My Journey Through Mental Illness
My recent battle with depression taught me very important things. It also instilled in me the desire to share what those lessons are in an attempt to help others along the way. I will be using this blog to do just that. There are several aspects that differentiate Chinese medicine from Allopathic or western medicine. These range from the way each approach the body, its ailments, its emotions, to how they reach diagnoses and most importantly how we manage different illnesses.
In western medicine we make a diagnosis. Diabetes Mellitus, for instance, and we have several drugs we can use to manage it, utilizing them on a trial and fail basis. Watching for possible side effects and patient’s tolerance, we may prescribe and change for another more suitable to that particular patient who may respond badly to the previous one. And we do this until we find the one the patient tolerates. This takes several changes, weeks and even months to reach.
A Chinese health practitioner instead finds the pattern that illness is rooted on. Going back to our example of Diabetes Mellitus, this may be rooted on a Spleen and Kidney Qi deficiency, Spleen and Kidney Yang deficiency, Yang Ming Jin, Kidney Yang deficiency, Kidney Qi and Yang deficiency or Kidney Yang deficiency with water flooding, to name only but a few. All of them will share symptoms and signs of diabetes but with some signs that are uniquely specific to a particular pattern, and the Chinese doctor chooses their management according to the pattern.
By pinpointing the correct disharmony we avoid the risk of giving the wrong herbal formula or following the wrong acupuncture protocol from the beginning.
This is the same for every illness. Chinese medicine is also unique in using nutrition and good lifestyle habits to empower the body to heal itself.
I failed to heed my own advice and for the last years I worked long days including weekends on my desire to help others.
This abuse I placed on my body took its toll. My personal type of depression was based on Spleen and Kidney Yang deficiency. I noticed my limbs felt icy cold, my lower back and knees ached from time to time, I felt fatigued, looked pale, and my stools were loose, especially early morning. I also observed that my tongue looked swollen and pale with a thin white coat. But instead of allowing myself the luxury of eating well, sleep restfully, and take time off, I pressed forward trying to meet my duties while eating on the run cold raw foods which were hard for my body to process, stay up late and wake up early, work every day of the week, including Sundays and this on a pro bono basis. My desire to serve and help others had become toxic, to my body and to my psyche, and I collapsed.
My recovery began when I stopped to do the right healthful things for me. I added cooked rich earth colored vegetables to my diet, drank my tea with ginseng, ginger and cinnamon bark. Took time off during the day to do the Qi Gong exercises routine to strengthen my spleen and kidneys, and most of all, I went to bed early, took Sundays off after church to do things to replenish my spirit and love my body, including taking time to placing needles on myself. Which was the greatest irony of all, I spent entire days placing needles on others and never once placed them on myself to help my body along the way.
Kidney Yang deficiency translates to hormonal deficiency in western terms, particularly testosterone. Mine was only 8 when the normal values for a woman my age should be around 15-70. Getting my hormones to their normal levels was also vital in my recovery.
One other thing that I appreciate about Chinese medicine is that by going to the root of the problem, Spleen and Kidney Yang deficiency in this case, which recently was manifesting in severe depression, was also putting me at risk to develop diabetes if left untreated, as you can see by the list of patterns I mentioned earlier. Treating the root has not only helped my mind but improved my overall health.
We live in a glorious time where we have access to different types of treatment for our ailments. We need not suffer in silence. We need not suffer long, nor alone. Speak up and speak out.
Mental illness is still very stigmatized, and that is one of the reasons why I have decided to share my trial, my journey, my triumph over it. To give voice to the voiceless, to give credibility to those who cannot explain what is happening to them, to usher them on the right way to seek treatment, and most of all, to give hope to those suffering through it. God is real, and He loves us. He will help you always. And send you to those who can help you. With His help you will conquer it.
It is just my opinion…