“Stressed in Vancouver”
(Depression, Anxiety – The mood disorders)
— The Beauty and the Beast of Vancouver and — within —
“Ceaseless” are the raindrops in Vancouver, something hard to cope with for those new to the city until they get used to it. Vancouver is usually rated one of the best liveable cities in the world, but it is the same city with the highest rate of depression in Canada, only next to Yukon. This beautiful city is also tarnished with the spectre of a serial killer (one of top 5 in the history of serial killers, if his claim of 40 some women are true), and with the spectre of “free” heroin injection (second only in the history when the British smuggled opium to China about 150 years ago, distributing at wholesale price, and drugging significant percentage of the whole adult population of China). Underground marijuana industry is estimated at about 4 billion dollars a year in BC (the best industry of BC), but I couldn’t find how many dollars are spent on the “happy pills” of the pharmaceutical industry (does anyone know ?).
Depression or mood disorder rates are usually higher in wealthy countries, in women (2 times more than men) and among the age group between 35 to 55. In my grassroots clinic, I notice roughly 30% of the patients are taking “happy pills” (anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, anti-psychotic drugs), regardless of the variety of chief complaints. Quite often, I also notice raised scar lines near the wrist of patients where the artery flows underneath, an area where my favourite acupuncture points are located for treating mood or psychotic disorders. There are largely two categories of mood disorders: one is somato-psychic which is induced by body (Yin) such as the post-partum depression, PMS (post-menopausal), chronic pains of the muscle or joints, and even chronic constipation (lots of toxins traveling from the feces to the brain). The other category is psycho-somatic one, induced by psychological traumas, such as divorce, death of loved ones, harassment, and so on.
In TCM or Eastern classical medicine, an ancient philosophical theory called “Five Elements” is usually applied in the analyzing process of pattern differentiation, leading to a diagnosis of a disorder. For example, the Liver is associated with processing emotions or stress, Heart with joy or happiness, Pancreas with (over) thinking, Lung with sadness and Kidney with fear. In terms of compass, clock and season, the Liver is situated in the sun-rising east (rising of yang) or 6 to 12 am or spring, Heart in the sun-peaking south (peak of yang) or 12 am or summer, Lung in the sun-setting west (waning of yang or falling of yin) or 1 – 6 pm or autumn, Kidney in the sun-lost north (valley of yin) or 1 to 6 am or winter (just feel the mood of timing of the day or season). Depression can be termed as imbalance in the horizontal line of liver and lung, east and west, where the rising liver qi is weaker than the falling qi of the lung. Anxiety can be viewed as an imbalance in the vertical line of heart and kidney, south and north, where the joyful warm heart qi is over-shadowed by the fearful cold kidney qi.
France is often rated as the #1 country of depression rates in the world, and I can associate the French peculiar nasal tone to the sad qi of Lung. Imagine the autumn of falling leaves, waving adieu (farewell) to the once splendid memory of the summer.
Are you depressed ? Angry ? Mad ? Anxious ? Fearful ?
Talk to your doctor and pop the magic “happy pill”
And start the journey of vicious cycle of pills after pills
For the industry of human greed.
How about the strength of Beethoven when you feel weak and helpless…
How about joyful and warm Mozart when you feel sad and gloomy…
How about Chopin Ballades for the folks in rainy Vancouver without the umbrellas…
My personal favourite is Rachmaninoff who himself suffered depression for about 3 years after the failure of the debut of his first symphony (which was ill-prepared by an alcoholic conductor), and marriage proposal to a cousin lady denied by her family and the church (later happily married and all the way maintained). Rachmaninoff turned to Vodka and went to a stage he can’t play piano anymore with trembling hands (himself being a famous pianist). His Piano Concerto No. 2 was composed during and after the depression with the help of a psycho-therapist (who was also a musician), just employing a simple auto-suggestive technique in hypnotic state: such as “I am getting better and better, day by day”. This piano concerto saved someone of my acquaintance from the crisis of marriage when he was blinded by an approach of seduction, in the timing of the vulnerable “seven year itch” of marriage, and also saved quite a lot of money from the lawyer.
Depression or anxiety is no different from any common disorder such as lower back pain, which is an inflammatory condition stemming from the conflict between spinal columns or surrounding muscles (in terms of western medicine). In a way, depression or mental disorders are the conflict between the civilized beauty of the white matter over the long span of evolution and the violent or feral reptile core sitting deep within our brain.
Where you are now, standing, sitting, lying and thinking…
Is where the beauty and the beast both dwell.
We are the products of sensual desires (except the famous son of ???), and desires call for more of them, consuming our soul and body, inflicting conflicts to others or environments.
The world is burning with the flames of desires.
Give them up !
Let them go !
Feel the beauty of precious life !
The conciousness of “being” in the One with all, in the All with one.
It “is” very near you !
Be it Vancouver or North Korea.
Still depressed ?
How about a cold-war era spy movie with no super-car chasing scenes or femme fatale Bond girl: “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” ? A kind of movie recommended not for the folks who didn’t fall asleep watching “Avatar”. (This movie also reminds me how our immune-defense system in the very front line (called Wei Qi in TCM theory) is dealing with the pathogenic influences) Near the end of movie, the two MI-6 agents exchange subtle homosexual (my guess) eye contacts in happier times, but ending up with killing the loved one between the conflict of passion and justice for the country. And there flows this beautiful French chanson of “La Mer” (“somewhere over the sea” in English version) in American swing rhythm, and sung by Spanish singer Julio Iglesias (what a mix !). An excellent counter-point between the camera work and background music, and between the past and the present !
“La Mer” was written in the 1940’s during the second world war by Charles Trenet, who wrote the music in 10 minutes on toilet paper in a train, watching the sea, waves, clouds on them, in the beautiful Mediterranean side of southern France.
La Mer — A bercé mon cœur pour la vie — ( The Sea Has soothed my heart for life)
La Mer —The Sea
Qu’on voit danser le long des golfes clairs — That one sees dancing along the clear gulfs
A des reflets d’argent — Has silver reflections
La mer — The Sea
Des reflets changeants — Changing reflections
Sous la pluie — Under the rain
La mer — The Sea
Au ciel d’été confond — In the summer sky merge
Ses blancs moutons — Its white sheep
Avec les anges si purs — With such pure angels
La mer bergère d’azur — The sea, shepherdess of azure
Infinie — Infinite
Voyez — See
Près des étangs — Close to the ponds
Ces grands roseaux mouillés — These large wet reeds
Voyez — See
Ces oiseaux blancs — These white birds
Et ces maisons rouillées — And these rusted houses
La mer — The Sea
Les a bercés — Has rocked them
Le long des golfes clairs — Along the clear gulfs
Et d’une chanson d’amour — And with a song of love
La mer — The Sea
A bercé mon cœur pour la vie — Has soothed my heart for life
Ben Lim / D.TCM