WYL: Tell us a bit about yourself!
AA: Hiya! My name is Anastasia (I go by the traditional Greek pronunciation of ana-STAH-sia) and I'm a Self-Love Coach from sunny Western Australia. For all of childhood I struggled with my body image and as I entered my early teens, I developed Anorexia Nervosa. I fought a 5 year battle against my demons and very nearly lost. I was so afraid and felt so alone and sadly, the stigma and the shame around my disorder kept me from speaking up or seeking professional help. I'm incredibly proud of my recovery which was entirely self-managed... but it was also the hardest thing I'd ever done and looking back, I wish I'd known what I now know. I wish I'd been able to find the courage to seek help and I wish I'd had access to a community, to knowledge and to tools that would empower me. My own recovery made me want to help others and lead me to this path of Self-Love Coaching and eating disorder activism.
I'm incredibly blessed to be able to work with girls and women from around the world on a range of body image and self-esteem issues, providing knowledge, equipping people with resources and helping them to see that they're worthy of love, care, support, recovery and a wonderful, thriving life!
WYL: What is your connection to mental illness?
AA: I've had 3 diagnosed mental illnesses in my time - Anorexia (which I'm recovered from), Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder (both of which I manage ongoing). 
WYL: Why do you want to share your story? / Why is it important to share your story?
AA: The "Me too!" moment is so powerful. To have someone articulate their feelings and their thoughts and their less than ideal moments in a way that makes you feel less alone in your struggles is so damn necessary when it comes to mental illness, which still unfortunately has so much stigma around it in the wider community. 
We hear stories of those who have recovered from mental illness and gone on to achieve great success (and that's awesome and important!) but we also need the voices of those who are still suffering; those who are living day-to-day and those who are surviving against every thought telling them that they don't deserve to.

I want to share my story so that others, like me, can feel less alone. I want to share my story so that others know that it is possible to recover. I want to share my story to help provide empathy, compassion, understanding and knowledge to those who have never had to deal with a mental illness. I want to share my story to help break down barriers, smash stigma and empower others to share their stories, too.

Approximately 1 in 5 people worldwide will experience some form of mental illness at some point in their life. That's around one billion, four hundred million worldwide. Imagine the conversation we could spark... the stories that could be shared and the illusions that could be shattered if we all spoke our truth? That's too powerful to ignore. It's a necessary conversation.
WYL: What does your Self Care Sunday look like?
AA: It varies from week-to-week, but lately I've been trying to incorporate creative activities into my self-care routine. It's nice to connect with myself through drawing, painting and creating... and particularly for someone like myself who spends a large chunk of my life working on a computer, it's so freeing to disconnect and create something just for the sake of it. For a while I've been feeling like I've forgotten how to be creative outside of a work context... so I'm very much enjoying getting my groove back there!
In the winters, I looooooove to take long baths and listen to my favourite music. Unfortunately here in my part of Australia it's rarely cold enough to take a hot bath though! A consistent favourite is walking the dog with my husband. It jolts me out of my digital world, gets me outside and sharing laughs.
WYL: What do you do when you are faced with a struggle?
AA: I'm gonna go with full disclosure here, because I believe honesty is so important. When I'm faced with a struggle, my first reaction looks a little something like this:
Sheer panic -> Anxiety sets in -> Thoughts start snowballing in a catastrophic way -> My inner critic tells me that the easiest path out of it is quitting -> Depression joins in the conversation
It sucks. And I'd love to sit here all perky and tell you that I overcome struggle one step at a time and it's all about perspective... but it's not always that easy. We've gotta work with ourselves, not fight against ourselves. Thankfully, I've learned how to manage those moments of panic and I know that when a first thought is overwhelming or terrifying, that doesn't mean you're destined for failure. It's not your first thought that counts, but your second thought and what you do with it. So, whenever a wild struggle appears and my panic mode has set in, I make a dedicated effort to remove myself from the situation so that I can gain a clearer view of whatever is going on. I know that I don't make effective decisions when I try and see through the fog, and I've learned to get comfortable with saying, "I need to step back for a second, and that's okay."
Stepping back allows me to calm myself (my favourite mini-calm down is a 'colour breathing' exercise), look at the situation objectively (I create mini pros/cons lists of the major decision options that I'm weighing up) and ask for help if I need it.
Fun Q's:
What is the first thing that you would do if you won the lottery?
I've got a ticket in tonight's lottery, so I'm taking this question as a sign that I'm going to win *fingers crossed*
It's not quite the fun, "I'm going to buy an island! Then a Ferrari!" first plan, but first thing first I'd pay off the mortgage!
Coffee or tea?
I'm gonna cheat slightly and say Bubble Tea! It's my fave :) 
What did you want be when you were little?
A psychiatrist. I didn't quite go down that path but I still get to work with people every day in the capacity of mental health, so I guess little-Anastasia was onto something!
What is your favourite thing about yourself?
Oooh, I really like this question! My favourite thing is how bold I am. I'm not afraid to stand up for myself or other people and I'm proud of that quality.


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