I Almost Got Hit by a Lightning Bolt


The start of the most traumatizing time of my life, my time to “bear the cross,” was in 2006 when I was 49 years old and about to go through menopause. I had just finished several years of Bible studies, as part of my volunteer position as a Sunday School teacher. In addition, I had spent two years of intense Bible study through the Companions in Christ program. This spiritual exploration was through my local Methodist church and included courses on the Way of Grace, The Way of Blessedness, and the Way of Forgiveness. Many of Christianity’s teachings were new for me, or perhaps I was seeing them in a new light. I had been raised in the Jewish tradition in Framingham, MA. At that time I did not understand what it meant to be “born again” and did not fully believe it was possible for a human being to experience death and resurrection. I wasn’t even sure whether angels existed. These beliefs were soon tested by what I was about to experience.

We were encouraged to develop constant prayer as a daily habit, to weave prayer into each activity. Living a spirit-filled life is very difficult in a culture that values materialism and worships the almighty dollar, but I sincerely pursued the goal to become like Jesus. I began to experience altered states while in the church. In one instance I was a Reader up on the altar and as I read the Bible story I felt as if I went back in time and was there with Jesus. During a Stations of the Cross dramatic performance, just before Easter, I saw a shadow of a cross behind a large sheet that was hung in a doorway. Behind the sheet the actors stood waiting to come out. The shadow was similar to those images viewed during a shadow puppet show. This shadow of the cross represented, for me, the outstretched arms of Christ waiting to embrace me.

A short while after the Easter presentation I began to sense that my husband and I were reincarnations of Adam and Eve, meant to live in the blessed Garden of Eden in holy matrimony. However, our present marital state was in a shambles, falling far from the ideal. I wanted to get back to Eden and felt that I had strayed far from my metaphorical home. I had lost my way.

My husband went away on a business trip and left me alone with my eight-year-old son, the first time I had to take care of him by myself. My son had a meltdown when a friend was visiting him and he became violent. I became anxious and didn’t know how to handle it. Fortunately the friend’s father came to our house to mediate between the boys and calm the situation.

Later that night I made preparations for Sunday School and then went to bed. At some point I woke up and my awareness of reality had shifted into a mythological state. I undressed, put on some Japanese drumming music, and danced nude in front of the mirror, in a trance state. Mythological themes came up in my mind. I felt an urge to cleanse my son, myself, and the house of toxins and arranged for a baptismal ceremony in our bathtub. I felt that in a past life I had been Pandora and without knowing it I had unleashed evil from the box. I was trying to close evil back up in the box to make amends for my mistake, working with a box I found on the kitchen table.

This behavior was frightening for my son and in the morning he called an ambulance and told them there was something wrong with my brain. They brought my son to his friend’s home and delivered me to the hospital psychiatric ward where I stayed for three days. When they first brought me into the ward I heard angels singing with my inner ear, an experience of clairaudience. They wanted to give me sleep medication, but a fellow patient told me I had a right to refuse medication and I did so. I had never had a history of mental illness so they said my temporary psychosis may have been due to stress.

When I arrived home I told my massage therapist that I had gone through a spiritual awakening. I met with a spiritual director from my church and described my experience to him. He said, “You have seen God.” I had trouble accepting this as the truth and integrating my experiences into my everyday life.

Six months later I had another psychotic episode and was back in the hospital for a week and diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder. I used a journal extensively to try to process what I was going through, but not once did anyone in the hospital look at my journal entries to help me understand what was happening to me. They coerced me into taking lithium and Ativan and would not allow me to go home without setting up a psychiatrist and psychotherapist to see on the outside.

A transpersonal psychotherapist would have understood my situation and observed that I was going through a spiritual emergency, but unfortunately none of my psychiatrists, neither inside nor outside the hospital, had this background. Within the current medical paradigm psychiatrists believe that any form of psychosis is a pathology and they use prescription drugs as the main course of treatment.

The diagnosis of mental illness was disempowering and devastating to my sense of self-worth. Others saw me as being unable to make sound decisions for myself. I cried during my group therapy. My psychiatrist told me I would probably have to be on drugs for the rest of my life. The book I read, Bipolar Disorder: A Guide for Patients and Families, was recommended by the hospital and it had a mainstream view of psychiatry. The book said I had to accept my diagnosis and stick to a strict schedule taking my medication or I would relapse (is it relapse or withdrawal symptoms?). My sense of hope for a natural recovery slowly withered away. All authority and control over what was going on with me was given to the psychiatrist.

