Right now, the thing I’m most proud of is the fact my wife and I are pregnant. Getting married was also a really happy and profound moment in my life. For me it was making that choice to be with someone, and it was a choice I was very confident in. Before I met my wife I didn’t believe in the fairy tales or love stories you see in the movies. So I was surprised when I experienced that feeling of just knowing.

When our daughter is born I want her to feel accepted and be who she wants to be, without fear of prejudice. I grew up in Karratha and when I think back to my childhood I consider those years the golden years. It was open range, free space where you could do what you want. We had emus walking down our street. Then when I was seven we moved to Perth, which was a traumatic experience for me. It was an uprooting. Karratha, in my experience, had quite a cultural mix back in those days, and I had friends of all different backgrounds, including Aboriginal, Philippino and African. After moving to Perth I had my first experiences of racism. It wasn’t always overt racism, but even just the fact that people sometimes thought I was the brother of the only other Asian student in my year was frustrating. Particularly since he was Japanese and I’m Malay-Singaporean. Looking back, I think experiencing racism and bullying made me want to understand why humans act, think and do as they do.

Being a psychologist is very humbling. When you think about it, the whole concept of a psychologist is actually quite weird. You go to a stranger to talk to them about all your deep, dark issues and the things that cause pain, grief, anxiety and suffering in the hope that it’s going to help in some way. I appreciate when someone has shared their life experience and I’m often in awe of the fact I’ve been allowed into their story. I’m an observer on the outside who’s been given the privilege of learning about people’s unique challenges. Being able to support people who have these challenges, whatever they might be, is something I find very fulfilling – particularly because I can relate to some of those experiences myself.

Even before I became a psychologist I was someone who tended to try and help others. When people close to me are in difficult situations I tend go into psychologist mode and look for ways to help by analysing the situation. But I’ve had to learn to switch it off because family and friends don’t always want a situation to be analysed, they just want to be heard. Thankfully my wife is good at reminding me to stop being a psychologist and just be there.

Zakyria Anastasi
Team Leader & Psychologist at Therapy Focus

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