No job, a crying baby, a husband who travels constantly, Is This My Beautiful Life? 72



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The fairy tale I had dreamt up saw me still blazing ahead with my career, sharing the cooking and cleaning duties with my husband and having neat, tidy and well-behaved children who had beautifully brushed hair. But that was not my life. 

Jessica Rowe is nothing if not honest. In Is This My Beautiful Life? she doesn’t try to tell us a fairy tale, she just attacks her life head on. We are invited into the recesses of her home and her mind. What we do there, whether we like or dislike her, she is not going to sugar coat her feelings – what you see is what you get.

Jessica freely admits that she always thought she could “have it all” and from the outside, seemingly she has. Two beautiful girls, a caring, loving, husband, no worries of how she is going to make the next mortgage payment, whether there will be food on the table, whether she has the money to pay the electricity bill. So what is her problem? Okay, she doesn’t have a career in television, other than the odd “fill-in” news reader job on weekend mornings. But what is the big deal, it’s not as if she is starving?

It can be easy to dismiss some of what Jessica writes as “first world problems” and perhaps some of them are. That does not mean, however, that what Jessica, or any other woman in her position, feels, does not cause them real pain. There is a popular meme which goes around occasionally which in essence asks us to remember that just because you can’t see a person’s illness, just because they don’t have scars or are visibly incapacitated, does not mean they are not suffering.

In the book Jessica wrote with her mother about her mother’s battle with bipolar disorder, The Best of Times, The Worst of Timeswe learned how this illness affected Jessica’s life. In common with many young people whose parents suffer from an invisible illness, Jessica had to be the grown up when her mother was in a bad phase of her disease. One thing she vowed was that she would have a family and she would be a better mother than her mother had been. Jessica and husband Peter went through numerous attempts to conceive via IVF and when they finally had their daughter, Jessica expected her life to be all she wanted. She would be the perfect wife, mother and TV presenter!

If you have ever been sacked from a job you love, you will understand how Jessica felt when she was told, very publicly that her job no longer existed; and you probably lost your job quietly without an announcement to world before it was announced to you. Consider that virtually from the day she arrived at her dream job on the morning show, she was trolled; too loud, too skinny, too blonde, too dumb, too anything but suitable. Just for a moment, put yourself in Jessica’s place. It is all very well for us to say if you go into TV you have to expect criticism, but how would you like to wake every day and be told by nameless cowards what they think of you?

Jessica tells us without embellishment, what this did to her life; the journalist, celebrity, television presenter, wife and mother, became a woman who feared she may hurt her child; she believed herself a failure as a mother and in her professional life. So well was she hiding her self-doubts, her lack of sleep and her fears, she was invited, by beyondblue, to be the patron of its work on post-natal depression!

Jessica’s latest memoir shows us a funny, intelligent woman, who has the guts to reveal that like most of she does not fit the mould labelled “perfect woman”. Mostly her honesty shows us anyone can need help and asking for it is the first step to recovery.

When I started to read this memoir, I doubted it was for me – I’m not 30 something and thankfully I don’t suffer from depression. But the more I read, the more I appreciated how relevant the message of Jessica’s story is even to a woman of my age. I admire Jessica’s honesty in telling her story and highly recommend “Is this my beautiful life?”.

Is This My Beautiful Life? by Jessica Rowe – click here to purchase from Dymocks


Karen O'Brien-Hall

I've had many careers in my life and loved each one! My new career blossomed when I retired and become an OAP. I am passionate about childhood literacy, books in general and my garden. I love Ballet, Opera, Concerts, Theatre, (both professional and community) and Movies. I tend to have opinions on most things and enjoy a good debate about the topic, not the person. In my thirties, I married my GOM (Gorgeous or Grumpy Old Man) the love of my life.

  1. I have downloaded this book on my ipad and so looking forward to reading it such a beautiful strong lady ❤️

  2. I’m not the avid reader I used to be but after reading this review, this is a book I think I would enjoy reading. I can relate to Jessica’s experience, albeit in a less public way. ‘Depression’ at whatever time in your life it presents itself is the most debilitating illness and escaping the clutches of the ‘Black Dog’ takes some doing. A well written review!

    1 REPLY
    • Thank you Sue, I appreciate your comment and support.

  3. VIEW ladies are in for a treat when Jessica Rowe speaks at Convention, Just read the review, what a down to earth lady, inspirational.

  4. I lived a parallel life to Jessica Rowe. 3 small kids on a government slum no help. No family. No money. No food . husband overseas constantly. ppl leaving clothes at door. Every crime n disease available at door step. We survived. I didn’t have time to get depressed. I near died fr infection a couple of times cleaRing the filth from the flat that t landlord didn’t do. fr previous tenant. Mainly t dried vomit fr behind the toilet wall. I fly specks covering ceiling n walls. No laundry. @ times no sleep cos I could only wash clothes in the bath when kids were sleeping. Watched my kids turn fr angels to ferals to survive. Jessica get over it. Yur book isn’t worth reading.

    9 REPLY
    • Everyone is entitled to their opinion but I am not sure why you have posted this. Are you cross she succeeded? Your experience may have been parallel to you but obviously Jessica had a different outcome. Be happy for her.

    • Try not to be bitter Elaine, many people have done it hard some worse than others but don’t let it stop you from feeling happy for other people.

