The Mystery of Scents

When we play there can be so many scents involved, we smell our own sweat, pheromones, and fluids, they drive us or deter us. It seems so simple you either like an aroma or you don’t, yet, it’s not that simple. Scents can be as complex as human beings. In an instant, a smell can make us feel peace, joy, nostalgia, dread, panic, or fear.

It is understandable to love the smell of baking cookies or pies if it reminds us of a pleasant time in childhood. There are so many smells that can trigger olfactory memories that will either create a negative or happy response. Smell is the sense that is most associated with memory and often the most significant response to a memory. Connecting us to memories the smell transports us to another time, knowing possible negative smells helps us avoid possible land mines. Understanding this is important in play especially if dealing with a partner who may have land minds, known or unknown.  We say the Dungeon is not for therapy, however we also understand how therapeutic play can be.

What smells transport you, and why are they significant? I have always loved the way Dr. Payne smells after he has worked in the garage and is just the right amount of sweaty.  His smell is an aphrodisiac for me, erotically intoxicating. I have a particular perfume I wear that Dr. Payne loves, therefore I only wear it for him. I have another scent I wear only for Princess. When we know of positive scents and aromas help us set the stage for positive interactions, what if we brought fresh-baked cookies into our play, how might that transport someone who loves to bake?

The effect of smells on our brain is why aromatherapy can be so compelling to aid in lowering stress and anxiety. The unfortunate thing is that we sometimes encounter smells in play or just our normal daily living, that we don’t know will trigger a bad memory until it happens.

Dr. Payne and I have been going to events, public dungeons, and play parties for a few years now; when I walk in the sounds and smells transport me instantly into that headspace of surrender; giving up more control. However, even after years, there are times something will happen that a sound or smell will take me immediately out of my headspace and into panic mode. Imagine being on a double-sided Saint Andrews cross blindfolded, and in the middle of a scene; you smell someone’s fragrance and hear degradation play. This happened to me at an event, due to past abuse and bullying this immediately sent me into panic mode.  Now, when I smell that fragrance, I feel defensive and scared, even though it was someone else’s scene.

This is a bit of a slippery slope, some would say you take that risk in public play parties of encountering something distressing. Others might have the opposite reaction that possibly upsetting play shouldn’t be in such close proximity to others. I would say the risk was mine to take and I now ask not to placed on a double-sided cross. I can’t imagine allowing that incident or the fear of a recurrence to control me, and so it is with smells.

Every time we encounter these triggering smells, we are presented an opportunity to learn something about ourselves, do we find a way to avoid that scent or do we allow it to show us that part of ourselves that fears, feel embarrassment, or loves? At some point trying to avoid all uncomfortable smells could make us all hermits, an emotionally unhealthy way to live.

Smells are not simple, our mind is not simple, our relationship with scenes and kink is not simple. I choose to learn from my aromatic experiences and grow despite the negative ones. Serve the collar, serve your Dom, but do not serve your fear.

Drop

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

I want to talk to you guys about “drop” for a second.

By Dr. Payne

“Drop,” the shorthand name, is the feeling you get after a Big Thing. I deliver a presentation on Drop, and I’m proud to have delivered it to the Lifestyles & Society group at my employer. I teach people this: Drop is the vacuum of adrenaline’s retreat. All your emotions get charged, all your senses get put on high-alert, and you endure your event–could be a convention or conference (con-drop), could be a marathon (runner’s drop), could be a big project at work (PMO-drop), could be a formal dinner or even a big fancy party. Once your BODY convinces your MIND that everything is back to normal, Drop moves in to fill the space with a host of phrases like “that was close” or “can’t wait to do that again” or “I hope I didn’t embarrass myself” or myriad other panic.

We, the People of the United States, have just gone through a polarizing and divisive period in our history. Regardless your affiliation, it’s not at all uncommon to be calm and focused during high-tension events. When it’s over? Man, that’s when Drop comes in and GETS YA. That’s when your breakdown happens: not DURING the trauma, but immediately following. As Trump leaves office and the vaccines begin circulating, that is where We the People are. Please hold your derision. It could take days–if not weeks–for everyone to realize it’s OK to climb out of our emotional burrows.

I lost myself

TW – self harm, depression

It was harder and harder to concentrate on tasks.

I stopped writing.

I was frequently asking for clarification of tasks and instructions from Dr. Payne.

Then I stopped obeying all together.

I know how to take care of myself. I know I should love myself. I know how to be obedient. When my head’s on straight, obedience to Dr. Payne is second nature. It sounds simple; yet, some days it is almost impossible to take care of myself, then a vicious circle starts:

  • If I don’t take care of myself my depression takes over instead of Dr. Payne.
  • If my depression takes over, I don’t want to take care of myself.
  • If my depression takes over I stop trusting.

I had become certain Dr. Payne and Princess were plotting to kick me out of their lives.

