This was the first month of my Year of Yes and I expected it to be relaxing. I expected to get back on the wellness horse with some ease. I was very wrong in all expectations.
For my January challenge, I tried acupuncture for the first time. 6 sessions, meant to relieve my hormonal woes. I had a referral from Adam’s mom, done lots of reading on the subject, and this seemed like a good “cure-all.” A rejuvenating experience. Something that could ease my mind, body, and spirit. Well, I apparently had no idea just how much shit there is in my body right now in comparison to everyone else’s because this month was a disaster. I was exhausted, all of my symptoms flared up, and I was super duper frustrated and depressed. The thing is, acupuncture can make things worse before they get better. So essentially, I’m now supposed to wait 10 days until I decide whether or not A) Things are working and better in my body or B) I need another session.
Here are some of my observations about receiving acupuncture for the first time.
Acupuncture Is Vulnerable
Acupuncture involves lying on a table, face up, limbs sprawled, while a nice man (in my case anyway, my dude was awesome) sticks tiny needles in you. You literally feel like a butterfly, bolted into a piece of canvas, or whatever they hang butterflies on. Sad imagery. Anyways, I know that I personally could not have done this without a buddy. Adam drove me to all appointments, talked to me to distract me from unpleasant sensations, and generally was my safety net. For me, that was really helpful. Lying on the table, unable to move, I was in one of the most vulnerable positions of my adult life. That in itself is an odd sensation, one which must be overcome with trust, relaxation, and good vibes.
Acupuncture Is Weird
Here are some of the sensations I experienced during my sessions. Essentially, there’s no way that something wasn’t happening with my qi because these sensations were crazy and intense. For anyone who didn’t know, acupuncture is all about correcting the flow of energy, qi, in your body. (That’s “chi” for any of my fellow white-western-ignorami. I totally didn’t get that at first, which I then found really embarrassing.) I completely believe in the effectiveness of this practice because it has survived for centuries and because I had all of these weird sensations:
- Seeing colors, mostly shades of blues. It was like having lava lamps for eyes.
- Seeing movement in the ceiling, like the speckled pattern of it churning about.
- Getting dizzy, though that was mostly just during the second through fourth sessions.
- Rippling tingles. You can literally feel the energy emanating through your limbs. Often it will take turns correcting itself at different points. This sensation is the coolest, least uncomfortable of those that I experienced.
- Needle soreness. Sometimes the point at which the needle was inserted would get really sore, and then that would go away. Again, you get the sense that a blockage is clearing. The actual insertion is not painful, so the swell of pain is clearly its own thing.
- Rash. All over my face. This only happened two or three times (that I noticed) and went away within a few hours.
- Paralysis, meaning that you literally feel like you cannot move and never will again. Spoiler alert: once the needles are out it is not hard to move at all, though you may be exhausted.
Acupuncture Is Emotional
I’ve cried so much in this last goddamn month. According to the internet, the unblocking of old emotional issues that you’ve held onto is a regular occurrence in the acupuncture world. Well, I certainly can vouch for that. I have felt despair and depression and weird things that have upset me in the past (really dumb things) have resurfaced. I do think that this has been a healthy experience over all. I consciously have dismissed things that aren’t worth getting worked up about. I’ve gotten better at letting go. I’ve realised what a waste of energy those fixations are. So yeah, it’s been rough. It’s been dark. But I also think it was helpful and good. I’ll be more sure in about 10 days when I can re-evaluate my physical/mental/emotional well-being.
The Final Session
On my final day of acupuncture, I had a panic attack on the table. It was after about 25 minutes, which counts as a session in some cases (according to Google) even though I always had my needles in for 30 - 45 minutes. I was so upset with myself. I was embarrassed. I was frustrated. I felt weak. I cried a lot. I do not like feeling like a failure. But the awesome acupuncturist, who seriously, I recommend, just ask me for his name and I will recommend him, his practice is outside Harrisburg and he’s amazing. Anyways, the acupuncturist told me that this is nothing to be embarrassed about and that more than that, I needed to be kinder to myself about the healing. He told me that I’m young, that I will regain balance, and that he hopes that I’ll find I’m more balanced in the next few weeks. He reminded me that all of this garbage is the hormones, not me. I know I should just keep that mindset all the time, but it’s hard.
So what is my takeaway? That even though I had a panic attack, I might go back. That acupuncture absolutely has serious effects, which means that it will likely bear serious rewards. For others faster than me, sure, but hey, I’ve got a lot of shit in my system. I will also try to be gentler with myself for still healing, even though it’s been a whole 5 months and that’s really frustrating. Also, a sense of accomplishment. So what if one day it was too much for me. I was scared and nervy and all sorts of shaky about doing this in the first place. It was totally out of my comfort zone. But I did it. And I’m getting stronger every day. Even if sometimes I can’t see it.
What will my yes-ing bring next month? We’ll just have to wait and see. There’s still 11 to go!