Visiting a spa in Iceland, Tadgh Dolan talks about self-consciousness, relaxing and the power of self-care
When we arrived in Iceland there was only one place on my mind. I had heard about the Blue Lagoon from my Dad. He’s a pharmacist and has taken an active role in my Psoriasis care since I was diagnosed. “You know there’s sulphur in that water” he said as we made our way to the notorious bathing site that the locals call Bláa lónið.
For us it was simply called The Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa located just outside the capital city Reykjavik. The beneficial powers of the Lagoon were first discovered by local residents in the 1980s. Our tour guide told us that they had begun to bathe in the warm blue reservoir that had formed beside Svartsengi geothermal power plant.
The development of the Lagoon began with a bathhouse in the 1987 and further building took place in the 90s and early 2000s. The result was the now notorious geothermal pools which have become renowned across the world for their cleansing and purifying powers.
I was intrigued by the popular belief surrounding the pools, most notably the notion that they contain healing properties that can help ease skin conditions and in some reported cases, cure them completely. I was hopeful that the waters would help my own Psoriasis and was inspired further when our tour guide said that many Psoriasis suffers from around the world came to the pools, to soak in their sulphuric goodness, and hopefully cure their condition.
I arrived at the pools with my Dad at around 8pm. We only had two hours, so I rushed him through the changing rooms and right outside to the biggest of the pools. What I had not anticipated was the storm that had begun to brew outside! No, this is not a metaphor for the symbolic growth of my character, I mean this quite literally; there was a huge storm and it was unbelievably windy!
Faced with this situation we decided to brave the elements and run into the pools. We tied our towels to the towel rack and headed for the water. As soon as I got in, I could feel a change in my skin. It was a silky feeling, as if your Mom had washed your clothes with the good detergent and you were being bathed in a comforted feeling.
I swam for a few minutes and looked for my father. We grabbed a drink at the poolside bar and began to relax. It was a great moment to share with my father. He takes such an interest in my Psoriasis and the experience was enlightening for us both.
On my way into the waters I felt self-conscious. I didn’t want people to mock me for my Psoriasis, which was very moderate but visible across my chest. However, in the water there was a harmonious feeling. It was as if we were all there for the same reason; to get back in touch with nature and indeed to get back in touch with ourselves. I felt removed from normal society, locked away in a magical pool and for the first time in years, I cared more about how I felt than what my skin looked like.
I don’t know if the Blue Lagoon can cure your skin condition. But what I know for sure is that it has a positive effect on your mood. Away from the constant bombardment of media, family, friends and work you really see what is at work within your mind.
I bet for a lot of skin suffers we harbour a little shame about our condition. I felt that shame walking into that pool. I felt that shame when I was in the changing room having a shower. I asked, “what if someone sees me?” But what I needed to ask on a deeper level was “Do I really see myself?” And “Do I appreciate how truly special I am?”
I’m not sure if the Blue Lagoon will cure your condition. What I am sure of, is it will allow you the space for a little self-care and a little self-appreciation and that’s a fantastic gift to give yourself.