Kate Miller-Heidke shares her battle with postnatal depression in Eurovision entry

Kate Miller-Heidke is one of the artists fighting to represent Australia at this year's Eurovision contest.
Kate Miller-Heidke is one of the artists fighting to represent Australia at this year's Eurovision contest. Photo: Cole Bennetts

Singer/songwriter Kate Miller-Heidke says the aftermath of childbirth left her world "shaken" and questioning her identity.

Emerging from a two-year battle with postnatal depression, the 37-year-old mum of Ernie Edward, has shared her experience in a song, which she hopes will earn her a spot as Australia's representative at Eurovision 2019 in Israel.

Ms Miller-Heidke will take to the stage with the deeply personal 'Zero Gravity' on Saturday night for Eurovision: Australia Decides at the Gold Coast Convention Centre, competing against nine other Aussie hopefuls to appear in Tel Aviv in May. 

In a Facebook post ahead of her appearance, the award-winning artist shared the story behind the powerful lyrics. 

"The birth of my son Ernie, was lengthy and traumatic," she says. "There was a period afterwards when I couldn't remember who I was - my old self seemed so ill-equipped to handle the overwhelming task of protecting and nurturing this helpless, little creature."

Miller-Heidke who is married to singer/songwriter Keir Nuttall also felt a "powerful layer of guilt" for grieving the loss of her old identity as she adapted to new motherhood.

"I remember my first show after the birth, when Ernie was about eight weeks old," she says. "I genuinely didn't know if I could do it. I thought, 'But I'm not ME anymore. How can I sing these songs?'"

Struggling through what Miller-Heidke describes as the "relentlessness" of having an infant - "the sleep deprivation, the mental fog, the physical weakness, the sensation of somebody trying to suck your nipples off 28 times a day," Ms Miller-Heidke writes that it wasn't until after Ernie turned two that she began feeling "stronger".

"I woke up one day and felt somehow... better," she says, describing it as a feeling of "transcendence"."The fog had lifted.I had the energy to see friends. I felt like I had been given a golden ticket."


Recovering from postnatal depression, inspired Miller-Heidke to pen her Eurovision entry, a celebration of feeling "strong, joyful and relieved". 

["It's] about emerging from depression into balance again," she says, adding that the lyrics talk to depression personified "as if it were an awful lover or terrible friend".

Terri Smith, CEO of   Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia, (PANDA) believes Miller-Heidke's experience will resonate with so many women across the country who have experienced postnatal depression.

"Working out who you are in the haze of postnatal depression while juggling the challenges of a new baby can be overwhelming," she says. "The thing I love most about the song is that it gives hope.  When you have postnatal depression it can be hard to see that you will recover and reconnect with yourself as well as build great love with your baby."

Ms Smith also believes that 'Zero Gravity' breaks down barriers and highlights the importance of talking about the illness that affects one in five expecting or new mums.

"While we celebrate the efforts of all the Australian contestants, here at PANDA we're backing Kate and 'Zero Gravity' this time around because we think it's a great opportunity to prompt conversations about the mental health of parents," she says, explaining that PANDA has launched a social media campaign to encourage its community to vote for the song.

"Although perinatal anxiety and depression is a serious and common illness that affects around 100,000 families across Australia every year, it is still not well understood in the community. The more we can bring it into the open, the better," she says.

"This wonderful song can help make that happen."

The live TV final of Eurovision: Australia Decides will broadcast on SBS on Saturday.

Lifeline - 13 11 14

PANDA - 1300 726 306 or go to panda.org.au