My Story: Why Acupuncture?
Lauren Dyer, D.Ac
This is probably the most common question I get asked by patients.
My “go-to” answer has always been how I experienced debilitating migraines in college and finally decided to try Acupuncture after my mom suggested it. I was hesitant and skeptical at first. You know, because “why would I go to someone to have needles put in me to feel better?” But you know what else? I went and my mom was right: Acupuncture worked, and I was inspired. All I wanted was to be that person—a source of clarity, support, and relief—for someone else.
End of story, right? Well, not exactly.
At the same time I started Acupuncture, I was also finishing college with a BA in Political Science—talk about a change of heart! By that point I had completed internships at some large non-profits with multi-level missions, and realized I could not thrive at a “desk-job”. Instead, I knew I wanted to engage meaningfully with people in a one-on-one setting. I literally needed to see the change and know that I was contributing to it. All of the attempts to influence policies from grant writing, rallies, and conferences felt futile and too removed for me. I knew that enacting change—within a country or community—required patience and perseverance, but that if I could make a series of small differences on an individual level, it could add up to something meaningful. That is why one of my favorite, guiding reminders to this day is still: “helping one person might not change the world, but it can change the world for that person.”
However, I have come to realize that these aspects of my story are true but they are “safe” versions of the truth. They do not touch on the whole story of how Acupuncture impacted me the way it did, by helping me through the my most pivotal, difficult, and I guess you can say lowest time in my life.
I have struggled with severe depression for most of my teen and adult life. It wasn't until I was consistently treated with Acupuncture that I was able to regularly find myself on the other side of it, or above it…a place where I chose, and still choose, not to live anymore, where it no longer defines me. Of course, I still have my days, but they are farther and fewer in between. I find it easier to prevent or pull myself out of it by being mindful of my daily habits and choices—from the food I eat, the media I consume, and the exercise I get to flexing my occasional need to say “no” to things that drain me.
But back to the story…
When I received regular Acupuncture treatments during my last year of college, I realized my migraines weren’t random, isolated events—they were physical manifestations of my depression, and the emotional stress I was not willing to process. My way of coping was covering it up with anti-depressants that made me feel like a shell of someone just trying to keep it together and get through—but it never really went away. Within those last two semesters though, Acupuncture helped me return to myself. I was able to feel again, but not let my feelings control me. My resolve and sense of direction strengthened. I was excited to participate in school again and fix myself. My biggest surprise was how I was able to find the willpower to stop self-medicating and put myself through a summer Anatomy course to complete my pre-requisites for graduate school. I remember feeling relieved and thankful that I was on finally on track to learn how to help someone else potentially transform the way I had.
But even after I started my Acupuncture program, I apparently wasn't through the thick of it yet. This was when the anxiety and panic attacks became more pervasive. Part of it probably had to do with moving far away from home, living alone, learning a second language of Chinese Medicine, fearing failure, starting a relationship with someone I knew I wanted to marry—I was overwhelmed to say the least. I checked myself in frequently at the student Acupuncture clinic, and some days I could barely speak, I was completely inconsolable. I hated that feeling of dread and being scared out of my mind. I remember asking the student intern treating me at the time, “So, how is this helping me?” I remember them saying, “it calms your mind and helps your body process what you're feeling so that your triggers don't trigger you anymore.” That stuck with me.
Fast forward to today, I am thankful for it all: my path, my past, and all of the transformations along the way.
Even with typical off-days here and there, I am still the happiest I have ever been. I love what I do, and I love getting to share this medicine with those who are open to trying it. All along, I have dedicated myself to finding the balance between self-acceptance and self-improvement so I can show up for others in the most empathetic and authentic way I know how—and I cannot heal by hiding. Hiding my story was only hurting me, keeping me stuck in a place of shame, but now I can finally reflect without the self-judgement and regret. I finally have peace and the perspective to appreciate how my path shaped who I am today, especially as a clinician. After all, I was always a patient of this medicine before I was a practitioner. Accepting and healing from my past, while helping others do the same, has become my purpose. As much as I do my best to keep a line between my personal and professional life, after 27 years on this Earth I have sat with myself long enough to know that my work is—and always will be—deeply personal.
I hope that by sharing this, if you are struggling with anxiety, depression or the after-effects of trauma, even physical symptoms like I had—you know that I have been there, and it's possible to be on the other side of it. You do not need to feel ashamed or alone. You especially do not need to feel like living with those is your “new normal.”
Acupuncture might not be for everyone, but it is a naturally empowering and transformative medicine if you are open to changing.
Instead of masking, numbing, or just getting-by, it treats the root of what is going on, leading to lasting shifts in your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. If you are wondering whether Acupuncture or having me as your clinician is the right fit for you, feel free to connect with me directly with any questions or concerns you have.
Thank you for reading my story! Just remember:
“ Be patient and tough, for someday this pain will be useful to you” —Ovid