Buddy has been having a hard time at school. It’s not that he’s having trouble learning or retaining information but that he has a hard time with the speed of which he does his work. He is so slow that he often can not finish his work in time. His very wonderful teacher recognizes that he needs more time and so gives allowances for it.
I’ve talked with his teacher before because Buddy would take 3-4 hours doing homework that should only take 30 min.
“He seems to understand what he’s doing…” I said to his teacher.
“He does. He’s very smart; smarter than 95% of the class, he’s just really slow. Set a timer for 30 minutes. I’ll grade what he finishes in that time. Encourage him to try and beat his time each day.”
Later Buddy was observed by the school counselor. We met with his teacher and counselor and they said that they believed Buddy to be ADD and suggested he see a doctor to get started on meds. I knew this would be a bit of an issue as Man does not even take aspirin for headaches and neither of us are fond of medicating our children; though we know this to be sometimes necessary. I expressed this to Buddy’s teacher.
“I know it sounds far-out and hokey,” he started, “I was skeptical myself when I first heard about it, but there is a great herbalist in the area. He saved my son’s life when he was sick with something that no doctor could find a way to cure him of. Now I’m a believer. I don’t know if he’s ever helped anyone with ADD before but that’s where I would start if I was going to avoid traditional medicine.”
After much discussion with one another and with friends and family, Man and I decided to give the herbalist a try. What could it hurt? We made an appointment and were given instructions on how to prepare for the exam and directions on how to get there.
We arrived at a house in a nearby mountain community. The sign on the outside of the door instructed us to remove our shoes once inside.
“Mom…this is weird,” Buddy said as he realized this was not a typical “doctor’s appointment.”
“It’s different Buddy, but it’s OK. Let’s see if this guy can help us!”
After we entered and obediently added our shoes to a train of others along the wall, we were greeted by the receptionist: a beautiful old golden retriever.
“I see you’ve met my receptionist!” the herbalist said. “Come on back and let’s see what we can do for you!”
He talked to Buddy (not me) to find out his take on things. I loved this approach because Buddy is what this is all about. He then took Buddy into another room to examine him.
“Don’t worry, Mom. I’m just going to check his pulses and look at his tongue. I just ask that you stay out here because a child’s pulse changes when his mother is present.”
After about 2 minutes they returned.
“What a great kid!” he began. “In Eastern medicine they don’t really have a name for ‘ADD.’ It just doesn’t really exist in their medicine. Buddy sounds like he has normal behavior for a child his age. He’s brilliant! Nothing wrong there. However, his ‘kidney’ is off and by that I don’t mean the organ but in Chinese medicine it’s how they refer to the spirit. This isn’t religious or anything but just the spirit of the person. See, Buddy has the music here,” he said pointing to his head, “he just needs to get his hands on a guitar. Does this make sense?”
Here Buddy interrupted, “But I play the trumpet.”
The Herb Man laughed and raved again about what a great kid Buddy is. He moved to his shelves and began to work.
“I’m going to mix up a special formula just for Buddy. Just mix it in some hot water for him to have with every meal. This tea should help him find that guitar!”
I found the whole thing very interesting…mountain-y…and I was hopeful that it would work. It was in the driveway of the Herb Man’s place that I learned of my Grandmother’s passing. Needless to say, I spent very little time processing what just happened with Buddy and the effects of the tea are still questionable since his experience has been mixed with grief, Spring Break, etc.
My friends think we are going Hippie. We are definitely one step closer to becoming official Mountain People.
Fast forward 4 weeks and I am riding the waves of grief as well as drowning in this damn seasonal depression. Last weekend I was particularly deep under the water and struggling. Man and I had another talk.
I explained that I have a hard time getting myself to get out of bed, to do the simplest chores, to rehearse for my audition or do the art projects that needed completion.
“You can’t just do nothing.”
“I mean, we can’t just do this every Spring. If you need to see a doctor than see a doctor but I want to know why this happens every year and I want to know how we can help you.”
I had an appointment for Buddy with Herb Man for Monday and so I thought I’d see what he could do for me. Before leaving I went up stairs to make an appointment with his real receptionist.
“What is the appointment for? Or is that private?”
“No, I don’t mind telling you. I have been struggling with a seasonal depression every Spring. Just wanted to see if he could do something about that.”
“I have depression all the time,” he said gloomily.
“Hahaha! Awesome!” I laughed. But he didn’t. “Ha. K. Well, thanks. See you Wednesday.”
I felt bad that I laughed at the poor guy. Then I thought maybe I should call him and ask if he’d talked to Herb Man about his depression. Maybe I was barking up the wrong tree.
Last night was a particularly bad time. I learned that they already had a buyer for my Grandma’s house. Though I know this to be a logical step I was so upset! I cried and wrestled internally with feelings of anger.
“It’s just a thing,” Man said.
It took everything in me to not pound in his face. I laid in bed trying to cry quietly so the boys would not hear but I really wanted to wail. Everything twisted inside. I finally got out of bed, went into the office, laid on the floor and bawled. I pounded my fists into the carpet.
I’m FURIOUS! Everyone is taking things from me!
