Anna is a married woman in her 40s with an 11-year-old son. She came to me first about her son, who was obsessed with the tragedy of being an only child. He would cry and sob all day long. Anna tried her utmost to get pregnant again, even to the extent of having donor egg fertility treatment, which ended in miscarriage.
The boy’s treatment is described in an earlier article, “Two Cases of Childhood Depression,” published in Hpathy, March 2019. Curiously enough, his recovery did little to ease Anna’s anguish, so she made an appointment for herself.
“Was it something I did that the donor egg didn’t work? I’m still struggling; I’m still a bundle of nerves. I feel anxious physically in my stomach area all the way down to my upper legs.
Most days I am keeping my emotions in check, so I won’t cry because I feel emotionally depleted. And I feel a little removed from life, even from my family. I feel like I failed my son, that he looks to me for the answer, for his one dream to be realized, and unfortunately I can’t realize it for him.
It’s too late. Don’t get me wrong—I am SO, SO grateful that Nick is doing so much better! That’s huge! And I am trying to work on myself to get over it, but it’s hard. I still feel stuck. I’m still in the weeds but working my way up.
I was born in Lebanon, and from age 7-9 we were in the midst of Civil War. So it was a very traumatic experience for me as a child to hear the bombs falling, and my mom would tell me when I was older how she was worried about me as she covered my ears, and I would just scream and scream. I also missed 2 years of schooling because they were closed down during the war, most of 1st grade and all of 2nd and 3rd grades.
Also, when we moved to the United States as refugees at age 9, I had a miserable time adjusting for 2 years and made my parents’ miserable because I would weep and beg not to go to school. Everything was so different for me. I was an emotional kid.”
She goes on to describe another, more recent trauma. Three years ago, one of her older brothers, a “shining star of the family,” was arrested for sexually touching his daughter. “It knocked me down,” Anna relates; “I couldn’t process it.”
The brother had to serve a jail sentence, and the family kept it from the mother by pretending he went to the Middle East for a job. “Somehow I survived it,” Anna concludes, “but I will never make sense of it. I put the affair in a box; it’s not part of my psyche anymore. I went through that storm, though I still feel guilty about mom not knowing.”
She mentions three other traumas:
- Her mother died. “I was always so close to mom. I don’t know if I mourned her. I had to keep my son going; he took all my attention.
- My dad’s legs lost strength. I work full time, so we put him in a nursing home. He is becoming senile.
- I’m Armenian. How do you process what happened to our people?” [the Armenian Genocide by the Ottoman government in 1915]
Past history: she had severe eczema as child but grew out of it, except a small patch in the hollow of her knees, worse in winter. It is itchy, and sometimes she scratches till it bleeds.
She works as a technical writer and has a good work environment. She is not ambitious; she likes that she can put her job in a box and get on with the rest of her life.
I was thinking of Carcinosin, so I asked about thunderstorms and dancing.
“I’m not scared of thunderstorms; I find them kind of cool. Nature is interesting. I like the sound of rain.
I love Arabic and Armenian dancing. I don’t need music—you just have to clap.”
In response to further questions she says that her sex drive is low.
“My husband feels an aversion to me. He can see that I’m obsessed.
I can’t see any answer. I can’t picture another child in the family. I’m doing it [the fertility treatment], but I don’t want to do it. Mentally I feel exhausted. If anything hard comes up at work I can’t handle it. I’m not in an emotional place where I can handle something out of the norm.
I started crying in front of the boss. Every day I’m holding back tears, always checking in my emotions. I’m crying constantly like my son except when I’m with him. There’s nothing I can do.
I went through a depression when I was 34. I was working full time and going to school at night, burned myself out. The depression was triggered by a co-worker venting on me. I could feel evil, dark energy coming out of her and into me, shadowy darkness. I went to a psychiatrist and was put on Prozac for a few years. I never got my lightness back.
I met my husband then. I never felt a physical attraction to him—I’m not passionate. I’m ok with it; it’s more meaningful to have love and caring. I had two flirtations at work when I was 28 [before meeting husband]. I felt guilty about it, fooling around.
I love flowers. I’m not crazy about animals. At 28 the panic anxiety started. I lost my innocence.”
This was not an easy case for me to pin down. Anxiety, guilt and obsessional neurosis are vague symptoms that can lead to any number of remedies. Her love of thunderstorms and dancing seemed to confirm Carcinosin, but in my understanding Carcinosin people are usually quite ambitious and perfectionistic. I gave Sepia, which seemed to cover the burn-out, low sex drive and contradiction of will. Also, she was still spotting since her miscarriage.
I received this email two weeks later.
“Although as my son has gotten better it has of course impacted me in a good way, I would have thought I would just be so thrilled about it, that I would actually feel the thrill. But in fact, I feel numb to life, and I continue to keep my emotions in check, and I still feel like I’m not fully present in my day-to-day living.
My girlfriend the other day said she feels something is different about me. She could tell something was up. My emotions are still stuck. I feel like I let Nick down with his one dream in life. Even now I’m tearing up typing this.
I can’t tell you how blessed we feel to have received your help for Nick (and hopefully I’ll actually feel that blessed feeling soon). I hope God blesses you with a long and healthy life so you can continue to bring your care and expertise to those who need it.”
