A woman’s love and nourishing cooking heals her husband: “bipolar” need not be forever

I’ve been following the blog Nourished Kitchen for a long time. It’s helped me learn how to do real traditional food in my kitchen. One of the few things I’ve done almost throughout my withdrawal and severe iatrogenic illness is cook. When I couldn’t stand for more than five minutes early on my husband would do most of the prep and finishing, but I would still put things together. Certainly since I’ve been able to be up a bit more I’ve experimented more and more in the kitchen. It’s a source of joy as I struggle to be well. It also gets me out of bed on days I can hardly function. Cooking is good medicine for me just as the food I prepare is too.

About a week ago Jenny, the blog’s author shared a personal story of healing in her family. Her husband had been diagnosed bipolar. A large part of his and her journey, just like mine, was learning how to eat well, or really better than before we struggled to get healthy and free of drugs.

Below is an excerpt of what Jenny and her husband had to overcome:

The medication the psychiatric nurse provided to my husband helped him to recover, providing that jolt of chemical compounds that ended his episode and we were told that he would need to remain on the medication for the rest of his life. That is a burdening prospect when you are in your early twenties. The medication also left him nearly immobilized: he couldn’t think as he used to do, he was lethargic and could never get enough sleep, his body was weak and dizzy, and he suffered chronic headaches and other side effects too. We were fortunate that tardive dyskinesia never reared its head, but the longer he was on that “lifetime” medication, the greater the risk of developing the disorder. It is deeply wrong that pharmaceuticals often treat one solitary condition while simultaneously causing a series of others. We shouldn’t have to exchange illnesses in an ever-debilitating tunnel of poorer and poorer health.

A few years after that episode, after good food, stress reduction and consistent efforts for good sleep became top priorities in our household, we found a private psychiatrist who specialized in bipolar disorder. Under his guidance, my husband began half-dosing his medication until he no longer needed it at all. Sure, he still suffered periodic mood swings, but nothing like the episode of bipolar disorder we withstood together.

As a result, largely, of the medication, my husband also suffered from chronic pain – liver based. This chronic and near incapacitating pain plagued him. Even on our miniscule budget, we took time from our jobs and drove hours across mountain roads to seek treatment from a specialist in our state only to hear that my husband would have to live with pain for the rest of his life. My husband was in his mid-twenties at this time.

Dissatisfied with the doctor’s dooming perspective, he sought treatment from a local naturopathic physician as well as an acupuncturist. Through whole foods and a liver cleanse, as recommended by the naturopath, and through regular treatments performed by the acupuncturist, my husband’s chronic pain dissipated and eventually disappeared. No, he didn’t have to and now doesn’t live with pain. (read the rest of this story here)

I responded in comments:

That’s a lovely story, thanks so much for sharing it. I understand how scary it is to reveal such personal stories in a world where mental distress is not understood or appreciated.

I’d like to add that beyond good healthy diet, your own love and devotion and belief that your husband could heal is likely to have been just as important as the diet, perhaps more so.

What is called mental illness is a holistic issue and it generally needs attention from all spheres of life…so that body/mind and spirit are attended to. I imagine you understand this intimately, though maybe all your readers don’t. This delicate combination can manifest as many different things in the lives of different individuals, but a constant that is needed in the life of everyone is love and support by at least one human being that KNOWS recovery is possible.

I’ve been following your blog for a long time though I’m not sure I have ever left a comment. My blog concentrates on looking at all sorts of constructive methods as alternatives to psychiatry…including diet. It’s simply clear there are many many paths to wholeness. I happen to eat much like you and your family but I’ve found people recover with other wholesome holistic diets too (whole real food is pretty much always key!)…as long as they generally have other supports in place that can look many different ways to different people.

It’s always wonderful to hear from others who have found their way through the mire after being diagnosed with a mental illness, being told they would have to take neurotoxic drugs for the rest of their lives, but discovering that is not always true at all.

We can heal in numerous ways and while pharmaceuticals can sometimes play an important role in crisis, as you and your family discovered, it’s possible to live a much fuller life in the long run if one can learn how to go without the use of meds.

thanks very much.

To my readers, here, now, I want to reiterate that the longer I look at people’s growth beyond psychiatry the more it becomes clear to me that everyone’s journey is unique. And while some generalities can be made, what worked for me or you to heal life’s hurts and traumas…those things that get labeled mental illness, however you interpret them…is going to be different for everyone. Often it’s a combination of things some of which one person will share with the next and some not. It’s hubris to assume that whatever helped you is right for the next person. The best we can do is share those things that helped us and let those who need to heal find the things that work for them. That is the nature of coercive free healing. People find what works for them from many choices and examples.

This blog attempts to share the many many ways people have found such healing away from toxic psychiatric drugs. There are many different sorts of recovery stories on this page here.

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About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters