As a Clinical Social Worker (2 grad degrees, one in psychotherapy and one in medical social work) I really did try everything. I have lived in sunny California most of my life and when I moved to Fairbanks, Alaska I was NOT prepared for the intense darkness of Winter. We are the "Land of the Midnight Sun (almost 24 hours in the Summer months, but the opposite part is "Land of the Noon-Time Moon" for at least 3 or 4 months in the Winter time. I tried sun-light boxes for 22 years; I actually fell asleep against one for over an hour and a half!
I have had a private practice since 1990 and fell asleep on at least 2 patients during their counseling sessions!! I tried to count my yawns in one day and it was over 50. I was constantly apologizing to my patients for yawning and explaining that I wasn't that I was bored with their story! I felt like the proverbial joke about someone desperately calling a suicide hotline and being told they have to be put on hold!
I would drive home in the Arctic Winter dark and cry much of the way because I was convinced I would eventually hit a car and kill a family. I sang loudly; I'd scream repeatedly in an effort to up my adrenalin. I often turned the radio way up, opened the window even at 40 below zero trying to shock myself awake. I dug my fingernails into my palms trying to cause pain that would startle me, bit my lips... nothing happened. I begged my doctor for answers. I even asked for Electric Shock Treatment. (I had referred a patient for ECT years before. I knew the research.) She was sympathetic but no go.
She decided to give me a high dose of Ritalin. I took 2 - 20mg sustained release Ritalin a day with NO impact. I ATE COFFEE BEANS with the 40 mg of Ritalin; I thought if I chewed the whole bean and swallowed it I'd get the most caffeine out of them, but no change.) I was sleepwalking through the whole winter and constantly afraid of killing people in my car.
Then a neuropsych friend in Canada mentioned the work of Dr. David Brownstein with Iodine and told me to try Iodoral as a little pick-me-up for the tough Arctic Winters. He didn't know about my struggles. I RAN to the local health food place, bought the book and the Iodoral. About 3 weeks in to taking increasing amounts I literally got up on a Saturday and was stunned to feel my brain come out of the Fog. It was rather dramatic.
Turns out that if you have low thyroid Iodine can make a huge difference. Well, I have been on synthetic thyroid and natural, also, but no change. Iodine has changed my life!! I told my doctors and got no response. I have told anyone who will listen and many of my patients are now taking it with amazing results. Of all people, my dentist listened to me and his whole extended family are taking it now.
A wonderful extra surprise from the iodine is that throughout my whole life I have had a struggle recalling names. Once the light-bulb went off 3 weeks into the Iodoral titration I remembered almost everyone, even their dog's name or things about their boyfriends just from our conversation!
I am very grateful to have a life. It has been 3 winters without ANY struggle. And, I don't even YAWN! Who knew iodine would do that? I realized I had stopped yawning when in April after the first winter on iodine I suddenly yawned and realized it was my first yawn since taking iodine. Oh my! How can my doctor hear my story and not care? I have given her the book by Brownstein and she is not interested. I truly believe it saved my life, either from a terrible car accident or suicide.
Hope this info helps you get the word out. Feel free to use my name and credentials. Thank you so much!
K. R., MSW, ACSW, DCSW, LCSW
(MSW is my degree, ACSW is the national license for social workers if their state doesn't have a license program, DCSW it the highest credential the National Association for Social Workers/NASW awards an advanced professional, and LCSW is my state of Alaska license credential.)
Note from Lynne: K.R., the author of this case study, provided her real name but I've chosen to keep her story anonymous.