No Picnic in Sight:
My Experience with OCD and Acupuncture
By Eric Shapiro
Upon being diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
(OCD), I saw the reality behind the greatest myth of mental
illness, the myth that The Victim Is Unaware of His or Her
Own Condition. A childhood flooded with media depictions of the
mentally ill had lead me to believe that the afflicted had somehow
been robbed of their objectivity, thrown into a dark hall-of-mirrors
beyond the realm of rational perspective.
Nonsense. My rational mind remained intact, albeit uncomfortably
so. From the lighter corner of my mind, I watched darkness flow
in. Obsessive images of violence and amorality. Urges, or rather,
"pseudo-urges" to do things I didn't want to. Yin
(the rational mind) duking it out with yang (the imbalanced,
irrational mind) on a daily basis. The word "Hell" was
used often when describing this state.
I'm certain that the suffering of many leads to punctured objectivity
and the loss of rational self-awareness. Fortunately, I remained
aware. No matter how awful I felt, I could at least articulate
what was going on. The power of descriptive articulation should
not be underestimated. It keeps the disorder in context as a disorder,
preserving a firm boundary between the right mind and the ill
mind. For me, imagining such a boundary was a vital survival tool.
I focused on finding a day when Yin overran Yang, so to
The afflicted mind has difficulty inspiring itself to seek assistance.
What a complex entity the mind is; even in sickness, it has only
itself to rely upon. Unlike somebody with a broken leg, a person
with an anxiety disorder cannot lean on his or her other mind.
Overcoming mental duress is like trying to kiss your own lips.
Quite tricky, but possible with enough imagination.
Imagination and resourcefulness, that's what it comes
down to. These strange ailments go just as they came. I knew that
elements of my mind were strong; the challenge was getting these
elements to positively influence the weaker ones. This required
many analysts, many appointments, many schools of healing. Psychology,
psychiatry, homeopathy, reflexology, reiki, energy healing-- these
were all thrown in the pot to little avail. Finally and unexpectedly,
acupuncture provided balance.
The outright tangibility of the needles is difficult to describe.
They trigger sharp bursts of energy that snap through the
body. Once the body's energy is balanced, all-encompassing
relaxation ensues. Colors seem softer yet more vibrant. Sleep
is more peaceful and nourishing. After less than three months
of weekly treatments, I felt adequate. Some weeks later,
I felt beyond adequate; things were splendid. At present,
I meet with an acupuncturist less than four times a year. Having
consulted with several acupuncturists, I can say that the best
ones are the quiet ones. Rather than chattering aimlessly
about their task, they will lean and listen to your pulses. They
are as unruffled and precise as the medicine they
I've improved significantly. I thank acupuncture and I thank
my supportive family, but, most importantly, I thank counter-mythology:
even when afflicted, the human mind sees itself. And in
itself, it sees solutions.
Reviews of "Short of a Picnic":
- Jeni4 Jones, Greenwich Village Gazette
- Jeffrey Schaler, Ph.D., author of ADDICTION IS A CHOICE
"SHORT OF A PICNIC is a terrific read, masterfully written."
Contact: Eric Shapiro
1345 N. Orange Dr., #1
Hollywood, CA 90028
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