Many women experience varying degrees of post-partum depression after giving birth, but for 31-year-old Katherine Shaw, she was convinced she was the promised second coming of Jesus Christ...among other things.
A week after having her son, Jude, Shaw went from a healthy but sleep-deprived new mum, to someone who believed by flushing the toilet, she could trigger a flood similar to the biblical one that warranted the building of Noah’s ark.
Shaw, from Shewsbury, was diagnosed with post-partum psychosis - a rare form of mental health disorder that affects new mothers.
According to her, she started having racing thoughts days after having her son on April 24, 2020. Looking back, she believed her psychosis may have been brought on by lack of sleep.
Even when I did get the chance to sleep, I was unable to switch off and sleep soundly. I didn’t have negative thoughts at this point, but my brain was very active and wanted to be busy all the time. On reflection, I feel this may have been some sort of mania in the build-up to the psychotic episode.
Her husband and mum suspected something was off with her, even though she tried to control her racing thoughts.
I believed tapping my phone rapidly would transfer the thoughts from my head into my phone and I thought rubbing my hands or tapping on myself quickly would slow down time. I started to think I was the second coming and Jude’s birth was linked to this. I was unable to swallow my food and was convinced if I flushed the toilet it would trigger a Noah’s Ark type situation.
She was admitted to a hospital and was discharged when she had calmed down a bit.
However, she continued to struggle with her mental health.
I experienced panic attacks, I lost my appetite, I had blurry vision, mood swings, I felt numb and spaced out, I had constant anxiety, difficulty concentrating and intrusive thoughts that constantly controlled, tormented and haunted my mind.
She then decided to admit herself and baby Jude to the Brockington Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) in Stafford.
Shaw spent four ‘difficult’ months at the MBU receiving treatment. Now fully recovered, she has returned to work as a special educational needs (SEN) teacher.
She is also working with Action on Postpartum Psychosis to raise awareness about the condition, particularly among expectant and new parents.