A mental disorder is like an unhealthy relationship.
You have to love yourself enough to know that you deserve better.
Otherwise, you’re depriving yourself of living a full, abundant life.
But it’s not easy.
Admitting that you or someone you know is struggling with an eating or mental disorder is scary.
That’s why, for this 5-Minute Friday, I brought back a powerful conversation I had with Lindsey Stirling where she shared her journey to overcome her eating disorder.
Linsey Stirling is an American violinist, dancer, performance artist, and composer. She presents choreographed violin performances, both live and in music videos found on her YouTube channel, which has over 11 million subscribers.
Lindsey’s memoir The Only Pirate At The Party is a New York Times bestseller. She has been named in Forbes magazine’s 30 Under 30 In Music: The Class Of 2015 and was a quarter-finalist in America’s Got Talent Season 5.
Lindsey says that she combatted her disordered thinking with logic and “coached” her mom on the best ways to communicate with her.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental disorder, help is available.
Learn more ways that Lindsey learned to retrain her brain and helped the people around her know how to support her journey to overcome her eating disorder in Episode 717.
Lewis Howes: This is 5-Minute Friday!!
Welcome, everyone, to this episode. I’m super excited! Lindsey Stirling is our guest today, and I’m super pumped to bring her on! She’s one of the biggest artist development breakthrough stories in recent years.
A classically trained violinist, she has entered a futuristic world of electronic big beats and animation, leaping through the music industry with over 7,5 million YouTube subscribers, over a billion views on her channel, Billboard chart-topping hits and sold out tours world-wide, this woman is sensational!
And I’m super fortunate that I got to spend some time with her, and I’m so pumped of what she shares.
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Lewis Howes: When did you realise that, “Okay, there’s something I need to let go of, or I need to move past this challenge,” or this struggle you were facing? When did you realise it was an issue for you and it was hurting as opposed to helping you?
Lindsey Stirling: Yeah, gosh! I was probably twenty-three. It came to my realisation when I looked at the relationships I had, and I’ve always been very much a people person and relationships have been huge for me, and especially my sister. She’s been my best friend, growing up.
We shared a room together, and we laughed together so much and one day I realised and I looked over at her – she was studying, we were room mates in college – she was studying on her bed, across the room form me and I just looked at her and I was, like, “She’s a stranger to me. I don’t know her any more.”
And it was because I had become so self-consumed, like my thoughts had been completely controlled by my eating disorder, and slowly I just became this kind of a shell of the person I used to be, where all I could think about was myself and my worries and what food is in this room and who’s here, who’s skinnier than me.
Those were the thoughts that had kind of slowly crept in and become normal in my mind. They started very subtly in high school, and then that became all I thought about and all I cared about, and it became all I talked about.
And so it’s like I just became this very one-dimensional person, and you hear a lot that you can’t love someone else until you first love yourself, and I learned that first hand. I didn’t really love anybody else, I didn’t really care about anybody else, because I was consumed by these selfish thoughts of worrying about myself.
And then, also, talking to my mom on the phone, my mom kept saying, “I think there’s something wrong,” you know, mom’s know everything. They notice and they have this sixth sense, and I kept saying, “No, I’m fine, I’m just eating healthy.”
And then, one day, I just kind of confided in her, like, “I cry for no reason. I can’t get out of bed in the morning.” And she said, “The thoughts you’re thinking aren’t normal, Lindsey.” And my mom had dealt with depression her whole life. My older sister dealt with depression and she explained to me, like, “What you’re talking about is depression.”
And that just really took me aback, like, “That’s not my battle. That was your battle, that was Jennifer’s battle, that’s not what I, like, I’m not depressed.” But then I just started to realise, I started to recognise that this isn’t the way I was.
I was ready to fight to be happy again, because I was so miserable. I think it was the memory that I wasn’t always this way, finally woke me up and I was, like, “If I was once different, I can get back to that.”
Lewis Howes: Yeah, of course!
Lindsey Stirling: And I realised I needed to work for it, though. It wasn’t where I was.
Lewis Howes: Flip a switch right away and be back to normal.
Lindsey Stirling: Yeah, right.
Lewis Howes: And so, what did you start to do? Did you create a game plan for yourself where you were, like, “Okay I need my mom to keep me accountable. I want my friends to call me out on this,” or what?
Lindsey Stirling: It all started with, at first, I kind of researched a little bit. I wanted to be aware, when I started to finally admit to myself – because my mom was, like, “You think about food all the time, that’s not normal. It’s all leading up…”
I was told I have anorexia, and I was, like, “No, that’s such a terrible word! I don’t want to believe I have that.” But I started researching about it and I went to therapy, I went to group therapy and I had an individual counsellor and then I did let my mom help keep me accountable.
I kind of gave her that, because I didn’t tell anybody else. It’s a very scary thing to admit, first of all to yourself, then to other people. And so my mom was my confidant and I kind of taught her the things that were good to say to me, because when she’d see me, if I was gaining weight, she would say, “You look really good!” and, to me, that was like, “Oh no! I’m gaining weight!”
And so, I coached my mom on, “These are appropriate things to say. This is a good way to comfort me, this is not. But, also, I started listening to the voices in my head and realised that I was so mean to myself. I was really mean to myself.
So I kind of started to divide – this sounds weird – divide my personality. There was the eating disorder side of my brain, and there was Lindsey. And Lindsey had become crushed and covered with this eating disorder side, and so I had to work on the muscle of Lindsey again.
And so I would talk to my brain, when it would tell me really mean things about myself, like, “You’re ugly,” or, “You’re worthless because you ate that cookie.” I would then talk to it and combat it by logic. Just, actually talking reason, and your mind can’t argue with reason.
And so, I became stronger, and this eating disorder side of my brain, it’s still there. It’s extremely small, though, and it doesn’t come up very often. When it does start to come up, like when I get extra stressed, or when I start to feel out of control, it tries to come back and ‘comfort’ me in it’s unhealthy way.
It’s like an unhealthy relationship. But I know how to talk to it, now, and I know how to tell it to go away. And I feel like I live a very normal, happy life, I’m back to the Lindsey that I want to be, and as long as I continue to work at it, I will stay there.
Lewis Howes: You know, what I think was important that you said is that you coached your mom on how she can communicate with you. And if you don’t support the person by telling them what you need, and you just expect them to figure it out, it’s really challenging.
Lindsey Stirling: Yeah, because it’s such a delicate issue when someone’s going through any sort of metal disorder, whether it’s depression or self harm. And someone who hasn’t gone through it, it’s impossible for them to know the triggers.
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Lewis Howes: Hey, guys! If you enjoyed this inspirational clip from a past episode of the show, then you’ll love the free book I’m giving away right now. It’s called The Millionaire Morning. It includes some of my best tips for starting off your day with a millionaire mindset. Get your free copy at themillionairemorning.com and just pay shipping.
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