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

To stay updated with all the videos I release, make sure to subscribe! Thanks for watching friends 🙂 xoxo

3 Tips to Combat Difficult Body Image Moments

I made a YouTube video! 🎥✨ I want to share things that have helped me overcome anxiety, depression, and my eating disorder in a way that can be more direct, engaging, and effective. The power of video is undeniable so I decided to give it a shot.

In my first video I share three things I do to help me turn things around when I’m having a difficult body image day. I hope you find them helpful, and I would love to hear what helps you when you’re struggling with negative thoughts or difficult body image moments. I could use all the help I can get too so please share in the comments! 💖

You can find my brand new YouTube channel here! If you want to stay up to date on all the new videos I add make sure to subscribe. I am planning on releasing one new video a week that shares helpful mental health and feel good tips 🙂 Hope you’re having a lovely day! xoxo LG

How Reading Fiction Helped me with Recovery

Reading Fiction and Eating Disorder Recovery

A big part of recovery for me was finding activities that I enjoyed doing simply for pleasure on my free time. Hobbies that had nothing to do with weight loss, food, dieting or appearance. It was difficult at first – because I had been so focused on productivity, improvement and perfection – but with time I was able to find a few things that I did purely for joy and relaxation.

An important hobby that helped me with recovery and my overall happiness was: reading fiction novels. Reading simply to get lost in a good story. Prior to this, I was reading non-fiction, self-help or diet books, constantly trying to learn or find some sort of hack to make my life better.  

Fiction helped me escape and take a break.

There was also a very healthy element to reading stories where I couldn’t see what the people looked like. I wasn’t constantly being bombarded by unhealthy body image standards but instead being able to imagine and create my own make believe world. It’s an unfortunate truth that we don’t have inclusive messaging within the media, so reading helped me get away from all of that. It was a gift that helped me tremendously during recovery.

Here are some of my favorite fiction books that I read during this time. Some of these books are light-hearted women focused novels, some are more dramatic and serious, some are fantasy sci-fi novels, but they were all chosen from a place of wanting to read a fun, pleasurable story that completely transported me. If you’re looking for a great read, I am sure you will find something good in this list! Here they are:

Dune by Frank Herbert

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

The Power by Naomi Alderman

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker

This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

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.

The Gifts of Recovery

Rumi Quote

We tend to look at disorder and mental health issues as a negative thing. As something we would never wish upon anyone because of the suffering that it causes. And yes, that is true. In the midst of these issues it involves pain, isolation, and confusion. But I think there is something important to be said as to what you gain when you come out on the other side.

There are incredible gifts that come with recovery.

As I work through this process I continue to be struck with how grateful I am for what I am learning. You develop immense strength and fortitude, and gain a depth and understanding of yourself that most people don’t have to look at.

Recovery also requires a lot of courage. I don’t think most people understand the courage it takes to move through an eating disorder or any addictive behavior. We use these things as coping mechanisms for a reason and it is terrifying to begin to let them go and have faith that there is another way. 

I have come to realize that this path is such a huge part of who I am and how I have developed as a person. My life path and what I am interested in completely shifted because of it, and it has affected everything I have done since it came in and took over my life.

I have had to develop many skills to pull myself out of this and rewire negative habits that weren’t serving me. Although it has been very hard at times, I am beyond grateful that I have learned these tools.

It has given me such a fortitude and belief that I can handle anything that comes my way and will be ok no matter what happens.

Without difficulties and hardships how can we grow? I had one therapist who would continue to tell me to choose life when things got rough because on the other side she said my life would be much fuller.

Here are some of the gifts of recovery I have experienced along this path:

-       Self-awareness

-       Introspection

-       Emotional management

-       Mindfulness

-       Meditation

-       Depth and understanding of oneself

-       Insight into who you are and what is important to you

-       Spiritual practice

-       Self-respect

-       Strength of character

-       Individuality and thinking for oneself

-       Larger appreciation for life

-       Peace of mind

If you are in the midst of hard times or a difficult struggle, I hope this gives you hope to stay the course. Believe that things will get better – there truly are gifts in the healing.

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.

My Experience with Medication

Experience with Medication

The decision to take medication is deeply personal and something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Each person’s situation is unique and you need to do what is best for you. All I can speak about is my experience with it and what it has done for me, so that is what I am going to share here.

If you are on the fence about talking to a medical professional, psychiatrist, or you have already been prescribed some medication and not sure what to do – I hope you find this information helpful.

I also wanted to mention here that I am not going to name the specific medication or dosage that I am taking as I don’t think that information is helpful. What works best for me might not be the appropriate thing for you. What is best is that you speak to a mental health professional and get the right diagnosis for you.

