injuries due to accidents that happen in life. I mean, my body and I have survived significant damage and abuse as a result of the actions of other people, and as a result of my four year battle with anorexia nervosa. I was 12 years old when I first noticed there was a disconnect between my body and my mind, and it later manifested into a full-blown eating disorder by the time I was 16. The only constant throughout my entire life is dance, and due to some unfortunate recent events, I feel it is important I share with my followers why dance has saved my life throughout my eating disorder, and the abuse I’ve suffered at the hands of others.

I am a professional dancer, and I have been involved with dance since I was 10 years old. Currently I am 22 years old, and I was 16 when I was admitted inpatient for anorexia. The program I attended was super strict, and I couldn’t even stand up for longer than 10 seconds before a nurse or tech would tell me to sit down. The two weeks I was inpatient, I grew increasingly antsy and upset that my E.D. had interfered with my passion for dance. I was prepping for senior year of high school, and auditioning for college programs, and I was alarmed that my summer potentially would not be spent being able to dance or work toward my goals. Dance was always the one constant in my life, and even with my eating disorder, exercise and dance were always positive places of solace for me, instead of outlets for negative behaviors.

“Dance gives me something to live for, a fulfillment I can’t find anywhere else”

For my whole treatment plan, I set my goal to be able to dance again, and to devote my positive energy and focus into dance as motivation to get better and stay healthy. I even was able to get special permission to attend my dance classes so I could finish my recital that year. With the help of my treatment team, I was able to keep my intake levels accurate and my weight gain on track while I finished my studio season. That summer, my outpatient team even helped me meal plan and prepare me for a dance intensive at a college I was interested in attending after graduating high school. I went to that dance intensive, and the experience changed my life. I had never been so motivated to live my life for myself and for my art which is dance.

I later auditioned for that college, was admitted into the school and dance program on a merit and dance performance scholarship. Four years later, I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. in dance performance, a B.A. in psychology, and a minor in dance/movement therapy. I am now performing professionally, teaching dance, and looking into dance/movement therapy graduate school. Dance truly helped save my life, and I am forever grateful that dance was a part of my experience with my eating disorder. Dance gives me something to live for, and a fulfillment I can’t find anywhere else.

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I’ve FOUGHT for years to have a healthy relationship with my body. I treasure and value my body, and try to practice body compassion every day of my life. When someone or something happens that puts my body in a vulnerable, compromised, or damaging position, I must remove myself from whatever negative stimulus is causing me and my body harm. Toxic people, situations, and stress only lead to that mind/body disconnect I suffered for so many years as a kid and young adolescent. I have come too far into my recovery and my life to allow myself to tolerate any sort of abuse or direct harm to my body and mind. I’ve come too far in my dance career to allow an eating disorder or other people to abuse my body.

Dance gives me a purpose and a reason to rise out of bed every morning. Life is truly so much better when I can dance through it, and I am blessed and very lucky to have discovered my love for dance at such a young age.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, the link below will direct you to the National Eating Disorder Association’s confidential Helpline

NEDA Eating Disorder Helpline

Until next time,

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