I begin writing this after I heard the lead singer of a band I liked growing up had committed suicide and am finishing writing it as in the past couple of weeks I have seen multiple people in my circle who know of others close to them who have committed suicide. I was listening to an old album of this band in the car last week in traffic, singing along with the lyrics and remembering times when I was younger and how connecting to that music which was truthful and raw made me feel less alone, connected, and like others could connect to what I was experiencing in life. I honestly have never really grown out completely from listening to that angsty grunge rock from my childhood days, and I’ve always appreciated bands that had lyrics that could relate to real life and real emotion. His death made me recall handfuls of times that I was teased for the music that I listened to, most I guess was in harmless jest, but at times I think others around me didn’t realize the harm they inflicted by this kind of banter that told others that it was not okay to be who they were. I see the harm in social media and the internet, but sometimes I see it as this powerful tool of connection - I came across a comment regarding his death that said, “He will be remembered for all the people he touched with his lyrics.” And I saw dozens of posts after that with comments that said things like, “This man saved my life.” Through music, through connection. Poetry, art, and music are extremely powerful things.
I bring this up because I always can relate things back to herbs and Chinese medicine. I sometimes feel as a society that we don’t understand our role as friends, family and cohorts in the health and well-being of others, and how the things we say and do affect those around us (bullying is another topic I won’t get into here). You wouldn’t think that teasing someone for a band they listen to would really make a difference, would you? But imagine that listening to that band every night was something that kept your friend alive, because they had no one else to talk to, or nothing else to keep them afloat, except listening to a rhythm, a poetry, that mimicked a sadness within them. It is oddly comforting.
So then, what can you do naturally and how can acupuncture and herbal medicine help with depression? I can give you handfuls of common herbs and supplements that have been known to help with low energy and low mood, but there are so many reasons people deal with depression and it is really helpful to seek out advice from a professional. From a Chinese medicine standpoint, some of these reasons may be long-term stress, unattended to emotions, and a kind of denied emotional turmoil. We say in Chinese medicine that a person must feel the spectrum of emotion, in proper time, for emotional health to be balanced – this includes anger, grief, sadness, and joy. But this just brushes the surface.
Some reasons people deal with depression are due to chemical imbalance and others are from living in a society where it can be difficult to attend to basic needs like rest, exercise, a healthy social life (and spiritual life) and healthy eating. Having a good balance of these things is crucial to your mental health. Acupuncture has been shown in studies to help alleviate symptoms of depression, and herbal medicine is another tool that if you find the right person to help you choose remedies, you may find relief.
If you are dealing with feelings of hopelessness, despair, low energy, or maybe feeling like you are cut off from the world, reaching out to see someone in this way can be very beneficial. And if you’ve never suffered with depression, think about it the next time someone gives you the impression that they’re having a hard time. Maybe all they need you to do is be a witness. It’s something healthy and important to learn to live with – to be uncomfortable with one another, even just for a moment, and there is solace and freedom within that.
I am also offering a class in which we will talk about herbs that can help with stress, anxiety and depression on January 26th at 11AM. The link is here.