Alternative Therapies Blog post 4, what’s in store? Are you asking for more?!! I hope so because God knows I need therapy. This week I tried out a Flotation Tank!
What in the actual fuck is it? Formal explanation pending…
A sensory deprivation tank, more commonly known as a flotation/Isolation tank provides the user with REST Therapy (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy).
This intrigued me as being an addict in recovery I have often ventured to the other end of the sensory scale whereby the use of substances dialed up all of my senses to 110% at the same time.
Living sober I now only have the craving for peace, a way to silence the noisy internal dialogue of intrusive thoughts that drive distressing emotional charges. Currently I’m doing quite well, when my OCD is at its best the only symptom is a random song stuck in my head on a short loop. Todays tune is Europe, 'The Final Countdown'. Great song, but hearing only the chorus over and over gets too much.
Within this oval, space pod looking flotation device the user experiences minimal sensory stimulation, allowing them to relax – bold statement we shall see about that. The tank contains enough water for the person to float on their back.
The younger generation are going to have no idea when I use this example but remember that Film Cocoon? The one where the old folk get in the swimming pool full of eggs and it grants them the gift of eternal life? It looked like that.
Upon entering the spa like building there is soft seating, relaxing music and of course lemon water (no spa can surely claim to be one without probably tap water with lemons floating in it).
I complete the health questionnaire and I’m greeted with several options for my experience, how long did I want to do, did I want music playing, do I want the pod lid completely shut and did I want some lighting or total darkness.
Lots to think about and I must admit even as someone who has never suffered with anxiety of small spaces I did question if this would be an issue. I was reassured about all of this by the beautician and decided to go all in with Lid shut, Lights off and silence – if I want to truly embrace this quiet time it felt like the way to go.
I’m escorted to a small and room with a shower, given instructions of how and when and was left to explore the Tank. It looked like and egg on its side with about a foot of water in, there was also one of those foam tubes that help kids to learn how to swim. I was pleasantly surprised by this, anyone who knows me will tell you I have the same ability to stay above water as the Titanic.
The younger generation are going to have no idea when I use this example but remember that Film Cocoon? The one where the old folk get in the swimming pool full of eggs and it grants them the gift of eternal life? It looked like that. Those lucky enough to not know what I’m talking about and probably have the DOB year 2000 (yes I’m jealous) just picture your stereotypical space pod.
I get in, pull the lid down and the lights slowly dim to total darkness. And I float, somehow, it must be magic water? It’s a strange experience floating around peacefully in water with zero distractions. No sight, no sound just the feeling of the warmth, allowing my body to slowly mirror the movement of the water supporting me. I feel like a could sleep, it felt like a big warm comfy bed, surrendering and trusting it to support my whole body without effort.
Warm water, mmmm, It feels nice.
Oh no. I need a piss.
At the age of 41 I’m already averaging 3 pisses during the night and I’m told it gets worse the older you get. At this point I’m totally regretting some of the choices I made during my youth and pretty sure that years of abuse has shrunk my bladder to that of a 3 year old. In fact, they would probably have a more efficient bladder, and if you piss yourself age 0 – 8 its totally acceptable. Not so much at my age unless on stag do’s or a heavy weekend on the pop.
I can't say that suppressing my senses gave me peace and tranquility but let's face it I have the OCD
This need to urinate triggers a chain of thoughts. ‘Can I get out and where’s the toilet’? The argument I’m sure we have all had when we wake in the night ‘you need a wee’ ‘No I don’t it’s too cold to get up and I’m tired’. ‘You really need a wee’. Bladder wins – gets up to wee.
Then comes the thoughts of can I actually piss in here, have other people pissed in here?! Is it going to leave a purple ring round me if I do and they will know like the myth you get told when you go public swimming?!
I grapple with these thoughts for a while and finally negotiate with mind and bladder that the need to go is not imminent and I should just chill the fuck out and try to enjoy. Other thoughts cross my mind such as what would it be like to ... have my senses limited, use your imagination.
No not that! You just have a filthy mind.
Overall it was a nice experience, I can't say that suppressing my senses gave me peace and tranquility but let's face it I have the OCD (and it doesn’t stand for Obsessive Coffee Disorder). The mental illness that for me puts my mind in overdrive without the ability to let thoughts go or float on by like clouds in the Sky. They stick like that Velcro glove catch game and sadly I no choice what grips and what doesn’t.
On a bad day only the distressing thoughts glue themselves in mental position.
Would I do it again, 100%. I absolutely feel this is an amazing way for someone to relax. How often in the busy stream of life are you forced to do nothing for an hour without any distraction. And no, you cant take your phone in there.
It’s a yes from me, but make sure you go the bathroom first.
Peace and love Hummingbirds.
I hope you're healthy and happy.
If you haven't read part one, you can read it here: https://www.wearehummingbird.com/post/alternative-therapies-for-your-mental-health-part-1
If you haven't read part two, you can read it here: https://www.wearehummingbird.com/post/alternative-therapies-for-your-mental-health-part-2
If you haven't read part three, you can read it here: https://www.wearehummingbird.com/post/alternative-therapies-for-your-mental-health-part-3