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Art from Adversity


Art From Adversity: A Life With Bipolar by Anne Therese Naylor

Winner, NSW Carer of the Year 2013!

Winner, Certificate of Commendation, NSW Mental Health Awards 2013!

Art from Adversity shines the spotlight on mental illness, in particular, bipolar disorder. It provides an insight into what it is like to become mentally ill, to ascend into mania, free fall into depression, and finally emerge profoundly changed by the experience.

Art from Adversity: A Life with Bipolar is Anne Therese Naylor's memoir and information guide to mental illness. She provides insights into what it is like to become mentally ill and what it takes to become well.

Her artworks, both on the cover and woven throughout the book, illustrate the creativity that can come from adversity.

With messages demonstrating that everyone knows someone affected by mental illness, and that positive things can be born from adversity, this book encourages all of us that education about mental illness is the key to understanding and freedom.

This book will strongly appeal to lovers of memoir, practical advice, and anyone who knows someone with a mental illness.


Anne raised over $1,200 for mental health research at her Sydney launch!

Various paintings featured in Art From Adversity have been sold as fundraising for mental health research to CADE Clinic in Sydney, and donated to Belmont Private Hospital in Brisbane. One such painting, 'Landscape of the mind', has been featured in The Lancet Medical Journal (Vol 381).

Anne Therese Naylor

Anne Therese Naylor has a Bachelor of Education, a Master of Special Education and accreditation as a NAATI Paraprofessional Auslan

She is passionate about literacy and throughout her career has had the privilege and joy of teaching deaf children to read and write through sign language.

Anne began writing after her third child was born in 1987. Her
poignant story ‘I had a Down syndrome baby at 27’ was awarded second prize in a non-fiction writing competition and published in Cosmopolitan in July, 2000.

In 2005, an intense desire to paint was accompanied by the onset of bipolar disorder. Anne’s allegorical work ‘What lies beneath’ was awarded first prize in the 2008 Central Coast Mental Health Artworks Exhibition.

A mental health and disability advocate, Anne is a Carer Representative for Carers NSW. She is dedicated to raising awareness, challenging
stereotypes and fighting the stigma of disability and mental illness.




ISBN 9781922120113  (PB, 206pp, released April 2013)
222mm x 222mm

AUD $33 USD $25 NZD $36 GBP £17 EUR €20

ISBN 9781922120120 (eBook)

AUD $17 USD $15 NZD $19 GBP £10 EUR €12

"West Pennant Hills mother of four, carer, special needs teacher, artist and now author, Anne Therese Naylor has recently launched her first published book titled Art from Adversity: A Life with Bipolar. The book is a ‘must read’ for anyone caring for those with mental illness, particularly Bipolar Disorder, and for those wishing to understand what it is like to become mentally ill ... The book began as a compilation of poems Anne had written throughout her own ordeal with Bipolar Disorder. Over two years Anne collected the poetry she had written and approached a number of publishers with a view to helping others through their journeys. The book is in two parts. The first Part is Anne’s memoir; the second thoroughly covers Bipolar Disorder and mental illness in general, with sections on Anxiety, Gambling, Drinking and Drugs, Diagnosis and Treatment, Attitudes to Mental Illness, Self Help and Where to get help and Tips for Carers."
- Bill Aitken, Monthly Chronicle

"SPP was delighted to get our hands on an advance copy of this book before the official launch in May. We were even more pleased to begin reading it and discover the author's reference to South Pacific Private right in the opening pages!
Art From Adversity is a very personal story, told honestly and passionately. It feels very natural. It is filled with metaphor and also with gorgeous examples of the author's art - a literal and visual treat.
This 'bug's eye' view of life with bipolar is fascinating, frightening and also heartening. Anne presents it all - the good, the bad, and the ugly. Her account of the inspiration and drive that she found during her periods of mania, and how this led her to creating visual art, is told with the bittersweet tinge of experience that knows of the fall that inevitably follows.
We were also struck by the real-life moments of discrimination that the author faced. How could you not cringe when reading of a teacher's response to the request to accommodate an acknowledged disability? It's a stark reminder of the stigma that persists around mental illness - and to a general ignorance in our society around what it means to have a mental illness, and how to treat people who do.
Anne makes a clear point about treatment in her book. She emphasises the importance of seeking treatment, seeking it early - and then maintaining treatment even (and especially in the case of bipolar) when you are feeling good. The book concludes with a section of very useful resources and ways to access help.
SPP is proud to support the launch of 'Art From Adversity'."
- South Pacific Private Hospital Pacific Views Newsletter and Pacific Connections Newsletter

"Imagine being on a runaway horse with no way of grabbing the reins to take control. This is how local author Anne Naylor describes living with bipolar disorder on a day-to-day basis.
Ms Naylor, who also studied painting and drawing at Sydney Gallery School at Meadowbank TAFE, donated all her profits from the [Sydney] book launch towards mental health research.
The book includes memoirs detailing her struggles with the disorder and information about the condition."
- Matt Haglas, Hills Shire Times

