Aloha, no it is not a typo, yes you are correct, it does say “acupuncture and massage are tools to overcome anxiety.” I will admit it is unconventional, but from my experience there are other avenues one can take to be anxiety-free, and it has helped not me just physically, but mentally and spiritually. In the beginning I was really skeptical about trying these out, I have had years of therapy treatments with several different doctors, but I was barely making any improvements. I really only learned how to share my feelings and thoughts aloud to people, versus just holding it in.
My “Western” Treatments
On one occasion while I was telling my old psychiatrist I was going to try a different psychologist, as a last resort to keep me, he suggested that I try a new prescription that was making a miraculous difference in his patients. As you know I am trying to do this on my own, (no disrespect intended to others that do take prescriptions), but my new doctor believed cognitive behavioral therapy, among other treatments, would improve the quality of my life with GAD, without medication.
Thankfully, treatments with my current psychologist have been very beneficial, by helping me to view my anxiety thoughts in different perspectives. He gives me tools and worksheets, examples, and goals I can use until my next appointment and to track when I reach an accomplishment. Being a forever student, I often find myself taking notes on my cellphone and then e-mailing them to my husband and myself for future use. After starting with him, my confidence increased and I am able to push through my anxiety when I could not previously. For a few years, treatments were going wonderfully, until it got closer to my wedding day…
My Underlying Sadness
I began to feel anxious and sad even after my appointments with my doctor, and it wasn’t really anything in particular that I could pinpoint. My relationship with my fiance was great, I mean we had the typical wedding arguments about the amount of guests, the budget, but I knew it was not him, nor my crazy family and friends, or any other typical wedding drama. It was something different, I woke up with the sadness and went to bed with the sadness, and I would constantly feel like crying throughout the day, always at the brink of tears. It was extremely weird, I wasn’t particularly sad or depressed about anything in general, no suicidal thoughts, nothing I could give as the reason, just constant sadness. Appointments with my doctor wasn’t helping the sadness subside, and I knew I needed to find another way to heal myself, but I was uneasy about some suggestions as they were not the type of treatments I was accustomed to as cures for anxiety.
My Hawaii Roots Gave Me an Open Mind
Through a family referral it was suggested that I try a spiritual healer. Now I’m not one that immediately believes in that kind of stuff, but I feel growing up in Hawaii may have made me open to things outside the “typical.” My great-grandfather was the first in my family to come to Hawaii, and being the fourth-generation, my parents and grandparents have taught me to respect the island, the different cultures, as well as their practices and beliefs. For example, everyone takes their shoes off when they enter someones home, or whenever someone throws a party, you know it’s not going to just be chips and dip or cheese and crackers, there’s going to be pupus (appetizers), snacks, entrees, desserts, and all with a side of rice, which is a staple in Hawaii.
The people of Hawaii are also taught to respect the Hawaiian culture, especially its spiritual beliefs and Gods. The most powerful and well known is Madame Pele, the Goddess of Fire, who created the islands of Hawaii through her volcanos. Everyone in Hawaii knows that you must respect her land, and must never take a lava rock or sand from the Big Island of Hawaii as it belongs to her, or you will face years of bad luck until it is rightfully returned. Failed marriages, medical conditions, unemployment, loss of finances, are just some of the misfortunes that have happened. I know you’re having doubts this is true but, there is even a website dedicated to help tourists who are unaware of Madame Pele’s curse, and request assistance in the respectful return of her lava rocks and sand to the Big Island of Hawaii. If you are interested in Madame Pele, I’ll post links to a video and the website at the end of this post for more information. I digressed, but hopefully you have a better idea of why I was open to the alternative treatments, as we are taught from young to be open to others beliefs in general.
