To my readers at ASVH: I’m so excited to be joining a community of women supporting women. I wrote this blog with the intention of connecting with others and creating a sense of validation for very human experiences. We often shame ourselves for these very human experiences and suffer in isolation. We don’t realize how many others are experiencing the same themes in different ways. I am saying all of this because as a therapist, the majority of my clients feel crazy for speaking their truth when unbeknownst to them, an entire community could identify with their struggles. They could connect over their ups and downs, alleviate feelings of loneliness, and share what’s helped them throughout their journeys. If only we knew the power of our stories and how they truly help normalize distress. I hope you enjoy this read and stay tuned as I continue aiming to shine this truth and dispel the idea that we should suffer in silence.
Nora Rahimian (creative consultant and founder of #CultureFix) and Lillian Farzan speaking on mental wellness in the music industry. Photo by @kyleimhof
I’ve been working in the field of mental health for a few years now. While there doesn’t seem to be a dull moment for a pre-licensed therapist in Los Angeles, I have always sought after doing more than solely seeing clients throughout the week. I have imagined participating in speaking engagements, writing blogs, and connecting with a broader audience overall–a large contrast from the private individual sessions that fill up most of my workweek. As an advocate and young woman of Color, I’ve been cozying up to the idea that, like my clients, there are plenty of individuals that could find comfort and a sense of normalcy through my shared perspective. With all of this being said, I am so excited to finally share and connect.
A little more about my history and how this all came to be–most of my clinical experience has comprised of work with survivors of sexual trauma, young girls and women, and people identifying as LGBTQ+. My passion of advocating for minoritized communities stems from my identity as a second generation, daughter of Jewish and Iranian immigrants. My parents left Iran for college around ‘79 and unbeknownst to them, would never return to their war-torn home. Due to my own intersectionality, I grew up with an acute awareness of oppression, discrimination, and inequity in both overt and covert forms.
With all of this history and fuel, I decided to create LoveByLill to begin connecting outside of my therapy office. I launched the site soon after my dear friend, Nora Rahimian—entrepreneurial queen, creative consultant, and founder of #CultureFix–invited me to join her for a conversation on self-care and mental wellness as it pertains to the music industry. #WomenCrush Music, an organization that aims to give more platforms to women in music, set the context. Interestingly enough though, some of the topics we covered seem to come up with every single one of my clients–regardless of their occupation, race, gender, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status.
Self-Care is one of these topics: These days in our society, I find that people’s lives seem fast-paced and overly compared to the highlight reels of others. Burnout seems to come easy, especially considering our lovely news cycle and current, “administration.” To sum it up–life can already be difficult! And buffers ought to be set in place to shake up your work-flow, responsibilities, and obligations. I discuss self-care as a concept based on what I want to do vs. what I should be doing. It’s incredibly important to carve out time to feed your soul with activities that you may lose yourself in–things you take part in solely because they spark you joy. Clients, and even myself at times, may often feel guilty taking part in this “me time,” without realizing how beneficial self-care is for not only them, but their loved ones and occupations as an indirect result. I often remind my clients that they may not have much quality output without any considerable input.
Nora also asked me about ways to stay grounded amidst times of insecurity and uncertainty in the music industry. Regardless of industry, I believe that in times of transition more than ever, there is great power in sticking to your values, rituals, or reminders of what makes you you. Whether you feel grounded in religion, spirituality, hiking, salsa dancing–whatever that thing may be for you–having some semblance of inward stability, familiarity, or mastery over something can be greatly comforting in a time where everything else may feel inconsistent. I like to emphasize the value in this practice especially when clients are thrown by what they feel they should be doing due to what they believe others are doing. It is normal to become distracted by the journeys – or Instagram posts - of others.
One of the last topics we spoke on, and perhaps the most universal, was regarding social support and, in Nora’s words, dispelling “this false narrative that women don’t support each other.” This is important so let me say it loud for the people in the back: I believe that social support is one of the most powerful predictors of mental and physical wellness. Of course, good times and laughter are great, but there is a lot to be said about simply feeling seen and embraced by others in your most natural state (#nofilter). I mean come on–these days–you know that’s priceless. Entering a space in which you can come as you are–regardless of your emotional state, your hair, legs shaved or not, is invaluable. This is particularly true in a time and place where individuals find themselves to be code-switching frequently throughout their day. While switching masks can be quite exhausting, having a community with whom you can just be is a special sort of refuge. Experiencing validation for our most authentic selves can largely impact our happiness and the way we come to view ourselves. In addition to what it does for you alone, I find that art and collaboration can emerge from this place of comfort, vulnerability, and common understanding.
All in all, my first speaking engagement as an independent mental health specialist was quite thrilling. I can’t wait for opportunities to come and for sharing more and more authentic content.
Follow Lillian's journey on Instagram and check out her website.