Saturday, January 23, 2010

Unhelpful Strategies #2: Acupuncture

About seven years ago, my mind was such a deluge of OCD intrusions, that when my previous therapist suggested I try acupuncture, I actually did. It's not that she had ever tried it herself or recommended it to anyone before, but she was desperate. There was a Western trained doctor nearby who had added acupuncture to his practice. He'd never used it to treat OCD, but he was more than willing to go ahead.

I was in the middle of a massive storm of fixating on whether or not I should take SSRI anti-depressants, and acupuncture hadn't yet been contaminated by obsessive panicky ruminations. I wanted relief, wanted some space in my head for other things besides retracing and researching every aspect of my life.

I did a typical exhaustive search of the medical literature, and didn't find evidence of acupuncture working for OCD, but neither did it appear that it would harm me. It was an exposure of sorts ultimately, because I look back now and wonder how I tolerated someone applying needles to my body, buzzing them, and creating some sort of smoke. Health anxiety is one of my root OCD themes. I once fainted from a finger stick when I attempted to give blood. Giving consent to invasive treatment was not my norm. Plus the doctor's attempt to give me reassurance that the moles on my back were ok had the rebound effect of stirring up all previous mole anxiety.

After the doctor recommended I take a Chinese herbal tincture to correct my "imbalance," OCD began waking up, and gnawing away at me. I researched every ingredient, and after becoming intimately acquainted with the industry, I reluctantly tried it, because I would do just about anything to avoid having to say no to someone with authority. It tasted like bitter tea, and was just vile enough that the healthy part of myself flashed an SOS, and I dropped out of my acupuncture treatment.

I was disappointed that the seas in my mind did not part and reveal a path on dry land. I don't think I expected acupuncture to help, but I had the vengeful critical voice saying "If you don't try it and it would've worked, you are negligent and a bad person."

Related Post:
Unhelpful Strategies #1: Setting a Timer

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