Amy Demone – Battling Anxiety and Growing Without 12 Steps

ep 42 Amy Demone


Amy is a virtual assistant turned marketing operations specialist that works with six figure coaches that want to take over the world… err, their industry. She’s also the founder and head mentor at Virtually FreeĀ®, which is the part of her business that helps current and wannabes virtual assistants grow a business that gives them the freedom and cash flow, that they deserve.

Amy Demone

Let’s talk about what really happens when you’re building a business shall we? This channel is for you if you’re looking for real and raw tips and tricks on what it takes to build a business online. We’ll cover marketing, mindset and all the challenges in between.


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And with me today is Amy Demone with the brand virtually free. And probably by the time this episode is released my episode on her podcast will be out already is she’s been sober since March 17 2011. And for those of you that haven’t put it together, March 17 2011 was St. Patrick’s Day. And Amy I don’t know if you know this or not, but that is a day pretty notorious with drinking. So what what made you get sober on the day that is the most justifiable day ever to drink?
Yeah, so I mean, in fairness, I technically I guess it would have been night time I would say the 17th because I was in Australia when it happened. So I was like, Oh, I would have been the 17th here. But I am so So great question. And it’s funny because we’re going to just dive right in because this is going to get real intense real fast. So March 16, I was living in Perth, Australia and I was working at a legal happy endings joint if you will, I forget what it was actually called. It was more like a private strip club slash sexual kind of thing that was going on. And I was working as a What do we call ourselves I can’t even remember a stripper I guess it would have been. And basically the setup was it was individual rooms and you could go in you pick a girl, and then they either go depending on what you purchased you either went in and had a private dance or you had a happy ending. In Australia for everyone that doesn’t know this. prostitution and all that fun stuff is legal. And if there are certain regulations that needs to be filled out, prostitution needs to be done in a house, the stuff that I was doing was able to be in a commercial. It was like right down in the seedy area of the city. And I had a man come in and choose me, which was great at the time, because that meant more money. And I was gearing up to leave that job. I was not staying in Australia. This was the end of my drug use. I ended up working for a bike gang. I was in the middle of like some pretty intense conflict with a friend of mine. And her she kind of got caught up in that whole game, if you will. And I had a man come in and he actually I haven’t like talked about this for a really long time, but I’m okay. But I had a man come in and he picked me and we were in the room and it was he chose a happy ending I guess you would call it saw it the more high end version. And he I was ending I was like I’m going to get the most amount of money out of this as I can. And I have learned later that this is actually quite common in the prostitute kind of sex work area when it comes to trauma and how they verbally and physically and all that fun stuff abuse you
fun stuff. Sorry. You know what I mean? But not exactly
fun but yeah, not fun, maybe just
all stuff, all that stuff. I always try to make it not as intense because you know compartmentalization and all that fun stuff. I just keep saying all that fun stuff. But anyways, so he came in and he was the the, the entire time he was just telling me you shouldn’t be here. You are so Much better than this, you’re smart. You’re like, You’re beautiful. You’re fantastic. You’re so much better than this. And this is a very common form of us. I forget what my therapist called it sexual, or sexual verbal assault or something like that. So very confusing, very conflicting moment in my life where I’m sitting, like naked in this room with him, he’s paying me to for sexual favors. And he’s telling me like, I shouldn’t be here, but like getting off on it at the same time. And I don’t know what it was, but I just had this out of body experience. I just saw myself floating up and looking over and being like, what the fuck has happened? Because I didn’t come from like, I’m going to say stereotypical, like, disadvantaged family. I actually came from middle class, working family, upper middle class, maybe I don’t, I never really know. And I was given every opportunity in the world. I was, you know, I had very good schooling I was going towards that, you know, white picket fence, go to university, all that fun stuff. And then life happened. So I was just sitting here being like, what the absolute fuck have I done? And that was it. And it I don’t know if it was, I really have no idea what happened I don’t know it was that day I kind of knew that man is like my savior in some really weird way. And but I decided that I wasn’t going to do it anymore. And I went out on St. Patrick’s Day and I got wasted. And then I ruined a really good friendship afterwards because I was super stressed and I like didn’t show up and it was just everything. The combination of what had been going on for the last like three years of my life just blew up on one day. So I decided to stop doing the things so yeah.
