I have no trouble with needles so I did not anticipate any issues with getting acupuncture. However, at my first appointment, after the practitioner put all the needles in me and left the room, I instantly panicked. For some reason it did not cross my mind earlier that someone who has panic attacks being in confined areas might have a serious problem with being basically pinned down and unable to move, at all.
I had one of my worst panic attacks that day because I could not get out of the situation I was in without serious pain and I could not do any of the little things I usually do to try and calm myself down. You can not really move any part of your body because the needles really hurt if you move. It's fine if you lie still, but I tried to wiggle my fingers to clench my hand, which I do when I am panicking, and it was extremely painful. Technically I could get up, with the pain, but really, what would I do then with no clothes on and tons of needles all over me? There is really no where for a human pin cushion to go.
|Attempting to relax. Photo by J. Norris|
That was one of the worst half hours of my life. I kept panicking, fearing I would get sick, unable to move, knowing I could yell for help but that would be extremely embarrassing.
Apparently, most people fall asleep during acupuncture and they find it very relaxing. I find it excruciatingly terrifying and I lay there doing anything to try and distract myself- singing songs in my head, counting, but mostly I kept saying over and over again in my mind "When is this going to be over?"
Until we can figure out how to get rid of my panic, I can not go to acupuncture by myself. So, my loving husband takes three hours out of his week to go with me (between driving there and back, meeting with the practitioner, getting all the needles put in, laying there, and getting everything removed.) It may sound odd that he would figure out how to go with me, but the acupuncture seems to work enough that it is worth all the time and effort.
Some days I am able to lay there quietly and we both get some meditation time in, which is nice and he finds that quite relaxing. Other times I am an anxious wreck and I have him talk to me to try and make the time pass faster.
My acupuncturinst is not quite sure what to do with me and the anxiety since he has not had anyone have acupuncture make them so anxious, every time. Then I realized though that most people who have severe anxiety over being confined would never get acupuncture in the first place.
I am glad I did not think this whole thing through and realize acupuncture would cause me to panic because then I would have missed out on a treatment that really helps me- better than medications have done. Even if acupuncture makes you nervous for any number of reasons, I would encourage you to try it because it might really help.