Pre-medication days:

Before I started taking medication I had some really rough years, and the months right before I started taking medication were no different.

I didn’t feel safe in myself and didn’t know when a big storm of emotion would come in and just take me down. Instead of feeling like a strong house built on a solid foundation I felt like a wobbly house built out of straw. I would have times where I knew wasn’t feeling stable and was extra sensitive and then one comment or one little thing would happen that would be the trigger to completely take me down. It was scary and I felt like I was always walking on egg-shells with myself.

I would get worried when I had been doing well for an extended period of time because I knew that was when the storms would come. I would be crying all day and as much as I wanted to snap out of it I couldn’t pull myself out of it. I would feel exhausted afterwards, like my body had gone through something huge and was spit out on the other side.

When I started having these episodes more frequently and when being sad and pessimistic started to become my constant, my therapist asked if I would be open to learning more about medication and seeing whether it could help me.

Deciding to take medication:

When my therapist first asked if I would be open to it, I didn’t know how I felt about it. I was a little apprehensive because I didn’t know much about it. No one in my family took medication or knew anything about it, and no one around me spoke openly about medication. But one thing I knew was that I trusted and felt safe around my therapist and I wanted to feel better.

The first step in my journey to start taking medication was that my therapist referred me to a psychiatrist that she trusted. She gave me her information and assured me that I wouldn’t have to take any medication if I didn’t feel comfortable with it but that it didn’t hurt anything to speak with someone and get their opinion.

I set up the appointment and was nervous because I had no idea what to expect but kept telling myself to remain open-minded.

I went to the appointment and had a very positive experience and felt so understood. When I described the emotions and episodes I’d had she would hear what I was saying and explain them to me in a more in depth way. She could describe all of them and tell me what they were, it was extremely reassuring.  For the first time I was understanding what was going on with me instead of feeling so in the dark about all of it. 

She also asked me a lot of questions about my health and all the various areas of my life. I really appreciated the comprehensive look she took as to what was going on in my life instead of simply just saying – “yeah, you’re anxious take this.” She was extremely thorough and wanted to do some blood tests on me because some of my vitals were low and my periods were very irregular.

At the end of the session she told me what her diagnosis was and said that she did recommend that I take medication. She went over the medication she was prescribing and suggested I speak with my therapist about it and then to let her know what I decided.

The next day I had my appointment with my therapist and we discussed everything and I decided to move forward with taking the medication. The main deciding factors for me were:

  • I had nothing to lose and so much to gain. There was no harm of testing this out. I would take it slowly and see how it made me feel, and if it didn’t work for me I could stop, but if it really helped me this would be huge.

  • I had a strong mental health support team around me that would be checking in on me regularly and that made me feel really safe in moving forward with this decision. I did not feel alone.

Mental Health Medication

The effect the medication had on me:

I started off with a very low dose and took it slowly from there. I had a check in with the psychiatrist every 3-4 weeks to see how I was doing and continued to see my therapist every week. At the very beginning I had a few small headaches with the medication but it wasn’t anything intolerable. Once my body adjusted to the medication the headaches went away.

At every check in the psychiatrist would see how I was doing and we would adjust the dosage if needed; I would ask her any questions I had; she would check in on how my anxiety levels were and what else was going on in my life.

The whole process of taking the medication was honestly very smooth for me. I did not have any strong reactions to it and the first medication that I started taking worked well for me. I did not have to try out a few different ones or mess around with various amounts of dosages, I luckily found my sweet spot pretty quickly.

The two things that I did notice started to really affect me once I was on the medication were:

Coffee and Alcohol

I had always been a coffee drinker and never felt much of an affect from it, but once I started taking the medication I would feel on edge and jittery when I drank coffee. And if I drank any coffee after 2pm in the afternoon I couldn’t sleep. It felt like the coffee was much stronger in my system once I started taking the medication.

Alcohol also hit me much harder. I remember one night that I went out to dinner with some friends and had only one glass of wine and was almost passed out on the table. I felt so dizzy and off I couldn’t drive home. It was scary and I felt completely wonky in a way that I had never felt from drinking such a small amount of wine.

I asked the psychiatrist about these things and she told me that alcohol and weed (even though I don’t smoke) were two things I should not have while taking this medication because they interfere with it and basically cancel it out. So all the work I am doing to take this medication to help me feel better just goes to waste.

And with the coffee she said some people are more sensitive and if coffee wasn’t working for me or making me feel well to switch to something gentler and to not have caffeine in the afternoon. That is why I now drink matcha and haven’t touched coffee or alcohol in about three months!  

