Brand. New. Me

If you are a fan of watching TED talk, check out the amazing psychologist Susan David (link below).

Susan believes that "being positive has become a new form of moral correctness".  Do we feel that our negative feelings therefore part of us, are a burden on our loved ones and friends? Is this why we feel we must present our most positive selves to the world, even to the detriment of our sanity and health?

So many people feel a deep shame for having so called 'negative' feelings such as sadness, anxiety, anger, guilt and even grief. We actively push these feelings away, in the name of positivity. We may even inadvertently shame our loved ones or friends for having these same feelings.

As a society we place a great value on positivity. Many of us fill our social media feeds with the most vibrant aspects of our lives but we might actually be having the most emotionally challenging day, week or even year. I've definitely been guilty of showing my brightest smile (you know that smile) and squeaking 'everything is just fine', when it most definitely has not been. 

It's fantastic to feel happy and positive but not to the exclusion of our other emotions, or to the reality which is our lives. There is no shame in admitting you're having a difficult time, it such a brave and courageous act to bare your feelings. Acknowledging that we feel bad not just to others but more importantly to ourselves, gives us a chance to work through our negative feelings and coming out the other end feeling stronger. It is right here during our most vulnerable time, that we receive the biggest opportunity for real change and growth to happen. 

No one is immune to the chaos of the human existence. We are united in the fact that we all experience birth, aging, illness and death. It is how we embrace the ebb and flow of life, both positive and negative that defines us. 

What would happen if we simply became more positive about feeling negative? One of my acupuncture clients, is an amazing woman who works within our health service. This lady has given me permission to talk about her difficulty, in hope that it will help someone else. My client started treatments to help her cope with anxiety and panic attacks. Her job was highly stressful and what compounded her feelings of anxiety, was feeling unable to speak to anyone about her 'negative' emotions. The fear of appearing weak or incapable in her job role, was too strong to break down that barrier. I remember feeling awe struck and humbled at her bravery for opening up to me. With the understanding that it was not easy for this brilliant woman to share her feelings, and this was her first step in acknowledging her feelings not only to herself but to another person. My client felt she had wasted years fighting anxiety and fear, instead of working on the the process of acknowledging the feelings and working through them. I can relate to her struggle, it's not easy putting yourself out there and dealing with hard emotions. By having acupuncture treatments and counselling sessions, she was finally giving herself the space and permission to just feel without shame.  

If acupuncture or counselling isn't right for you at the moment, there is lots of other ways you can express yourself. Talk to your loved ones and friends, trust that you will be heard and not judged. Generally it hurts the people closest to you more, if they knew you were having a hard time and you didn't trust them enough to share. Like they couldn't cope with you on a bad day, we have to give ourselves and others more credit. Support groups online or in person is another great way to safely share our feelings with people who have had similar experiences or issues.  

Imagine a world, where you disclosed to a friend that you are feeling anxious or depressed. Your friend looks at you with wide eyes, like you have just won the emotional lottery. Your friend is so excited for you, because you have been given this golden opportunity through Growth Emotions (we've dropped the negative, in my future world) to actual create change within your life. Something isn't quite right in your relationship, job or maybe you haven't dealt with a previous trauma or life event. What is you need? You certainly do not need to be fighting this feeling, it has a purpose. What is it? Do you need more friendship, love, security, justice, space, validation, to take better care of your health or simply to be heard.  The next questions should be how do I make this happen or how can I bring myself back into balance? Own your feelings.

How much power would negative feelings have over us? If we all just changed our mindset.

You can do it, you are not alone. Say no to false positivity!

Join Us

Invisible Illness Warriors is a peer to peer support group for people with invisible illnesses (both physical and mental health). Please join our group on Facebook.

We also have a website with events and meet ups

www.invisibleillnesswarriors.com

If you or someone close to you, is experiencing a mental health crisis, it is vital to ask for help quickly. A mental health emergency is as equally important to address, as any other medical emergency. NiDirect has a great information page with links. If you need to know where to go for help, your local mental health crisis team, care plans and support for carers, click here

If you can relate to this post or are happy to share ways that you've embraced not just positive but negative feelings, please leave a comment below. 

