"To write lyrically about the lure of oblivion, of unwanted urges to hurt your infant son, of masochism and the temptation to self-harm – without romanticising or demonising these impulses – takes considerable subtlety and skill. Running beneath all these elegantly written essays, like a melancholy basso continuo, is Jessica Friedmann's struggle with post-natal depression and the way it alienates her from her self and those she loves."--Fiona Capp, Sydney Morning Herald, Pick of the Week.
"In this collection of candid essays, Friedmann weaves thinking from the likes of Lacan, Kristeva and Cixous into her own lived experience of postnatal depression, to more broadly consider the onerous challenges of being female, a writer and a mother. While Things That Helped does not push at the boundaries to the same degree as the writings of Nelson and Kraus, it is more accessible in its structure." --Kara Nicholson, Readings.
"Through adopting the lens of intersectionality, Friedmann avoids becoming a cliche. She demonstrates a solid understanding of the power structures surrounding motherhood, of which race is one. While depression has a strong physiological root cause, she is aware of the societal factors that also contribute. Despite the buffer of whiteness, she suffers due to the unpaid emotional labour of motherhood and the gendered stigma surrounding depression. Friedmann’s self-awareness is complemented by a grounding in psychoanalysis, but she strikes a good balance between memoir and theory and never lets the latter weigh down her essays." --Emily Laidlaw, The Australian
‘[A]n impressive debut … Friedmann views the world through a lens of intersectionality, and she has a sharp eye for how gender, race, and class shapes the family unit … Her language is deeply visceral, and therefore hugely affecting, when describing the feeling of pregnancy, motherhood, and mental illness … [Things That Helped] makes readers feel and think.’--Books and Publishing
"This is a book you want to read in bits over a week or two – one to close at the end of each part so that the essay can roll around in the back of your mind and unfurl steadily in the heat of your thoughts like a bundled chrysanthemum tea flower."--Grace McCarter, Hot Chicks With Big Brains
"Always careful not to alienate her readers, whether that be through clear and considered explanations about complex points of theory or by admitting her own privilege where it arises, Friedmann has produced an engrossing and fiercely intelligent work, easily digestible by all."--Ana Vucic, RMITV In Review
"While Friedmann’s focus is her post-natal depression, her essays radiate out across art, feminism, music, the environment, marriage and race. It is an enthralling journey through her expansive knowledge and sharp mind. This isn’t a 10-step recovery narrative. It is a 12-chapter chipping away at the edifice of depression, each chapter offering a thing that helped."--Justine Hyde, Hub and Spoke
""An impressive book, lyrical and erudite even as some of the topics Friedmann broaches are disturbing . . . She effortlessly mixes the personal and the political in this memoir. Critical theory is blended into the book, but remains accessible and not intrusive. The intersection between selfhood, motherhood and womanhood are all written about with visceral candor, and she uses imagery to a startling effect." —Thuy On, The Big Issue
"My breath stops and slows and speeds up as Jessica writes of the birth of her son. I see it, red and raw, her breasts leaking, her stomach tearing. And I feel mine tear too even though, looking underneath the shirt I've plucked from the folds of my boyfriend's bed, my stomach is fine. Whole and mine."--Clare Rankine, Interlude