After the funeral I had wanted to stay at her house but Man said I had to go home. I left knowing I’d be back in a week for our Spring Break. I could sit on the porch and watch the Sandia’s change colors like I did with Grandma. But then my Aunts called and said so much had been packed away that it would probably not be good for me to stay there. So we didn’t.
Man should’ve let me stay! I railed to God. They should’ve waited to pack things! She left before our Spring Break visit! She won’t be at the concert I bought for her! You took her from me! $%&# YOU!
Yeah…I was pissed.
I must be in the “angry” stage of grieving, I thought to myself after I was all cried out. I can’t take blade fighting. Well, I’m going to take blade fighting because right now I need to tear into something. I need to beat something! I know. I know You know about grief. I know You are hurting with me.
In the morning I got myself ready, drawing eyeliner onto swollen eyes.
Today the kids were off from school and on a semi-whim I took them to buy chicks! We had been talking for months now about the idea of back yard chickens. Hey, everyone’s doing it! I text pics of the chicks to my friends and family.
“What is it?” Shalah asked.
Me: Life. They’re chicks.
Shalah: You raising chickens now?
Shalah: Then the transformation is complete.
Me: Not until we get goats. Then we will be Mountain People.
Shalah: Let me see your feet.
Shalah: Alright, you’ve got a ways to go still.
We got the chicks settled and then Caren and I sat a spell, just a-watchin’ them do their thing. (Which is eating, drinking and falling asleep.) Then I was off to see Herb Man.
As soon as I kicked off my shoes I was again greeted by his dog. The pup laid his head in my lap in sort of a hug. Like he knew I was there for sad reasons. Herb Man then lead me to the exam room. Like he did with Buddy we first talked. I gave him a brief history on my depression and how things had been progressing over the past few years. I gave him my theory of it being allergy related. He looked at my tongue. He checked my pulse in both wrists, first separate and then together. He asked me a few more questions and then he said:
“Hmm…I call this the Super Woman syndrome. Your water is dammed up. We need to get it flowing again. Sometimes we need to see someone to take a spade, loosen the stones that have dammed up the water and let it start to trickle down again. You know? But also, you have to stop for gas on your way to Reno! Otherwise you are going to run out of gas and find yourself wandering in a desert. You following me? What’s your fuel? What nourishes your spirit?”
“The arts?” I told him about my writing, my paintings and collages, and about performing. I told him about Man and I’s talk a few weeks back.
“That’s it! Are you familiar with tithing? You need to tithe to yourself. I want you to give 10% of yourself to what nourishes you. That still leaves you with 90% for Buddy and Bug, Your Man, and everything else. It’s not selfish! In fact if you don’t gas up then you won’t be able to do the 90%! See, Your Man knows this. He sounds very supportive. And wise. You have a good Man. So here is what we will do. I’m going to do some acupuncture today. We’ll do this once a week for about 3 weeks just to loosen those stones so the water, your chi, can flow again. I’m prescribing that you buy some canvas, don’t do anything big, just dabble. Do your audition. You have to have that. Your spirit is strong but you have to gas up. It’s essential.”
“Every year this happens though but every year has not been about me doing my art. Mid February…every time.”
“Most people get a seasonal depression in the winter and I’d say that is a vitamin D deficiency. It’s interesting that you say this starts mid February. That’s when the Chinese New Year begins. You are on that cycle. When you were younger it wasn’t so bad because you didn’t have a family and because you were dumb. We all are when we are young. You’ve become more aware, more in-tuned and probably every year it’s been the water damming up. You try to loosen the stones by changing your major or threatening a break up. It’s the same thing. You’re just wiser now.”
I hopped up onto the table and he stuck 8 needles in me. Two in each limb. I was left alone for about 15 min.
Hm. I feel weird. This is weird. God, this is weird. You’re weird. It’s weird how You have made everything so closely linked. It’s weird how we think, feel, live as if we are untethered but in reality we aren’t. For whatever reason, the way the stars and planets align, effect us. But you made the stars and planets and direct them. For some reason sticking needles in certain places gets my chi and blood to flow together. Whatever “chi” is. This is what I know: Even though this guy sounds hokey, he is describing what I feel. Dammed up. Stuck. On the verge of bursting. Man has told me, friends have told me, dreams have told me, and now Herb Man is telling me to pick up a paint brush, get on the stage, write my story. I know You are chuckling as You shake your head at me and ask, “How many ways do I have to tell you, Michal?” I feel weird.
There was a buzz between the pins. Not like a latte buzz or a margarita induced buzz but movement of some sort. When it was over I felt a little nauseous but that could be from missing lunch. (Can’t see Herb Man on your first appointment unless you have not eaten for at least 4 hours.) I don’t know that this will help but I am once again hoping it will. Maybe once a year I just need to get the stones loosened. If anything I just got further confirmation that I need to nourish myself and do more “me time.” Ug. I hate that phrase. I mean I would love “me time,” I’ve been begging for it, but it sounds so weak and spoiled. “The Super Woman Syndrome.” The Force/Chikara, was telling me this months ago.
Alright you. Time to just let it flow.
I called Caren.
“Had my appointment with Herb Man.”
“Oh yeah? So what instrument are you?”
“I’m not. I’m a Super Woman in desperate need of pit stop.”