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Jess Marais: how my little girl saved me

Actress Jessica Marais says the love of her daughter and support from her partner are vital to her ability to cope with bipolar.

Jessica Marais and her daughter, Scout. Photo: Media Mode.
In an exclusive interview with the June issue of The Australian Women's Weekly, the 29-year-old Love Child actress reveals how she has battled bipolar since a teen – and how the birth of her daughter Scout two years ago has helped her cope.
"Scout is very affectionate, very intuitive and displays amazing compassion for a toddler," she tells The Weekly. "If I am ever having a hard day, she runs up and grabs my face in her two little hands. She can make everything peaceful and Zen in one simple gesture."
"She's my little Zen master," Jessica added.
The former Packed To The Rafters star tells The Weekly she traces the on-set of her condition to the death of her father when she was only 12-years-old.
"I just think it's important to talk about depression. It's nothing to be ashamed of. And the more we talk about it as a community, the more we remove the stigma," she says in the wide-ranging interview.
She adds her partner, actor James Stewart, also a Packed To The Rafters alumni, has also been a rock for her.
"My bipolar is actually very manageable," she says in the interview. "And having a child to pull me out of it has made all the difference in the world."
Jessica Marais and her partner James Stewart.
Sometimes referred to as the "creative curse", bipolar is a common condition which has been thought to have affected many high-functioning creative types throughout history – including Ernest Hemingway, Vincent Van Gogh and the author Graeme Greene.
Australia's pre-eminent authority on depression, the Black Dog Institute, describes bipolar as "a set of 'mood swing' conditions, the most severe of which used to be called manic depression."
On its website, which also features a self-test, Black Dog says there are "milder and more severe" forms of the condition which sometimes manifests itself in wild mood swings – from euphoric highs to crushing lows.
Recently, other high-profile sufferers of depression, including Ian Thorpe and high-profile TV producer, Adam Boland, have bravely shared their experiences in the public sphere.

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