"Art From Adversity: A Life With Bipolar is an amazing account of the author's experiences living with mental illness. It is impossible not to journey with the author through her insightful stories. It is also a celebration of the creativity that can emerge from adversity, and what it takes to become well.
The first part of the book is written as a memoir and is a collection of stories describing the highs and lows of living with bipolar disorder, and the struggles of diagnosis. The author's artwork is woven through the book, illustrating the creativity that can stem from great challenges. The artworks visually capture the moods and inspirations associated with the author's journey.
The second part of the book contains practical information for people with bipolar disorder and friends and carers of people with a mental illness. One of the overall messages is that discussing mental illness more openly can help to decrease the shame and stigma attached. Everyone knows someone with a mental illness, and there are many different viewpoints and perspectives which can add to public knowledge.
In a chapter specifically for carers of people with a mental illness (or suspected mental illness), Naylor provides support through her own experience, and a large section of practical strategies and informal advice. There are also many organisations listed which are able to provide support to people suffering from mental illness and their carers."
- Carers NSW Librarian, Carers NSW Newsletter (June)

"A beautifully written manuscript. I enjoyed not only the insightful exploration of the subject matter but the way in which the book was written – Anne is able to capture the emotion as well as the facts of her experience."
- Michael Sluis, Community Programs Manager, Black Dog Institute

"This is an inspiring book in which Anne has drawn on her own experiences to educate and inform others suffering from bipolar disorder. Her use of narrative, paintings and poetry is engaging and illuminating. It is an excellent addition to the literature on bipolar illness and a brilliant read."
- Professor Gin S Malhi MB ChB BSc(Hons) MD FRCPsych FRANZC
Head, Department of Psychiatry, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney

"I would just like to thank you for inviting me to Anne Therese Naylor's [launch of her] book on mental illness, A Life With Bipolar. I would just like to say thank you truly. I have Bipolar, and I found the book very helpful and I am much happier now from reading many parts of the book. I also feel that event [at the Children's Bookshop, Beecroft] was very positive and useful for me. I appreciated that invitation and that night was truly a blessing in my life."
- Ritu M

"This book is written with great courage and amazing creativity, and by telling her stories Anne is leading us out of the shadows towards a stigma free word where mental ill health will be as well understood, accepted, funded and overcome in the same way as physical illnesses like cancer and diabetes.  Australia is showing the way in this international challenge and the courage of individual stories like Anne’s if told enough and listened to enough will change the world."
- Professor Patrick D. McGorry AO, MD, PhD, FRCP, FRANZCP, Australian of the Year 2010 and leading Australian authority on mental health


More media mentions

Anne's radio interview on 2UE Mornings with Angela Catterns

Sydney Morning Herald / The Age feature on Anne and the book.

Anne's radio interview on ABC Overnights

Anne's radio interviews with Luke Grant on Sydney's premier radio station, Radio 2GB, and with Paul Murray on Radio 2UE

Canberra launch at Calvary Hospital featured in The Chronicle (p 7, 18 June 2013)

Anne featured in Hornsby Advocate (see p 19, 'Anne's Creative Surge')

Anne does Q&A with Carers NSW CARERSnews

Endorsement of the book by Newbie Writers Podcasts



Anne's blog, Because of Bipolar

Anne's website



Anne receiving the 2013 NSW Carer of the Year Award from her local Member of Parliament, Dominic Perrittot, and the Hon. John Ajaka, Minister for Disabilities:
Ministers presenting Anne with the NSW Carer of the Year Award 2013

Professor Gin Malhi at the Sydney launch:

Anne speaks at the Sydney launch:  

Photos from the Belmont launch:

Anne signing books at the Belmont launch - such a cheery face!
Anne signing books at the Belmont launch - what a cheery smile she has!

Anne with the amazing Belmont staff who helped launch the book!
Anne with the amazing Belmont staff who helped launch the book! (left to right: guest speaker Mark Spelman, Anne Naylor, artist Tanya Darl, Executive Director Patrick McGurrin, IP Publisher Dr David Reiter)

Anne with the staff here at IP
Anne with the staff here at IP!

The painting that Anne donated to Belmont Private Hospital, proudly on display in the Intake Office
Anne's painting proudly on display in the Belmont Hospital Intake Office. Belmont Private Hospital is known for its art therapy program, and its walls are lined with the incredible artworks of people just like her!


At the next class I approached her to ask about the end of year assessment tasks. I wanted to know if I had sufficient works in my portfolio to satisfy the requirements for the end of year assessment, and if I did not, what I should do about it. I also wanted to check that my attendance record was OK. I said, ‘Hi … Can I talk to you about the end of year assessment?’

She leaned towards me, patted my forearm, and said with a sympathetic (or perhaps condescending) smile, ‘You’ll be fine, don’t worry you’ll be fine.’

It would have been so much better if, instead of patting my arm, she had said something normal, the way she would to any other student.

I didn’t want anything heavy. I just wanted for her to be able to listen to me say, ‘I have a mental illness, but that’s okay. I am the same as anyone else, I just have a few different needs, and this is what they are ….’

Was it too much to expect her to look me in the eye and say ‘That’s fine, no worries’ or ‘Sure, let me know what they are’?

Obviously she couldn’t. It was unmentionable.

My mental illness, the elephant in the room. What did I learn from this experience? I learned I had to have a thicker hide. I learned that not everyone will be comfortable with my mental illness and I learned that I have to be OK with that. I learned that sometimes I just have to live with discomfort, both other people’s and my own.

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