81-year-old trauma survivor's memoir inspires her community

An 81-year-old Carinity Home Care client has released a second print run of her memoir discussing her mental health issues and experience with childhood sexual abuse.

Joan Sammon, who lives with dyslexia, wrote A Life: I Am What I Am two years ago, telling her story of institutionalisation, post-traumatic stress, and “learning it’s OK to be gay”. According to Joan, she penned her memoir not to make money but to help others living with trauma.

“When I wrote the book I had just come out of hospital after a long stay and was feeling strong and positive. I felt that was the time to sit down and write for the first time.

“I wrote at the library for two or three hours every other day and wrote it all by hand. My special editor (Sally-Anne Watson Kane) was in Victoria, so we spent many hours on the phone going through the story, siphoning out the facts from the theories and delusions,” she said.

Joan uses the book to promote mental health awareness in the community, and says she is thankful for everyone – from friends to professionals like her carer Karina – who has supported her.

“I’ve put the book into as many resource libraries as I can, in hostels, chemists, surgeries, Beyond Blue and anywhere where there are people who have faced trauma. Nurses in training at hospitals have said it really helped them to understand more about mental health issues.

“People write to me to say how they had trauma in their life and found that reading the book has helped them to open up and seek help for their problems. I’m pleased to have positive feedback from people who have read the book,” she said.

For a free copy, email [email protected] or phone 3550 3786.

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A special thanks to our contributors

Jill Donaldson


Jill has been practicing as a clinical physiotherapist for 30 years. For the last 13 years she has worked solely in the Aged Care sector in more than 50 metropolitan and regional facilities. Jill has also toured care facilities in the US and Africa and is a passionate advocate for both the residents in aged care and the staff who care for them. She researches and writes for DCM Media.

Chris Baynes

DCM Media, agedcare101

Chris has been a journalist and publisher in the retirement village and aged care sectors for 11 years. He has visited over 250 retirement villages and 50 aged care facilities both within Australia and internationally. Chris is a regular speaker at industry conferences plus is a frequent radio commentator.

Annie Donaldson

Nurse and Carer

Annie has a long career in both nursing and the media. She has planned and co-ordinated the medical support from both international TV productions and major stadium events. In recent years she has been a primary family carer plus involved in structured carer support.