LG Faves: February 2019

LG Faves February 2019

It’s time for some February favorites. Since I have been following my February intention of read more, stream + read online less, I have two books and no TV shows, lol! A big part of being able to read more is to not be addicted to a TV show. Anyways, I hope you find something interesting to check out below.

Food: Lavva Coconut Yogurt

Oh Lavva how I love thee! I have finally found a dairy free yogurt that I actually enjoy, doesn’t have tons of sugar, and the ingredient list is normal. I had been missing dairy yogurt because I grew up with my mom putting a dollop of yogurt or cottage cheese on so many things: fruit salads, oatmeal, granola, toast, etc, but as I got older I started having skin issues on my arms and we found out that it was linked to dairy so the yogurt had to go. I had been searching for a replacement but I didn’t enjoy the flavor of any of the ones on the market – until I found Lavva! It is delicious and the ingredient list and sugar content is amazing. I highly recommend checking it out if you have to find a dairy free yogurt alternative.

Nonfiction Book: What Made Maddy Run? by Kate Fagan

Oh this book! I have talked about it a lot now – you can read my takeaways from it here. I can’t recommend it enough. No matter who you are you will learn something and gain some empathy and understanding reading this powerful book.  

Fiction Book: The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic

This book is so much fun. It’s all about entering into a different magical world surrounded by magicians, kings, dragons, fairies, and I just loved it. It was a nice change from such a serious book (Maddy) and you find yourself falling into a wonderful fantasy hole that sweeps you away. If you’re looking for something fun this is the book for you. 

Music: Lizzo

Lizzo’s music is upbeat and empowering. She has an incredible voice and her music reminds me of powerful woman’s voices from the Motown, soul, disco era. It immediately puts me in a good mood and makes me want to dance, and I love that most of her lyrics focus on loving your body, embracing who you are, and strutting your stuff. It is refreshing! She just came out with a new song called Juice and her new album – Cuz I Love You – is coming out in April.

Clothing: Girlfriend Collective Bodysuits

I have been wearing these bodysuits for a while and can’t believe I haven’t mentioned them before! I love them. The brand – Girlfriend Collective – is amazing. They believe in slow fashion and only use ethical manufacturing and recycled materials for their clothing. The body suits are so soft and comfortable. The Lily bodysuit is my favorite so far, and I love that theres button snaps at the bottom so you don’t have to take the entire bodysuit off to go to the bathroom, makes life so much easier! They’re soft, comfortable, and flattering.

Movement: Running

I started running again after many years of having to avoid it because of recovery and it has been so special. I can’t believe how much I have missed it and am so grateful I was able to reintroduce this movement back into my life. I am going to write a longer post about this because there is much more tied with running and my eating disorder, but for now what I want to say is that I feel so profoundly happy that I have reached a point in my recovery where I can enjoy running again in a healthy way.

 Movie: The Boy Downstairs

I have always liked Zosia Mamet from her days on Girls and the column she wrote for Glamour. I find her very interesting and thoughtful so I enjoy following the work that she does. I recently saw this cute rom-com she did on HBO and enjoyed it. It was a quirky indie film but a nice light watch with a different storyline than the typical rom-coms and takes place in hipster Brooklyn which is always fun.

What Made Maddy Run – Thoughts on Depression & Suicide

What Made Maddy Run - Perfectionism, Suicide & Depression

I recently read the book – What Made Maddy Run by Kate Fagan. It was incredibly powerful and moved me deeply. I saw so much of myself in Maddy, and because of a few different choices, I am still here, whereas she is sadly not.

What Made Maddy Run is the story of Madison Holleran, an ambitious college athlete at UPenn who committed suicide her freshman year. The book discusses the story of Maddy’s life, and her struggle with depression, which also reveals the mounting pressures young people face to be perfect and constantly achieve, especially in an age of relentless connectivity and social media saturation.

This is an incredible book for anyone to read, especially those who want to gain a better understanding of mental illness, perfectionism, and how to help people who are struggling.

Here are some of the biggest takeaways I had on depression and suicide from the book (I also had thoughts on perfectionism I wanted to share, but this post go too long, so I will share that in a separate post):

Depression

Throughout the book, it is repeatedly mentioned that people couldn’t understand what had gone wrong, or how Maddy was so unhappy when everything was great in her life — loving parents, happy family, talented, smart, athletic, beautiful, popular. Depression and mental health issues — they don’t have a face! It can happen to and affect anyone, and some of the most depressed people have a seemingly “perfect” life. It is genetic, so trying to make sense of it is futile.

When someone tells you they aren’t doing well or if someone is having a rough day, be kind to them — you really don’t know what anyone is going through.

No one would ever have suspected I was severely depressed. I became an expert at going from crying to slapping on my happy, cheerful face and being vivacious Lili. I would tell my mom how I hated seeing people because I was so tired of faking it and would get annoyed when people would describe me as — Oh Lili is always so sweet and happy — I felt like such a fraud and so alone.