My First Massage Experience
Even before my sadness prior to my wedding, a few years before, a family friend who was a masseuse offered to massage me at an awesome price. I was at first trepidatious about someone touching my back as I have eczema (due in part to my GAD), but she was a family friend and I felt comfortable enough with her. The first massage was terrific and I became hooked! She was able to get knots out of places I didn’t even know I had, and I began to feel more relaxed after each session. I started to schedule a massage at least once a month, but it wasn’t until maybe the 5th treatment or so that I realized how powerful a massage could be not just physically, but spiritually.
It was a typical day and I had my normal massage like all the previous other massages. However, when the massage was done and my husband came to pick me up, I felt terrific, but started to feel a lump forming in my throat. For some reason she told me that this session was on her, and I didn’t have to pay. Now I’m known to be a sensitive and emotional person naturally, and at first I thought I was just touched by her kind gesture, but tears just began to roll down my cheeks for no reason at all and I knew it couldn’t be just because I had gotten a free session.
She kindly told me that urge to cry happens sometimes and that crying after the massage was “normal.” She explained that people will store sadness or stress in parts of their bodies that can’t be released because it is somehow stuck, but after a massage people are able to let go of all the tensions known and unknown that they were holding in. I hugged her and went home with my husband and continued to cry “like a baby” for a good half an hour after the session. It was an incredibly weird, but awesome experience. It was the first time ever that I cried for no reason at all, I wasn’t extremely happy or sad, or stressed, but the tears just kept coming.
And I don’t know how to describe how I felt afterwards, it was like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders that I didn’t even know I had been carrying. I felt calm and at peace, and GAD was the last thing on my mind.
My First Acupuncture Experience
As I mentioned earlier, right before my wedding I was feeling a constant sadness and it was recommended that I see a spiritual healer. Through a referral I was given an acupuncturist’s number, and although skeptical I scheduled an appointment anyway. I found out later, that there are acupuncturists that will just stick the needles in you and leave you for a few minutes, and there are others that will stay with you and help you move your energies to assist in healing yourself. Both work, but for me I’ve found the latter to be tremendous in my self healing. It is not advertised for obvious reasons, but after my massage experience, I was ready to get rid of the sadness that was plaguing me for months in any way shape or form.
I met with her and explained my history and my current plague of sadness. Everything was going fine and at some points the needle hurt at first and then began to subside. But once she put the needles in my arms which are called my “heart protector” points, I felt my eyes begin to water, then a tear, another tear, and then a flood of tears began to pour out of me! To the point were I began to sob so much I was starting to hyperventilate from all the crying! And again, I was not sad about anything in general, but as I began to cry a thought popped into my head: “my dad will not be at my wedding.”
I told my acupuncturist about the thought of my father during the treatment, and she mentioned that, that must of been the reason among others, for my sadness as it occurred as the tears where flowing. I mentioned in a previous post my history and how I have not spoken to my dad in years, so even with the wedding, I thought I was fine, that I had accepted it, but apparently my body, spirit, or heart did not agree with my mind.
Like the massage experience, my first acupuncture experience left me feeling exhausted, but refreshed and peaceful. It made the wedding planning with all its stressors a happy affair, and I had the most awesome wedding in the world to my best friend. I just felt a strong feeling of gratitude to my family and friends, and some came up to us after the wedding and said it was the best wedding they ever went to! I don’t think it would have been possible if I didn’t take a chance and to try the acupuncture and massages in addition to my therapy sessions.
Give It A Try
I know that everyones experiences are different, and that acupunture and massage may not work for you the way it has worked for me, but you never know until you try. I’m not able to continue the massages as frequently as I would like, but I continue to get acupuncture treatments once a week and I have found that I am able to speak up more during office meetings, am less anxious meeting new people, and am more willing to take chances and make changes than I have had in the past. I continue to see my psychologist when needed, but I’ve found having many tools, is always better than just having one.
If you ever do decide to try these suggestions, I’d love to hear how they worked for you and your journey with GAD. Please leave me a comment, because it’s always nice to know that I’m not the only one. 🙂
P.S. Like I promised, if you’re interested in learning more about Madame Pele, here are a few links from the Travel Channel and the Return Lava Rock to Hawaii website: