Hi. I’m Andrea.
A writer and self-care advocate with a drive to heal and help others.
Born and raised in a mellow little retirement town on Vancouver Island, I was anything but mellow growing up. I loved to sing, dance, and write, and was quite obviously the comedian in my family. I wanted to have a good time; I wanted to have fun. And when I got into my teen years, that drive to always be having fun turned into a drive to party, which is what I did, until partying started to become a problem.
Underneath my penchant for a bottle of baby duck and cigarettes was intense depression and anxiety from unresolved trauma. Underneath that stack of issues?
A lack of self-love. I didn’t like myself, didn’t know how to, and didn’t think it was acceptable to do so.
The cherry on top of those issues was being introduced to cocaine at 19. Unfortunately, I loved it. The antidepressants I’d been on since I was 15 had nothing on the emotional boost a line gave me, and I was desperate to escape feeling shitty. So for 15 or so years, whenever I could get my hands on some coke, I’d do it.
But it didn’t work very well for me. My body and mind didn’t handle any sort of stimulant well (didn’t realize that until I stopped drinking, smoking, and doing drugs) which explained the heaps of embarrassing drunk and drugged out episodes, all of which compounded with trauma from my earlier life.
As a result, life got brutal.
I found myself living in a state of constant panic and self-hatred, which manifested into all sorts of projection methods, ie, me treating other people as terribly as I was treating myself. I couldn’t hold down a 9-5 job, and all my relationships were imploding. Meanwhile, it felt another shade of terrible to witness the absence of belief in my abilities, and to be so deeply afraid to face how much I hated myself.
There’s only so far you can go with that kind of lifestyle until you hit a brick wall, and luckily for me, I hit one before I ended up dead.
It was six am after a night of partying all night. The cocaine had run out, and so had the booze. What would I use to keep feeling good? I desperately wondered. I was absolutely terrified.
Slumped against the shower wall and bawling my eyes out, I wanted to fight with the truth – that I had been defeated – but something inside said No More. Even in my sleep-deprived and stimulant altered state, it was clear that my days of trying to escape my feelings by any means necessary had come to an end.
I realized I didn’t want to die; I wanted to live. And not just breathe in and out and exist on the planet, but get outside of living in survival mode.
I wanted to do something with my life I could be proud of. I wanted to heal myself, and I wanted to help other people heal as well.
Lot’s of changes happened after that. I started reading a lot of books, which helped convince me there were other ways to see myself than as a piece of shit. And yes, that is truly what I thought about myself for over 20 years, it was just buried beneath a lot of aggression and addiction.
I worked really hard at getting healthy (less meat, more plants; less drinking, more meditating) and I moved. (It helps to get away from the postal code your 2 drug dealers live and deliver in, and yes, that’s how easy it is to get drugs.)
I started getting to know myself, and figuring out who I really was underneath all the layers of addiction and self-hatred: What I liked, and didn’t like. And then I realized I’d been trying to be and act a certain way for over 20 years – a way I didn’t actually want to be.
I didn’t want to try to be cool. I didn’t want to try to fit in and be accepted by people I didn’t even want to be around. I just wanted to be me. So I stopped, and it was lonely for a while but it was also freeing, to stop trying so hard to be accepted.
The more I learned through getting to know myself again, reading books, and through the research I did, the more I realized there was a strong possibility the deficiencies I’d been beating myself up for my entire life were actually gifts.
I also realized I’d been actively seeking out relationships and approval from people who didn’t value those gifts – people who were deeply troubled in their own right.
The more I began to notice these things and believe positive thoughts about myself, the more I started to warm up to the idea that me being me was pretty freaking amazing, and that I didn’t need the approval of others to do so: Mind-blowing concepts for a girl who attached her self-worth to outside approval her entire life.
I also gave myself permission to do what I loved again after a 15-year hiatus: Write.
I wrote and wrote and wrote – some sub-par stuff, some stuff that should probably be deleted from the blog (Insight: never write with a closed heart), and some pretty freaking spectacular stuff – until I got published in a magazine, became a Huffington Post blogger and a featured author in a literary anthology. Let me tell you – when that book arrived in my PO box, I cried some seriously joyful tears.
