You’d be hard-pressed to find a warmer, kinder person than Anna. Affectionately known as the ‘birthday girl’ around RFQ for her determination to celebrate her birthday in outrageous style every year at the End of Year party, Anna has been a fixture on the RFQ scene for almost 20 years.
Yet despite her sunny disposition, things haven’t always been so rosy for Anna. A tough childhood and mental health difficulties from a young age have led to many complications in her life, including various stints in prison and psychiatric facilities across Toowoomba and Brisbane.
“My aunty raised me when I was a baby because mum didn’t know anything about looking after children. My whole family have a disability like me. When I’m unwell, I engage in risky behaviour. I can’t drink any alcohol at all anymore for that reason. I was in and out of hospital and prison for years – it was a very scary, tough time. When I was back in the community, I met RFQ at their old Corinda house and have been with them ever since.”
While it’s been a rocky journey, Anna’s happy to be back on a steady path supported by medication, therapy and daily support from her beloved RFQ workers.
“Medication is the main thing that keeps me well, as well as seeing the counsellor, making sure I see my friends and going to the shops. It took years to find the right medication, but I continued going to the doctors’ appointments and kept trying. Eventually we found the right medication and I’ve been on it for years.”
This level of stability and consistency has allowed Anna to live the life she wants. After so many years of fear and uncertainty, she’s living for today and making the most of every opportunity.
“I have a full, happy life. I receive support every day, and love getting out and about. I do art therapy, go to Church, go to Thrive ladies’ group, and soon we’ll be making chutney too. My purpose in life is to be kind and say hello to everyone. I am a friendly person and like to help others.”
Anna’s NDIS support worker Cynthia chimes in, “Anna is also a great advocate for other clients. She’s got friends everywhere, everyone knows her! She’s very active in the community, and that’s important to her. And she’s got the most incredible memory. I can tell her something in passing and she’ll remember it two weeks later. She’s amazing.”
As we leave the café where we’ve been enjoying coffee and a chat, Anna farewells the waiters and barista in her signature cheerful style. They’re clearly chuffed. You can’t help but think that perhaps the world’s a little brighter because Anna’s in it.