Susan David’s Ted Talk

The Holy Trio: Grounding Tapping Points

Let me share with you three fantastic acupuncture points, which I have named The Holy Trio. What's great about these points is that you can gently tap or massage them at home.

These points were highly regarded in ancient Traditional Chinese Medical texts, such as in the Ode to Elucidate Mysteries.  The first point DU 20 represents the energy of the heavens (head), the second point CV 21 the energy of the person (the centre) and the finally point KD 1 (the feet) absorbs energy from the earth and roots our energy to the ground.  

I recommend these points to clients who experience high levels of stress, anxiety or who may not be feeling that grounded in their lives (everyone can benefit from this tapping sessions).

It's a quick 5 minute routine that you can do anywhere (as long as you are happy taking your shoes off)! Simply tap, gently press or massage the three points below, concentrating on the breath, when you need that little extra calm. Teach this routine to your kids, my daughter loves it because it's fun. Mama loves it, as it helps with bedtimes! 

Hopefully you will notice something really special about The Holy Trio in regards to your breath. If you are like me, and sometimes struggles to really breath deeply into your tummy (Yes, even acupuncturists get told off in yoga for not breathing properly). You may find your breath along with your anxiety levels, can get stuck in the chest area. Resulting in shortness of breath and chest tightness, then this point combination is for you.

Try tapping/pressing The Holy Trio at home. Happy tapping!

If you have any questions, please get in touch.

Trish

 

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GV 20 - The Brain Point

How to do release the energy for this point?

Breathe deeply through the nose, exhaling through the mouth. Whilst tapping or massaging this point with a finger tip to uplift the body’s energy levels. 

How to find this point?

Place thumbs on tips of ears (as guidance). Slide middle fingers towards mid-line of the head. The point will align with the tip of the ears, on the top of the head. A slight dip can be found on the scalp at GV 20 (a definite aah moment!). 

What is this point good for?

This Acupuncture point feels great, when tapped or massaged. Use this point for an energy lift, to help relieve headaches and to feel more balanced within yourself. I often use this point for clients with Fibromyalgia, it works great for Fibro Fog and to help with fatigue and low energy levels. 

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CV 21 - The Breath Point

How to release the energy of this point?

Breathe deeply through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Gently tap or massage this point to push breath inhalation directly to the tummy. 

How to find this point? 

On the mid-line of the chest. Just below the hollow of the throat. Find a slight dip, it will feel tender to the touch.

What is this point good for?

When this point is stimulated, notice that breathing becomes easier. Let the breath go deeper into the abdomen before exhaling. This point is great for chest tightness, breathing difficulties and even digestive issues. 

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KD 1 - The Grounding Point

How to release the energy of this point?

Breathe deeply through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Gently press this point on both feet with thumbs to ground the body's energy.

How to find this point?

On the sole of the foot between the 2nd and 3rd toes. Roughly 1/3 of the distance between the base of the second toe and the heel. A slight dip can be felt at this point. Try bending toes and upper 1/3 of the foot forward, as it will be easier to find the indentation of KD 1. 

What is this point good for? 

This point echos the earth. Which makes it amazing for grounding the body's energy. It is wonderful for clarity of thought, headaches and insomnia. Young children respond fantastically to this point being gently pressed, to aid in a restful sleep. Enjoy! 

Your acupuncturist's guide to the ADHD brain

The ADHD Brain

It has definitely been a challenge, summarizing the vast amount of studies covering the pathophysiology of the ADHD brain. Yet, the answer may lay within these 8 neuroimaging pictures by Faraone, S.V. et al. (2015) in his study 'Brain mechanisms in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder'. Images below.

Firstly why is neuroimaging so important when determining the pathophysiology of ADHD?

Neuroimaging provides a clear picture of functional change (pathophysiology) within ADHD brains. Through these studies/images we have learned, that even though environmental factors and genetics also play role in ADHD. The ADHD brain is significantly different to neuro-typical (non-ADHD) brains, in terms of brain structure and functional connectivity (wiring).

