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Retreats, detox centers, mental hospitals -- help me find what I need
June 13, 2012 4:17 PM   Subscribe

Best retreats, inpatient facilities (insurance or not), escapes, detox centers, and other ways that you changed your life dramatically for the better and kicked depression/anxiety once and for all!

So a couple of years ago I was really stressed out about attending graduate school and I thought I was freaked out enough to check myself into an inpatient setting. I didn't end up going, but I realize that I still have a need to take some time out in a major way, and to address some issues that have been bothering me for a long time.

I've been in therapy a lot and have addressed many of my childhood and young adult experiences. I'm pretty sick of talking about it at this point, and think I understand most of it. But I still suffer from ongoing problems with depression and anxiety that don't seem to respond to medication. I'm trying to figure out what to do in my career, never feel fully satisfied, get annoyingly needy and negative in relationships, etc.

I can see myself in some of the traits of borderline personality disorder, but have never been diagnosed formally. I'm not a cutter and don't boil bunnies -- but I can relate to the depiction of people who just get emotionally dysregulated (moody and anxious) a lot and feel like an angsty teenager. I'm unhappy a lot of the time, and I get out of sorts easily. I don't think I'm bipolar as I don't get mania or hypomania and I just seem to be very sensitive to my environment, not to have ups and downs that are biochemically based.

I've been reading a lot of addiction/mental health type memoirs and I would like to have a transformative experience as well. I want to be able to achieve more than I am currently, to leave a real legacy, to be brave enough to pursue my dreams.

So. I'm thinking of taking some time off -- a few weeks or a couple of months -- to just go somewhere and sort all of this out. A retreat, an inpatient or day facility, a hike on the Appalachian trail?

I've been googling around for good places to go as a patient but it's hard to find ratings across categories. I'm happy to travel anywhere in the world (US/EU citizenship), and to pay out of pocket. However, I'd of course prefer something less expensive rather than more. I have a small amount of savings that I'm happy to spend if it would have a big impact on the rest of my life. I have American health insurance.

I'm open to New Age-y retreats, yoga centers, mental hospitals that specialize in borderline-type issues, really good therapists who live in other parts of the country where I could sublet and see them intensively, Esalen, detox centers, wellness activities, weight loss centers in Africa, whatever.

I'm new to this whole world and I'd love to find a site that reviews these types of places, or provides guidance in how to put together a transformative experience and kick this depression/anxiety once and for all.

Any guidance would be much appreciated!
posted by 3491again to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Dialectical behavior therapy helps with emotional regulation problems--perhaps you can find a program that offers it.
posted by liketitanic at 4:31 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Check out this list of inpatient/IOP/residential type treatment centers that focus on borderline patients (a LOT of them use DBT, which you may like.) I've heard nothing but amazingly wonderful things about McClean in particular.
posted by Fee Phi Faux Phumb I Smell t'Socks o' a Puppetman! at 4:36 PM on June 13, 2012


kick this depression/anxiety once and for all.

I think this line of thinking is unhealthy, if you have depresion/anxiety caused by a chemical imbalance then no amount of medication will fix the problem in your brain. If you have poor coping skills then mindfulness may help but it will not eliminate the problem. I think acceptance of your health as it is, not as you wish it to be is the best route and the most likely to open you up to a transformative experience. Right now you are setting yourself up for failure and disappointment by having such high expectations.

It would be healthy to attend retreats with the goal of enjoying the retreat, nature, distance from your stress and time to reflect.
posted by saucysault at 4:38 PM on June 13, 2012 [11 favorites]


This may not be what you're looking for, but the The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya in northern Colorado is really fantastic. "The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya is one of the most magnificent examples of sacred Buddhist architecture outside Asia."

They offer various retreat programs with food and lodging on site, but I don't know if they are of the focus you seek. I've stayed overnight at the center and found it a very refreshing experience, and if I were looking for a mental reset and in that general geographic area, I'd go there in a heartbeat. I'm not buddhist.

Of course, there are wildfires in the area right now and I hope it is not in danger.

Like saucysalt, I would caution against pinning your recovery on one program. I've done various big travels and all I figured out was that the real battleground of transformation was the boring plain unspecial day-to-day slog.
posted by griselda at 5:14 PM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm open to New Age-y retreats, yoga centers, mental hospitals that specialize in borderline-type issues, really good therapists who live in other parts of the country where I could sublet and see them intensively, Esalen, detox centers, wellness activities, weight loss centers in Africa, whatever.

I did some research for a friend once, and a clinician who was a specialist in her field told me told me that McLean Hospital is the best place in the US to seek treatment for a psychiatric issue. If I were you, I would contact them and see what they offer in terms of taking a fresh look at your diagnoses and what kind of treatment plan they could put together for you.

I would be really careful about unscrupulous providers offering services that will not give you any real benefit. There are plenty of "detox centers" that are Canyon Ranch + MD's and therapists on staff and they are quite expensive.
posted by mlis at 6:22 PM on June 13, 2012


The Spa Village Koh Samui was great for a total mind, body detox. It is a bit full on if you do the total colonic treatment program, but I came away from a week there feeling and looking amazing. Good Luck!
posted by sconbie at 7:54 PM on June 13, 2012


I've been reading a lot of addiction/mental health type memoirs and I would like to have a transformative experience as well.

