written by Natalie Pattillo

Body Banter

Dribble Diaries: Needle Away the Nerves

As I'm typing this post, my neurosis is rising. Will Icon readers like what I'm writing or won't they? Did I mail out my rent check? What should I cook for dinner? Uh-oh, did I turn the stovetop off before leaving the house? Damn it, I need to pee - hope they didn't close the restroom for cleaningOk, I'll stop there before this entire post ends up being an incomprehensible weird stream of consciousness posing as a blog post (insert nervous laughter here). Really though, my anxious inner dialogue plagues me on the daily. I don't wanna speak for anyone but I'm pretty sure I'm not alone. Right??? 😕

I mean, let's be real, adulthood ain't easy. Worrying about bills, work deadlines, doctor appointments, stressful commutes, taxes (the list goes on and on) is a perfect recipe for a potential panic attack.

And here's the thing, all this nervousness can interplay with urge incontinence. When I'm dealing with a long line at a restroom and telling myself not to pee my pants in public, my brain is usually also occupied with anxious thoughts about a deadline I hope I didn't miss or an email I need to write. Wondering if I can hold my pee while waiting behind 5 other women in line definitely exacerbates my anxiety and urge.

In fact, studies say that it's very likely for dribble dilemmas to cause anxiety. Severe anxiety actually shuts down a part of the brain that controls urine flow! That's why when your inner dialogue floods you with anxious thoughts, you feel the need to use the restroom. 

My recent acupuncture adventure is actually what made me truly understand the connection between nerves & leaks. I ventured to Three Treasures Acupuncture, where the owner, Mindy, is one of the few acupuncturists who specialize in pelvic pain and pelvic floor dysfunctions. She often works with medical pros to chart this much delayed exploration in medicine and preventive care. Yay for prioritizing research in women's health!

Before any needlin' started, Mindy commenced with a very conversational patient intake. We talked about my childhood & adult expeeriences with leakage, my mental ups and downs, and my career path. Super thorough & personal. Mindy def wanted to have deets about my medical history and lifestyle so she could properly assess my needs (everyone needs a Mindy their life).

When it came time to lie down on the table, I started to ignore the neurotic chatter in my brain. Then, Mindy checked my pulse and tongue. In Chinese medicine, practitioners can collect info about you and your condition, by looking at the shape, color, and coating of your tongue. Then Mindy began the ever-so-gentle needlin'. Promise it doesn't hurt. Kinda feels like a ticklish, painless prick (insert prick joke here 😉). 

Mindy told me that she was using a style of acupuncture called Japanese Meridian Acupuncture, which involves treatment based on how she read my pulse (which was rapid due to anxiety). The treatment can be perfect for folks who have overactive nervous systems and bladders. Since acupuncture is all about removing "blockages of Qi" (known in Western terms as muscle, blood, fluid, or nerve blockage), Mindy's main priority for patients with pelvic floor pain/disorder is to remove any blocks or stasis that impacts the nervous, urogenital, gynecological, and digestive systems. "Once the blockages are removed, health can slowly be restored," she told me as my mind was moving into a state of uninterrupted relaxation. Bliss, I tell ya, bliss. 

Interestingly, being aware of my how my anxiety relates to my leaks actually helps me feel more relaxed on the daily. I really think it's useful to create a space that gives you permission to take care of yourself. Lying on that table with needles in my arms & legs with my eyes closed decluttered my headspace. I could breathe. I didn't have to worry about the bills or the deadlines. I was just kinda there to chill. I'm not typically a woo woo type of gal, but something about intentionally going into a healing space made me feel like an accomplished adult.

*~Have questions, suggestions, or anything specific you want me to try? Send me a note! natalie@shethinx.com~*