Norwich mum launches stand-up show to take the stress out of parenting

Jessica Pidsley and her son Albert Bannister, 7-months-old. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Jessica Pidsley and her son Albert Bannister, 7-months-old. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: copyright: Archant 2014

Norwich mum and RADA-trained actress Jessica Pidsley has turned the most frightening experience of her life into something to smile about.

The 30-year-old is launching her first stand-up show in the city on Monday afternoon, which looks at the funny side of being a parent.

Jessica and her husband Matt entered the brave new world of parenting on February 5, when their son Albert was born in a birthing pool in the dining room of their Unthank Road home.

After a text book pregnancy - 'an interesting, cool text book, not a boring one' - Jessica's mental health began to suffer.

It was when she went into hospital when Albert was a week old because he had jaundice that she started experiencing symptoms she didn't recognise.

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'There was talk about it being postnatal depression but I told my husband I didn't know what it was,' said Jessica.

'I have had depression and it wasn't that. It was not a sinking and then a falling feeling, it was like going up the highest mountain and jumping off and then climbing back up again.'

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She got worse, experiencing manic and lucid episodes, tourettes symptoms and even becoming violent.

Jessica was transferred to the Margaret Oates Mother and Baby Unit in East London, avoiding being sectioned, and was there for two months.

'I slept for only nine hours in 11 days and my throat was hurting from all the screaming,' she said.

'It was trying to systematically destroy me. That's the only way I can explain it. I have been hard on myself before, but I never had an enemy within me - that was a really startling experience.'

It was Jessica's sister-in-law, who is a doctor, who suggested it could be postpartum psychosis.

Being an actress and a writer, Jessica documented her experiences, writing pages and pages of notes and making recordings of episodes - one lasting for one hour and 18 minutes.

She has used them to form part of her Bring a Bottle Show, which will be staged in the bar of the Norwich Playhouse at 2pm on Monday.

The hour-long show is about taking the stress and worry out of first-time parenting.

Jessica's mantra is 'what would a second-time mum do?' and says that when something gets stuck in Albert's throat, she sticks her thumbs up and praises his gagging reflex, rather than panicking and rushing to his aid.

There will be nappy changing races, baby-brain buster quizzes and under-six month heckling is welcomed.

It will all be performed with Albert strapped to Jessica's front.

'It's just to alleviate that pressure and say to other parents, you are doing a really great job,' said Jessica.

'I want people to go out feeling they are doing the best they can and that is good enough.'

Bring a Bottle is at Norwich Playhouse at 2pm on Monday, with an extra performance at 3pm, dependant on numbers.

Tickets are priced at £5 on the door.

For more information, visit or follow Jessica on Twitter @muthacourage

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