Anastasia has a box in her wardrobe. In it are pieces of rubbish she picked up off the road at a time in her life when during an episode of psychosis she believed every scrap on every pavement was a message sent to guide her. “I thought I was the last cell on earth and I had vital information."
Russian born Anastasia was a 19 year old economics student when she arrived in the UK in 2001 for a two week English language course in Cambridge. “I’d heard there was a Beatles festival so I took a night coach up to Liverpool. I got on a bus to see some of the landmarks, the driver started chatting and we kept in contact for six years before I came back to Liverpool and then a year after married him.“
She‘s naturally bubbly, eloquent and animated - but also sad when she reflects on a life that has taken its toll. After her son’s difficult birth Anastasia split from her husband. Though she couldn’t see them the signs of psychosis were already evident.
Briefly reunited with her husband, she fell pregnant with her daughter. He became concerned and persuaded her to go to her GP who referred her to a psychiatrist.
But events took over. “I thought the house was evil, that it would hurt us while we were asleep so I called 999.”
After four weeks as an inpatient I was she was discharged and referred to the Early Intervention team. “I was struggling with the kids but my support worker really helped lift my mood. Even having a coffee with her was something to look forward to.”
Anastasia was on her way to being a high flyer. After her degree she’d worked as a market research analyst; but her future aspirations are influenced by her experiences.
“When you become ill you lose your trust in people, getting it back is the biggest step. I still have challenges ahead but I have my art and writing; being creative nurtures me and gives me language to express myself and breathing space to recover from daily stress.
I’ve done voluntary work as an adviser in a Citizens Advice Bureau and have also had some training in and peer advocacy and I’d like to work in mental health. My support worker wasn’t a magician but the things she did made a difference. I’d like to do that.”