Suicide

This is something I haven’t opened up about before, but if this can help anyone, even just a single person, it is worth it to me.

I had a really tough time when I was about 25 years old. I would wake up with nothing that made me want to get out of bed. I hated my work and what my life had turned into. The climax of all of this was when I would show up at the office and couldn’t stop crying. Just crying and crying and no matter how much I tried to stop I couldn’t pull myself out of it. I would run outside and pretend like I was going to get a coffee and just stand in an alleyway and cry.

That was when the thought struck me – if this is what my life is going to be, I don’t want it.

I didn’t want this life. I was miserable and tired of being so deeply unhappy. I didn’t see a way out and thought I could no longer continue. It was a scary thought, but in an effort to be honest, I just wanted the suffering to end.

I called my mom and she connected me with a suicide hotline and I spoke to them. It was terrifying but it was the first step I took in getting help. They instructed me to go talk to HR and figure out a solution whether that be medical leave or intensive therapy. That is when I started seeing a therapist twice a week. I considered inpatient treatment – which I wish I would have done – but at the moment I was terrified of people finding out about it and thought it sounded too extreme.

I want to emphasize the point here that I didn’t look at it as killing myself, I saw it as ending the suffering because I didn’t see another way out. At this point I had been struggling with depression, anxiety and an eating disorder for over ten years and didn’t know how or if I ever would get better. I also hated my job but didn’t know what I wanted to do instead, I felt completely trapped.

I think  this is a helpful thing to note because people just look at suicide as killing yourself and that wasn’t at all how I saw it when I was in the midst of my darkest thoughts. I felt like I was already trapped in the hell of my daily life, and it seemed like it would provide a release.

In reading Maddy’s story I can see how she was miserable and unhappy and couldn’t see a way out. I relate to how she felt so utterly trapped and was suffering deeply that she just wanted it to end. When you are in such a dark place it is very difficult to think clearly or see other options, you feel extremely stuck and exhausted. You also don’t see time clearly, a week can feel like eternity, and you need help IMMEDIATELY. When my mom would tell me to just finish out the week at work, it felt like a mountain I couldn’t climb and it would infuriate me because I felt like she didn’t understand the gravity of my pain, you need help and for things to change right away because you are already at your wits end.

If you’re struggling with any of this get help now. Call the suicide hotline or talk to HR right away. Things truly can change today and there is a way out that doesn’t involve suicide or hurting yourself. That is what I wish I could tell Maddy if she was here today — that things can get better and she can get better. To take a break from school and get the help she needs right away so she can find her way out of that hell and start creating a life that makes her happy.

Recovery Diaries: No One Can Give You the Answers

No One Can Give You the Answers

For so much of my life I just wanted to be told the answer or what to do. In recovery I wanted an expert to tell me this is the optimal way you should live to heal and thrive, so then I could do that and go on my merry way.  

When I realized my eating disorder wasn’t going away without the help of a mental health team, I thought – “Ok I’ll go into therapy, they will tell me exactly what I need to do to recover, I will do the work, and then be done with this.”

I am not joking – I went in to my first appointment with a notebook and my questions for the therapist, which were along the lines of – What are the steps to recover? What do I need to do to recover as quickly as possible? Exactly how do I do it? How long is this going to take? And what is my homework?

I thought I simply needed to focus, do my assignments, and then I could kick this thing.

I was SO wrong.

The therapists I have seen over the years have avoided giving me any sort of regimen, or clear answers on how I should live my life. They are always helpful but they never tell me what to do. When I got frustrated with the process a few months ago, I asked my therapist what else I needed to do to recover and what recovery would look like when I was there. I wanted to know where I stood in the process because I was so tired of dealing with this. And then I finally got my answer – she told me that recovery looks different for everyone.

My version of recovery is going to be different than the recovery of someone else who is suffering from a similar eating disorder. It’s not a clear cut one size fits all method. So, she couldn’t tell me what it would look like for me, it was something I was going to have to develop by continuing to do the work.

Although this is an annoying pill to swallow (wouldn’t it be SO MUCH EASIER if they could just give us the answers??!) it did ring very true to me.

In my experience, whenever I have followed some sort of plan or read about how some incredible person lives their life and tried to apply it to my life, it never really works. I always find myself doing those things for a little while but then slowly falling off the wagon and finding myself back to doing things how I feel comfortable doing them. Maybe I will learn some things that I enjoy, but I will incorporate them into my way of doing things.

I can never stick to some written out guideline that someone else created of how things should be done because they aren’t my way of doing things.

When we are so frustrated and tired of not knowing what to do, we wish someone could tell us the answer, or look at how someone you admire is doing something and do it the same way, but life doesn’t work that way and you will only be hurting yourself if you do that. That’s because you need to find your own answers, you need to figure out how you like to live your life, and you need to develop what works for you.

We are all so unique and individual. Our lives and preferences are different, what works for me is not going to work for you, and that is wonderful. Why would we want to be like someone else? Being able to go on a journey of discovering ourselves is a great gift of life. Why do we want to deprive ourselves of that?