This information has a huge implication for the millions of struggling families and adults living with ADHD. The implication being that ADHD is not due to bad parenting or adults simply having no life organisational skills. Certainly ADHD symptoms can be exacerbated by our external environment, but these images below demonstrate that there is a neurological basis behind ADHD.

ADHD is considered a neurological disorder, manifesting as (but not restricted to) symptoms such as hyperactivity, distractibility, and poor impulse control.

ADHD also falls under the umbrella term of Neurodiversity, which basically means neurologically different. Neurodiversity encompasses a wide range of neurological conditions, namely Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dyspraxia, Tourette's, OCD plus others.

Neurodiversity is considered the conclusion of a natural and normal variation in the human genome. One who thinks and acts differently to the norm, and who should be respected as any other human being who is different. Symptoms can be addressed if it causes a issue in the person's daily functionality. 

Journalist Harvey Blume first wrote about neurodiversity in a 1998 article published in the Atlantic. Blume said, "Neurodiversity may be every bit as crucial for the human race as biodiversity is for life in general. Who can say what form of wiring will prove best at any given moment?" And who can say?! We will cover more on the exciting possibilities of Neurodiversity in part 2 of this series.

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Brain mechanisms in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

Figure (a) & (b) - present the main regions implicated by functional and structural neuroimaging studies.

Figure (c) - shows these regions being connected by neural networks rich in two neurotransmitters - Dopamine & Noradrenalin. ADHD medication treats ADHD by regulating the activity of these neurotransmitters.

Figure (d) - represents two functional networks.

  • The Corticocerebellar Network - Regulator of complex motor skills & plays a possible role in the regulation of cognitive functions.

  • The Executive Control Network - Regulates behavior by connecting the dorsal striatum and the dorsolateral prefontal cortex. This pairing is necessary for inhibitory control, self-regulation, working memory and attention.

Figure (e) - illustrates the Reward Network that connect the ventral striatum with prefrontal cortex. This Reward Network regulates how we perceive and value rewards and punishments. This network is thought to play a significant role on substance abuse addictions. Which is why, the ADHD community are at a particularly high risk for addictions. 

Figures (f), (g) & (h) - highlights less understood additional regions in the pathophysiology of ADHD. A primary role for these regions is the regulation of the Default Mode Network (DMN). This network is active, when a person isn't focused on a task. While in this mode the brain will zone out, day dream, mind wander to past memories and actually future plan. A disruption in the DMN is implicated not only in ADHD but other disorders such as ASD and Alzheimer's. This may explain why Alzheimer's patients respond so well to an external environment, which reflects the patient's internal memories. This externalization can be expressed through the music of their youth and objects/photographs from their past. It would also explain the rich imagination and creativity found in people with ADHD and ASD. 

Typically we see a continuous dynamic interaction between the DMN (thinking about a great idea) and the Executive Network (making that idea a reality). However when both networks are dis-regulated, the natural communication style of expressing ideas/concepts becomes complicated, this is especially true for autistic individuals. It may also indicate why people with ADHD can often feel misunderstood and easily frustrated, when required to explain their vision or give an opinion.

A classic example of this would be Steve Jobs (founder of Apple), who was a rumored ADHDer. It has been well documented how Jobs would unleash a reign of terror on his poor employees, who questioned his 'vision'. Personally I don't believe that this was an issue of Jobs being a proud or arrogant individual but of an inability to express his vivid and surreal internal world in any other way, than how he saw it. ADHDers find it very difficult to find other ways, to make their ideas more easily understandable. The frustration felt by many people with ADHD, comes down to a communication issue which has both internal and external implications. An ADHD child will thrive with an educator who doesn't presume the ideas/actions of an ADHD child is wrong, just because they don't fit inside a box, a curriculum or a text book.  A teacher who has mastered the art of listening, paraphrasing and summarising with enthusiasm is exactly the validation and encouragement an ADHD child needs to express themselves more clearly and to get that child's plan into action. 

