Life story

Brave Abuse Survivor Tells Her Life Story

A courageous elderly person from Gold Coast has written a book about her experience of surviving childhood sexual abuse and living with mental health issues.

Although she also lives with dyslexia, Joan Sammon self-published her memoir, A life: I am what I amto provide insight into how she overcame some traumatic events in her life – and discovered that laughter truly is the best medicine.

Joan’s story of resilience details institutionalization, living with post-traumatic stress and “learning that it’s okay to be gay.” It features poems, jokes and short essays about schizophrenia, depression and other mental illnesses.

“I wanted to tell my story to help people. I didn’t write it to make money. People who have had trauma in their lives have been lonely and felt guilty, that’s what I wrote the book for,” says Joan.

“When I wrote the book, I had just been discharged from the hospital after a long stay and felt strong and positive. I felt it was time to sit down and write for the first time. time.

“I wrote in the library for two or three hours every other day and wrote everything by hand. My special editor, Sally-Anne Watson Kane, was in Victoria, so we spent many hours on the phone going through history, siphoning facts from theories and ravings.

Joan wrote A life: I am what I am when she was 79. Two years later, demand for the book has been so high that it recently had its second printing. She also uses her book to promote mental health awareness in her community.

“I put the book in as many resource libraries as possible, in hostels, pharmacies, doctor’s offices, Beyond Blue and wherever there are people who have suffered trauma. Nurses in training in hospitals said it really helped them better understand mental health issues,” Joan said.

“People write to me to tell me how they have had trauma in their lives and have found that reading the book has helped them to open up and seek help for their issues. I am delighted to have positive feedback from people who have read the book.

Joan is a client of Carinity Home Care and says she is grateful for the support of her dedicated caregiver, Katrina.

“I have been doing things hard since the pandemic because I live alone and I feel very alone. I no longer have the same social life and the same company as before. I have a lot of issues that are part and parcel of living with schizophrenia,” she said.

“I have a great carer and I rely on her a lot because I’m struggling to cope. We do everything we can together, have coffee and chat. Katrina also helps me distribute my book for free to all the libraries I can.

Joan is also grateful to those who have supported her, including her friends and mental health professionals.

“I had partners who supported me with great help, support and friendship, as well as the care of doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and counsellors. I have a very good doctor and psychologist and I go to support groups. I’m pretty positive about things now.

Anyone interested in a free copy of Joan’s book can send a postage-paid, addressed B5 size envelope (with $2.20 postage) to 16/126-138 Galleon Gardens, Galleon Way, Currumbin Waters, Queensland 4223.

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