The path to healing is learning about yourself and how to take care of yourself, through all the good and the bad. You can’t rely on other people to tell you what to do or to solve your problems, because they aren’t you. You need to tune in and find your answers inside of you.

Favorite 2018 Articles

TOLG Favorite 2018 Articles

I wrote up my list of 2018 favorites but as you might have noticed, I did not include my favorite articles in that list. The truth is that I had too many to choose only one or two! I knew I would have to dedicate a full post to the subject so I could share the variety of great articles that I read this past year.

As you will see in the list I like to read different topics from a few different sources. My favorite outlet would be The New Yorker though because in my opinion they have the most interesting well-written articles. Plus my brother has a subscription that he always lets me use :)

So without further ado, here they are in no particular order. Hope you find something interesting to read this weekend!

Profiles:

Julia Louis-Dreyfus Acts Out – The New Yorker

Riz Ahmed Acts His Way Out of Every Cultural Pigeonhole – The New York Times Magazine

Nicole Holofcener’s Human Comedies – The New Yorker

Donald Glover Can’t Save You – The New Yorker

Feminism:

Rebecca Solnit: Whose Story (and Country) Is This? – Literary Hub

Rebecca Solnit: Protest and Persist: Why Giving Up Hope is Not an Option – The Guardian

Lena Dunham on Her Decision to Have a Hysterectomy at Age 31 – Vogue

Social/Political Issues:

When Deportation is a Death Sentence – The New Yorker

The Birth of a New American Aristocracy – The Atlantic

Why Are the Poor Blamed and Shamed for their Deaths? By Barbara Ehrenreich – The Guardian

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, In Her Own Words — JACOBIN

‘Our Minds Can Be Hijacked’: The Tech Insiders Who Fear a Smartphone Dystopia — The Guardian

Spirituality & Health:

When Anorexics Grow Up — The New York Times 

Mama Medicine: How Deciding I Was Enough Transformed My Life — Well + Good

Why Perfectionism Is On The Rise and How To Overcome It — Goop

The Recovery Diaries: Perfectionism

When I was thirteen I began dictating my life by a series of rules. What kind of rules? Simple ones, at least I thought they were - run every morning for at least 30 minutes; never eat more than 250 calories in one sitting; eat less than everyone else at the table; never touch dessert; never get below a 97 on absolutely anything; work out again after school; never waste time or procrastinate; if you have any extra time study more; read one article from a newspaper each day… and the list goes on but you get the picture.

I created these rules because I wanted to make sure I performed and excelled in all areas of my life. And it worked for me.

I wanted to go to Stanford, I went to Stanford. I wanted to be valedictorian, I was valedictorian. I wanted to study abroad, I was chosen for my top study abroad program. The rules worked for me, they were there for me, they delivered.

But life after college hasn’t been so fruitful. I have been clinging to these rules but they are more hurtful than helpful. I am writing lists and to do’s each morning but they are driving me crazy and making me feel imprisoned. They don’t have that magical touch they used to have. Instead I have found myself recovering from an eating disorder and trying to learn how to give myself a break.

I started realizing that these behaviors were extreme but I dismissed them as my eating disorder. I didn’t think the rules were the problem, I thought it was all the eating disorder. I thought it was fine to keep this oppressive structure, what I really needed to work on was my relationship with food. I thought, “once I have a better relationship with food this will all be better.”

In my latest session with my therapist we started talking about these rules, and why I've been losing weight again, and she asked me: What I was hoping would happen? What did I think this weight loss, this control, was going to bring into my life?

I sat there completely stumped. Such an obvious question... What was I doing all of this for? What was it going to bring me?

I thought that once everything was in order, once I looked the way I wanted to look, had certain goals accomplished, my life would be set.

I would be happy and it would be good. It isn’t right now, but once I do those things it will be amazing, the way I always dreamed... (even though I had no idea what this “dream” was, it would get me there). Why was I killing myself over this? What was I holding on to?

Then she said: “Lili there is no such thing as a perfect life. A perfect way to live doesn’t exist. You’re a perfectionist and there is no perfect. What life can guarantee is that everything is imperfect and we have to learn to be ok with and embrace living in all the imperfections.”

I sat there stunned. All this time I thought the issue was my eating disorder but my real addiction was perfectionism. Like a true addict I was completely oblivious to this.

Great. What do I even do from here? How do I begin to unravel that? So much of my life has been driven by rules, lists, striving, gripping, clenching, forcing. It was definitely making me miserable, but I don’t remember how to live a different way. I don’t even get what this fully means sometimes, all this stuff can seem so ambiguous.

She told me the first step would be to give myself some space, be curious and very kind with myself.

Instead of being militant and forcing myself to do something, check in with myself and my body and be curious about what it’s trying to tell me. Of course, that all sounds nice, but easier said than done. I guess just like anything I’ll have to take it one step at a time.