I would start by saying soz to any friends or family who think this is TMI. But I don’t care if you’re uncomfortable. I was bloody uncomfortable lying in that tank. I had a very painful experience, and because people don’t wanna talk about stuff like this, a lot of people probably go through the same. If people felt more okay talking about these sorts of things, and this information was readily out there, there’d most likely be people who wouldn’t even try it out as they know their own bodies and know that they’re sensitive to that kind of thing. So I don’t mind being that person. You shouldn’t be horrified by the word vagina, it’s just a body part.
I’ll give you a bit of background info before we go any further, because a lot of you are probably thinking “what the hell is a floatation tank?”. Well, a floatation tank, also known as a sensory deprivation tank, is a huge tank filled with a large amount of salt water. You float in this saltwater filled tank, in the dark, and it’s meant to have lots of benefits, both physically and mental – from relaxation of the joints, to putting you in a calmer mindset. Now I’m sure that is the case for many people, but my experience definitely wasn’t a calm or relaxing one.
I didn’t actually know what a floatation tank was, until JJ told me about them last year. He mentioned in passing that he’s always wanted to try one, so I scoured the internet and found one. Christmas came and I presented him with a gift voucher – a 1 hour float for the two of us.
The day came and we were told to sit on these sort of vibrating massage chairs, and given headphones to listen to relaxing sounds – beach waves and whale music. I found that bit really relaxing. 10 minutes or so later, it was time to float.
The lady working there went through everything with us, before we were taken into separate rooms for our floatation experience. Each room contained 1 float tank and a shower. Also a little seat to get dressed/undressed. There was also a little table which had things such as makeup wipes, ear plugs (so the saltwater doesn’t go in your ears – I forgot to use them though, oops!), and Vaseline to put on any cuts so the saltwater doesn’t get in (think I must have accidentally wiped mine off though because it went in my cut anyway – ouch). There was also a neck pillow, because even though the floatation tank holds you up, the neck still may need that extra support.
So I undressed (you can wear a swimming costume if you want, but I decided to go naked), and began my attempt to get in. What followed felt like I was in an episode of Miranda. The lady had warned that the bottom of the tank would be slippy due to the high salt content of the water, however, her warning didn’t make it any easier. I found it really difficult to get into, and was really scared of slipping at an awkward angle & hurting myself.
Eventually though, I managed it. I pulled the door shut, and pressed the light switch in the tank. I lay back, floated, and waited for that feeling of relaxation. Sadly though, I pretty much hated it straight away. I’d forgotten to bring the neck pillow in with me, and I wasn’t getting out and putting myself through getting in again, so that was uncomfortable. I accidentally wiped the Vaseline off the cut I had, so the salt water started burning it. & then I accidentally splashed myself in the eyes with this extremely salty water. Multiple times. Yeah, apparently I’m a bit clumsy. As my eyes burnt, I desperately tried to seek out this light switch, feeling around everywhere. I told myself to stay calm as I couldn’t find it, and after what felt like 3 years, found the switch. I cracked my eyes open as much as I could through the burning, and grabbed the flannel and water spray next to me. I sorted my eyes out, although they did still feel irritated.
& then it happened. An awful, burning, horribly painful feeling in my vagina. Why did the lady not warn me?! Why was this warning not on their website?! Oh my god, the PAIN. I felt like someone had set a machete on fire and was stabbing me in the vagina. Not to be dramatic or anything. Honestly though, it was absolutely awful. I tried to distract myself, thinking it was the appropriate time to try to learn how to swim?! That came to an abrupt end when I realised the tank was only about 7 foot long, my head whacking off the end.
It was time to get out. I wasn’t putting myself through that. The pain was unbearable, so the whole relaxation thing was completely out of the window. I eventually awkwardly hobbled out of the tank. I got in the shower and instantly felt better just being in normal water. Such a relief. I got dressed and then just sort of stood there like ‘uh how do I tell the lady I’m done?’. I saw an orange cord which, with hindsight, is obviously in case of emergencies. But me being me, I pulled the cord and a very loud, high-pitched sound started. I opened the door and the lady was stood there, out of breath from running, in a proper panic. She just kept saying “are you okay?! Are you hurt?!”. That’s when I realised you don’t need to pull an emergency cord in a non-emergency situation. I felt like one of those weirdos who call 999 to report their ice cream not having enough sprinkles. Good on the lady though, she was at my door pronto!
Anyway, I was too awkward to explain to her that the floatation tank made my vagina feel like burning hell fire, so when she asked why I’d gotten out so quickly, I just told her it wasn’t my sort of thing. I was then directed to a room with hair dryers, mirrors, and moisturisers. I dried my hair and moisturised my face, before being directed to the post-float relaxation room. This was my favourite part! The room had 2 of those vibratey massage chairs, a TV screen with a slideshow of relaxing images from nature such as beaches and rainforests, complete with really relaxing sounds. There were colouring books too if that’s your sort of thing. I put my massage chair on the most relaxing setting, listened to the sounds, and fell asleep.
JJ was still having his floatation experience, and I was just having a great sleep. Eventually he came out, and we relaxed on the chairs together. You get an hour on the chair after your float (obviously I got longer because I came out early), and it’s a great way to wind down afterwards.
Overall, my experience wasn’t great, but that was through no fault of the place itself. It was a great place with great staff, and it was all set up really well. I’m just way too clumsy, awkward, and my vagina is clearly just way too sensitive. JJ enjoyed his experience, and I cursed him for being lucky enough to not have to deal with such problems!
Featured image by Nick Fewings on Unsplash
I thought it was just me but so glad to know others didn’t enjoy this experience. The stinging really took away any relaxing that could have happened.