Years ago, I went to see my GP for help with anxiety. Three things stand out in my memory of that day: 1) how stressed my GP looked, 2) how little he knew about me and my situation before prescribing Citalopram, and 3) feeling like I had “mad” scrawled across my forehead. The Citalopram made me feel worse than I did to begin with and I stopped taking it within the month. I eventually got through that difficult time with the support of good friends.
A couple of years later, I went to see an Acupuncturist for help with severe PMT. (I had already seen my GP. He suggested Citalopram and I politely declined.) Thinking back, I remember: 1) how contented my Acupuncturist looked, 2) how many questions she asked about every aspect of me before coming to any conclusions, and 3) feeling like I was walking on air when I left her treatment room. I had 6 treatments over 8 weeks and the results were life changing.
I think that GPs provide a vital service and have our best interests at heart. However, I don’t believe that Western pharmacology can rival the complex, subtle understanding of the human experience that Chinese medicine has garnered over the millennia.
The Western diagnosis of “anxiety” can be differentiated into around 12 different Chinese medical syndromes, each of which requires an entirely unique set of acupuncture treatment principals. More than that, the same treatment principles may apply to two clients, but different acupuncture points will be selected for each of them. And going further, the exact acupuncture points may be varied for the same person in subsequent treatments, in response to subtle changes in their emotions, outlook and certain physical signs that Acupuncturists are trained to assess.
I love the names that some acupuncture points have acquired over the millennia, as they seem to reflect their subtle and profound action so well. For example, after using a point called ‘Heavenly Window’, one of my clients said “I feel like a window has opened and the light is streaming in!” Another point I love to use is called ‘People Welcome’. After using this point for a client who felt anxious when people came to her house, she invited a large group of friends over for dinner. ‘Palace of Toil’ is one of my favourites for clients who feel emotionally exhausted, and ‘Cloud Gate’ is wonderful for those who have spent too long under the grey skies of old grief.
Through my experience of anxiety, Citalopram and acupuncture, I have learned that every person – and every day in every person’s life – is unique, complex and full of extraordinary subtlety. We each deserve and need to be heard, understood and given treatment as complex and unique as we are.