That was it: I was hopelessly lost down the rabbit hole and couldn’t find my way out.  Fear convinced me everyone wanted me there, nobody loved me, and nobody was going to help me find my way back to me. I felt stuck between the dead and living, in a limbo state I thought I would never have to visit again. I didn’t ask to go there, but once I was in that place I felt I deserved to be there.

I re-read my writings; I knew I wrote this, but I suddenly had no idea who this person was and how I was going to be like that again. I had become someone I didn’t recognize, someone I thought I had dismissed years ago.

But being stuck in that place it became extremely hard to ask or even want help. I was convinced I deserved every bad thing that happened.

It has now become a loop. I’ll have few good days, but then I am hopelessly lost again. They are becoming fewer and farther apart, but I still have some awful downward spirals. They can las moments, but often are several hours.

So how do I get back to where I want to be; need to be?

  • Supporting my partners!
  • Kneeling at my Dominant’s feet!

I have thoughts. I have a plan. This is not a day-by-day or week-by-week process, it’s more like minute by minute, and hour by hour. I hope that soon minutes will extend into hours, hours will extend into days, and days will extend into weeks. Then I’ll know I’m making progress.  For now I have to measure progress by minutes and hours.

This process to get back to a healthy mental state starts with some serious self-evaluation. You must be able to admit you need help, then you must take the steps to get the help. You must allow the people around you to help and support you. Easier said than done.

If you are in this hole with me as you read this; trust me, we can do this no matter what our brain is telling us.

Without help and intervention you can get stuck in issues of fear and react to the people around you with hostility.

You must have your Dom’s support in this. Below are some of the steps I am taking, all with Dr. Payne’s support:

  • I talked to my partners and told them I was struggling.
  • I found a kink-friendly therapist.
  • Being able to speak openly about my dynamic and partners was especially important.
  • When I could not find anyone locally that said they were kink-friendly, I looked for therapists that said they were sex-positive or LGBTQ+ friendly and sent them an email to ask. Don’t give up; this is a really important step.
  • I am doing all the things my therapist has told me to do:
  • Purchased the book she recommended.
    • Spending time outside more often.
    • Connecting with friends even if it is just online.
  • Exercising again.
  • Getting enough sleep:
  • I was staying up too late not always doing anything terribly worth-while.
  • Watching what I eat, and eating enough:
    • Historically I had been a stress eater, but now I was having trouble wanting to eat. Low-blood sugar is not helping my moods.
  • Reading again:
    • Intellectually stimulating fiction and non-fiction, to change my negative thought patterns.

Don’t run away and hide; stay connected to your friends and community, and people who will encourage a healthy mindset.

Avoid people who:

  • Pity your mental illness,
  • Try to compare their pain as being worse than yours.
  • Openly scold you for feeling that way.

Fear and depression will tell you nobody loves you, but this isn’t true. You need compassion, from others and for yourself.

I went down the rabbit hole, it didn’t happen over-night. My depression was slow and sneaky. I didn’t realize how bad it was until I was already lost. The road back to stable, manageable days will not happen overnight either, and it’s not something to be taken lightly. Do the work, listen to the people who genuinely care.

Concentrating is still hard, but I have started to write again. Gradually I am finding myself again.

How many ways can my anxiety count the days?

Content note for self-harm

One-day, two-day, three-day, eighty.

It seems ironic that my mental health would take a nosedive in May: Mental Health Awareness Month. During this time, I am more cognizant of possible mental health issues, reading articles, meditating, and writing about mental health more. However, as time ticks on, I am aware that I am becoming less capable of coping with the chaos of the world. Or perhaps the world is becoming more chaotic than ever before? Both statements are true.

A significant sign that I am slipping when it comes to dealing with my anxiety and depression is that my people pleasing personality becomes more prominent than usual. It becomes apparent that the need to please everyone is seeping into all that I do. The awful problem with trying to please everyone is that I never feel good enough for anyone. This is a lesson and an old demon that I thought I had put to rest.

That is the trick depression plays on its sufferers; if you have maintained a healthy mindset for a long period, it’s easy to talk yourself into believing the illusion that you are recovered or have moved past your mental illness.

In the beginning of quarantine I am hanging on, not losing too much sleep, and not slipping into the deep dark rabbit hole that depression is. I am talking to Dr. Payne and I know He has me, and He will help me. Then I hit a major bump in the road: my personal physician decides that she wants me to try a new medication for my asthma.

This medication doesn’t simply lead me to slip down into the rabbit hole of depression, it throws me there head first and I am suddenly lost in a maze of awful thoughts: “Nobody loves me, and I can’t do anything right!” Then thoughts of self-harm creep in, “Why am I here? Something sharp cutting into my arm would feel better than these feelings!”

Depression lies to you; it tells you that making people happy is the only way to be loved. It also tells you that nobody loves you. I then feel that I must hide my feelings from those around me. Depression and anxiety begin to constantly whisper in my ear that Dr. Payne and Princess care more about each other than they do about me.