I love books like this.

I've also been in inpatient mental health care twice myself. And both times, in hindsight, checking myself in was absolutely the right thing to do. I probably would have killed myself if I hadn't done it. Now I'm alive instead, which is awesome.

But lemme tell you, it's nowhere near as fun or as "transformative" as the books make it sound.

It's a good place to be if the immediate goal is staying alive and/or sober and/or not-in-prison. If the goal is meeting other interesting people or having conversations where you learn shit about yourself or discovering hidden reservoirs of courage and emotional strength or whatever it is you're imagining yourself doing — yeah, probably just go hike the Appalachian trail, and then get your ass back in regular outpatient therapy when you get home.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:16 PM on June 13, 2012


@saucysault if you have depresion/anxiety caused by a chemical imbalance then no amount of medication will fix the problem in your brain. If you have poor coping skills then mindfulness may help but it will not eliminate the problem

This is very important to remember and take on-board. You probably will not kick this depression/anxiety once and for all.

Once an individual has experienced a major depressive episode (if you have experienced a major depressive episode), you will remain at risk for further depressive episodes throughout your life. Once you have been down that road, your brain has those structures embedded in it, and either the right chemical imbalances and/or external stimuli will plug back into those structures and set them off again.

The rest os @saucysault's advice is very good – looking for relaxing experience that you enjoy and will find engaging and fulfilling is the better consideration, rather than looking for a silver bullet to sort you out once and for all.

Further, due to state-dependent learning, having a great experience somewhere else will not automatically translate into a different future at home. Similar to corporate off sites, where everyone goes river-rafting, has a great time, and gets back to the office – where the same interpersonal conflicts continue to occur. Learning done "out there" will not necessarily change the experience "back here".

In terms of the latter (back here), we are connected with our immediate environment in terms of experiences. When we go "out there", we change all of the stimuli and external environment – of course we feel better! When we return, unless we actively change our situation, we return to the same set of stimuli, and thus have a continuation of the previous experience.

When I started traveling, my mother said, "there are no answers out there that are different from the answers here." She knew I was seeking a transformative experience – something that would finally give life a direction, greater understanding of self, and real destination for future. In many ways, she was right. "Wherever you go, there you are" I suppose. Along the way, I did meet an executive coach that constantly reinforces nothing is going to change until you change your behaviour meaning that to change the experience of the world, one has to conscious change their decisions.

Having sought transformation for some time, I finally found it. However, it wasn't in long bicycle trips, desert walks, immersive tourism. There were flashes of inspiration and insight on all of those endeavours – moments where there is a contentment, as if the body and mind are completely attune to the immediate world surrounding. But those flash are not transformative as they are instructive. Those inspirational experiences set a vision for how things could be different. Transformation comes later to turn that inspirational flash into something integrated into the life. Trips are great for the former; in my experience, the latter take more time to earn.

I am not discouraging you from taking this adventure – it sounds as if it is something you really want to do, and there certainly will be great benefits in terms of relaxation and potentially self-discovery. However, like @saucysault says, it's worth managing your expectations about the result of these experiences, so that you are not disappointed, or worse, you let down your guard from treating mental health care as a primary directive in your life.

Perhaps the positive way to manage expectations is to consider that transformative experience can be created by chaining together inspirational experiences over time. Start with an experience that will inspire you, an experience that will let you open yourself, whilst you relax and connect with others. A wonderful experience over weeks and months perhaps. That may not be transformational, but it will be the start of transformation. When you return home, you may not be transformed, rather you may well be inspired toward a journey to continue transforming.

Yoga programmes in India seem to work quite well in this manner, for one spends several months in India learning the practice, and one can continue that work at home, as yoga has gone worldwide.

Overall, it's probably best to think of transformation as a process, rather than a destination. And rather than discourage you, I hope that @saucysault and I encourage you, not to go seeking a transformative experience once, but rather to seek a life that itself includes constant transformation.
posted by nickrussell at 12:54 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


As it has already been mentioned, it's easy to think that going to the right treatment center, spiritual retreat, or health farm is the answer to chronic depression and anxiety. Don't get me wrong, inpatient mental health treatment can make the difference between life and death for someone who is very ill. However, in my extensive experience as a chronically depressed person, the transformations take place very slowly over time as I learn new coping skills and get through the mundane moments of daily life. Believe me, I wish I could experience recovery from depression in a much more spectacular and dramatic way. But that hasn't happened yet.

I'm trying to figure out what to do in my career, never feel fully satisfied, get annoyingly needy and negative in relationships, etc.

I experience the exact same emotions all the time. It really drives me crazy. Outpatient therapy, going to work every day, reaching out to other people (even when I don't feel like it), and just putting one foot in front of the other is what works for me. And taking small steps toward what I want in my life (e.g. networking with professionals in my field, getting back into a daily yoga practice, or asking a guy out on a date) are the little things that will propel me forward to a new chapter in my life and into something else I can be depressed about. :P
posted by strelitzia at 12:42 PM on June 15, 2012


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