I’ve been suffering from a mysterious illness that causes fatigue, dizziness, inflammation, and severe anxiety for several years. When I began taking a more holistic approach to treating my symptoms, I never thought acupuncture would be on my list of things to try. For one thing, I think my illness partially stems from my anxiety, and needles terrify me. I faint when I get my flu shot, so I couldn’t imagine that being treated like a human pincushion would help me relax.
I changed my mind when a friend told me how acupuncture had changed her life. The frequency and severity of her migraines decreased significantly just from her first few treatments. I told her I was afraid that it wouldn’t be worth the money (acupuncture can be expensive), but she assured me that if I was going to invest in anything, it should be self-care. I took the chance and made an appointment, and I’m so glad I did.
The acupuncturist actually listened. She let me cry. She sympathized. She offered advice. And she didn’t make me feel crazy or overdramatic or try to blame my physical symptoms on anxiety and depression alone. Rather than getting impatient or frustrated by the things I described, she assured me that she could help. She acknowledged that I’m a very sick person, just not in a way Western medicine traditionally recognizes. That alone healed a part of me that I didn’t know was so damaged.
An acupuncturist treats mind, body, and soul as one entity. Essentially, the fine needles help redirect energy (or qi) in the body, stimulating the nervous system. Depending on the pressure points triggered, acupuncture can help ease a number of conditions. Research has shown it to be effective for treating anxiety, though more studies are needed.
Still, I was skeptical and nervous. Fortunately, the acupuncturist reassured me throughout the appointment, always telling me what she was doing so I wouldn’t be surprised and providing a distraction when I needed one. She talked to me the whole time because I was anxious, but she explained that some people like to meditate or sleep during that time.
The acupuncturist hugged me when I left, and I fought the urge to cry tears of relief.
For the most part, I didn’t feel the needles at all, not even a prick. And when they were in, I swear I could actually feel the energy moving. It was so strange, like a buzzing, tingling sensation. My arms and body just melted; I felt like I was sinking into the table. The acupuncturist hugged me when I left, and I fought the urge to cry tears of relief.
I could have fallen asleep at my desk prior to that appointment, but afterward, I felt like I’d had about five shots of espresso, minus the shakes, jitters, or anxiety. My mind seemed clear. I felt awake and alert and yet somehow less reactive. I was calm and thoughtful in my responses, instead of feeling panicked, acting on impulse, or snapping unnecessarily.
Before I left my appointment that day, we laid out a treatment plan that includes six weeks of acupuncture treatments, followed by appointments on a case-by-case basis. I’m also making changes to my diet, practicing meditation for five to 10 minutes each morning, and focusing more on the things that bring me joy. While I’m not sure this will solve my problem, it feels good to treat the physical and emotional symptoms together, rather than dismissing them as separate issues. She seems so certain that there’s a light at the end of this painful, exhausting tunnel, and now I am, too.