health

Jessica Rudd has some very choice words for Mark Latham. And we applaud her.

Late last year, former opposition leader Mark Lathan wrote several columns, in which he irresponsibly attacked women, mothers and anyone who has ever sought help for mental illness.

Latham said that mothers who work “don’t like children and don’t want to be with them” and that women who work outside of the home “demonise” their children.

He also took aim at working mothers who suffer from mental illness and take medication to treat that illness, calling them ‘cowardly’, ‘taking the easy way out’ and harming their own children. 

For a while, that column silenced Australian author and mother, Jessica Rudd. But today she is bravely sharing her own struggles with post-natal depression for the first time and has a message for Mark Latham….

Dear Mark,

I’m writing to you from a café in Newcastle.

It’s 11.52am and I’m having breakfast. Scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and a flat white. It’s delicious, thank you.

This morning I woke up by myself. My eyelids weren’t pried open by beautiful toddler fingers. I didn’t have to let the dog in. I woke up because at 9.04am my body had enjoyed sufficient rest. This was a wholly unfamiliar but very welcome sensation.

At that point, I checked Facebook and read the weekend papers. I went to the toilet on my own, a task completed without a campaign to unseat me to join the search party for a missing puzzle piece.

Jessica Rudd with her daughter Josie. Image via Facebook.

I Skyped my little girl in Brisbane. On seeing each other, our smiles were so enormous they crackled. God, I miss her. She told me what my husband had made her for breakfast. She asked for a story while I showered. I obliged, reciting A Curry For Murray with my phone propped up on the wall-mounted soap dish. (Let’s hope the phone hackers only get audio.)

The thing is, Mark, this morning is the first time in months I’ve been able to stop and think about what I found so offensive about your menacing AFR column attacking author Lisa Pryor.

Read more: “It’s perfectly okay to ignore Mark Latham on this topic.

You see, in the aftermath of my daughter’s birth I suffered post-natal depression. I am extremely lucky to be able to tell you PND was the shittest thing that has ever happened to me and that I got through it.

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There I was, with this tiny baby girl, clutching her close, terrified that I was the world’s most abysmal mother. I’ve written a detailed essay about this, but I want you to know now the impact of your words on someone like me.

Like Lisa Pryor, Jessica Rudd suffered post-natal depression.

I didn’t know when to get help. Or how. I tried to cover it up and cope. I kept telling people I wasn’t depressed in case they noticed I was. Why should I have been? I had a healthy, thriving, longed for baby girl. The exact narrative you pushed in a national newspaper was the one playing out in my head. “Suck it up,” I told myself.

When your piece was published, I had just found the gumption, like Lisa Pryor did, to write for publication about what I had been through. I wanted to stop other women from beating themselves up about their mental health the way I had done. I wanted to normalise it, out myself and encourage others to find the support they need.

Your words made me think twice. For a few days I wondered what I was doing. What if one day my spectacular, clever, spirited, plucky little girl misinterpreted this illness the way you clearly do? What if she thought I didn’t love her when in fact it is the overwhelming love I have for her that drove my dogged determination to “get it right”?

Mark Latham.

The thing is, Mark, you were almost the prime minister. I’m loath to blow smoke up your skirt, but your words are weighty. And when a vulnerable person is reading them, she might wonder whether she’s a selfish, child-hating, miserable city-dwelling stereotype, when in fact she’s just a normal, loving mum who needs to go to the doctor the same way she would if she had mastitis.

So when you next finish preparing a gourmet meal for your family and sit down at your laptop to tap out some bile, I’d like you to remember that.

From Mia: “It’s time for Mark Latham to stop bullying women.”

I’ve got to go now. I’m on my way to speak at the Newcastle Writers Festival before returning home to Brisbane. I’ve savoured my sleep-in, lazy breakfast and the headspace and I can’t wait for my husband and daughter to pick me up from the airport this afternoon so we can belt out some Frozen ballads in the car and go to Sizzler for potato skins.

Sincerely,

Jessica Rudd

Jessica Rudd is an author and mother. She speaks further about her experience with post natal depression in a new book from Pan MacMillan titled Mothers and Others, which you can find more about here.

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