Life is hard and sometimes a namaste and a strong cocktail just wont cut it. I’m speaking from experience RADicals, because this past year has been a rough one. I thought chronic back pain was a burden by itself, but when my mother unexpectedly passed away last summer, I realized that grief trumps all when it comes to pain.
So with pain both in my body and my heart, plus no clue on how to tell depression I wasn’t down for it’s downward spiral, I found something that unexpectedly began to heal me: acupuncture. My acupuncturist Paige Bourassa MSTOM L.Ac. went from healing my aching back to healing my aching heart. It’s too good not to share, so hear it goes yall – my real life story on how I poked away grief, depression and so much more.
First and foremost, I can hear you now, “Oh heck naw, I don’t do needles.” Well let me offer up a little history lesson that I had to learn back when was an acupuncture non-believer. Acupuncture is a form of Chinese medicine, and in fact it has been around thousands of years before the Western medicine we know of today. By pinpointing specific points along the skin this alternative form of medicine is an highly effective treatment for reducing pain of all forms. So before you label this practice as voodoo, give poking a try. I did and can’t imagine life without it now.
I initially sought out acupuncture because my lower back pain was unbearable. I gave so many other things a try and to be honest, I was desperate for relief. So one day I was leading a RAD workout at Equinox, and there on the front row was what I later learned to be an angel. Paige was busy getting her sweat on, but couldn’t help but notice the awkward pimp walk I was strutting around the studio. No I wasn’t trying to be cool. In fact I was in so much pain that day that I couldn’t even wear my favorite Nike’s. So after class she approached me, inquired about my pain and gave me her business card. And a few days later I was laid up in her office ready to get poked. The experience was scary at first but instantly became a very sacred time for me. That was until we discovered some blockages.
And no I don’t mean I was having sinus issues. Basically, after a few treatments Paige noticed that my body was rejecting certain things. So she asked, “Is there anything going on with you emotionally?” I wanted to be like, “Uh, yeah. This is New York you know?!” But instead I shocked even myself and opened up by saying, “Yep, it’s been almost a year, but I am still going through a breakup.” For the first time ever this statement didn’t feel awkward and what came next totally blew my mind. Paige adjusted her originally planned program and poked my body in places I didn’t know where poke-able. Places close to my heart (literally and figuratively) and that’s when I learned from Paige, “the pain we carry in our bodies comes from our heart.” Powerful.
I started to view my physical and emotional pain as one and when my breakup was a non issue and the grief of losing my mother overcame me, I knew exactly what I needed to do. I threw acupuncture in the mix with grief therapy, sweating and self love and today I honestly couldn’t be happier. So when people ask me how I go on after such a loss I say, “I’ve been poking away the sadness.”
Okay, so now the science: Many studies have demonstrated the benefit of acupuncture for treating anxiety disorders and there is in fact evidence that acupuncture’s effect is comparable to that of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a type of counseling commonly used for patients with anxiety and depression. One recent study conducted at the University of York in the UK and published in September 2013, in the online journal PLOS Medicine, found that acupuncture is as effective as counseling and more effective than antidepressant medication alone in the treatment of depression. While popping pills may be tempting, I encourage you to try poking.
I know that while you may be less afraid of acupuncture after hearing my story, I want to ensure you that poking is painless. It is more of a “sensation” actually. For instance, the needles are super thin and the feeling is not sharp. From my experience, when the acupuncture point is working the sensation can feel electric, tingly, warm etc. But never painful. So since I know you (like most) may still be freaking out, there’s a video above about my acupuncture experience with New York City’s finest acupuncturist Paige Bourassa MSTOM L.Ac.