So when you decided I’m no longer gonna live this way anymore. I’m gonna stay Stop living this life. What did the first couple weeks of sobriety look like for you? What did you just kind of take it by the horns because you were done? Or was it a painful transition? what it looked like for you?
Oh, yeah, I was super painful because I had been on everything and anything and Australia I was on. Like, I think it’s Pollyanna is what they call it. So it was like meth, ecstasy, like prescription drugs, alcohol, marijuana, like just everything was coming out of my system. And here’s one thing that I should probably notice I lived and truly I believe it’s one of the reasons that I got to where I was is I live with an eye like a severe or undiagnosed severe anxiety disorder my entire life. And at the time, I didn’t know this. So as I’m coming off of these drugs and detoxing while living in a hospital, mind you and still working because I had like Two weeks left, and I still needed the money. I was still doing that job. It was a blur, like I truly can’t. I do not remember the two weeks after that night, because it was just so painful. There was so much toxic. Everything coming out of me, of all the places it felt like brain body mind. And yeah, I don’t remember actually like being in physical pain. But for me during those years, it was all like what was happening in my brain and the fact that I didn’t realize that I had a severe anxiety disorder that basically my brain was incapable of shutting off. So I pushed everything into my body that would hopefully help shut it off. And it didn’t, but Surprise, surprise,
yeah. So when you
When you move forward a little bit later, so you’ve managed to stay sober all of that time. And then what does your journey from? Where you were in Australia to where you are today with entrepreneurship in what you’re doing in that realm? What are those? What are the contrast between the two? Yeah, absolutely.
So I do want to be like fully honest with everyone. So my date is March 17 2011. But I technically wasn’t sober from them. That was the day that I decided to change my life. That was the day that my brain went from. I’m an addict to I’m in recovery. And it has been a crazy ride. I mean, I’ve been sober for like really sober for, like, I don’t even know because my view on sobriety has drastically changed because I had a therapist who Who was great for part of it, but made me feel a very less than because I was stuck with the identity of an addict. And it almost felt like it was so confining that I couldn’t break free of it. And honestly, I almost used like hard drugs multiple times while in that therapy session those therapy sessions with her, because she made me feel so horrible. And that like I was stuck in this identity, and that is who I was going to be for the rest of my life. And I’ve always been a little bit of a rebel and I’ve always been the person be like, well, you told me to do this, I’m going to do the other thing. So like, my very normal self, I was like, This is not how addicts and addiction needs to be looked at. It’s not how it needs to be treated. Like I’m in one of the most. It was like one of the hardest times of my life in the recovery. session I truly believe that I look at the darkest moment of my life too and it was the year I was in with that therapists so it’s been a crazy ride because I’ve been in the process of like uncovering like okay, addiction means this to some people it means this to other people, what does it mean to me? And that’s the one thing that has helped me get through everything as solidly and wonderfully as it has because I was like, it doesn’t fucking matter what other people think about it. If you are okay with your and like really okay, I don’t mean like lying to yourself okay about it, because we all do that. And I’ve done it many of time as an addict, but like truly okay with like, where I am and the progress I’m making. That to me is sobriety and in a way that I know I’m true to myself because I felt very confined in those identities because I wasn’t like when I thought it was going to use it wasn’t because I like was craving the drug. It was as I mean, you guys know, this is like the escape of the, the feeling and the and the overwhelm of what was going on my brain. Granted, this was also the year I was actually diagnosed with anxiety when this was happening. I had no idea that I had severe anxiety, which in retrospect makes no sense to me because I’m like, well, I’ve been sick for the last 30 years of my life. Obviously, I
was your baseline. So yeah, exactly. Yeah. It’s kind of like if you look at humans, and none of us can fly, right? And I mean, you know, we all wish we could fly, but I mean, it just, we’re used to it like we don’t fly. But imagine your life if everyone else could fly. And now you can’t, and how that would make you feel because you see other people doing this thing that you You can’t do and but you’re at the same time used to not being able to fly. And we can just look at it right now, because no one else is doing it. And just that, yeah, I can’t fly. You know, humans can’t fly. But it’s like, oh, yeah, well, I’m just full of anxiety because that’s, that’s what I know. I don’t know what it’s like to not have a ton of anxiety and until you get on the other side of it and see, oh, wow, this is what I’ve been missing all along. It changes the perspective.