That is not true, and I know it isn’t true, but there are times at 2 am when anxiety tells me I have to make things perfect, that doing so is the only way to be happy. In those moments I lose my grip on my emotional and mental wellbeing. I then fall back asleep, and when I wake up, most days I am in control of the negative thoughts.

There are moments of clarity when I can see happiness and daylight, and I talk to my partners about what is going on in my head. However, this is not easy.

As time marches along, and what the world tries to refer to as the “new normal” becomes a scary thing, I ponder what the current state of the world and its unpredictability mean for my mental health. I fear I may not make it to the end of 2020 as an emotionally stable person.

I must fight the demons, the demons of fear that tell me I am too much emotional garbage to be worthy of anyone’s love and attention.

I can tell myself that I am worthy. I can stand up tall, smile, and say that I am loved, I am worthy. But there are moments when I wonder if fear is right, and I am the one lying to myself.

As we talk about the struggles, Dr. Payne reminds me that when times are rough it is more important than ever to rely on our protocols, those things about Power Exchange that keep us grounded. I wish it were as easy as that. I find I have to remind myself that I am collared and owned, that I am no longer the person who struggles daily with being in charge of myself. I fall back on old shameful behaviors that I should know do not work for me. We have had more tension events than is normal, and my anxiety and inability to remember who I am now is often at the center of the tension.

The world is still chaotic, and Dr. Payne tries to filter the outside disorder as much as possible. As time marches on and quarantine is extended, ten-weeks, twelve-weeks, thirteen-weeks, thirty, I touch and acknowledge my protocols and daily tasks: the simple act of drink service, blessing Sir’s tea, and kneeling at His feet when I am in need of guidance. I continue to love and support Princess, and give consent daily to the person who has agreed to be my Dominant, to protect and love me: Dr. Payne, my husband, my Dom, my forever partner.

It hurts

Photo by Bianca Salgado from Pexels

Today it hurts

My mental illness tries to own me

The anxiety throws me into the undertow

The depression drags me under

I worry if Sir will see me struggling and pull me out

Will He notice or will I quietly slip away

Then He takes my hand

He grabs my collar

He looks into my eyes

He says, “come back to me”

I remember who owns me

And the hurt is eased

The effects of social distancing on my anxiety.

I get to work from home!  I was relieved, and maybe a little excited to be given permission to disconnect socially for the foreseeable future. It meant I would be avoiding the daily onslaught of people and things that influenced my ability to manage my Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Lacking a commute meant sleeping in, and more time for me and my personal projects. I am introverted by nature: I rarely feel I get enough time to be still with myself and recharge.

The scary truth is, my own mind is often my worst enemy. A few weeks into working from home, a major problem with this disconnection is becoming apparent: it creates a breeding ground for Anxiety’s close cousin, Depression.  It’s been creeping in for small periods, but now it really wants to move in. Sometimes I would rather be curled up in bed than be productive

As humans we are wired to be social, which is problematic for us anxious introverted souls: the need to socialize is often at war with the need to be left alone.  When online for work during the week, my extroverted coworkers are starting to message me—sometimes video—and I find I am not dealing well with that unpredictable nature.

My sleep is becoming disrupted. I am waking up at 3AM unable to sleep, and lay there thinking about unimportant things: “I really need to mop!” and also truly terrifying things: “Will I be mentally well enough to return to work once this is all over?” My daily meditation time is becoming more relished, but harder and harder to quiet my mind. I am also realizing there are some unusual effects on my sex drive: I swing wildly from wanting to be cuddled to being mercilessly fucked. Sadly masturbation is less interesting: I am craving the human contact.

Even in a strong, seasoned Power Exchange relationship this kind of stress can be difficult. I find I am being reminded of protocols that were second nature a few weeks ago and, now strained, are allowing my brain to replay bad tapes over and over. The support of my Dom is important: Dr. Payne would never take my mental health for granted. However, I am starting to feel guilty for needing so much from someone who is living in the same situation and has their own set of responsibilities and fears.

We have a protocol that has become my best friend–you know, the kind of friend that reminds you to do the right thing even when you don’t want to. I have a standing order to express my feelings to Dr. Payne. All my feelings: the good, bad, and the horrifying. We are talking more than usual about where we are emotionally, and I find I am relishing these moments of connection. It helps me keep focused to know I am not alone in dealing with whatever my mind dishes out.

A sad realization has come to light in these moments of sharing: I am not truly alone. We are all cooped up at home together. Therefore, we must find ways to truly disconnect and unplug, even if for short periods, from everything that tugs at our attention. I am spending more time outside in my garden or just sitting on the front porch. If I can’t take care of myself and my mental health, I am missing an opportunity to serve, and I must take care of Sir’s property. To that end, I get to serve at home. I find comfort in those still moments when I can kneel at Sir’s feet.

What basic act of service gets you centered when everything demands your attention?