Depression, Panic, Anxiety And BDSM
Feeling crap? Did the COVID thing leave you feeling lost, vulnerable and depressed? Has life lost its shine?
I’ve written about this before, probably a few times. This is a much longer version with little kink – just a few top view type references.
I have deliberately not re-read those older blog posts. This is about me now, how I have been functioning with my now-time perspectives. There may well be contradictions if you compare blog posts. As I feel right now, I am sure there should be.
This is hard, emotionally and intellectually, particularly now as I’m not feeling the greatest.
Admitting some things that are usually kept internalized is difficult. I do tend to go into denial and suffer in silence till it all gets too much just like it did in April and May. This is about my mental health journey this year. It has not been a great journey.
I’m writing this as partly an exercise to look within myself to more better know and understand – and also in the hope it may help others. If so, then that makes it all worthwhile. Some feedback would be appreciated.
On that, feedback, I do get some, maybe a few emails a month and that sustains me particularly in the dark days when life does lose its vibrancy and pleasure.
The Year 2022
I’d like to put the blame for my low moods on the pandemic and lock-downs and the changes to society we’ve seen in the previous two years. As I get older I fear change. It rocks my reality a bit as maybe I’m becoming less flexible. But the pandemic caused changes that were particularly trying. I noticed it gave people a sense of paranoia, distrust, and fear. The fear was awful. If you were out in the street, no one would come near you and any contact at all was shunned. That is not the kind of normal life I grew up with.
But I can’t blame the pandemic much as I want to. It was a factor, not the root cause.
I’ve always had a weakness for depression and I’ve had the very occasional panic and anxiety attack years before the pandemic. So the pleasure of having something external to blame is denied me.
I’ve always looked at blame as a negative trait, a negative experience. It tries to shift responsibility away from ones-self and gives power over myself to someone or something else. I am responsible for me, for my journey and that has always been a mantra.
I can understand the relief, the release, the pleasure and the raw desire of not having myself held responsible for problems or for how I feel. But that is wrong. I can’t in honesty try that route.
I’m sure the pandemic was a contributor though. It hit a nerve, a receptor in me, it was the thin edge of the wedge that pried up the lid of Pandora’s box of mental health issues.
I came into year 2022 reasonably happy and looking forward to a better year. I said to myself, “2020 and 2021 have been awful. 2022 cannot be worse,” and that was the starting point. I came into the year feeling positive.
I had the mental image, this idyllic image of 2022 being happy, a rebuilding year full of positives.
Over the following weeks as we came out of the slump from the pandemic and came to terms with the new face of society dealing with COVID I just didn’t bounce-back. The economy seemed to be nervous to say the least then that too started to lift, but the lift was short termed and meager.
Sometimes I hate the media. They love to make a prediction of recession and doom and gloom. They seem to almost gloat in it, and then I just have this feeling they promote it so much that it comes true. I could do without that.
But my spirits started to get better. I started to feel like it was all going to be good.
Then Ukraine happened late February and that was upsetting.
Then soon after that for some reason, and I know I have no right to feel poorly, my moods darkened. It became a spiral downward where the feelings of impending doom grew. I could feel a tremor in my chest at times that lasted maybe a half hour, a tremor of deep anxiety and panic. It wasn’t a heart attack, but it felt like all the worst cases of nerves I ever had condensed flood into me.
I could feel like I was almost vibrating. I felt that a panic attack was happening and it was threatening to take over.
If you said it was like adrenaline but in a bad way, you’d be right.
Of course with me being the cave-dweller that I am (and regrettably so) I did nothing about it. Ahh dear, you’d think I’d have learned by now. The symptoms started to pile up over the following months till diarrhea, stomach upset and being ‘nervy’ were all happening day in-day out.
My mental health was poor. I was struggling.
One thing I found particularly strong was the absence of “joy” – there was none. Life was filled with black and whites and grays, the color was missing. The things I’d done previously that gave me pleasure really didn’t call. I wanted to retreat, to somehow escape from the darkness filled with panic and anxiety.
Also there was a listlessness to me. I couldn’t finish tasks, I struggled to be productive.