Absolutely. Yeah, exactly. That was a huge wake up call for me. And it also really helped me put so much of my addiction into perspective, because that’s a huge puzzle piece that if it’s not there, you just can’t figure it out.
And when you when you were going to therapy, do you think that it was that particular therapist and how that person handled your case? Or do you think it’s just a fair In general and looking at your life through a different lens.
So I definitely think it’s a little bit of both so I am go I go to a therapist now I’ve had two therapists since that the original one and very, very different, like completely different like one was a psycho therapist who was the one that I had the most trouble with. The second one is CBT, which is the ability is for everyone who doesn’t know is like changing hat habits and patterns in your life. And then the, the recent one, or the one that I go to now is someone that kind of combines everything and she’s more just like a sounding board now because to get back to that question you asked me like how has this been in entrepreneurship is like holy crap, it is helped me on a whole other level. Because I was on this path of self awareness and what like so yet well, self awareness and like, what am I doing way before I was an artist printer, although arguably sex work is the oldest form of entrepreneurship, so who am I to say, but I’m the way? Yeah, exactly right. And I mean, I, my family are entrepreneurs. So it was very, like very normal for me. But I definitely think it was a huge advantage because I came into it knowing Okay, I’ve got a lot of crap going on about a lot of issues like obviously, it’s going to impact my business. And I’ve been able to see how they’ve gone hand and walked hand in hand, if you will, throughout my journey. But to get back to the Sarah question, is that that specific one, it was just the way that she dealt with me. She gave me an ultimatum which, when I’m hurting, and when I feel like I’m lost, and I need help, when someone gives me an ultimatum, I instantly disconnect. Because I’m saying it’s like, I can’t help myself in this situation. You’re saying if you can’t do that, I’m gone. So I feel left alone and that like I’m here In the Universe by myself, or that was kind of like the big picture of how I felt at the time. And yeah, so I don’t knock therapy, I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever done for myself, especially ones that the current therapist I have now she specializes or she did specialized with profit with prostitutes. So she has an ulterior or an alternative viewpoint on everything as well. So hopefully that answers your question.
Yeah, well, that’s kind of like the idea of 12 step recovery is like, I have an understanding of where you are, and where you want to be. And I can show you that journey, because I’m very familiar with it. And I know for you personally 12 step recovery is not what keeps you sober. And I know I’ve touched on it a lot of times on the show, but just because I myself have a product of 12 step recovery. does not mean that that is the only way that you can stay sober and be happy. So what are the ways that you continue to stay sober today? Yeah, so
I just talked about the 12 stuff for a second like I’m a huge like proponent of like substituting habits because, you know, addiction is very habitual. We like the process we like to the trigger and the queue and all that fun stuff. I’m like a huge habit nerd when it comes to the physiology, physiology that happens. But for me, honestly, it’s because I have a passion now it’s something that I’m so driven to do. In my business. I’m a very busy person and because I have you know, anxiety for the last 20 forever years, it feels like I’m very high. I’m high functioning, but I’m very high energy. So that’s helped me a bit as well. So honestly, like I view like starting my business as like the thing That saved my life because even though there’s a there was a huge time period between when I got sober when I started for about everything there was about five years I was declining like that deep dark night of the soul I talked about on March 16. Like that was what I’ve used my rock bottom, but it actually got way worse because I had to deal with the shame and confusion of like, how I ended up there at such a young age too. And like, the thing is, is like I actually had a wonderful experience outside of the actual clients, the people that I worked for who and who I worked with, they were all wonderful. So it’s so hard to sit here and be like, well, like that was horrible because like I made friends with people that I still talked to. But what keeps me sober now is just honestly, like connecting to why I’m on this earth and what I want to achieve and My life to be like, I beat that statistic. And I’m very competitive. So it helps. It helps a lot. But it’s really just come to be like, Well, I have literally been to one of the darkest moments of a lot of people’s lives and I have somehow been able to completely overhaul not only my mindset, but like who I was. Like, I used to be an introvert. I used to be super scared, I had no boundaries. I grew up in a codependent household, so I was just like a mess. And now I’m like the polar opposite. And for me, it’s all in my brain. Like that was just not just me. I had a huge support system, but a lot of it was what I had done. And so many of us I find forget to have gratitude towards ourselves and to actually appreciate the journey and the steps that we’ve taken up until this point because that gratitude for yourself. It’s something that you don’t experience when you’re using and it’s almost non existent. If not, I would say 100% non existent. So that self love that I’ve cultivated in the process and the process that I or the progress I’ve made, that in itself is enough to keep me from using and I hate that that’s my answer because it’s like, okay, that’s not a tangible thing to help really. But honestly, that’s what it comes down to for me.
