In my years of experience working in the field of LGBTQ health, I've seen many positive changes in the health of our community. It has felt triumphant and inspiring to watch HIV become a largely manageable long-term illness rather than an inevitable death sentence. Marriage equality has been perhaps the most palpable hurdle in the struggle for equality. All of these beautiful milestones would have the greater population think that the LGBTQ community has finally "made it" into mainstream society and we can now let our fears dissipate into a distant memory. The personal stories, however, of many within our community paint a very different picture.
Shortly after the horrific Orlando shootings, my practice made a drastic shift. Anxiety/PTSD/Depression/Insomnia made up about 15% of my practice before the massacre. In the days, weeks, and months that followed this percentage shot up to well over 50%. The LGBTQ community is experiencing a collective trauma response that deserves to be recognized.
Many of our community members face trauma triggers in everyday life from past experiences. Even though the big picture is getting brighter and brighter, many of us still carry pain with us from past bullying, discrimination, and violence. Emotional pain can affect more than just our mood. It can affect the way our internal organs work. Everything from digestive disorders to respiratory illness can be affected by how well we process emotional pain. The separation between emotional and physical health is an illusion. Each affects and informs the other.
Here are some considerations for dealing with the stress and anxiety that so many of us carry with us in our everyday lives.....
Acupuncture can help regulate our stress and switch off "fight or flight" response
Did you know that BAP has a team of mental health practitioners? If you find yourself needing counseling or support, consider contacting one of them.
Eating for the season can do wonders for mood. Autumn is the season of metal and Lung is the organ that is associated with this element. Grief and sorrow is associated with the lungs and can be particularly intense in the autumn. A natural way to be in harmony with autumn is to eat the foods which naturally grow in this season. Now is the perfect time to eat more root vegetables, squashes, soups and stews.
"Lights out, screens off". When night falls, it's best to limit our viewing of screens (whether it be tablet, phone, computer or television). Artificial light from screens can stimulate the photo-receptors in our eyes. This can affect our circadian rhythm which can in turn aggravate existing emotional stress.
Consider a restorative practice such as meditation, kundalini yoga, or qi gong.
Consider getting involved with community groups hosted by one of the various LGBTQ community centers in NYC - Or ones that are right here at Brooklyn Acupuncture Project. Many of them offer support groups and other mental health related programming.
As our future continues to unfold, we are committed (as always) to helping you heal the past.
Wishing you health, pride, and peace.
Christopher Peacock L.Ac.
Christopher Peacock is a licensed acupuncturist & herbalist at Brooklyn Acupuncture Project (BAP). While Christopher’s practice includes a diverse cross section of society, his specific interests include health and wellness within the LGBTQ community, HIV health, transgender health, pain management and emotional health. He serves as a LGBTQ community advocate speaking on podcasts such as Grow, Cook, Heal and serving as a policy advisor at the largest Chinese Medicine campus in the U.S. He writes for the BAP blog in his LGBTQ Health series. You can read more about his work as a practitioner on our Acupunture Services page here.