I live on the edge of the Fens, and it’s a great place to experience a certain ambivalent relationship with nature. In the drear misery of dark winter dankness, the flat expanses of sodden ground merging seemingly seemlessly with the grey expanses of sodden sky, it’s hard to feel positive – and walking the dog along droves that are treacherously slippery and stubbornly sticky at the same time seems, frankly, quite unfair (especially as said dog is quite unconcerned with one’s plight).
And yet, a kindly change of wind direction or the passage of an hour or two, can bring about a huge upward shift of mood – as the famous East Anglian skies show their luminous magnificence, and one can scarcely stop oneself whooping with delight.
So what has this got to do with depression? Well, as a metaphor, that grey bleakness, and the stuckness too, do pretty well. I know, I’ve had my own brushes with depression, and it’s not pretty. But what I also know is that when it lifts, it is hard to remember quite how it felt not to be able to imagine a bright, beautiful sky – a hopeful view – a reason to look forward. In Chinese Medicine, this time of year – the gallop towards the springtime – is regarded as highly significant for acknowledging and understanding the spectrum that exists in all of us: from utter hopelessness and despair, through resignation, frustration, to ambivalence, and onwards to purposefulness, future vision, enthusiasm and hope.
I have worked with hundreds of people with depression over the past 30 years – using both acupuncture and Zero Balancing. Some of them wouldn’t touch antidepressants with a barge pole; some are on antidepressants but are still depressed; some want to come off their medication but feel the need of something else to help them achieve that goal. Despite the fact that the news this week stated that “antidepressants work, and more people should take them”, there will always be people who have not found them helpful, who don’t tolerate drugs well, who fear side-effects, or who want to find a natural treatment for depression rather than a chemical one. I am not anti anti-depressants per se – in fact, I have on several occasions even recommended patients to take them for a while, alongside the work we do together to understand what the triggers and causes of their depression may be and to work with those. But years of experience have also shown me quite how extraordinary the changes for the better can be using natural treatments for depression (and anxiety). Acupuncture, which is about so much more than treating bad backs, has a whole panoply of explanations for why depression develops and some simply marvellous ways of tailor-making treatment for each individual looking for help – whether you’re a women with depression aggravated by hormonal changes (PMT/PMS, postnatal, menopause), or your depression springs from bereavement, divorce, work stress, trauma or anything else. And Zero Balancing, that magnificent “unsung hero” of bodywork, is quite simply the best way I know to help someone to make sense, in their body, of changes going on in their life – and is a marvellous adjunct to counselling, psychotherapy or any other talk therapy.
So, if you’re struggling to look ahead to the springtime and the sound of birdsong is distressing rather than delightful because you just can’t join in with that optimism, now is the time to call me and book a consultation. I’m available for appointments in Cambridge – call me on 07970 295177. As a new patient said to me just the other day “I’m so glad I came to see you – I’ve felt so alone with my troubles”.