This woman first came to see me in September 1993, and was by far the most difficult case I have had so far.
It was difficult, not because the remedies were hard to see, but because she was so mentally ill, she had to rebuild her entire mental landscape from practically nothing. This she is now well on the way to accomplishing, and she has used the remedies for every step of the way. My reason for presenting this paper is to point out that no remedy in the world can replace lost time, lost education and lost life. This has to be relearnt after the block has been removed.
First consultation 13.9.93
Female aged 43, tall, rangy and spare, brunette and wearing glasses. She was quiet and soft spoken and self conscious, I had to lead the consultation throughout. No information was volunteered and she sat clasping and wringing her hands, looking downwards. She had no facial expression and did not smile.
Rheumatism in left knee and both hands < left hand, dull ache. Arthritis in right knee. The pain (dull ache) can be quite bad and the knee can give out, so she falls. GP gave her medication, but it worsened her stomach ulcer and her IBS. She also has a deep ache in her hip, her hands ache constantly and this can extend up her forearm, and she may drop things as her hands will not clasp.
“Lots” of other problems, including many attempted suicides, endogenous depression, alcoholism and anxiety for 25 years for which she has had ECT and ‘every known psychiatric drug’, and many residential stays in mental wards, plus lock ups. She has had ‘every sort of psychotherapy and counselling’.
MUM’S SIDE: Irish, arthritis, gout, gall bladder operation, gynaecological cysts/benign tumours, cancer of womb, stroke, HBP, heart attacks, glaucoma.
DAD’S SIDE: Family history not known. Dad was brought up in a home and had severe arthritis after an accident, and glaucoma. and his half brother had a heart attack and emphysema.
SIBLINGS : she has a younger brother who is in good health, but overweight and a smoker.
Her earliest memories are of abuse (uncle) and arguments and temper tantrums.
She was fully immunised and had measles and German measles, which left her with sight and hearing problems.
She also had mumps and chicken pox.
She was bullied at school. She had only two close friends, one from when she was five years old and one she met at secondary school. This latter friend committed suicide after school one day. Shortly before this, a beloved aunt died.
She reported acne as a teenager, which was ‘skin stripped’ by the local hospital. At 18, she took her first overdose. She was “completely and utterly withdrawn, her parents were ‘frightened and withdrew and couldn’t cope, they looked to the hospital to cope for them…’.
Other physical symptoms of headache and stomach ulcer and IBS have ‘gone’ since she came off all medication, and saw a hypnotherapist in 1993.
She has headaches from her sinus’ across the bridge of her nose and above her eyes “like something in there trying to get out”. She has also had profuse nose bleeds from her left nostril. She has no other physical problems, her appetite, menstruation and sleep are normal.
She would not speak of her dreams beyond saying that they were “nasty” and of “hearses and coffins with my name on it”.
She is chilly, especially her hands and feet, and she cannot cope with extremes of temperature. She gets a heat rash and blisters from the sun ‘but I do like it’. She is a dry person. + autumn and spring.
She is not married, her dad died in 1987 and she is the sole carer for her now invalid mother. She is very short sighted. She has mercury fillings in all teeth.
This poor woman left me feeling sadness and profound grief. She had started crying when she reported her friends suicide, and then had cried through most of the interview. However, it was the convulsive, silent sobbing with a red face, no tears and hysterical silences, she sobbed silently with her shoulders heaving, while she hid her face with her fingers spread over her nose and frontal and facial sinus, that remained with me.
She was not closed, but more unable to say more. She was frankly hysterical, but this was very suppressed. Apart from grief, she did not display, nor give any indication of being able to display any emotion, she was totally flat and repressed. She avoided eye contact almost totally and stared at the carpet or hid her face with her hands constantly. I was surprised that she had come at all, judging by her state, she must have wanted to be out of my gaze and alone. She was very, very depressed.
September 1993 – February 1994
During this time, I gave her ignatia and phosphorus and she duly discharged from her chest and sinus’ and after an initial mental improvement, when she actually laughed once, she then plummeted into the ‘silent sobbing routine’ and did not appear to be able to move on from this, saying only ‘I can’t get out from underneath it’. I then gave her some aurum and she started to access ‘awful isolation and fear’.
She began to have psychotic interludes and visual projections of ‘past lives’ which she described as ‘seeing photo’s of a girl and I watch it like a film, in a long hall with a fire at a feast ( the year is 1472 AD, and I am in Breystone near Hanton and Warwick, I am 15 years old, pregnant and alone, my name is Annie)’.
The scene then changed, she is in labour and lying in an old woman’s hut. It is winter and there is straw on the floor and pigs milling round. She then has the baby (a girl called Alice) and she was sick and hot with a constant cold and chesty. She is very frightened and the old woman is watching her (her name is Joan) with a contemptuous frown, as if she has seen it all before. Joan has brown clothes and matted hair.
The scene changed again, she is lying in a room on filthy blankets, the baby is dead and she is alone. She then had a couple more scenes, one was 1593 AD, ‘I was 14, called Alice and illiterate, it was a house in Greenwich and I had to take wine to the master, walking downstairs. I entered the master’s room (his name was Thomas Braby) and Sir John Gay was with him and they were whispering. In a corner a chest and a smaller chest with a big ugly cross and candles and a cloth. Then it stopped and I had the feeling that something was awfully wrong, with awful fear and awful isolation’.
