the mind-body connection

This morning I had my first acupuncture appointment in almost two years.  It felt comfortable to see Eric, my acupuncturist, again.  I’ve decided to begin going to acu so that I can kick this recurrent bladder infection business, and also to prepare my body to get pregnant again.  I’m not trying to get pregnant right away, but I know from experience that it takes a while for your body to come back into balance.  Traditional Chinese Medicine is not a quick fix.  So, I’m starting now with the hopes that I’ll be in good shape when the time comes that we want to start trying to conceive again.

My diagosis was pretty much what I suspected: Kidney Yin and Yang deficincies, along with some Spleen Qi and Heart deficiencies.  Some of my main symptoms are that I struggle with being cold much of the time.  I was so glad to see the sun finally come out this past week!  Other symptoms I won’t go into, as they’re kind of personal.  But one more symptom that I do want to share will come as no suprise to my regular readers: anxiety.

Interestingly, people who suffer from Kidney deficiencies (it seems that it’s rare to have a Kidney excess) also often struggle witn anxiety and fear.  Isn’t that interesting to look at anxiety as a symptom of a problem, rather than to look at it as the problem.  Other emotional states are also symptomatic in TCM, such as depression being a sign of a Liver Qi imbalance.

Eric also gave me an explanation as to why my anxiety tends to show up around mealtimes, especially suppertime.  He said that the Spleen is the seat of the intellect, and over-thinking weakens the Spleen.  However, the Spleen is also very involved in digestion (TCM looks at organs differently than Western medicine does.)  So, once I start eating, my Spleen energies are divided; energy must go and be involved in the digestion process, but the over-thinking never stops.  So, henceforth, that’s when I get anxious, and that also explains why it doesn’t matter to my anxiety if I eat early or late.  It also explains why, if I snack while I’m making supper, I don’t get the anxiety.  It’s nice to have a reasonable explanation for why that happens.

The idea of emotions connected to our physical bodies is often referred to as the “mind-body connection.”  I used to dismiss that kind of thinking as foolish, but I believe it very strongly now.  What a difference it would make in our society if we viewed emotional disharmony not as a problem in and of itself, but instead viewed it as symptoms of other, deeper problems, involving both mind and body?  How many people take anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication, but aren’t able (or aren’t willing) to address the real root cause of the problem?  (Now, I don’tmean to dismiss or criticize everyone who is taking those medications.  I’m speaking in generalities, and I know that there are exceptions to every rule.)

But consider post-partum depression: a big risk factor for PPD is not breastfeeding.  No wonder: that’s a huge hormone flux to be going through – having a baby and then not breastfeeding.  That’s a lot of hormones for a woman’s body to process.  Heck, my hormonest went a little wonky and my anxiety kicked into high gear when I weaned my 19 month old!  Add into that the stress of taking care of a new baby, not getting much sleep, not necessarily feeling confident in what you’re doing, and perhaps doing it without family around — that’s a recipe for PPD right there.  So, wouldn’t it make more sense to address the root causes of the PPD before handing out a prescription for Zoloft?  And wouldn’t it be nice for women to have a support system set up before the baby arrives to help them handle those difficult first months with a newborn?

Anyway, I digress.  My original point is that emotions are connected to our bodies.  Traditional Chinese Medicine acknowledges that, and I’m grateful.  So, while I still do my best to cast all my anxieties on the Lord, I also recognize that some of my anxiety is simply a result of the effects of sin in the world.  So, it gives me one more reason to recognize Jesus as my Savior, not only from the sins I commit, but also from the sinful nature I and all other people in this world feel the painful effects of every day.  Thank God for sending a Savior!  We sin-full creatures sure need it.

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Eric also said that my condition would be helped by more sleep.

Sigh.

Yes, I heard that ironic comment from you all the way over here in California.

Fine, I’m going to bed. 😉

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