My 9 year old describes being calm is being in a state of peacefulness- like being outside in nature, in a sunny field feeling the cool breeze on your skin, listening to the birds and the brook, observing how the birds fly in patterns and taking in all the beautiful colors.
Now, if this was what we felt in reality as adults, I guess we’d make up for a very cordial and happy civilization. An adult suffering from anxiety and depression is probably suggested thousands of times to relax and take it easy, or it’s not that bad and they should just stop worrying and not stress about things. Alas, the solution is not as easy as flicking a switch that will enable them to turn off that endless stream of thoughts- thoughts that keep them up at night, or prevent them from ‘enjoying’ life and go out in society and participate in this event called ‘life’!
In my opinion Anxiety, like other personality traits and emotional responses are by-products of the interaction between our genetic blueprint and environmental influences. Our genetic coding makes us more receptive to certain specific stimuli and influence resilience to other stimuli. Fear, anxiety, panic and stress are the default defensive responses to stimuli that are perceived as threats, and whether we like it or not- are actually precursors to help our mind and body to face and deal with challenges more efficiently. Simply put, Anxiety is a normal human reaction in a situation that makes one uncomfortable. It will, however, be detrimental if the individual is stuck in this gear of Anxious response. And when this state persists long enough (this duration will differ in people of different constitutions) it will irritate the organism enough to create somatic symptoms.
It reminds me of a case from 2018- Kelsey was a 20 something University student who was enrolled in a highly competitive and demanding course, who also ran an online business on such platforms like Etsy. She was finding it difficult to strike a healthy balance between her studies, business and personal relationships and started developing IBS-like symptoms. One December morning (peak holiday season shopping meant more orders for her to fill on Etsy and she was running behind on her University assignments) she had to be taken to the emergency room for what was diagnosed as a panic attack and was given Alprazolam (Xanax) which was not tolerated well. Alprazolam was affecting her appetite, her libido, made her dizzy and feel lethargic, and worst of all she started developing suicidal ideations. At this point her classmate booked her an appointment with me. We were able to taper off the alprazolam and I recommended a remedy called Sepia. We allowed enough time (2 weeks) for the alprazolam to exit her system but the Sepia did not even touch her IBS and the side effects of alprazolam were still lingering.
She felt angry with me, felt that I let her down after an impressive initial consult and she repeatedly stated that she always suffers from karmic misfortunes, which makes her angry towards the world, including people who are close to her. “Everyone is out there to get me! My clients, my professors, my boyfriend!” (Her mother informed me that an unhappy client was threatening to sue her just the day before this appointment). It was clear that I missed the crux of this case.
Upon re-evaluation it was noted that Kelsey’s earliest memory of feeling anxious stemmed from an event when she was 10 years old. Her best friend was jealous of her school project and sabotaged her presentation. She was furious and broke off all relations she had with this girl and Kelsey distinctly remembers that since that day before any presentation she would feel anxious and would fear that something will go wrong. I asked her if she developed any physical symptoms as a response to stresses like these and yes, she did- she would have diarrhea before her exams, complained of painful abdominal bloating and frightful anxious dreams while waking up un-refreshed and tired. She was treated for these by a ‘mild anxiolytic’ (she cannot remember what she was prescribed) for a few months which enabled her to feel more relaxed and sleep better. The IBS-like symptoms, however, would time and again pop up during times of stress and did not improve overall. The next time she had to take sedatives and anxiolytics was when she was 17, and returned to Canada after travelling to Thailand, Burma and India. Apparently, she had contracted malaria which was not quickly diagnosed and had to be hospitalized. This is when the nightmares began and her IBD flared up after her malaria symptoms were resolved.
On paper and in person, she resonated with the Sepia constitution type- very independent, industrious, competitive, short-tempered and most of the times indifferent to her loved ones and also exhibited GI symptoms that were covered by this remedy. However, when this straight forward approach failed, a re-evaluation was done as described above. I eliminated the rubric Anxiety, since it was a bi-product, that resulted from anger. She exhibited this ‘learned symptom behavior’ of anxiety associated with IBS consistently to external stressful stimuli, both emotional (anger towards best friend- surprisingly never once did she mention that she felt betrayed or hurt by her friend’s actions. It was pure rage- apparently she punched this girl in the face in front of the entire class room!) and physical (from parasitic infection and botched treatment of the same!).
Her gut response was anger which in turn made way for her anxiety and IBS symptoms. (and this is not typical Anxiety disorder patients present themselves in a typical practice. This is why I love Homeopathy! It implores me to observe peculiar characteristics of each patient. It is never a text book case!)
So, in my analysis I included rubrics that covered the etiology of her case and characteristic emotional symptoms that only Kelsey could have exhibited. You can see that the original remedy Sepia ranks 4th on the list.
The remedy that was the clear winner based on these key entry points was Cinchona offincinalis, commonly known as China. We started with a low potency- 30C once daily for a week which produced magical results.
She developed fever with chills and severe diarrhea. I recommended not to treat these symptoms and reassured her that this was a typical response when the Constitutional remedy is correct. She swore she was having malaria again (Trivia: Cinchona is the same plant from which Quinine is derived- a potent anti-malarial drug) but knew it was a silly idea since malaria is not endemic in Canada and there was not a mosquito in sight in February! We stopped the remedy until her symptoms resolved and she reported 50% improvement in her anxiety symptoms. We switched to 200C potency and gradually up to 1M by April’19 by when she admitted being in the best health she has ever been in!
She expressed remorse in punching her old school friend and in May 2019 made an effort to reach out to her on FB. She feels more calm and admits that her “stressors have not changed considerably, but she has tapped in on her inner renewed soul to deal with them more harmoniously”.
It will be almost a year since I first met Kelsey and I am proud of how she has grabbed her raging bull by the horns and found good fortune and calm in a world that is always busy around her. Perhaps, she can try getting away from this busy world by going to the country side and being one with nature- next year, in the summer of 2020!
- Snapshot of Kelsey’s (name changed in the article and redacted in the snapshot) evaluation done on Complete Dynamics Repertorization software