Our Own Words is an anthology of first-person accounts of living with, through and beyond mental distress and extreme states – often termed ‘mental illness’. This is an absorbing and illuminating collection of stories and poems, as exceptional and diverse as the 52 writers who have collaborated in this project.

We believe that this book represents a compelling contribution to the growing ‘lived experience’ knowledge base and that these narratives offer many opportunities for other people experiencing mental and emotional distress, service providers, educators, families and communities to better understand and respond to these very human experiences.

Why ‘Our Own Words’?

Throughout history, understandings of those experiences labelled as ‘mental illness’ have tended to be described and documented by observers and professionals. This is changing and for good reason – who better to describe these mental and emotional states than those who have been there? First-hand explanations and descriptions dramatically enhance our understandings of these experiences… and better understanding will lead to more effective, supportive and meaningful responses, as individuals and as communities.

Our Own Words shows that people experiencing mental distress and extreme states hold diverse perspectives on the nature of their experiences. Recognising and honouring this diversity is a crucial key to more effective, inclusive and compassionate responses.

Who are the 52 writers?

They are: Frances Monro, John Shearer, Flick Grey, Rosie Williams, Matt Ball, Jenny Smith, Nicky Bright, Trys Reddick, Lucy Commisso, Amanda Waegeli, Athena Field, Edward Walter, Bridget Conway, James Rylan, Vicki Katsifis, John, Melissa Asta, Ella, Kylie Gyaneshwar, Mark Thompson, Jude D, Katie Shead, Oliver Damian, Stephanie Mitchell, Jenny Hickinbotham, Max Simensen, Hope, Jessica Leask, Grace Hoffman, Richard Affleck, Catherine Conroy, Livonne Larkins, Bruce McMillan, Beate Zanner, Candice Jade Fuller, Paul Miners, Zoe Glen Norman, Douglas Holmes, Hannah, Siobhan T, MD Rasel Khandokar Kasmer, Roxy, Corey de Bruin, Jennie Sommerville, E S Katz, Margaret Lincoln, Samantha, TigerSpirit, Michael Hill, Sharon Lomnicki, Glenn Cotter and Sandy Watson.

(Note that some writers have chosen to use pseudonyms.)

Purchasing information:


eBook available from: Kobo, Booktopia, Barnes and Noble (Nook) and Amazon AU

Paperback available from: Book Depository, Barnes and Noble and Amazon AU