The Hardest Year

The Hardest Year is the story of one of the roughest introductions to motherhood you can imagine. Jen Wight breaks the taboo around mental ill health to honestly recount her experience of developing postpartum psychosis and then severe postnatal depression. She tells the tales of being convinced that she was Cameron Diaz; that she and Obama were going to use FaceBook to save the world; and that she was going to cure cerebral palsy with dental floss.

One scary night she experiences regressing back through her ‘past lives’ to become a sixties housewife, an aboriginal woman living when Cook first sailed through The Heads into Sydney Harbour, and finally the first chimpanzee to communicate with words. And it all started on Day Six of her son’s life.

She uses her experiences to explore her relationship with her sister who has schizophrenia and to illustrate that while mental illness can be devastating, there is hope that things can get better.

The Hardest Year is being published by Trigger Press and will be available in Spring 2019.

Praise for Day Six

“This gripping book will take readers into the darkest of post-partum mood disorders. Despite the gravity of the topic and the torture that Jen described over an extended period, she recounts her excruciating physical and mental experiences with irony, whimsy and sharp observations. Importantly, hers is a message of hope, and she itemises the key ingredients involved in coming out of the darkness of a post-natal mood disorder and into the light in a captivating enlightening way.”

Professor Gordon Parker AO – Professor of Psychiatry University of New South Wales, and psychiatrist Black Dog Institute.

“This book is a brave and honest account of what it’s really like to experience a mental illness at the very time when you are expected to be most content: when you’re a new mother. It’s not only a compelling read, but a moving insight into how psychiatric illness affects not only your mind but also your body, your relationships and the sense of who you are.”

Dr Dawn Barker, psychiatrist & author of “Fractured”

“Jen Wight has written a very important book. She charts the territory of post-natal psychosis and depression with clarity and detail, giving the reader first-hand experience of these states. Her’s is a vivid, highly personal, and graphic account of a terrifying experience that we need to understand a great deal more about.

As with many female conditions, not nearly enough is known and communicated about post-partum disorder, and so each sufferer has her experience made far worse by the isolation and ignorance that attends it. Jen’s book could do much to throw light on this not uncommon condition. It will be invaluable for all those close to someone going through it; friends, partners and families needing support and enlightenment.

As a patron of the mental health charity SANE, I also think it will be of great use to mental health practitioners, and to all those midwives, nurses and doctors who are close at hand in the weeks following birth.

Jen Wight has written with great courage, vision and wit – and has produced a book of real insight and value.”

Juliet Stevenson CBE – Award winning actress and patron of SANE UK

“This book will give the reader a very special insight in to remarkable journey that Jen encountered. It is fascinating to read of her experiences, documented with brutal and beautiful honesty throughout. A fabulous book that I found impossible to put down.”

Bibi Kennedy clinical nurse specialist

I had three children and imagined I knew most things about having a baby. I didn’t. Jen Wight’s story of her first experiences with childbirth made my hair stand on end as she took me through a labyrinth of happenings, from postpartum psychosis to depression. At times she imagined she was Cameron Diaz; at other times, that she would be awarded a Nobel Prize for curing cerebral palsy with dental floss. Her accounts are backed by medical explanations and are courageous and informative.

She introduces us to her partner, known affectionately as The Norwegian, who takes over feeding and cuddling their baby. Lack of sleep means the couple struggle. I think back to some of my own early difficulties, and recognize that not nearly enough has been written acknowledging the problems of early motherhood. For some women, it’s a breeze; for others, it can be frightening – which is why Jen Wight’s memoir, is such a brilliant contribution to one of the most important experiences in human life, and one of the most mysterious.

Anne Deveson AO – Author of Tell Me I’m Here; co-founder of Sane Australia and the Schizophrenia Fellowship of NSW; former member NSW Mental Health Tribunal

If you have had a similar experience and would like to share your story please add it here:

One comment

  1. Rachel Wight · ·

    As Jen’s parents, even though we were with Jen for nearly 5 months through her illness and saw first-hand her tremendous struggle, we found her book both painful and very uplifting. It really is
    an inside picture of what she was going through. It was like watching our much loved daughter trying to cope with her life, her emotions and her relationships while reaching through a black and frightening screen. We admire her more than we can say for her courage, the Norwegian for his steadfast loyalty and fantastic care for his wife and son, and now her honesty in writing openly about her experience so that other sufferers and their families could have an empathetic roadmap with a happy ending.

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