Different, Not Less — Kristina Andrea

Kristina Andrea’s safe place is a coffee shop playing the song “You Can’t Rush Your Healing” by Trevor Hall.

You can’t rush your healing. Darkness has its teachings. Love is never leaving. You can’t rush your healing.

Along with coffee and music, yoga has been a saving grace for Kristina Andrea. When she began to fall into some unhealthy habits, Kristina Andrea turned to yoga for relief.

“I developed a bond with relaxation and finding peace for an hour a day,” she says.

Kristina Andrea learned to be present after undertaking yoga. Presence is often hard to obtain when one is dealing with depression and anxiety.

“I learned to sit still for an hour a day, appreciate my time on the mat, self-discipline, new routine habits, and how to express gratitude with a new mindset.”

She knows that some people may question yoga as a sport, but she urges everyone to give it a try. “It’s a sport for the mind,” she says.

Although she is in a better place now, her mental health wasn’t always an easy thing to deal with.

“It took me over five years to find the perfect combination of medications, therapy, and routine to finally start feeling okay,” Kristina Andrea admits. “Without it, I probably would not be alive.”

She didn’t always exude this confidence about her mental health, however. During her first semester in college, she was taking a psychology class that was discussing mental health. A classmate made, what she calls, a “nasty comment toward those suffering from mental illnesses.” Because she wasn’t in a good place mental health wise, she remembers having to get up and leave the classroom and admits she broke down.

“This was the first time I remembered someone commenting and stigmatizing mental health and those who suffer,” she says. “Although it was not directed at me, I definitely felt pain in my heart.”

Many people dealing with mental illnesses know this pain all too well. This is why Kristina Andrea insists in speaking up and making a difference. She wants everyone to know that “a diagnosis doesn’t change you.” It’s difficult, she says, but “there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Kristina Andrea credits medication for helping her situational outlook. This, however, isn’t the only thing she does to nurture her mental health on a daily basis. She has worked so hard to get where she is and urges others not to lose hope.

“One thing I really enjoy doing for myself every day is to take 2-3 minutes to just breathe, without music, without a cell phone, just me,” she says.

This mindfulness is an important step toward healing. But, that’s not all. She also credits therapy and a strong support system for helping her lead a healthy life.

“At first,” she admits, “it was very difficult. I hated talking about my feelings…but with time, there are no words to describe how it helps.”

Don’t be fooled, though. Self care doesn’t just happen one time and then you can forget about it. “I have to think about taking care of myself constantly,” Kristina Andrea says. “It’s really important to give yourself time to heal.”

Kristina Andrea urges others to reach out, because she says your school’s mental health counseling is worth checking out. “Don’t be afraid to reach out,” she says. “That’s always the hardest step.”

Five years ago, she says, she couldn’t imagine being where she is today.

You can’t rush your healing. Darkness has its teachings. Love is never leaving. You can’t rush your healing.

“It feels like I climbed mountains, drowned in rivers, and treaded through sticky mud to get where I am today,” Kristina Andrea says. “I finally feel okay.”

What does “normal” mean to Kristina Andrea?

“Normal? There is no such thing! My normal is completely different than your normal!”

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