How I am feeling now:

I am feeling so much better and have had a very positive and smooth experience with the medication.

Here are some of the biggest positive effects it has had on me:

  • It helped me quiet my inner voice of self-doubt, self-sabotage, criticism, over-thinking, indecisiveness, freak out, anxiety — so that I can now function in the world in an empowered way.

  • It has helped me turn down all of that negative noise and not let those things sabotage me. It feels like those things are starting to slide down my back or dissolve. They don’t get in the way or hold me back from doing anything I want to do anymore.

  • I feel stronger and more confident in myself. I am able to do the things I want to do and live my  life the way I want to live it and just say fuck it to anything else.

  • I am not afraid to stand up for myself and clearly say what I believe in and be unapologetic about myself and my needs.

  • I don’t let little things bother me as much and I can now shrug them off and let them go.

  • I don’t care what other people think about me anywhere near as much.

  • I know how to take care of myself better, I feel stronger, and am happier now because I am going after and doing the things that I want to be doing.

This isn’t to say that I don’t have some emotional or sad days now but I don’t get as low and hopeless as I used to before. I can pull myself out of it and be more moderate about it instead of catastrophizing things the way I used to before.

The biggest thing it has brought me is the safety I now feel within myself and the ability to fully and unapologetically be myself instead of overthinking and doubting everything.

I hope this was helpful for some people. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to me and ask – I am happy to help and share in a safe way. Wishing everyone happier and brighter days!

2019 Musings

2019 Musings - The Original LG

Happy 2019! With the start of a new year I am always drawn to reflection. I reflect on what I am grateful for from the past year and what I want to focus on for the year ahead.

Over the years I have moved away from making specific resolutions because I have felt that it prevents me from being in the moment, enjoying where I am at in my journey now, and doesn’t allow me to leave space for the possibilities that present themselves to me along the way. However, I still want to take time to reflect on and identify what I want to cultivate for the year ahead.

That is why this year I want to set an intention instead of making specific goals. A powerful way of remembering your intention is to choose a word that represents it so you can continue to refer back to your intention throughout the year.

I recently read this quote from Mama Medicine and was so moved by it. I knew right away that this was the guiding light I needed:

The Original LG 2019 Quote

That quote made everything seem so simple to me. It made all of the things that I stress or worry about dissolve by reminding me of what really matters. And I felt like I could apply it to every area of my life. Truly any area with stress, suffering, or negativity — all I have to do is remember this quote and it immediately brings what really matters into the light.

I particularly found these words so powerful when thinking about disordered eating and the path to recovery.

When you are trapped in eating disorder mentality you are not coming from a place of love for yourself — you are coming from a place of fear. Fear that you are not enough the way you are, fear that things are not ok, fear of your body, fear and judgment of yourself, distrust of yourself, insecurity, self-loathing — whatever it is, it can all be traced back to fear.

This quote made it crystal clear to me that the path to healing is through love. Love brings about the power of healing and we are all capable of love. As long as we stay connected and true to love, we are on our way to healing and building a more peaceful and content life.

So as you have probably already guessed:

The word I choose for 2019 is LOVE

What is your word for 2019? Whatever it is — I hope it brings you joy and fulfillment this next year.

May we be guided by love for ourselves, love for all sentient beings, and love for this planet we call home.

Wishing everyone a happy & bright 2019!

xx

LG

The Power of Sharing

The Power of Sharing

I wanted to say thank you to everyone who has read my blog and started following my journey this year. In the past I had been so afraid to tell anyone about my issues or share what I was going through. I kept trying to keep it locked up inside which made me feel stifled and frustrated.

I first started writing this blog in secret – only telling my mom and cousin about it. Slowly my confidence and readership started growing, and I began to feel a sense of joy in writing.

I never imagined the healing that writing about my eating disorder and mental health struggles would bring me. Being honest and expressing my thoughts has been extremely cathartic and gratifying. I have a better understanding of who I am and what I am capable of, I can speak up for myself and set appropriate boundaries, and have improved difficult relationships from my past by being in a better place myself.

If you have anything you’re ashamed of or scared to share, try finding ways of letting it out and sharing in a safe way. Whether that is journaling, finding a mental health professional you can speak with, or confiding in someone that you know truly loves you, do it.

The way to break these stigmas is to be able to talk about them openly, and the power that sharing brings you is incredible. Just make sure it is with someone who is worthy of hearing your story.

Thank you to all of you who have been open, supportive and generous for listening to my story.

I am going to be starting a series where I allow people to share their ED stories here on my blog. You can share your name or simply share your initials with your story, the way I did at first with LG 🙂 More details soon to come! 

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to everyone!

xx

LG