 

REFERENCES
Faraone, S. V. et al. (2015) Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder Nat. Rev. Dis. Primers doi:10.1038/nrdp.2015.20 ; http://rdcu.be/gYyV

Armstrong, Thomas.  The Power of Neurodiversity:  Unleashing the Advantages of Your Differently Wired Brain. Cambridge, MA:  DaCapo Lifelong/Perseus Books, 2011.

Qiu MG, Ye Z, Li QY, et al. Changes of brain structure and function in ADHD children. Brain Topogr 2011;24:243-52.

Step to step guide: Acupuncture for IVF/ICSI

How can acupuncture help you through your IVF/ICSI treatment?

Most patients consider undergoing IVF/ICSI treatment to be a major life event. A deeply personal experience that can be filled with a lot of stress, worry and uncertainty.

With this in mind; I has compiled a step by step guide explaining how acupuncture can support you through the IVF/ICSI process and flexible evening and weekend appointments to accommodate you through an already demanding time.

The Acupuncture Loft's protocol for using acupuncture during IVF/ICSI involves using published research on clinical trials such as the well known  'Paulus et al'  randomised control trial with an achieved pregnancy rate of 42.5% with the use of acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer in comparison to a pregnancy rate of 26.3% of women who did not use acupuncture. The Paulus protocol is a popular choice for acupuncture clinics, even with the Zita West clinic. 

It has been my greatest pleasure to have witnessed many a  positive outcome for for a lot of fertility clients with the use of acupuncture and this protocol.

You are encouraged to attend regular acupuncture treatments for at least two months prior to your IVF/ICSI treatment for optimal results. However, if you are just about to start IVF/ICSI there still so many positive benefits when using acupuncture alongside your IVF/ICSI treatments. Acupuncture supports getting pregnant, staying pregnant and IVF, IUI, and ICSI treatments.

Step one

SUPPRESSING YOUR NATURAL MONTHLY CYCLE

At the beginning of your IVF treatment you will be given a medication to suppress your monthly cycle. For approximately two weeks you will administer a daily injection or a nasal spray of the drug provided. Acupuncture can help relieve drug side affects such as hot flushes, excessive thirst, sweating, anxiety, irritability and disturbed sleep.

Step two

BOOSTING YOUR EGG SUPPLY

With your natural cycle suppressed, your next stage of treatment will be to administer daily FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) injections for roughly 10-12 days. FSH stimulates the ovaries to produce as many eggs as possible for collection and fertilisation. Acupuncture can help increase blood flow to the ovaries and endometrium & increase the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the follicles while also improving the egg's capacity to make energy to pass onto the embryo after fertilization. Eggs that consume more oxygen (ATP) before fertilization - form better quality embryos.

Step three

CHECKING IN

During this stage, you will have a scan to check in on how your ovaries are doing and possible blood tests. You will also receive a final hormone injection to help your eggs mature.

 

What an egg needs while maturing -

 

1. The right nutrients - please ask me for your individual nutrition plan according to the principle of Traditional Chinese Medicine during your first appointment.

2. Good blood & oxygen supplyAcupuncture can help increase both oxygen & blood flow.

3. The right hormone signals

4. Needs the capacity to supply enough energy to the embryo - this has a big significance when your AMH (egg count) may be considered a bit low - Successful implantation depends more on the egg having more energy.  Acupuncture has been shown to help improve the egg's ability to make energy.

Step four

EGG COLLECTION & FERTILISATION

Acupuncture at the time of egg collection is recommended to reduce anxiety & stress sometimes caused by this waiting period before your transfer. While also helping your body heal faster after your procedure. We also recommend that if you have a partner, he also receives acupuncture treatments prior to egg collect to improve sperm quality and quantity.

Step Five

EMBRYO TRANSFER

Based on protocol two acupuncture treatments are needed on the day of your transfer: one prior and one just after. Flexible early morning, evening and weekend appointments are available during the day of your transfer.

Step six

POST TRANSFER

A gentle relaxing treatment is recommended during the next two weeks of waiting for your results.