The lithium caused many side effects. It made my hands very shaky and later I developed nerve damage throughout my body and suffered from fibromyalgia. Additionally I had headaches, nausea, vomiting, decreased sexual appetite, and weight gain. Seroquel was eventually added to my list of medications.

In the fall of 2009 I contracted the swine flu, which lasted for 12 days. In the last few days of my illness I became dehydrated and developed pneumonia. My husband and son were away on a trip and when they came home I was a sorry sight to see: I had brain damage from the lithium. At a dosage of 900 mg, it doesn’t take much for lithium levels in the blood to become toxic.

It was as if I had suffered from a stroke. I had slurred speech and was scrambling words, and, along with this dysarthria, I had crippling vertigo. I remember that at night I had to sit down and slide myself down the stairs of my home to get to the bathroom. My son was frightened to see my condition and my husband rushed me to the emergency ward where they started administering fluids intravenously. I was in the hospital for one week and it was hell. They stuck me with needles every night to draw blood and I had to use a walker. The worst of it was the severe headaches that I had for most of that week. The only relief from the headaches was hot pads on my forehead which allowed me to sleep for a bit.

I had vertigo and slurred speech for a long time. I could not drive at all for a couple months and then for several months I could not drive on the highway because of the vertigo. My voice was so strange it sounded like someone else’s voice coming out of my mouth. It took a couple of years for my authentic voice to completely return. Meanwhile, I took lecithin and rubbed St. John’s wort oil on my feet to aid in healing the damage to my nerves. I had to decrease the lithium dosage and eventually the doctor switched me to Trileptal, beginning with a low dose. I was instructed to increase that amount gradually, but the Trileptal brought back vertigo symptoms and dizziness, so I never increased it to the full amount.

Eventually I had one third and final episode and was in the hospital again for one week. I was put on a new regimen of even more medications: Abilify, Zyprexa, Trileptal, and Seroquel. The conventional wisdom is to throw more drugs at the problem. One evening, while in the hospital, there was a thunderstorm and I was praying by the window of my room, which looked out over a flat section of roof. Just after I asked God to forgive me for all my transgressions, a lightning bolt hit the roof ten feet from my window. I remembered the words my naturopathic doctor had said to me, “If a person is almost hit by lightning, it is an indication that they are a shaman.”

I had to develop the courage and strength to rescue myself. When I complained about the disabling feeling of agitation that the Abilify caused, the psychiatrist wanted to add another drug to the cocktail. That was the last straw! I dropped the psychiatrist, decided to go off the medications permanently, and started researching natural treatments for bipolar. The doctor said there were no natural (non-drug) treatments for bipolar, but that was his opinion, not my truth. I literally threw away the mainstream book I had on bipolar disorder and read Eva Edelman’s book, Natural Healing for Bipolar. A combination of many therapies, including use of a nutritional supplement called EMPower Plus, Jungian psychotherapy, couple’s counseling, sound healing, herbal supplements, Vitamin B taken sublingually and more, helped me to heal.

I am so thankful that my brain healed from the damage caused by psychiatric medications. I could have been permanently disabled. At one time it was believed that brain cells could not regenerate, but now regeneration is more widely accepted as possible, especially when care is taken to nourish the neurons, as I did.

Most importantly, finding my purpose in life and living an authentic life helped to ground me and prevent further psychosis. Psychosis is the psyche’s cry for transformation and healing. When one listens to the call, one is brought from darkness to light.

Excerpt from hospital journal:

The prison she was in was only in her imagination.
She remembered: the key was love.
All loving and knowing the truth,
She was healed!


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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  1. Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, Recovery, and Drugging end, when those being targeted start to organize and act to defend themselves.

    I am currently trying to get a guy a lawyer, because to get primary care for his heart condition, the County Hospital is trying to send him to a psychiatrist and get him on the neurotoxin called Zoloft.

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  2. The ‘Guardian’ are at it again:


    “The scientists examined more than 284,000 deaths, including those among people with mental and behavioural disorders including depression, bipolar, schizophrenia and dementia.”

