Archive for March, 2017

inthedarknessallalone

A drawing of mine. White lines show the form of a woman sitting knees to her chest in the corner with a black background all around her.

I recently read an article online 30 Things People Don’t Realize You’re Doing Because of Your Depression. It was good and relatable for me. A lot of the things are related to socially withdrawing and trouble keeping up with basic things like cleaning the house and even personal hygiene.

One thing not in there that I think people don’t think about it the financial cost depression can have.

First there is of course the direct financial cost- costs for therapy and medications.

But, at least for me, there are secondary financial costs that I don’t think most people would recognize as being due to depression.

A big one for me is getting carryout or fast food because it is so hard to get the motivation and energy to prepare food at home. It’s not even comfort eating for me (preferring those foods to homemade ones), if I had someone to cook up some steamed broccoli for me I would be so friggin happy with that. But doing it myself… it’s time, it’s energy, to prepare the food (even relatively easy to prepare foods), and then also to clean up, and this is a problem if I’m too tired to keep up with cleaning the house because if my kitchen is a mess and piled with dishes it can make me feel more depressed and also I then don’t want to contribute more to it.

But eating food from restaurants all the time is expensive! Fast food is cheaper but not as healthy so I tend to get carry out/delivery from other places were I can get some better food options.

There is another aspect to it as well which is just managing to give a damn about financial planning for the future. Because depression tends to make me feel like the future is crap and who even knows if I will make it till whenever so it makes it hard to care about the long term financial aspects of things like getting delivery food all the time. It’s not a lack of knowledge about it, it’s finding the mental energy to care about it and deal with it. For me, with my depression I find mental energy functions very much like spoons when talking about physical energy. Being depressed, I always feel like I have to really prioritize what I can give a damn about. Do I care about not getting fired from work? Do I care about getting through school? Do I care about taking care of my physical health? Do I care about taking out the trash, doing dishes, cleaning the house, and so on? Do I care about the long term financial repercussions of what I spend on dinner tonight? And there are a lot more things I could add here. Pick 2-3 of those tops, but there are not enough mental spoons for all of them.

I don’t know how many other folks struggle with this sort of thing with depression or if it’s just me, but at least for me this is definitely an aspect of depression I don’t think people understand is due to depression.

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A selfie I took before floating. I am in the foreground with the float pod with purple lighting open in the background. This was at the second floating location I visited. 

So now that I’m in a position in life where I have money to do extra things like this, I am becoming a bit bougie and now am obsessed with doing things like floating. Which is where you pay to go float in a dark, quiet pod with about 10 inches of water with lots of epsom salt added to help you float.

Sessions are generally 1 hr though some places have options for 90 minutes or even possibly longer.

I’ve done this twice now and hope I can keep it up as a somewhat regular thing.

It is very relaxing and I feel really deepens meditation. Meditation is important to me both spiritually and for my mental health. I actually recently fell out of the practice of meditating daily and when I started back I remembered “oh yeah, this really helps me with my depression!”

Since meditation helps with my depression and floating is a deep meditative experience I’m hoping that floating will also help with my depression, hopefully in a way beyond non-floating meditation.

So as I said I floated twice so far at two different local places I found through groupon.

The first place had a very nice ambiance to it. They have an “oasis room” with water, tea, chairs and journals where you can write about your float experience and read what others have written if you want. It’s a place you can relax a bit before or after your float if you want. It has low lighting and there are salt lamps around. There is also a zen sand garden. So it has a very new age-y, alternative health feel to the whole place. There is another room with mirrors, hair dryers to do your hair and such after you are done. They also have yoga mats in this room if you want to do some yoga to stretch out after floating.

Then there are the float rooms. Each room has a white float pod in it and an open shower nearby. The room is private and  locks and they provide ear plugs and a towel. You have 60 minutes from when you enter the room to when you leave. So you go in the room, quickly undress and shower. You can wear a swimsuit if you want but it’s private so most people go nude and it’s actually recommended for a better experience. After you’ve rinsed off in the shower, you step into the pod. You can leave the pod open or you pull it closed behind you. The first place I went inside the pod there is a bottle of plain water you can use to rinse your eyes if you get the salt water in your eyes and also a little floaty halo thing that you can use to add more support to your head and neck. I didn’t use the halo so I can’t comment on that. There is a button inside to call to a worker if needed. Another button adjusts the light in the pod. The light can be changed to different colors or turned off. I floated with the light off as the dark is part of the sensory deprivation part of it. But if you aren’t comfortable in the dark there is the option to leave the light on.

At this place music plays for the first 5 minutes you are in the pod and there is a hook up to play your own music if you want. I need to find out if there is an option to play your own music for the whole time or not.

