How to Protect Yourself on Social Media

New YouTube video! In this one I share the tips I took to clean up my social media feed so I was being exposed to content that made me feel good, helped with my recovery, and was aligned with my goals.

The accounts we follow and the information we see on a daily basis really affect how we think and feel, so I hope these steps help you clean up your feeds so you are exposing yourself to content that makes you feel good and lifts you up 💖

The song that plays in the video is: Ahorita by Carlos Sadness

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four days without a phone

The Original LG - Tough Times

I lost my phone four days ago. I left it in an Uber in Paris on the way to the airport and have now been living four days completely without a phone. Since it has been quite destabilizing I wanted to ramble on what has come up for me during this experience – and in case you’re wondering, no I still do not have a phone, lol.

It has been a strange and eye-opening experience. From my complete helplessness in being able to get it back (it was either getting on my flight or trying to find the phone), to having to surrender to being without it, to losing communication with the outside world (emails have been my main form of communication), and then dealing with how to get a new phone without having a phone to make phone calls with — it has been a serious practice in surrender and patience.

You don’t realize how much you rely on something until you do not have it, and our phones pretty much contain our lives nowadays.

On top of that, I was sick on my flight back from Paris with a cold and felt depleted when I got home. Then on Saturday I woke up with terrible cramps and got my period. It has felt like one thing after another!

I have felt disoriented and unsure of what to do with myself. Which made me realize: we truly are addicted to our phones. I have not thought of myself as a very phone dependent person, but this experience made me realize how real the addiction is.

I feel like I have gone through stages of withdrawal these past few days: it started with shock and disbelief, then anger and frustration, followed by sadness and isolation, and now finally release.

Friday and Saturday were the worst, but today I woke up and thought: well I have to go on without it.

I went out and did all the things I normally “needed” my phone to do. I went on a hike in complete silence, I drove around LA without google maps, picked up my boyfriend for lunch at the exact time we had agreed upon (no little timing changes or running late), read my New Yorker Magazine when I got a pedicure, took chances by going to places without knowing if they were open or not (and surprise - the library was closed) and then adjusting.

It has been strange, and I do feel like I am missing out in some weird way and was scared as a female doing things alone without any way of being able to reach out to someone if something went wrong, but after pushing through these discomforts, I am seeing the gift in it.

The freedom and space it has given me is lovely. I am not constantly bombarded by messages all throughout my day. When I am with someone, I give them my full attention, having nothing to pull at my thoughts or check on even for a second. When I am out and about, I am fully present. When I am at my apartment I have done things that are more introspective and nourishing - I have read interesting articles, read more of my books, and journaled each day. I have gone to sleep MUCH earlier each night. And I overall just feel calmer.

Content Diet

Content Diet

The things you read, people you follow, and the content you watch have a big impact on what you think and how you feel. It is the fuel you are putting into your brain, and just like the famous Buddha saying goes, “what you think, you become.”

An important part of self-care and recovery that isn’t discussed enough is the impact the information you are consuming is having on your wellbeing. Because we are living in an era of relentless connectivity and social media saturation, we need to protect ourselves, and an important way we can do that is by being very conscientious about what we are following and reading.

Content Diet

When I realized this I took a deep look into how the content I was consuming on a daily basis was making me feel, and then cleaned out all the junk I didn’t want making it’s way into my head.

I wanted to expose myself to things that lit me up and inspired me, not things that made me criticize myself or brought me down.

In my opinion, the only types of “diets” we should be talking about are: CONTENT DIETS. Just like if you eat nourishing foods you are going to feel energized, if you consume thought-provoking interesting content you are going to feel expanded.

For our mental health and well-being, it is very important that we be aware of how certain content makes us feel and to remove things that don’t align with our goals or help us feel our best.

Here are some of the tactics I have applied to my life to remove negative content that was making me feel good:

Social Media:

  • I don’t follow people that make me feel bad about myself

    • This can be someone I knew from college, a toxic friendship, or a wellness influencer – anything that makes me feel less than or that my situation just isn’t as good as theirs — is an unfollow.

  • Bloggers who are “super healthy” restrictive eaters

    • Nothing against them but that content isn’t healthy for me and it makes me start questioning what I am eating and I don’t need that — I want Recovery :)

  • Skinny models or photos posted with beauty/body ideals that aren’t aligned with what I want to believe in

    • I am working towards believing in beauty standards that are more realistic and accepting of all body shapes and sizes

    • Therefore models, especially VS models or bathing suit company models, are not the types of beauty ideals I want pushed upon me

  • Any accounts that I have found to be triggering, crude, or inappropriate

    • Sometimes these don’t even make sense but if the content feels triggering, gross or cruel in some way, it isn’t something I wan to be exposed to

Media/News:

  • I don’t follow any news outlets on social media and am not subscribed to any of their email marketing lists

    • I don’t want information pushed upon, rather I want to go to the websites and choose what I want to read

    • I pick the articles that I want to be reading

  • I don’t read the news every day

    • I know some people might find this irresponsible but my first priority is to take care of myself and A LOT of what is in the news is triggering and upsetting for me, so I choose to protect myself and not read this content every day

    • I will read the headlines every other day to be aware of developments, and then I will choose which stories look interesting to me

    • I listen to the NPR Up First podcast frequently because I find that way of consuming the news better for me.

  • Read more books & magazines

    • I have been going back to reading hard copy books and magazines because I am tired of how much of my time and attention can get hijacked by advertisements or various things popping up online

    • When I read a magazine article, I can sit and read the magazine article in peace and then move on and do something else without finding myself down an internet rabbit hole two hours later

    • I have a New Yorker subscription which I love — that is my favorite form of reading interesting, well-written articles

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.