At the same time, if that’s your truth, I’m sure there’s somebody else out there who can 100% relate to the exact experience that you’re having. So just because it doesn’t fit into a box or it’s not a well I’m so glad you asked that question. Let me give you this scripted answer like the reality. The reality is what your reality is, in your touching on gratitude. Do you have any particular types of Gratitude practice.
I do so um, I forget where I figured this out but it’s it’s a combination of gratitude and mindfulness. So what I do every day is I just look in my surroundings whenever I decide to do this little practice and I have to think of forward not think of like decide on five things that I can see that I’m grateful for. So right now I’m in my office so it would be something is like I’m grateful for the internet. I’m grateful for this microphone. I’m grateful for the cup of coffee like small things because we really don’t appreciate those small things. And like for me if I’m have coffee, like I wouldn’t be who I am, you know, or the internet like my entire businesses run off of it. So there’s so that’s what I do every day. Sometimes it ends up being the same thing. Honestly, the amount of times I’m like, I’m grateful for my dog because my dog that’s another thing is greatly helped me with the depression side of it. He’s not officially a service dog, but he should be because without him, I’m not sure I would be where I am. So, yeah, that would be my practice. I do, I would say, I would say 95% of the time.
Yeah, there’s people that claim that they pull these things off 100% of the time, I’m sure they do and they’re not lying. But I know for myself, I’m far from a 100% of the time. I always nail doing like a Miracle Morning. I nail gratitude, I grit I nail prayer and meditation, and it’s difficult to hit on every single thing, I guess unless you you have just like in the business. If you have systems and you have a checklist in place and you make sure that you do it every single day. That is a good way to keep on pace with making sure that you do the right things every single day. But I know for Just myself in full transparency. And I’m glad you shared that as well. Like it’s difficult to 100% of the time, be perfect on these things. And that’s what makes us human.
Exactly. And I feel like for me, like a lot of what fueled by, like want to use all the time was that I wasn’t perfect. So I had like clinical perfectionism. So it’s like, it’s almost better for me to be like, Yeah, I do it 95% of the time, because I’m recognizing that I’m not perfect, but I’m also that psychopath that has like a habit tracker on her phone that’s like tracking like 40 habits that I want to do in a day and I like market off every time so it’s really hard because I’m like very competitive Taipei but then I’m also like learning to have severe self compassion and that’s really hard to mesh sometimes.
Yeah, well, did that play any role in when you started out virtually free and why don’t you just give us like a an elevator pitch of what you do.
Yeah. So I am so bad because I am a huge proponent of the elevator pitch and I’m so bad at it so virtually free so I will do what happened before I created virtually free is I was a virtual assistant. So I was helping other online entrepreneurs with their day to day tasks, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You guys probably know what a virtual assistant is if you don’t have one. And it was awesome. I learned so much and I got in with like the right people. And my business took off I learned a lot about my life and my business and also my addiction through this process and how I always put myself second and all this fun stuff. And through that and through that I’m I call it like the unraveling of all the crappy shitty behaviors that I have and cultivated over the last 30 years is that I started experiencing this freedom and I don’t really know how to explain it other than like it Literally just felt like a weight was taken off my shoulders. I didn’t go is probably because I was committed to self development and all this fun stuff but it was I was free. And I’ve always felt from the time I was a kid and suffering from depression I always felt very confined and like I was trapped. I don’t know if it was in my life. I don’t know if it was in my head, probably my head but I just felt trapped. Never The first time I could feel the freedom. And because I worked virtually it just made sense to be virtually free. But what that is now is that is a coaching brand, I guess you would say where I help other virtual assistants and online service providers with their marketing to get more clients. But the reality is, is I’m a mindset coach. I package it up as mindset in business, because I do teach business, marketing and all that fun stuff, but it’s all about mindset for me and most of the people that are attracted to me and my brand have Raising stories like, like the most like eye opening, grounding like horribly, like horrible child children’s stories and things like that. And it’s just so wonderful because I’m not just helping them become virtual assistants I’m not I’m helping them unravel all the shit that they’ve been through and gain that confidence that they just never really were able to cultivate because of every all the emotional trauma they experienced as children and adults.