This was biggest speech I ever got out of this mainly monosyllabic woman. We had a long discussion of all of this phenomena, she really needed to talk it all through. ‘I suddenly became my Granny Alice (Father’s mother whom she was never allowed to visit) and she became me – I am Alice!’
February 1994 – March 1995
During this time, she continued to plummet down and down. She went through psychotic periods and slowly began to access her anger, but she stopped here for many months, resorting to long periods of sullen silent sobbing, as if totally able to touch the core of her boil.
The remedy pictures came up quite clearly and the major remedies during this time were:
anhalonium (for delusion that she was totally alone on a desert world)
cimicifuga (for terrifying hypnogogic images before sleep)
opium (for terror and stuckness)
arnica (for shock and trauma, follows opium)
carcinocin (for the life long history of unhappiness)
glonoin (for explosive headaches ‘as if I’d been shot in the head’)
hydrogen (which I tried due to the dream that she had died and seen her name on her own coffin – see Jeremy Sherr’s proving ‘delusion dead woman coming back to life’)
bellis perennis (for her courage in coming back up after being constantly trodden on)
syphillinum (for the history of violent attacks and alcoholism during a nasty relationship when he punched her in the stomach and caused a miscarriage at five months – she called the baby Alice)
thuja (for the condition of her skin when all her teenage acne returned – it quickly disappeared with this remedy)
nat mur (for constantly being locked in the past)
mercury (because of her suspicious state, this remedy follows Thuja well and it also stabilised her temperature)
colycinth ( for red faced fury which she quickly suppressed again).
She had periods when she could laugh and she actually started to cry (the sobbing sessions had previously been totally dry eyed), but by far the most common picture she presented was sullen silent sobbing, when she would refuse to talk.
We had several sessions when she threw my remedies at me and stormed out, but she never forgot to pay me! I had put her on fortnightly appointments from December 1993, and this patient very definitely became a ‘heartsink’ patient for me from very early on, and I was myself affected by her profound distress and was being pulled in by her grief.
I very quickly surrounded myself with peer group support and soldiered on!
From January 1994 to February 1995, she did not sleep, except in the first part of the night, as if she woke every time she entered REM sleep. She angrily denied any dreams. Also during this period, she became anorexic and lost three stone in weight very quickly before she stabilised (mostly on hydrogen).
In October 1994, she attempted an overdose, but amazingly pulled away from the final act herself and phoned me.
From October to January 1995, she was completely locked into her sullen, silent sobbing routine, refusing to even speak to me, even though she turned up every fortnight for her appointment and paid me for every visit! I had very little choice but to sit and allow her to do this – it was as if she simply wanted me to witness her grief.
At this point, she turned on me and asked ‘what’s in this for you – why are you still here?’ I tried to explain that I was simply allowing her the space to heal (OK – I was operating by the seat of my pants!), but she seemed to need to test me out constantly to see if I were really trustworthy.
At this point (January 1995) I gave her electricitas 30c at Linda Razzell’s suggestion to remove the block of the ECT, and she came out of it. She then told me that ‘I’ve tried this technique on every consultant psychiatrist I’ve ever seen and they all fell for it and changed my medication, but you never did, you just sat there and let me do it’.
Slowly, she began to tell me that she’d never felt wanted. Silently and quietly, she described for me the scene of her birth in vivid detail.
I was immediately struck how close this was to her previous ‘past life recollections’. She described the room, the midwife, her mother turning away from her and her sense of rejection and isolation and total loneliness. After all the high drama, I was quite stunned by the quiet composure with which she described this scene. I gave her lac humanum 1m split dose, and she has come right up into the light and so far, she has maintained her improvement.
At our last consultation (March 1995), she sat and told me black jokes until the tears ran down her face and she laughed and laughed for over an hour. These jokes were about death and dead bodies and dead babies nobody wanted.
I have referred her to an osteopath (who has been working mainly with her muscles, which are drawn painfully tight all over her body), and she has been seeing an aromatherapy colleague of mine for many months (for physical touch and contact).
Throughout treatment, I simply gave the currently indicated remedies as they came up, which they did with great clarity. This had the effect of bringing her delusions and mental symptoms into the real world, where she could translate these feelings into actions that slowly resolved her defensive mind set and allowed her to feel and to act in a different way.
I feel, and so does she, that we have still much work to do. She has indeed been dead for many years, but she is now showing all the signs of life anyone could wish. The reason I have prepared this case for presentation is to say that even with the ‘right remedies’, the psyche needs time to heal.
She went through many phases, at one stage I was dealing with an angry baby for many months, only occasionally seeing the adult part of her. I still feel that major parts of her remain to be accessed.
I really wrote this paper to illustrate how difficult psychiatric cases are, and that simply getting the right remedy is not all there is to it. I could compare them to learning difficulty in children, my own son is a case in point. He was dreadfully dyslexic, and eventually DPT 30c really plugged him back in.
Suddenly, he could spell, it was wonderful. However, he’d got an awful lot of backlog education to catch up on, and this needed time and immense effort to do so. This analogy is very pertinent to this type of case, where huge chunks of the persons life have simply been missed for whatever reason.
I suffered greatly taking this case, but I have learned more from this patient than I can tell in one short paper. More than anything, I admire and respect this woman for her tenacious and lonely fight back. I am also profoundly grateful for the tremendous support and encouragement I had from friends and colleagues. I could never have gone through this case alone, and I would not recommend anyone to try doing so. We have a lot to learn about homoeopathic psychiatry, I hope this paper helps.
Sue Young RSHom
Copyright© Sue Young