Meet Lynn Liu
After receiving her MSc in Social Epidemiology from the University College London, Lynn wanted to pursue a career in helping people reach their wellness goals. But she didn’t know where to start. After she met her fiance Wilson, he encouraged her to create her own content. And so, Willynn, a community-based platform that uplifts others struggling in the mental health space, was born. Having majored in Social Policy and Public service as well as Public Health Policy she has a strong understanding regarding barriers that hinder someone from their wellness journey. All she wants is to empower and encourage people to live their best and well life.
*Trigger Warning: The article below may contain triggering and/or sensitive material. Eating disorder, anorexia, bulimia, and suicidal ideology are some topics mentioned within this article.
How a lack of self worth led to a life of empowerment
I grew up in an Asian-American household. I was the second child of two. Being upon that lifestyle and in that culture, you already have a lot of social pressures and a lot of expectations put on you.
On top of that, I did ballet dance for 13 years and that pressure increased. A lot of this comparison between body and body image really stuck with me ever since I was very young. There was this one time I was extremely sick; I had the flu or something along the lines. I dropped 10 pounds. Ten pounds to an 11 year old is a lot. I went back to ballet one day my instructor was like, “Oh my god, you’re so pretty.” So that validated this idea of what beauty was to me. Ever since then, I ended up developing an eating disorder, actually multiple eating disorders. It started from anorexia and then it led to bulimia. Then it all bundled up together with depression and anxiety.
That was mostly my pre-teen years and even into my early adulthood. When I went to graduate school, that depression and the eating disorder got a lot worse. During that time, I was by myself and I didn’t have any people that I loved and knew around me. I was sinking really deep into the abyss of darkness. A combined lack of self-value, self-worth, the eating disorder, and the depression just binded itself together and really swallowed me whole. I had suicidal ideology quite a bit and it manifested all of that anger into one bundle of pain and suffering.
As for where I am now in the healing process, it’s never really a done process because mental health is something that you have to constantly work at and constantly not letting yourself become swallowed into the negativity and the depression. It’s a constant day-to-day battle for me. What I learned to do is really embrace myself and acknowledge my self-worth with a lot of affirmations. A lot of it comes down to reminding myself that what I’m doing is the best that I can do. It’s not easy. Also surrounding myself with positive people and taking out negative people was something that I needed to learn because I’m a people pleaser and I wanted everybody to like me. Coming to this disbelief that I’m not going to satisfy everybody and appreciating that was very crucial. Also, working on my fitness by learning a martial art was very crucial for me because that was my ability to physically exert that negative energy and have it go out of my system physically rather than storing all the stress and anger inside. All those things really helped me.
I’m still learning and still growing. It starts with reaching out to people, letting people in, and telling them my story. I was at a point where I had no level of trust of anybody, anything. I didn’t know who I could turn to, but I just had to let somebody know because I was at this point where I was so lost and so destroyed that I couldn’t keep that all. There was a particular point when my state of mind was in such an unhealthy place that I knew I had to seek help. It was during grad school when I was studying abroad in London. I was by myself one day and was cutting vegetables with a knife and all I was thinking was, “Oh my gosh, if I wanted to end it, I could.”
I immediately threw my knife down and went to my blanket and started screaming like a crazy person because I felt this pain and suffocation that all I wanted to do was wrap myself up and scream. I knew that I shouldn’t manifest my anger and that if I stayed in my room and longer, a terrible decision would happen. So I dropped everything and left my room, still in my pajamas, to go for a walk. I allowed that walk to readjust my mindset and to try to remove myself from the situation that just occurred. After that day, I reached out to my graduate professor, talked to friends and family about my mental health, and let people know what was happening and stopped isolating myself.
I needed somebody to figure it out for me because when you’re living with anxiety and depression, the last thing you want to do is make decisions for yourself. I wanted somebody there to say, “Hey, I’m in your corner. Let me help you out.” So reaching out to my friends and family was really uplifting because they told me many affirmations and validations that I needed to hear because I could no longer tell myself any of those.
I think being the type of person I am, having gone through the pain that I’ve gone through, made me extremely empathetic. Having your own experience unfold in front of you really makes you want to empower other people even more. If I were to have to experience it again, I would. Only simply because it has allowed me to come to terms with mental health and be a huge advocate for other people to empower them. That’s where my passion project came from, because I know how stressful life can be. I know firsthand how damaging body image, self-worth and self esteem can be on somebody’s mentality. I studied epidemiology specifically for understanding social determinants of health. That idea of knowing the social injustices in your life, regardless of your race, ethnicity, and education; it’s very real and no one should have to experience that.
I wouldn’t want that to be a reason why people can’t be satisfied with their life, because I was in that position and I know how damaging it can be. But I also know that it’s temporary and that I can provide that support for other people and people can provide that support for me.
The point of my Willynn Wellness platform is to make sure that people are not only willing to try everything, but also willing to have a community of people to help them. It’s really about empowering and enabling people to be the best version of themselves and also meeting people where they are. It’s about riding out this journey together and having somebody in your corner constantly reminding you that you are enough and that you are capable and that you’re strong. It’s hearing that other people are also struggling. I don’t want people to think pain is fabricated and I don’t want people to feel like other people’s lives are so perfect. It’s about having this ability to say, “Hey, I fail, but I’m constantly learning and growing and taking this as an opportunity.”
The last piece of advice is to have grace with yourself and have grace for other people. There’s one thing to praise other people for their life story, but another thing to appreciate your own story. Understanding that you’re doing the best you can do. The positivity will end up radiating from you and then you’ll start to believe it.
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