Is there anything in particular, that was kind of the driving force behind starting your own company as opposed to just staying in with the people that you were already with?
Honestly, I just felt like I’m here to do more. I have a I’m a huge mental health advocate. I don’t talk too much about addiction. I mean, I talked about my addiction, but I’m not really That well versed in it, believe it or not, but I’m all about mental health and stillness and mindfulness. And I just feel like this is why I’m on this planet like not to go crazy on you. But like, I view like, okay, like I went through these insanely difficult situations, because I needed to learn how to navigate them, so then I can help other people. So it was like a weird calling for me. And it’s funny because when I first started out, I was like, I’m never going to do this. I’m never going to be a coach. I’m never going to do that. I’m just going to stay in my lane and do this. And I was just lying to myself because I was scared to take up space. So yeah, I think that answers your question.
Yeah. Well, how do you get over that limiting mindset?
Oh, I don’t know if we have time. Um, no, um, honestly, I think the first step is just, like having compassion towards yourself and being like, okay. Like, what has happened, what has gotten to me where I am to what has gotten me to where I am right now is not going to get me to where I want to. And it’s not you’re not meant to feel shame because of it, you’re not supposed to feel like you are behind everyone. It’s this realization that like, okay, like, I am in complete and utter control of my life. And the way that I perceive the world, the way that I perceive myself and the way that I choose to develop those assets, is going to shape what my future looks like. And once you fully get this and I don’t mean just like listen to me tell you or listen to like 18 other million people tell you that have finally understood this. It’s the integration of being like okay, like it actually is up to me and I have every single solitary ability to achieve whatever it is that I want. There’s a lot of power in that. I felt so powerless for so long. And that feeling is just something that like I never want to lose. So I also would love for other people to be able to experiences as well because there’s a, like a feeling of hope that just hasn’t was not there before. And once that finally clicked for me, I just realized just how, first of all powerful we as human beings could be, and how powerful it is to like get your shit together and live a life that like is actually meant to be yours.
Wow, that’s so it’s so crazy that it’s there all along and that just I think so many people are afraid really to tap into it and see what really is out there. And do you have any books or audio books that You would say are your one or two that you recommend most to people?
Oh, this is hard. I feel like it changes all the time. Honestly, one of them is atomic habits from by James clear, it’s all about creating habits in your life. And it’s something that changed the game for me, like 12 step program is based off of habit substitution, right? I think most of us know that is that like, you go to the meetings instead of you using and to be able to like truly understand how habit is formed and what is happening biologically. Like for me, I need to know everything I need to know how it works for me to like hack it. So that was something that like changed my life on so many levels. And I only read this like a few months ago, and I would say that book is like number one, it’s available in audio too. And then the other book would be Probably the gifts of imperfection. Again, it’s a new book that I just, I’ve read like last six months. And and it was really helped me understand and break down the like psychological aspects of perfectionism and how again, it was caught, like how it was created, and you learn to read and all that fun stuff. So I’m super nerdy when it comes to that kind of like professional development, so and personal development. So that’s why I would say those two books.
That’s great. And I’ll be sure to put links in the show notes. And, Amy, it’s been so great talking to you. Where can people find out more about you and the virtually free podcast and virtually free your company and where where’s the best place for people to find you?
Yeah, absolutely. Well, first of all, thank you so much, Andrew for having me on. It was great. I always love talking about this because most of the time I just talked about entrepreneurship. So it’s nice to mix it up a bit. But I am available all over the internet webs. Go under my name, Amy. Amy Demone so Instagram’s The best way to connect with me, I’m on there a lot. And then I have a link that pushes you to all the other places that you can find me, but the thought the podcast just rebranded. So it’s still virtually free, but it’s becoming virtually free now. So you can look on literally any place that a podcast exists and it’ll be there.
Wonderful. Well, Amy, thank you so much for being on self made and sober podcast. Guys. If you enjoyed the episode, be sure to share and like leave us a review on iTunes. Really appreciate it. And Amy, thanks so much for being on Have a great day.
Thanks so much, Andrew.

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