Arts > A nightmare beyond birth

18 May 2017 | by D.J. Taylor

A nightmare beyond birth


A nightmare beyond birth

The terror of post-partum psychosis

D.J. Taylor
Mama Courage
BBC Radio 4

Albert Hudson Bannister came into the world in early February 2014. Neither of his parents, the comedian and writer Jessica Pidsley and her husband, Matthew Bannister, were, as they circumspectly put it, “under any illusions” about the challenges that lay in wait. What they didn’t anticipate was that a bare 72 hours after Albert’s birth they should be in the grip of a full-blown psycho-drama.

Mama Courage (12 May), in which Jessica and Matthew played themselves, was essentially an audio diary of Jessica’s travails over the next few weeks. It began with tiny eruptions of temper, moved on to a moment in which Jessica, preparing to greet the midwife, found herself gripped by a “powerful force” that seemed “like oblivion” and then plateaued out in a series of non-stop talking sessions.


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