    • Ok she was educated. Had a great job. I saw jessica one day at double bay she was so excited. My thoughts were she’s pregnant. So her life turned around. She couldn’t work she was a house mum. She couldn’t cope. Then she writes a book. Should title it ” girl who all of a sudden life hit reality.” Baby’s cry. They get burby They throw up. They pee all over yu. U r house bound. U have to wake up @ 2am & if the kid didn’t wake up mum checks it to c if it’s still breathing.. U then wake up @ 2am for the term of yur natural life. Yes loads of mums lived like that. On t breadline.. true story. I had my kids public ward. Paddington actually. We were all lined up. The private medical cover mums got beds closer to t showers. Got a bit of extra fruit on t menu.. one had to pass the private mums. First thing one saw were there expensive watches. High heeled slippers. There nail polish n all fluffy stuff. We use to call them pedigrees we watched them, they couldn’t cope with their babies. I saw a few taken away fr the mums n put into care of grandparents us mongerals down the bottom of t ward. Wearing borrowed nighties running round barefoot we coped better w our babes. Get the picture.. until Jessica’s children came she had a glorious lifestyle then she became grounded n couldn’t handle the limited boundaries. None of the poorer ppl ever wrote books on how miserable they lived w babies, we accepted it as life n hoped there was a light at end of tunnel. N most of us were mums once..n it was an ever-changing lifestyle for us all. And we juggled our working careers n kids. N hoped our kids became successful & mine did..

    • What a difficult life you have had Elaine. Jessica admits that many people’s lives make hers look like paradise. Unfortunately, her story shows that no-one is immune from depression.

      I hope things are better for you now.

    • Me I studied had a great career. Retired now. I think I was so stupid to tolerate that era. I had 2 yrs of domestic science n personal hygiene plus my navy training. The life of a naval wife was so substandard then.and I fought t system.

    • I can’t believe what I just read Eliane. The people who had medical cover or money and went private were given different treatment. Of course they are!! Lucky them!! Move on!
      And because they could afford it they were too pampered to be good mothers. Ridiculous!
      Jessica comes from a family with mental health issues and hers manifested with pregnancy and childbirth. If you don’t like her as you imply don’t read the book but I think you are totally unwarranted expressing it the way you have and comparing both your lives. There is no comparison.

    • Any book that can express the difficulties of depression, motherhood, single parenting, bullying, redundancy or any other scenario is valuable information.
      Some people are depressed and suicide because they don’t realize that they’re not alone, that there are others out there suffering the same problems They don’t have to be alone and suffer in silence. There are institutions and groups within the community that can assist these people. And yes there are even books!
      Good on Jessica for writing her book. It might help someone or maybe even many people.

  5. Why did you bring three children into such a situation Elaine King – bothers me that people feel the need to keep having babies when they cannot afford to give them the very basics of life which turns them into ferals struggling to survive.

    2 REPLY
    • That’s when I was a navy wife.. between 1967 n 1977. Had a husband I couldn’t trust. Couldn’t get assistant from the navy regarding his payroll. Lots of us girls lived like that.. I divorced him my income went fr $30 pw to near $300 PF. he complained when his maintenance went Dr $60pf to $100 of. Yes he was ripping me off. After divorce he started taking me n kids to naval events. Cos he was trying to crawl back into our lives. I’d but my kids a new outfits Dr target. Haircut new shoes..made sure my kids looked respectful. I’d be in a group of couple hundred ppl. (My clothes were bought from coles) the others were in stained ragged clothing n t und looked like they needed a good rest n feed. Ppl would come to me ask how come we the kids n I dressed so well. Told them honestly had enough of the craps. Oh n naval housing did they hate me.. the homes were filthy. Unsafe. Unkept. Flaking paint on walls. Loose floorboards. Flooded septic tanks. I learnt to be an expert on house inspection. Tapping hot water systems n hearing the rust falling off t inner walls. A friend was allocated a house that was damaged in an earthquake.. T walls moved fr the floorboards. Aftr months of complaints she notified t health dept. They were truly shit days. .but the x. Had a great life. He drank smoked gambled. Played up. As soon as legal aid was set up I was gone. His reply what’s my mum gonna say.. guess what my reply was.. my kids were unwell. Eldest took fits. The navy in those days couldn’t give a shit. I left continued my education got a career the kids grew up successfully. Have their own homes. Gkids r great. I think the dept of navy should be ashamed how they housed the families. Divorce rate was high. Returning from work 1 day on a train. Met a naval family they told me how luxurious they live now.. I just cried in front of them. Luckily mine survived. Many mums at that time were giving their kids to welfare cos they couldn’t cope living in flats n kids denied a private yard to play in without getting bashed up by older kids n toys pinched. Yes that was t lifestyle of Sydney.. I had no family. If I did I would’ve phoned them. Help. Yes I had many nervous breakdowns during that time. There I got it off my chest.

    • Can’t agree with that I came from a family of seven children without much money and we certainly didn’t turn out feral. I have met many people from reasonably well off families who have turned out feral.

  6. l would luv to read this book! Jessica U R an inspiration, honest & a Lady! Good on you! Luv your work! X

    1 REPLY
    • Also felt same way and still do. Too many opinions, a real feminist who only likes feminists. Never heard that word till Gillard made it so popular .

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