Giving Up The Power
Looking back, I gave up power over myself. I let other factors dominate me, pull me back, to dominate and control me.
“Get a grip on yourself” is terrible advice as it is damn near impossible and totally misses how a person is able to deal with the issues internally, but it would have been the cure.
Mental health skews our perceptions, my perceptions. I see and experience everything through a filter that is unhealthy and not based on reality. My emotions sit on a wobbly foundation. What was normal becomes a problem, what is real is diminished and then unfounded fears loom up and assume significance.
The Dark tunnel – In my worst days
I once said that I felt like there was a huge dark tunnel in front of me.
Like the side of a mountain with a dark tunnel going into it.
I am standing stock still some distance away, totally still, my arms and legs not moving.
I can’t move. Yet I am being pulled toward this dark tunnel. And that is terrifying.
It is as if I just had to be there. My legs weren’t moving, the landscape is pulling me in like on a travelator.
I found that damn scary. The inevitability of it all, the lack of control, the powerlessness of it sucking me into oblivion.
Being An Observer – Not a participant
Another aspect to depression I felt was that I became divorced from first-person reality.
I looked in on myself. I felt like a spectator to my life, as if things around me weren’t all that real or all that important.
I could have happily walked away from my life and gone into a monastery if I had truly believed I would have left those feeling behind. Or if I had the opportunity.
Sometimes self harm has not been far away.
That ‘dark tunnel’ feeling I had was both first-person – I was experiencing it directly and it was terrifying. Yet strangely at the same time it was also third person – I was looking down on it as it happened to me. It was a duality of feeling.
Again. I had this duality of self happening. It it was not a good experience.
Professional Help – My Doctor
My doctor is absolutely the very best person, and the very first person I go to when it all gets to the point that my life strategies aren’t working.
If you feel it is all a bit of a problem – then my strongest advice is to go there quickly.
I was skeptical. I was quite wrong.
A few years ago I discovered how effective this is. I can understand why my doctor recommended it, and I can understand why it can be so effective for so many people.
Talking about my anxiety, panic and depression helped. I found a great psychologist who I bonded with and the experience was great.
The thing is, she saw my life from a different viewpoint, from a far better connection to reality. Me describing what was happening in my life, with the words coming out of my own mouth in responses to her questions were powerful. In answering, me myself and I affirmed that life was not that bad. But it took a while.
Below this and at the foundation, now that I think about it, she pushed my intellectual and analytic side to the surface. That took over from the poorly functioning emotional side and it saw life much more clearly. That was no small thing.
She has the ability to ask questions that make me reflect, analyze, think about what truly is happening around me and to challenge my emotionally compromised perceptions.
Her question, “What do you really have to feel panic about” was so correct and topical.
It was blindingly simple, so simple my mental state just could not cope with doing that by itself.
It was a bit stark too, I was feeling awful and I felt so challenged by the simple question. How could she not know? And my answers were telling and stupid. Then they got better. She pulled and pushed at me to get that mental shift I needed.
Her viewpoint of me having a loving and supporting wife and family, being professionally employed with good prospects and having a lifestyle that was not filled full of trauma really was enviable to her, and I suppose to so many others.
I truly am blessed with the relationships around me. I couldn’t see it.
What she did was to make me realize that the reality I had been feeling was false. This was a direct attack on the root cause of my depression and panic etc attacks.
Her questions and my answers stabbed a bright shaft of logic, of actual reality into the deep dark places that I’d been living in.
That was a good experience. I came out of each therapy session feeling positive and feeling that life really wasn’t so bad.
And that was late in 2019. How the years fly. I still remember my last visit and feeling pretty good about myself.
Then The Pandemic
It was a slow slinking stealthy kind of decline I felt, I suffered. There was no one thing, no one day that I can say “this was the day.”
We don’t go out a hell of a lot, we are an inward looking family but all of a sudden we couldn’t even go out to dinner or travel or go shopping – as most shops were shut and we had a distance limit on travel.
As the days of shock at lock-down turned into weeks then months then years it eroded me. It wore me down. I was weakened I think. My stable base became wafer thin.