    “The scientists reported: “[Short-term] increases in outdoor air pollutants such as particles or ozone can trigger suicide”

    Anything but the neurotoxic drugs. It needs challenging everybody…

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    • Interesting that you should post this information about deaths being higher among the mentally ill during periods of high air pollution. I will bet that the risk of death is higher because the toxin levels in the blood are already high in those diagnosed with mental illness being treated with drugs and that the air pollution just makes the blood get too toxic. When I was taking lithium and Seroquel, I was highly sensitive to chemicals in the air, such as artificial scents in candles and plastic fumes, especially from vinyl. If I went to a shopping mall, I would get severe headaches and sometimes vomit after the visit. That sort of experience does not happen now that I am no longer on psychiatric medications.

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  3. Thanks for sharing your story, Carol. I experience some of the same unusual type of things during my spiritual journey. Congrats on being born again, welcome. I, too, had my spiritual / born again journey misdiagnosed as “bipolar,” it seems this is quite a common error that the psychiatrists make. God bless.

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  4. “I had to decrease the lithium dosage and eventually the doctor switched me to Trileptal, beginning with a low dose. I was instructed to increase that amount gradually, but the Trileptal brought back vertigo symptoms and dizziness, so I never increased it to the full amount.”

    Good job!

    “I was put on a new regimen of even more medications: Abilify, Zyprexa, Trileptal, and Seroquel.”

    Me too, minus the Zyprexa.

    “When I complained about the disabling feeling of agitation that the Abilify caused, the psychiatrist wanted to add another drug to the cocktail.”

    Mine said to stick with it, but the “agitation” Abilify so ably causes is actually a disorder of the “extrapyramidal” nervous system called akathisia, and it’s very close to intolerable.

    “That was the last straw! I dropped the psychiatrist, decided to go off the medications permanently -”

    Me too, more or less. Took me longer. Abilify can at least be created with causing many people to get off psych drugs forever.

    This is huge, to my mind at least:
    There is ONE reason a doctor would prescribe Trileptal for supposed ‘bipolar disorder” at that time in history, which is the manufacturer’s promotion of the drug, with no evidence whatsoever of any effectiveness, as a treatment for “bipolar disorder.” Without that, choosing Trileptal would only have been done by drawing its name out of a hat.

    Novartis was fined $423,000,000 in 2010 for promotion of Trileptal for “bipolar disorder,” and litigation/investigation regarding the bribes they paid doctors to prescribe it was still going on as late as 2017.

    Your story puts you in the middle of a crime scene, in other words, beyond the usual general criminality in psychiatry. I wonder how much the doctor who prescribed that Trileptal was paid.

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    • I am glad you told me about the fine Novartis got for promotion of Trileptal. I did not know about this but I often see the ads on tv by lawyers who are suing drug companies for the awful side effects they cause. I also did not know about akathisia caused by Abilify. I am glad you were able to get off your medications as well.

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  5. Thank-you, Carol! That was a very well-written, easy to read piece of writing. Not trying to minimize your experience, though. You did write it well. The one thing though, that I’m NOT seeing in your story of healing, is some form of exercise. I don’t mean hours pumping iron, or becoming a gym rat. But daily walks, or swimming, or some type of Yoga, for example, were/are key for me. Just today, I went for a 1/2 hour, ~45min. relaxing walk in a local wooded park with a friend. It’s Sunday, I’m taking it easy. I will also bicycle a few miles, as I do every day. That’s my suggestion. And, is it a “spiritual “emergency””, or a SPIRITUAL EMERGENCE? I guess you see why I always say:
    “Psychiatry is a pseudoscience, a drug racket, and a means of social control. It’s 21st Century Phrenology, with potent neuro-toxins.”
    The only “need” the drugs addressed, was to make money for PhRMA, and re-inforce the whole charade of psychiatry. That you would need drugs “for the rest of your life”, needs to be called out for what it is: A LIE.
    Best wishes on the future!

