Swimming with Lobsters Might Be The Key to Curing Anxiety
“As I waded into a murky backyard pool in Long Beach, California, I felt that familiar tightening in my gut. My anxiety was rearing its ugly head, reminding me that I have an ever-present passenger. I continued forward, my lonely thighs now fully submerged, and felt a pinch. Then two more. I was not alone in the pool, but for the first time in months, my passenger was nowhere to be found. No longer worrying about the future or re-litigating my past, I was thrust into the present.”
This may sound like a quote from any old self-help blog, but it comes from Danielle Calhoun of San Dimas, California, one of a growing number of patients trying to rid themselves of anxiety through a cutting-edge therapy that has them swimming with lobsters, or “lobbing.” It’s a therapy that may just be the key to curing anxiety for good.
The adventurous study began in summer 2018, when a group of Long Beach State students saw a great need in their community. “Peeps were real freaked out,” remembers Devin Shackford, the father of lobbing. Devin, along with his roommates Trip and Danny F., wanted to “chill out” their campus and take everyone’s minds off of finals. “I thought about all the chill-ass stuff I’ve done in my life, but my trip Maine just takes the cake,” remembers Danny F. “When I was out there swimming, I wasn’t thinking about my parents’ divorce anymore. I was just thinking about getting away from all those lobsters.” It was a light bulb moment, to say the least.
The three pioneers were soon purchasing live lobsters and inviting fellow students and members of the neighboring communities to swim with them in Trip’s stepdad’s backyard pool. Devin always records the therapy sessions and posts them to his YouTube page for educational purposes. One session, titled “TRY NOT TO LAUGH WHEN WEIRD LITTLE ITALIAN GUY MEETS A LOBSTER (FUNNY)” garnered over 7,500 views.
Devin credits the growing interest in lobbing to humanity’s need to reconnect with nature: “We’re addicted to our phones, man. They make us sad. Nature, in all its beautiful and terrifying glory, is the only thing that can save us from technology’s mind prison. That’s how we cure anxiety.”
The Ins And Outs Of Lobbing
Lobbing traditionally consists of three half-hour sessions per week. New patients meet at Trip’s stepdad’s house for a short consolation with Devin, Trip, and Danny F., where they discuss their childhoods, current stress level, the Jim Henson film The Dark Crystal, and what they’re expecting to get out of the session.
Patients are encouraged to undress to their comfort level, then Devin turns on the camera and Danny F. thrusts them into the small pool, filled with 5–15 lobsters depending on season and availability at The House of Fortune Chinese Food and Seafood Palace.
Danielle Calhoun remembers how she felt after her first session: “Sitting in that hospital room with various lacerations, a dislocated elbow, and a whole lot of bruises, I was finally living in the moment. As the lobsters started pinching—or ‘expressing themselves,’ as Devin called it—I fully focused on what was in front of me. I was communing with nature.”
The Future Is Bright (Lobster Red)
While Danielle and many others have become lobbing devotees, the question remains whether swimming with lobsters can cure anxiety for good. “It’s just a matter of how many lobsters we can get,” remarked Devin during his final phone interview. “If we can just figure out where Fortune House gets their lobsters and keep going up the chain to the big-time lobster guy, we could have lobsters for days. Trip is on it.”
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