Yes. That analogy I used of it being the thin edge of the wedge that found a weakness in me is true and correct.
It Is Like A Cancer
I was going to say a fire that smolders then flares up time and again, or similar. But cancer is such an ugly thing that it more truly reflects how depression, anxiety and panic attacks can hit and then fester.
As a wise person once said, “to fester is to rot” and wow is that correct – depression feeds on itself, generates other negative feelings and forms a positive feedback downward spiral loop.
I found that talk therapy was very good. I came away from each session feeling that a weight had been lifted, that I’d made progress.
And I went every week for 6 weeks.
Then the pandemic hit. I didn’t have any therapy for 2 years and change and that is when those few small cells of cancer-depression started to grow and grow.
Then in 2022 I had the full blown least-wanted symptoms again.
My lifer best practices were failing me. They sound so good, yet I still felt crap.
Where Does the BDSM Fit In?
Mental health for me is all about perceptions and the grip on reality I have. My life-perception-filter changes and gets distorted then my emotional and intellectual selves battle it out with the damaged emotional self winning. It pushes to the top dominating, then depression and the panic and anxiety attacks rule.
BDSM for me is such a big thing in my life. It is at the core of me. In its absence I know my moods go down and I really wouldn’t be surprised if that was a contributing factor to my depression. I find it grounds me, clears my mind and releases me from cares.
In May with my depression and anxiety and panic attacks so bad I was literally feeling quite sick, I booked a BDSM session with the Mistress I’ve been seeing. Then I had to cancel because I really was feeling so poorly.
Then after a week I was able to have that BDSM session.
The relief I felt was extraordinary.
The BDSM Relief
Summary : it floods the senses with a sensory overload, it takes my total attention and it takes me out of this world, it releases me totally. It is a total experience that can’t be denied.
People talk about endirphin rush and sub space and the ability to let go and be dominated. Sure. All of that. But in a way that no one aspect seems to be the answer. It is a total experience. It fills the senses totally.
BDSM for me is all about fantasy, fetish, and the physical sensations that happen in the session. It is a full experience, there is no one aspect of it. I find it all works together.
I find I need a very much ‘heavy’ corporal punishment and bondage type session to make these feelings work. The power of the session directly translates into the feelings of relief.
Being in belt bondage is for me a deep-escape and a profoundly psychological experience. I’ve given up control, I’m restrained, and I’m living my fetish for wide leather belts. I feel a comfort, a “coming home” type experience as I am in the bondage.
At the same time I am in a place, the dungeon, that is unique in the world. It is there that BDSM happens, that nothing else in the world intrudes into and that matters to me. I am a place where my fantasy and fetish are being catered for.
All that matters is in the dungeon. It sits heavily and pushes everything else out. The depression, the panic attack, the anxiety suddenly don’t matter. I am consumed in the dungeon by the experience.
Then I get corporal punishment.
Corporal Punishment As a Transport Not As A Punishment
Corporal adds a whole new depth to the BDSM, bondage and dungeon experience for me.
Some people (my wife in particular) have no idea why this works for me. To them (her) it is incomprehensible. Beyond stange. Truth; it is to me also! It goes against all my growing up principles and societal norms. Yet it works.
Strangely enough I don’t see it as being punished for something – I don’t feel the need to atone or seek some kind of forgiveness from the experience. It is called ‘Corporal Punishment’ but I don’t go there to be punished.
Context and sense of place is everything. I feel I regress in the dungeon when I’m in bondage. Then when Mistress uses a cane, a belt, a strap on me that just makes it far stronger. It is amazingly stronger. It pushes the world away. It is escapism. It is a stimulous of my body, nerves, pain receptors call it what you will, that floods into me.
In my last session I said to mistress, “I don’t see myself as a masochist,” and mistresses response, after giving me heavy corporal was, “you might like to rethink that,” as she is definitely of the opinion I am.
The classical definition of a masochist talks about sexual pleasure. I don’t get that at all. I don’t feel ‘excited’ – rather I find myself withdrawing into the experience, focusing and yet at the same time accepting the pain.
