Lindsey Stirling brought the passion and exuberance of her violin performances to a conversation yesterday about her struggles with anorexia and depression.
Stirling sat down with Dr. Harold Koplewicz during National Eating Disorders Week, for the 2018 Adam Jeffrey Katz Conversation, live streamed on Facebook.
With winning candor, the YouTube star shared details of what it felt like to be consumed by her eating disorder in college, and how that led to depression. She was so obsessed with food, with numbers, with weight, she said, that she lost sight of everything else.
“I’d walk into a party with friends and I couldn’t focus on people and conversations,” Stirling recalled. “I could only focus on, My gosh, there’s pizza! Avoid that! Who’s the skinniest girl in the room? Do I measure up? Wow, I don’t think I do! Constantly comparing. Constantly looking around. It’s exhausting, plus not having the calories to give you energy. It’s a recipe for depression.”
All the things that used to make her happy, she said, were suffocated by the need to fulfill this fixation. That included playing the violin.
“I weighed myself 15 times a day,” she said. “I had to see that number. It had to go down.”
Dr. Koplewicz asked her if she had a boyfriend during this period.
“It’s really hard to have a boyfriend when you’re anorexic,” she replied. “It’s a full-time job, and it’s hard to give yourself to relationships. I went on dates, but I couldn’t focus on what my date was saying, because he had taken me to Pizza Pie Café, and I remember thinking, how much will I have to run to get this off my body?”
Stirling also described the depression that eventually left her unable to get out of bed in the morning, and the steps it took to find her way out of it: therapy, reading books about it, retraining her brain to become, as she put it, “proactively positive,” instead of negative.
“You can’t just one day say, ‘I’m going to be happy today!’ ” she said. “It takes baby steps, getting help, more baby steps.” It takes time — in her case, about a year. But it worked for her, she said, and she wants others to know it can work for them. “By being proactively positive, your life will change.”