The lights outside the pod are on a motion activated timer so about 5 minutes or so after you get in the pod and there is no movement outside they shut off. The pod isn’t a complete sealed place so while the outside lights are on you can see them shining in from the edges.

My first time I floating I focused on my breathing and kind of let me mind wonder when it did. I didn’t want to be too anxious about having the right experience. One of the things in the pre-float video they show you there the first time says that it may take a few float sessions to really get the most of the experience. So I tried to just relax and not force anything. I didn’t hallucinate or anything, which can happen. I was a bit disappointed by that. Some folks have reported deeply religious hallucinations, talking to god even, while floating. I had nothing like that.

I just floated.

I was a bit disappointed in the size of the pod. I’m only 5ft so I would have expected the pod to be fairly large to me in order to accommodate tall people. Yet I frequently floated into the edge of the pod which really bugged me because it throws off the feeling of losing a sense of where you are that the dark, quiet, and floating provide. This was especially true when I floated with my arms over my head. I started with my arms at my side but about halfway through ended up putting them up over my head instead. I found that my arms over my head was more comfortable- my shoulders felt better, and didn’t feel like they were pushing up against my head like the floating made them feel with my arms to my sides.

The time went really fast and before I new it the music came back on and the light came back on, this indicates 5 more minutes left in the 60. I wished I could have floated another couple hours honestly, it was so restful. You are supposed to be out by the end of the 60 minutes so you could float during the last 5 minutes but not if you want to shower off (remember it’s salt water you were in, so you probably want to rinse the salt off at the least), so really you probably want to get out and shower and dress then.

One thing to note that surprised me was they had a rule that women cannot float while menstruating. I guess I get this, the water is sanitized between users, but not emptied and refilled, so you don’t want blood getting in the water. Still a little annoying to me because if I have my cup in there would be no blood getting into the water.

You also can’t float if you’ve recently dyed your hair. This is going to be an issue for me if I keep up the floating since I dye my hair a lot. But again, makes sense that they don’t want color getting into the water.

The second place I went didn’t have quite the new age-y feel to it. It was normal overhead office lighting in front, a waiting room with a tv and some detox drinks you could buy, but no tea, no salt lamps, no journals. There was also a room with a mirror and hair dryers, but no yoga mats. The float room was also a bit more clinical looking that new age looking. Their was a shower in the room but an alcove shower with a curtain, not an open one next to the pod. The pod was mostly the same except that the music was not automatic. The owner gave the option of music the first 5 and last 5 minutes, the whole time, or not at all. No option given for your own music. I choose no music.

The halos were $5 per session if you wanted one. I opted for not using one again. Again, a towel and ear plus were provided.

The float sessions were for 60 minutes but he had an offer for an extra 30 minutes for an additional $20. I opted for the extra 30 minutes this time since my last float felt so short. This place he does not start the time from when you get in the room. The owner told me how he doesn’t like other places where you pay for 60 minutes but you don’t really float for 60 minutes, because that time includes undressing, showering, then showering again and redressing. For him, the 60 or 90 minutes is the actual float time. So after you are in the room you undress, shower, put in ear plugs, get in the pod. The pod has two buttons. As soon as you get in, you hit the red button and this indicates you are starting to float. The timer is then set from this time. The green button adjust the light, you can choose different colors, or turn it off.

My second float was not as relaxing. I tried to focus on my breathing and relax, but I kept getting antsy and restless. I moved around a fair bit in the pod while floating. The pod was about the same size and so I often bumped into the edges again.

With me feeling restless it did not go by so fast. Choosing no music, you are notified at the end of the float by a woman’s voice recording saying the float is over. I didn’t notice the exact phrase because being in the dark, in the quiet, trying to meditate, even though I knew at the end there would be a voice, it was still incredibly startling when it came on. Shortly after this the jets in the pods turn on (I think this is part of the cleaning process between users?) which the owner told me are really loud if you are still in the pod so if you don’t hear the voice, those will definitely notify you the time is up. Then shower and dress and leave.

I plan to float again at both places, and don’t have a preferred one yet, I think each has points in it’s favor.

The first place offers memberships for floating 1, 2, or 3 times a month at reduced rates, on the membership you can purchase addition floats at a reduced rate too. Or if you aren’t a member you can just buy each float each time but it’s a bit more expensive that with the membership. There is no contract for the membership, you can end at any time.

The second place the groupon I bought was for 5 sessions so I haven’t gotten all the details on his memberships except that he mentioned for $119/month he has an unlimited membership where you could float up to 60 minutes everyday if you wanted. Which had me like “woah!!!! floating everyday!!!!” I think I would need to win the lottery and quit my job to have the time for that though, lol.

 

I’ll probably post more about my experiences again later when I’ve done it more and have more of a feel for how it impacts my mental health.