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    • Hi Bradford, I did not talk in detail about all that I did to heal. I have many pages with that information in my book, Coming Full Circle. In addition to what I mentioned above, I did take what I call daily prayer walks either in the woods, down my neighborhood street, or in the nearby city (I live in a rural area). During these walks I would pray for strength to get through this crisis. Often I took walks at night because daytime was filled with work and other activities. I could look up at the stars then. Sometimes I would have mystical experiences while walking. For example, I would sense the trees and plants asking me to speak for them because they did not have a voice. Connecting with nature and breathing fresh air were very helpful. I also did yoga, massage, and qigong. I used essential oils to help regulate my moods, especially lavender, which helped to reduce anxiety.

      You asked about Spiritual Emergence vs. Spiritual Emergency. I am taking a class with Dr. Emma Bragdon to become a Spiritual Emergency coach. The definitions she gave us come from Dr. Stanislav Grof, psychiatrist and his wife, Christina Grof. “Spiritual Emergence has been defined as ‘the movement of an individual to a more expanded way of being that involves enhanced emotional and psychosomatic health, greater freedom of personal choices, and a sense of deeper connection with other people, nature, and the cosomos…When Spiritual Emergence is very rapid and dramatic this natural process can become a crisis and Spiritual Emergence becomes Spiritual Emergency. This has also been called a transpersonal crisis, acute psychosis with a positive outcome, positive disintegration, and evolutionary crisis. An ‘Emergency’ generally is more dramatic and intense…an ‘Emergence’ is more fluid and less overwhelming/traumatic. The depth reveals itself over time in a more gradual process.

      I hope this information helps you.

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  6. Psychiatry is threatened by any ideology that bests its ability to guide people. Because religions are thousands of years old and *PROTECTED BY OUR CONSTITUTION*, they are especially threatening to the quacks. My grandmother was a person of very strong faith, just like you are. No doubt, she would be a target of psychiatry, if she were alive today. Ironically, as much as psychiatry hates religion, it always metes out damning punishments to anyone who defects from society’s mainstream. And some would call that those punishments harsh, by biblical proportions.

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  7. Carol, this is a beautifully written person story. Thank you. But, it left me scratching my head. Why do you even believe that your ‘bipolar’? When a bunch of psychiatrists are sitting around the boardroom table discussing new ‘diagnosis’ to come up with to appease big pharma, I have to wonder if anyone is actually ‘bipolar’. Sure, we’re human, we have an array of emotions, individually we handle them differently due to our upbringing, past truama’s, ect. I too, was diagnsosed Bipolar but now that I’m off all psychiatric drugs, I don’t see any ‘bipolar’ anywhere, or any other man-made psychiatric diagnosis. None. I’m just trying to understand why you see it in your life.

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  8. Hi Sandra, I agree with you and I do not see myself as bipolar anymore. But I think I leave that word in to speak to others who also have been labeled as bipolar and perhaps need to rethink that label. I say in the story that “a transpersonal psychotherapist would have understood my situation and observed that I was going through a spiritual emergency.” They would not have slapped on the “bipolar” label.

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  9. Hi Carol, I could certainly relate as I am Jewish, grew up in MA, and found my introduction to Christianity (at age 21) extremely traumatizing. This was both in the form of exposure to a religious cult, and afterward, born-again type Christianity. I developed an eating disorder the following summer, when I was 22, and a big part was spiritual dissatisfaction. I felt that I couldn’t connect with God anymore, that my fat was getting in the way. Really what was happening was that leaving a cult, you tend to go through grieving, and you do feel disconnected, and disillusioned with society as a whole. Like society is only dull black and white, and the cult was in full living color. You can’t get over the disappointment, like everyone is shallow and trite. I wanted the cult back, but I couldn’t have it back. I wanted God back too. That warm chummy feeling, even though the cult was deceptive, I still wanted it.

    None of this was ever addressed in 34 years in the System for me. Not once. Well? They never asked. Fools.

    I think your point about spiritual crisis is a good one. And I cried when you said you tossed out the bipolar book. YAY!!!! If anyone reads this and tosses out theirs, too, it’s a victory.

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  10. Hi Carol,
    Thank you for sharing your experience. At 49, 4 months after getting off psyc drugs for 20 years, the last being an 18 month taper for prozac, I end up going manic and became delusional. Thought I was secretly fighting terrorists and many other iterations. I’m still trying to piece together what happened. In hindsight I know I periomenopausal. Do you think menopause had anything to do with what you experienced?
    Thanks, Susan

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