My body wouldn’t stop shaking. I lay awake in a cold sweat, my mind spinning. My heart pumped so vigorously I thought it would break through my chest. That was my first anxiety attack.
At that point in my life I couldn’t imagine that life would ever be normal for me again. I thought I would never again be able to focus on work or having fun. After trying counselling, and talking to doctors my best friend brought me to Heart & Hands. Christina immediately gave me rescue remedy and sat down with me. She gently reassured me everything would be alright while walking me through the acupuncture process. Christina skillfully placed the needles along my arms, legs and forehead. I felt a sense of relief instantly—like a balloon being deflated. The acupuncture was calming and allowed the rhythms of my body to stabilize so my mind could process what it needed to.
Over the next 4 months I was a regular at Heart & Hands, getting to know all of the warm staff and volunteers. In that time I went from being so anxious I felt intense fear if I was left alone to regaining my ability to take care of myself and starting a practicum for university. 4 years later I can honestly say that anxiety attacks are a thing of the past. My life would look a lot different if it wasn’t for the warmth, passion, skill and compassion of the folks that make up Heart & Hands. I believe they saved my life or at the very least gave it back to me. Since that time I have continued to regularly use Heart & Hands services. I use acupuncture for illnesses, muscle pains, injuries, relaxation or simple ‘tune-ups’.
The thing is, my experience is not unique. Many people I have spoken with have had similar experiences to mine and feel a deep sense of gratitude for all the staff of Heart & Hands have done for them. Heart & Hands is a staple of the Victoria community and we are better for it.
What I appreciate most about Heart & Hands is that it is warm and welcoming. There is nothing clinical about it. You are fully supported by the staff, volunteers and even the other clients every step of the process. It feels like we are all going through our struggles together in a shared community environment. Heart & Hands also practices the type of politics I want to support. They make alternative healthcare affordable, practice compassion with homeless people who utilize their door step, run programs to support people with HIV and lend their space for decolonial events. They go out of their way to support the privacy and dignity of people by keeping their payment amounts anonymous and provide a safe space free of judgement for people of all identities. Heart & Hands has given us so much, let’s give a little back to them and raise the roof in the process.