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The first time I met Vimala I told him the only thing I looked forward to was sleep. Sadly, at 46 years old, this was quite true. I have suffered from anxiety all my life (have a constant dull headache) and as I got older had symptoms of depression as well. Once I hit my forties I started experiencing feelings of extreme panic (dry mouth, racing heart, pounding head, tremors, feelings of dread, weepiness, and insomnia). Sometimes, my heart would feel like it was thundering so loudly I was convinced the people in close proximity could hear it. My appetite was non-existent therefore I was underweight and my symptoms certainly dictated my life. I was forever avoiding the situations that I was able to, particularly social, and lived in dread of those I had to face (such as work). As I work for the NHS and have a certain knowledge of medicine I managed for as long as able without prescribed medication for fear of replacing one problem with another i.e. side effects of the type of drug I knew I was likely to be prescribed if I presented with the symptoms I have described. However, in my early forties I felt if I didn’t do something I would get to the stage where I was unable to get out of bed and face the day and realised that would most certainly lead to a downward spiral of time off work and probably exacerbate the problem. I was duly prescribed antidepressants and sleeping pills, plus pain relief tablets for the constant headache. I stopped the antidepressants after about six months as they didn’t seem to help as much as I had hoped and I couldn’t cope with the side effects (flushing, night sweats and a rather numb or spaced feeling) but habitually took the pain relief and the sleeping tablets. I looked forward to sleep because it was the only relief from my symptoms.
Three months later, and after a course of ten acupuncture sessions (I now have an acupuncture session every 3-4 weeks) I am a somewhat different (certainly calmer) person. My energy levels have risen considerably and continue to do so, my body feels very much lighter (although I have actually put on weight as my appetite is improved), my head and mind are clearer and my attitude is more positive and optimistic. I haven’t had a panic attack since my third or fourth session of acupuncture and rarely take pain relief tablets. My next challenge is to stop the sleeping tablets. I still have my old friend the headache, but it is ever decreasing in intensity and constancy. While I would not claim to be completely symptom free (I still suffer some occasional anxiety but nothing like the sheer panic and dread I used to experience), I would claim to be able to cope with it and understand it better and be able to alleviate it more successfully than I have ever been able to before.
I embraced acupuncture as I really wanted it to work and it has, and I’ve also made other lifestyle changes (diet, exercise and try to explore what makes me the way I am) to ensure I was working with it and giving it my optimum. I wish I had done it years ago. I enjoy the sessions immensely – I would rather have acupuncture than a massage.
When I first told Vimala all I looked forward to was sleep, he said ‘we’ll see if we can do something about that’ – and he has.