2016 sucks. For almost everyone I know this year so far has massively sucked…rotten eggs and big turds. The end of 2015 was an amazing high. I looked forward to rolling into 2016 and building upon it. But within the first two months, my whole house of cards and my tribe have dissolved into a pile of rubble.
I have spoken several times about my two year battle with depression and anxiety following a miscarriage in 2009. Since then I have taken many steps to improve my self-care and protect myself from as much stress as I can. But despite all of that, I found myself circling the drain of life.
And with a ten-year old daughter with epilepsy and high-functioning autism, whom I homeschool, and working to build a career as an indie writer, I do NOT have two years to give depression. Yet I was already doing all I knew…rest as much as I could, eating better, getting what sunshine I could in London’s winter, positive self-talk, reaching out to friends, taking long baths. Heck, I even bought make-up and wore it everyday around the house, because supposedly if you look better then you feel better.
None of it was working.
Meds are not the answer for me…too slow acting and way too many side effects. It takes months to get counselling on the NHS. So what was a girl to do?
For me, there was one other risky option. Pain. You see I am a submissive and a masochist. Yes, a masochist…someone who actually receives pleasure from pain. Don’t roll your eyes. Don’t go judging until you understand the science behind it.
When it comes to the complexity of the human brain, doctors, psychologists and scientists are more like medieval alchemists than they or we want to admit. Having said that, the most commonly accepted though is that somewhere and somehow in utero, infancy or early childhood when our brains are growing most rapidly and forming many lifelong neural connections, there is a cross-wiring of the pleasure and pain centers in some individuals. Look at this picture of those areas…how close they are to one another. It is as good a guess at this point as any other.
So what does that mean exactly?
When most people do pleasurable things…eat chocolate, win a game, get a good grade, hear a song they love and yes, especially have sex, their brains produce the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. Sometimes a little and sometimes a lot, depending on the experience. Likewise, when we face fear and pain our bodies produce another neurotransmitter called epinephrine and norepinephrine, the fight or flight chemicals. For a masochists, those pain chemicals hit the brain like Prozac…Valium…heroine…the most powerful drug out there. It is a high. A natural one, but a high nonetheless.
At the extreme is an altered state of consciousness known as subspace. It is virtually impossible to describe to someone who is not a sub/masochist, has never experienced it or experimented with drugs. But I am going to try here…
In the beginning of play/a scene, a masochist feels pain just like everyone else. It stings. It hurts. But our cross-wiring means that there is a pleasure to it as well. Then the more of those chemicals that start to flood our brains, the less it hurts. The more the pleasure. And for me, if I trust this person, when I feel safe, when I have submitted myself to Him, it can reach a point that no matter how hard the blows, how quickly they come or just about anything else except a direct command from Him, my mind can simply disconnect from my body.
Maybe like the astral plane stuff for New Agers. All of those things that are weighing me down simply do not exist in that place. I am free. Free to be me on the most primal level. Not even my body image issues exist in that place. He is the only thing that tethers my soul to this plane. It is a damned good place.
And when I do come back, of course, my problems are still there. But those massive doses of neurotransmitters have reset my brain chemistry. It is like using the Ctrl-Alt-Delete function on your computer. A magic fix of sorts.
BUT as with computers where you can lose what you were working on, there can be a price to pay. That price is called sub-drop. This is pretty much the same as what they call the rebound effect with certain drugs, meaning you drop again when you come off of them.
That was the risk I had to weigh up. I knew that in the past I had dropped…sometimes pretty bad and more than once. But this was lower than I had been in years. So even if I did drop, I knew loads of self-care and had good friends around me. I felt like I really had no other choice but to give it a try.
Did it work, you ask? I went there a wreck…on the verge of tears, unable to think my way out of a paper bag…and like I said…I left bruised and laughing. Even the sub-drop that I feared so much never materialized. I had a couple of physical things like being more tired and shakes once, but never that big emotional drop that I expected.
Of course, life goes on. The problems are still here. But I can think again. Even when shit goes bad, and it most definitely has a couple of times, even then I no longer find myself circling that drain of life, hopeless and helpless. I catch myself and remind myself to not waste my energy fighting the currents of life…swimming against them. After the initial panic settles like a rip tide…just go with the flow. These bad times like those rip tides won’t last forever.
Thanks to the REAL Mikael, submission, pain and subspace I can think clearly again…most of the time. That is the true nature and power of pain to a masochist.