My wife knows about my sessions and I’ve told her there is zero sexual contact. I cannot masturbate or even accept a hand job etc. For me the corporal experience is so strong that the possibility of sexual release is just not there – there is not enough room in me after the BDSM to have a sexual experience.
The progression of the corporal in the session can flow in two ways.
For the session prior to last I asked for a cold prison strapping and then a cold caning. These are particularly challenging as there is no warm up. Warm up with a lighter less painful implement conditions the skin abs also the nerves and the recipient to accept more. It is sort of like easing into the experience. A cold session is nothing like that – it is straight into the most painful implements. It is full on and it pushes all the boundaries. I can promise you it was challenging to accept and yet I felt as if it worked really well. At the time I am struggling to accept it and wanting it to be over yet at the same time not wanting it to stop.
Yes, contradiction is my constant companion. I look forward to it, I struggle to accept it and to endure it, then I’m disappointed when it’s over.
In my last session I had a more conventional session (albeit with 2 apprentices as well as Mistress). Mistress started off with a strapping from a quite supple folded over belt applied firmly. It lifted me onto my toes on the very first stroke, the sting surprising me. She knows I need it applied firmly.
A hard belting to start off with is all about surface sting from this kind of implement, whereas the cane cuts so deeply and the prison strap is a mixture of both and equally as challenging as the cane.
My prison strap is a replica of what was actually used in prisons and one look is all it takes to know what it is designed for.
Sitting here now as I type this I can’t say with any great certainty which is better or worse for my special needs – as I call them. The cold caning and prison strapping is certainly challenging, but that is no great consideration. I think, now with more thought, the conventional session progressing from lighter to more painful implements is better as it leads to a longer session, more strapping and caning. With a cold caning the bottom is more liable to being cut as without the previous strapping it is not warmed up. I prefer the longer duration, the longer experience.
In the months leading up to a session I do indulge in self bondage. I find I can go without the corporal but the effect is much less. I have gone years on just some self-bondage and I find that very satisfying in its own way, but it really is limited. It is just not the same. It’s like watered down milk – the color is a little thin, the taste weak and it’s just not as satisfying.
My wife cannot understand this at all. She sees the absurdity of it, of someone wanting to be hurt or punished and that is all it is to her. Each time we talk about it I tell her that the pain is just one aspect. It can even be a small aspect.
I tell her about a cold caning versus a more conventional experience. These just blow her mnd that I would do that and willingly. And even now, I feel no great aversion to either. If I could only have one type I would not be overly fussed if it was either.
She cannot understand that the pain is a transport. It is a by-product as must as a mechanism in itself.
It sends me. As mistress uses a belt, a strap, the tawse or a cane on me it overwhelms all my senses. The pain is there, it flares up, I have to deal with it and it takes all my energy and all my inner self to deal with it. That is good.
That leaves nothing else for anything else. I am consumed. It consumes me.
We’re taught early in our lives to shun pain. Pain is bad we’re taught, it means something is not right. And I get it, it is the same for me and a cause for my contradictions in my inner self. Yet the pain of corporal punishment is necessary for me to be totally removed from this world and taken to where the depression and anxiety don’t exist.
That is another way to look at it. I’m totally removed from this world and taken to where the depression and anxiety don’t exist.
My pain senses are triggered, they flood and dominate. The crack of the strap, the splat of the tawse and the bite of a cane are impossible to ignore. They are overwhelming. I’m gone, out of the here and now.
I tell my wife, “you can’t think of anything else, or be anywhere else when Mistress is caning me,” and she really struggles to understand.
My fetish is being triggered by the bondage stopping me from movement, and the leather mistress applying the corporal, and my sense of place in the dungeon, a place that only brings relief is bringing it all home.
Trying To Build Resilience
There are three aspects to this from my perspective.
The first is to adopt life practices that reduce the chance of a relapse.
This is clearly, on review, and on review again a week later, the most important part of the process for me.
Nothing beats having life practices that prevent the kinds of issues I’ve had.
For me this is all about my mental attitude to life and the challenges it throws at me. I do tend to be a bit of a dreamer and that does bring the burden of looking at worst case scenarios that usually never happen.
