FEELING BETTER: A FIELD GUIDE TO LIKING YOURSELF
Andrea Loewen is a writer, theatre-maker, and choreographer in Vancouver, BC.
In her spare time, she reads a lot of fantasy novels, ideally with her cat on her lap and a mug of tea in her hand.
Her first book, Feeling Better: A Field Guide to Liking Yourself is set to release in February of 2019.
Q&A WITH ANDREA
- What’s your background?
I grew up in Abbotsford, BC, a smaller suburb near Vancouver, and basically spent every moment wishing I lived in the city! When I went to UBC to study theatre and psychology, I didn’t turn back. I even enrolled in summer courses – partially so I could finish my double major as quickly as possible, and partially so that I could spend my summers in the city. After I finished school I spent a year floundering, unsure whether I should pursue theatre or psychology, half-heartedly dipping my toe into each. Then I got the opportunity to be an apprentice at Pacific Theatre, and lucky for me, while I was there, the publicist quit and I got hired into the role. I never left! I have felt so lucky to spend my days working to support the art form I love so dearly.
My mental health journey is a different story altogether. From as young as I can remember, I always felt on the outside, like I didn’t quite fit in and wasn’t quite accepted. There’s no real reason for this – I had a family that loved me and good friends, but I still felt like they would abandon me at any moment. As I got older, that feeling blossomed into full-fledged self-hatred and depression, but by then I had cemented an identity as “the happy one”, and couldn’t dare let the truth show.
If I wasn’t happy, what good was I? It wasn’t until university that the truth broke through and I started to get help, slowly piecing together practices, habits, and realizations from counsellors, books, pastors, and my psychology degree.
Other than that, I love to read (mostly science fiction, fantasy, and self-improvement), hang out with my cat, host parties, dance, and have recently become a full-fledged Vancouverite by actually going on hikes! (I even bought a pair of hiking boots.) I make a silly Instagram comic called Ridiculous Enthusiasm (@ridiculousenthusiasm) and write every day.
- What was your inspiration for writing this book?
It all started with me trying to heal myself. I had already done this work and developed practices to learn to like myself and get through my depression, and then I went ahead and got my heart broken and fell apart again. I wrote about the things I had done to heal the first time around to help me find healing a second time. Writing solidified them in my mind and heart and reminded me of what was at the root of it all: my intrinsic value as a person.
By doing that, I managed to not only piece my own heart back together but realize that this might all be useful for someone else. I recently read a quote saying that you should make the thing your younger self-needed. This is that book.
- When did you decide to start writing the book?
I started working on it, in those little fits and starts of healing, all the way back in 2010. Like many people with their first big writing project, it proceeded to sit in dusty corners of my hard drive for years on end. Every once in a while, I would hear a little voice in my head saying, “You still need to finish that book. You still need to share it”, and I would go back and tinker with it a little. It was in 2016 that I got real about it, working with an editor and pursuing publishing.
- Why did you choose to self-publish?
There are a lot of reasons to self-publish these days.
I liked the idea of being in control of the book and its message – not only in the book itself but in how it was being shared. I have a few friends who work in the publishing industry, and they affirmed that I would fair well as a self-publisher in this case. Of course, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have loved the backing of a publisher. There is such comfort in that! But ultimately, this book is my experience to share.
- Who and what inspires you?
Can I say everything and everyone? There is so much inspiration everywhere! To be more specific, though: my friends, family, and partner inspire me, not only with their accomplishments and talents but as models for how to live life.
I am inspired by people with strong faith and spiritual practices, and the awe and strength they find there.
I am inspired by pretty much any writer, but some current favourites are Miriam Toews, Brené Brown, Patrick Rothfuss, Maria Doria Russell, and Jonathan Safron Foer.
I am inspired by Karen Kain (my hero growing up), Solange Knowles, the creators of the Good Muslim Bad Muslim and Witch Please podcasts, and Celine Dion.
- Tell us more about your future projects.
I really want to start delving more into fiction writing. I have stories that bounce around in my head, but I am intimidated by narrative structure. (Despite having written a few plays, which is a world I am much more comfortable with.)
ABOUT FEELING BETTER: A FIELD GUIDE TO LIKING YOURSELF
I wrote this book because I needed it, and I wished I had it when I was younger and going through depression and self-hatred all on my own.
I felt there was a gap in the market for this type of story.
When I was working through my depression I found that books seemed to fall into two categories: personal experience told through a story structure or theoretical advice from an expert.
I am a practical person, so I wanted practical advice from someone who had actually been there. I wanted step-by-step guides and commentary on how this might or might not fit into my actual life, from the perspective of direct experience. I couldn’t find that anywhere.
I think this book really normalizes issues of self-loathing and depression and brings a very practical perspective that is relatively new.
Many people experience low self-esteem and depression, but not many people talk about it from a hands-on, here’s-how-you-deal-with-it-type viewpoint.
Also, it is a topic that a lot of people can easily relate to.
The more I open up and speak about my experiences, the more I hear about other people’s experiences that mirror my own. It is heartbreaking how many people seem to walk through life feeling like they are simply wrong or broken in some way.
A lot of authors (and people) experience the things I write about: the self-doubt, self-loathing, and depression. What I think makes me unique is the experience I have searching out practices, habits, and resources to work through those problems.
My background in psychology and writing, together with my more practical approach, gave me a unique perspective.
- How to dig yourself out from Self-Loathing to Self-Like and maybe even Self-Love with Andrea Loewen –
- [Podcast Episode] Overcoming Self-loathing and Depression – Uncomfortable podcast by Debbie Roche
“Insightful, authoritative and immensely curious, Andrea Loewen has always known how to get to the heart of any story.” -Mark Robins