Em Rusciano is a singer, writer, TV presenter, broadcaster, stand-up comedian and MC.
Her media career started when she made the top ten in Australian Idol’s second season. This led to hosting Perth’s 92.9 breakfast radio show for four years.
She has appeared on Network Ten’s The Project as a presenter and regularly on Studio 10 on Network Ten and Mornings on Channel Nine and she writes weekly for popular women’s website Mamamia.com.au.
Em has written, produced, directed and starred in several shows at the Melbourne Cabaret Festival and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
Em shared her story as part of beyondblue’s Just Speak Up campaign during Postnatal Depression Awareness Week 2013.
She experienced postnatal depression after the birth of her second child when, rather than the elation she felt after her first pregnancy, she had trouble bonding with her baby.
“I went to work, I did the radio show, and then I went to the hospital, and I gave birth. I was looking at the birth as something I had just to get through, get it done, spend a week getting over it, and then just get straight back in to life as though nothing had happened.”
Em said after the first month, she knew something wasn't right because there wasn’t the euphoria of a new baby she experienced with her first child.
“Odette arrived and she was a dream baby. She slept, and she ate, and she was happy all the time, but I was having real trouble connecting with her.
“I felt like I'd been given someone else's child, like she was a stranger to me, and I'd hear her crying, and I didn't instantly want to rush to see if she was okay. I almost resented her.
“I had terrible insomnia because I was awake worrying about how I was feeling or what I wasn't feeling.
“I just couldn't find any joy in anything, and I had to pretend for three hours every day on air that I was okay.”
Em said that a couple of times during that year, people close to her asked if she was okay and she rejected their concerns.
“I was biting a lot of people's heads off at that point. And I was always saying, ‘How dare you suggest I am not coping. I have so much on my plate. I'm doing a really good job.’ But I was nervous that they were starting to see through the facade that I had put up.”
Em found one morning she didn’t want to get out of bed and face the day so her husband suggested she visit her GP. She explained her symptoms and the GP said that Em was experiencing postnatal depression.
“I was surprised at how easy it was to get the help once I got it and I wish I had had gone much earlier.
Em said the assistance and support she received after the diagnosis helped her realise that she was going to be okay as postnatal depression could be treated and fixed.
“It didn't make me a bad person. It didn't make me a bad mother. There was a reason for it. So, that gave me hope, and there was a slow recovery, and there were ups and downs, and some days were better than others.
“Speak up about it. Tell your other half, tell your mother, tell someone. Don't be embarrassed or ashamed. Go to your doctor, tell them, and that's it, you're not on your own anymore.
“I would say to any woman, go as soon as you don't feel well, go as soon as you feel angry towards you newborn for no reason. Even if you think you've got one symptom of what I've just said, go to your doctor because it is so simple to get diagnosed, and it is so simple to start getting a bit of joy back.
“Odette and I are now closer than ever. It hasn't affected our relationship, but I really wish that I had gone and got help at the point when I knew that something was wrong.”