Maybe this does play into my fetish and BDSM life as that is all about shifted realities and fantasy.
What practices am I talking about?
Professional help is never far away. I need to say this. I know they can help and will help, all it takes is me to make the phone call. That is a reassurance that is good to have. They are my lifeline and my fall back and my go to when everything else is just not cutting it.
Reject denial, be honest with myself. I am guilty of this and say to myself and others, “everything is fine” when it plainly is not when I’m almost quivering in stress. I’ve let it get to far and made it far more difficult to deal with. Getting in early by rejecting denial and being honest really is an important life practice.
Affirmations. I find these quite powerful. Saying the words and meaning them helps. For example, saying “I know that everything in the world is going well and I have no need for fear.”
The use of logic. Just sitting down and writing down all the positives in my life really helps. Then I make a list of the problems, the negatives, and all of a suddenly they look so small and meaningless in comparison. I find this to be somewhat weak – if I’m not feeling great then my mental processing power makes this option feel poor – even though it is valuable.
Physical exercise and fitness. This has a huge impact. First of all is sleep, getting a better sleep because I am bodily tired really helps. Then there is the rush of achieving something – be it as simple as puling some weeds, caring for some plants or doing housework that makes me feel better with myself. It does not have to be too much – but it must get me off my butt and actually do something.
Achievement. I gen an endorphin rush from achievement. Small things that I can do to get a “rush of success” and the feeling that I made or did something that was successful is something I really like. Small things that can be completed quickly and not linger are best.
Be gentle with myself. I need to understand that setbacks, that problems, that issues that arise constantly are just small and not consequential. I don’t need to beat myself up for this.
Have a healthy regard for time. Looking back on things, feeling upset at something years ago has always been an issue for me. This is negative and soul destroying. It brings the upset of reliving a hurt or a loss and wishing I’d done things differently or cursing sheer chance. And it is totally pointless. Living in the now, thinking about the best things to come and using logic and good sense to ease into the future are ‘best practices’.
My BDSM side does need to be fulfilled. I cannot deny it. Denial brings stress. I know I can go 3 months, 6 months, 12 months and more but I also know that I miss it more and more. It becomes a constant source of destabilization. Then when I do have a BDSM session, I feel such relief and always say that I need to make it more regular. And I should.
The second is to recognize the onset early, and to have and use the tools I need to deal with them.
I get lazy. I forget. I must bounce into my ‘best practices’ asap.
It is a monitoring function. It needs to be timely. It needs to happen and not allow me to head off into a full blown recurrence.
This is all about being mindful of my state of mental health.
I must combine this with the first practice above.
Part of this is the “maintenance aspect” – that I need to ensure that my life practices are working and then if I sense an issue, to take action.
The third is to be able to deal with an onset and prevent a full blown recurrence. I must not let it linger, to build and strengthen till it is debilitating.
This wraps up the previous 2 steps.
I hit a full blown recurrence with the big-guns.
Over the years there have been various “grades” of depression and related problems I’ve faced. At the worst I’ve had to go to my doctor and been put on medication which was not great but the alternative was worse. Then at times I’ve taken myself off to talk therapy and that has been good.
Professional help really is #1.
Then there are my BDSM sessions. They have given me a profound release when my moods have been so low. I’ve gone into them stressed, feeling nauseous and almost trembling, then when I leave I really am a new me. They seem to clear me, refresh my mental attitude in a way that is hard to describe.
But I will try.
“Imagine your best-ever holiday. Imagine how great it felt to be away from everything and to feel so good about it, so relaxed, so divorced from problems and stress. My BDSM sessions in such a short time fulfill that self same function. The experience is so strong, to engrossing, so powerful that I come away a whole new me.”
Did you read this far? Did it make any sense to you? Did you get anything positive or any help from it? I truly hope so.
This has been an almost cathartic exercise for me. Documenting all this, writing it down puts things into perspective. Also being an introspective (and painfully so) type of person it helps to ground me.
Yes I am a cave-dweller kind of person living in denial given half the chance and that’s not healthy.
Accepting that is a good first step, then having life practices that help are the next step.
My best wishes – ‘Trikki