And I started to do things differently than I’d always done them. I started to put my mental and physical health at the forefront of everything I did. I gave myself permission to be assertive when people tested my boundaries, and I used my newly formed self of self to stand by my right to be well.
This was challenging: people really don’t like it when you don’t do what they want you to do. But I perservered.
I opened my mind to the idea that there was more to life than fancy vacations and cars and cosmetics and stuff and things, while also realizing, I really liked fancy vacations and cars and cosmetics and stuff and things but that there was no connection between me pining over stuff I didn’t have all the time and me being happy and healthy.
And I opened my heart to the fact that I was human, deciding that the destination would be to accept all that came with being human: the ugly and the pretty; the fuck ups and the fuck yeah’s; the shitty and the holy shit am I ever grateful right now’s.
Job wise, I convinced myself I wasn’t a terrible person because I loathed working 9-5 jobs. I also noticed a common theme in the positions I worked: my employers were very often misogynist’s who paid shitty wages, in industries way outside what my skill set was. They would hire me for what they might be able to get out of me down the road, ie writing for cheap.
I never wanted to be at those jobs. There was always the pull to do something else tapping me on the shoulder. So after quitting my final gig working for a dude who was a clone of all the dudes before him (Insight: Lessons keep coming until you learn them) I went through the shocking process of realizing and accepting that my employers weren’t the only ones who didn’t value me as a human being: there were many ways in which I didn’t myself, either.
So I commited to begin practicing Maitri, Ie, being kind to myself. Amidst all the back stepping and blunders and screw-ups, I took the time to acknowledge my humaness, breathe, and be loving. And when others couldn’t offer me kindness, I become my own Advocate: The Advocate of Andrea.
I took some time to figure out and be guided by my passions. I realized I loved to learn (obsessed with it) and convinced myself that was a really good thing. And I loved to write – had since childhood – so I started to focus on learning how to heal myself and writing about what I learned while doing so.
I began to actively seek out the lesson in every Are you kidding me?! moment I experienced, and write about it. With every fight with my hubby; every less-than-stellar interaction with a family member, employer, or client; every moment of impatience that prodded me to freak out about something or at someone, I sifted out the lesson, and wrote about it.
Because I wanted to learn from the painful moments, not only so I could feel better but so I could get better.
I contemplated what occurred, learned from it, and wrote about it. And in the process, I started looking at life differently. I stopped letting the disappointments consume me and started seeing them as necessary. I rose up when I fell down, instead of making a home in my mistakes with a bottle of cheap merlot and some smokes. And without the fog of escape, I was able to notice fear when it came about, rather than letting it consume me and make decisions for me.
Life got lighter still, and I became the person I’d always been below the surface of trauma and addiction: A woman with self-love and endless empathy, driven to be of service through my writing.
The culmination of my journey so far is this blog you’re visiting right now, and a book I’m working on which will share my story: about how a girl with many talents, abilities, and opportunities became an addict and then recovered without medical intervention.
I also offer writing consulting services. This came about quite organically: a few people asked me to tighten up their emails, ie, tweak them and make them flow better. They were really happy with the results, so I turned it into a side business, although, it’s turning into a bit more than that lately. (I’m gonna do it….#grateful 😂)
And then there’s my workbook. I’m very excited about this beautiful little thing I’m creating because it answers the question many readers have asked me over the past few years, “How did you get better?”
The workbook (title TBD) is going to contain the tools I used to establish the self-esteem and self-love I needed to recover; Tools I continue to use every day to handle the stressors of being human.
To say I’m so excited to share it with you when it’s done is an understatement!
I’m really grateful that you’ve taken the time to visit and read this far, and I look forward to connecting with you! That said, my body and mind are in their happy place when I don’t make social media my top priority.
My way of communicating with my readers is through twice a month-ish emails. I share insights, self-care and wellness resources, and new content. Plus, subscribers get my One Minute Meditation Guide, made for wellness seekers with time-constraints, for free.
Again, thank you for taking the time to visit. I hope to connect with you soon! Feel free to hit reply on any email I send your way.