Healing with Homeopathy: Way Up and Way Down; A Woman with Bipolar Disorder
Healing with Homeopathy: Way Up and Way Down; A Woman with Bipolar Disorder
Lily, a 35-year-old respiratory therapist from Alabama diagnosed with bipolar disorder some years earlier, has been under our care for the past two years with considerable success. When we first spoke with her, she shared this story: "I'm really struggling (3). This is the lowest period of my life (3). My depression has been even worse since I had a miscarriage almost two years ago. I feel so unhappy. I just can't find any joy within myself (3)."
Able to function at work, Lily was caught in the grips of depression the moment she came home. "Dishes in the sink, newspapers on the floor. That's the first thing I see when I walk in the door. Then I have to start cleaning right away. If my kitchen's a mess, my life's a mess (2). My husband and children can tell you how cranky and unhappy I am around the house. Home is never right (3). Not the right furniture or the right pictures on the walls.
"I can't believe how critical I've become (3). I argue with people inside my head. My husband is an architect. We have three lovely children. But since the miscarriage and the tubal ligation I had right afterwards, I haven't been able to get rid of the sadness. It makes me weepy even to talk about it (3). My sexual energy has been mostly dead (2). I even withdrew from my friends after I lost the baby. They had little kids and I couldn't bear being around their families. I made all kinds of excuses to isolate myself. I still do much of the time.
"I've been on lithium for ten years. My psychiatrist recommended that I try going off of it, but I quickly entered into another manic state. When I became manic, I believed that I was carrying a very special baby who would save the world. I don't eat or sleep when I have one of those episodes and my mind races. I received communication that one of my daughter's classmates who is seriously ill, died. When I feel that way, I have a heightened awareness that I'm God's very special child whom he loves more than anyone else (3). It feels as if something extremely important is about to take place. Everything happens so fast during those times. It's almost like I'm on a train taking us to a destination where there will be only goodness and peace (2). I sense that I have a role in enabling God's plan to unfold so that the world can become a better place. There's a feeling of urgency about it all. Even when I'm not manic I believe there's a divine plan.
"As a little girl, my feelings were always very tender. My face would turn beet-red when I felt embarrassed. I'd run upstairs to my room, throw myself face down on the bed, and go to sleep. Overreacting was ingrained in me by my mother who taught me `Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, I'm gonna go eat worms.' I'm still a lot the same way.
"My first manic episode came six months after a severe depression. I had graduated from college and broken up with my boyfriend. I'd just begun working as a respiratory therapist at a busy hospital. I used a number of recreational drugs. Then I got so depressed that I ended up on a psychiatric ward for a month. They gave me Thorazine and Stelazine. Then I went to a contemplative Buddhist community. I became engaged, and got married. We had two great kids. Then came the miscarriage. Shortly afterwards I went to India and spent time with some of the Tibetan refugees who had been tortured by the Chinese. I missed my sleep and it was very stressful. Fearing that someone would harm me and that I would never see my family again, I had another period of mania and was hospitalized."
Later in the course of our work with Lily, she confided that she suffered a severe postpartum manic episode after the birth of her son. Hospitalized for four days, her husband felt that she was unable to care for the child who stayed with family friends. Lily was still furious with her husband and friends for not returning the baby to her immediately following the hospitalization.
"This year has been a roller coaster (3). High to low, up and down. I'd like to be myself again." Normally a good listener with a gentle temperament, Lily had a preference for solitude. She loved being by the ocean. Despite the fact that her husband was an architect, the fear of poverty was always present as was a fear of being alone and not being able to handle her life. Since childhood, Lily had always dreaded walking through the woods in case she came upon a snake. She was unable to remember any of her dreams.
Her only physical complaint was intermittent constipation.
The prescription was based on Lily's inability to find joy in her life, the history of sadness and loss of sexual energy following the miscarriage, her dissatisfaction with and heightened degree of criticism of her family, and her fear of poverty and snakes. We chose Sepia (cuttlefish ink) for Lily in a 200C potency. The prescription was based on the following rubrics: affection, rejects; amusement, nothing gives him; anger, irascibility; with himself and others; despair about her miserable existence; responsibility; wants to give up her; vivaciousness; alternating with sadness; affection, cannot demonstrate; cheerfulness alternating with sadness; brooding; capriciousness; cares, full of, about domestic affairs; has visions; discontented with everything; ennui; weeping while telling her symptoms; censorious.
Within days of taking the first dose, she reported feeling more of a connection in her thinking process. Lily experienced an immediate sense of lightness and happiness as well as more energy and an increased capacity to accomplish her daily tasks. She decided to pursue additional training in respiratory therapy and also switched to another hospital which she enjoyed more.
"My husband and I are resolving some issues in our marriage. A channel of communication was opened which was previously unavailable. I'm finding myself going around the house imagining which wallpaper and pictures I want where. I even bought a new rug. I'm enjoying my home much more. There's also been a positive shift in my relationship with my son. I can feel my sexuality emerging in a variety of areas. I've lost 10 pounds. Everyone notices the changes in me. I feel more connected to myself since taking the medicine. I'm simply not as caught up in the details of life as I was before."
Nine months after the initial dose of Sepia, Lily began to experience "a bit of an episode" of mania which made her feel "about two feet off the ground." Her psychiatrist put her on Navane, an antipsychotic medication, and Cogentin, to counteract the side effects of the Navane. We also repeated the Sepia in the same potency. Lily soon felt significantly better and was able to discontinue the new medications after one week although she had continued to take the lithium which she had been taking all along. She explained to us, "This episode was so different from the others. I didn't lose it completely and I continued to work."
At one point in her treatment about six months ago, Lily called complaining of a debilitating flu. Her throat felt as if it were closing, her temples ached, her face was hot and flushed, and her sinuses dry. Her body felt achy, her stomach nauseated, neck and shoulders achy, and her thirst was much less than usual. Gelsemium (yellow jasmine), considered to be a complementary remedy of Sepia, "worked like a charm." Lily felt worse for an hour, slept peacefully all night, and woke up the next morning feeling quite well and able to go to work.
Lily has needed a total of eight doses of Sepia, three doses of 200C, 4 doses of 1M, and 1 dose of 10M. Recently she fell again into a bipolar episode after having eaten coffee ice cream which antidoted the homeopathic medicine. Because she forgot to tell us about the exposure to coffee, we assumed that the 1M was no longer holding and raised the potency to 10M. Lily can always tell within a few days if the medicine is working and she reported no effect from the Sepia 10M. We were puzzled until she mentioned the coffee ice cream. We then repeated the Sepia 1M with excellent results. It is a good reminder that the organism will often not respond to a higher dose of a homeopathic medicine until it has thoroughly exhausted the therapeutic effects of the lower dose.
Lily is still taking lithium carbonate. Since beginning homeopathic treatment two years ago she has had two minor manic episodes, no periods of debilitating depression, and no hospitalizations. When we spoke to her recently, she assured us that she felt 80% better overall than prior to homeopathy. She continues to experience intermittent feelings of darkness from time to time but nothing like the drastic ups and downs and constant sadness that was common previously. We anticipate that Lily will feel even better over time. She may or may not need to continue taking lithium for life. What is most important is that she feels a sense of happiness, direction, and connection with life and that she is able to function increasingly well as a wife, mother, and health professional.
Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients.
By Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman and Robert Ullman