We spoke on the phone a few days later.
“There’s something ingrained in me, I can’t shake it off. I can’t solve this—I let him down, he’s hurting because we weren’t able to have a child. We tried and it didn’t work out. I can’t get my head straight about it. I start crying again.
I’m getting through the days, but I don’t feel like I’m here. I’m stuck with these thoughts. I just kind of feel numb. I should be so thrilled that Nick is doing well, but I don’t feel that emotion. I feel removed. My head is in a little bit of a cloud.
I have tightness in my chest; my heart is hurting. My stomach is always nervous, there’s anxiety there that goes down into my legs. I feel tired and weak in my legs.
I read a whole page and can’t remember what I read.”
Often when I’m stuck in a case I let my mind free associate on case histories I’ve read. Anna’s sense of numbness, of not being fully present in her life, reminded me of some Camphor cases, as well as the Camphor proving. Camphor also seemed to match the depth of her despair.
Rx Camphor 200C
Email 5 days later:
“It’s obvious to me that the medicine isn’t working. I’ve been very emotional and weepy and crying, and sometimes I don’t even know why. This evening, for example, my son will take part in a “lock-in” with our church scout and community kids in Maryland (camping for one night in the church hall), but just thinking of him sleeping away from home even for one night makes me cry for some reason.
I’m the one encouraging him to participate, but inside I’m holding back tears (not successfully—at dinner time I kept leaving the table because I didn’t want Nick to see that I was crying).
I seem to be a challenging case, aren’t I? But I’m holding on to your words that we’ll find the right medicine and it will get better. Thanks for your continued effort.”
Five days is usually not long enough to assess a remedy, but I knew intuitively that Anna was right. The simillimum would strike a chord almost immediately, I felt.
I gave Natrum muriaticum, also without result.
I decided to look more closely at some of her physical symptoms, with the idea that they might suggest a remedy I had not considered.
- Skin, itching, scratch, must, bleeds, until it: agar, alum, arg, ARS, bar-c, bov, carb-v, chlol, choc, kali-n, led, med, mez, nit-ac, phos, psor, puls
- Skin, eruptions, winter aggravates: aloe, alum, ars, calc, caust, dulc, hep, kali-br, kali-c, mang, merc, mez, petr, psor, RHUS-T, sabad, sep, sil, stront-c, sulph, thuj
Looking over these two rubrics, Mezereum popped out. I was familiar with several Mezereum cases of obsessional neurosis, and I remembered that it can have a state of emotional numbness, as expressed in the rubric: Indifference, dead, everything seems to him.
Mezereum also appears in:
- Stomach, anxiety, felt in
- Religious affections
- Thoughts, persistent & tormenting
Mezereum is a popular ornamental because of its attractive flowers, even though it is very toxic—even the scent is toxic and causes a choking sensation. Handling the fresh twigs can produce rashes and eczema.
Homeopath Susan Drury writes:
In the language of flowers, Daphne mezereum means “desire to please.” Highly attuned to those they are attached to, Mezereum will feel compelled to please even when counter to their own needs and instincts.
Being so attuned to pleasing, they are easily overcome with feelings of shame and guilt, especially when something happens to upset or anger the person/people they need to please—whether they are responsible for it or not.
They can experience the delusion of having done something terrible or of being wrongly blamed for something they haven’t done. I had several minor car incidents that most people would have shrugged off, but which left me feeling sick with guilt and shame, as if I would never be forgiven.
I had a series of dreams of innocently doing something perceived as wrong—or being prevented from carrying out a duty to people I wanted to please—and the feeling of having done something unforgiveable, for which I would be punished forever, was so horribly real that when I finally woke up, I had trouble accepting it as having truly been a dream.
(case published in the Vancouver Observer, Feb. 28, 2010)
Finally, Mezereum is well known for neurological ailments from suppressed skin eruptions. Although there is no a clear etiology in Anna’s case, she did suffer from severe eczema in childhood, which receded, followed by anxiety neurosis in adulthood.
Rx Mezereum 200C (Hahnemann Labs) dissolved in water, one dropperful qd, Oct. 11, 2018
Email Oct. 23:
“I believe this latest medicine has helped me more than any of the other ones. I have been able to ‘ignore’ my ruminating thoughts, that is, I am able to put them aside, not think about them as much.
It is a breath of fresh air to just be able to think about other things. I am still visiting my doctor to check my hormone levels, and I’m sure getting those numbers down is also putting me in a better place. The nerves in my stomach are also settling (although it comes and goes).
I had been working so hard on myself to get to a good place and will continue to do so, but nothing I did was working (meditating, being in the now, awake and conscious) until my body balance came to a better place.
So thank you so very much for continuing to try different medicines till we found a solution that helped. As usual I am curious what the medicine is, what is it called?
I want to also add that my son has continued to be his beautiful self, and it is a thrill to interact with him in this better place. Such a blessing.”
Email Nov. 26:
“I meant to send you this note a few days ago before Thanksgiving to just simply say thank you. You were instrumental in getting Nick and me on the right track, and it’s a blessing. So a heartfelt thank you for your care.”
A year later Anna continues to do well and has not required further treatment.