Wrapping all the carving knives and putting them in the bin was the moment star journalist Jessica Rowe knew she was in ‘real trouble’.
The TV presenter delivered a powerful talk on the first day of Westmead Hospital Week today, opening up about her experience with postnatal depression.
Jessica Rowe, 49, is an accomplished journalist who was the nightly anchor on 10 News for a decade, was a host for the Studio 10 program and has worked for several media organisations over the last 30 years. She has authored four books and is an ambassador for Beyond Blue and Mental Health Australia.
Jessica openly and at times tearfully spoke about her battles to a packed room of hospital staff and clinicians today.
“Mental illness has impacted on my life,” Jessica said.
“You might look at me and think ‘she’s got it all together’ or that I’m always in control – and for a lot of my younger life that’s how I felt.
“I thought yes, I have a successful life. But when I had problems falling pregnant, that was my first sense of failure.
“When I finally fell pregnant, it was the happiest moment. I had this beautifully healthy baby but all of a sudden I felt sadness.
“And what I couldn’t reconcile is how I was feeling such sadness and despair when I had everything I ever wished for.”
Jessica admitted she procrastinated on taking action on her mental health, and as months went by, her condition got worse.
“I had terrible panic attacks. I had this terrible sense of anxiety. I also found I couldn’t sleep even though I was exhausted,” Jessica said.
Jessica was able to treat her illness once she spoke to her TV anchor husband Peter Overton, and got the help she needed from health professionals.
She also said she had no qualms taking anti-depressants.
According to healthdirect, postnatal depression affects one in every seven women in Australia each year. It is the name given to the depression that develops between one month and up to one year after the birth of a baby.
“Postnatal depression impacts on so many women and now men,” Jessica said.
“But we still do not talk enough about it because of this myth that surrounds motherhood.
“Just because you’re a mum you’re expected to know what you’re doing and that it’s going to be wonderful.
“We see yummy mummy nonsense all the time. The yummy mummy is not real life.”
Jessica summed up with a heartfelt message to the community.
“We all have flaws. You do what is right for you and what is right for your family,” Jessica said.
“Remind yourself that you are enough. I wasted far too much of my early life trying to live up to an expectation of what other people thought I should be like.
“I’m now the happiest I’ve ever been because I’m more comfortable in my skin.
“I own my imperfections and my flaws and feel comfortable. There is something incredibly freeing about that.
“So ask for help, and if someone comes to you asking for help, listen to them.
“I know because people listened to me.”
Westmead Hospital Week is a three day showcase of research and innovation. It includes more than 100 presentations on the latest advancements and health issues.
If you are in a crisis situation and would like some support, help is available:
Mental Health Hotline (Open 24 Hours) – 1800 011 511
Lifeline – 13 11 14
Beyond Blue – 1300 22 46 36
Men’s Help – 1300 78 99 78