Before we proceed further with the following post, I’m going to take a moment to explain, to the best of my understanding, the effects of Topspace and subspace.
Within the world of BDSM, the strain of activity that occurs, stimulating neurotransmitters within a person, whether Top or bottom, can trigger the release of a series of natural body chemicals. The most commonly referred to of these chemicals are adrenaline, endorphin and serotonin.
Adrenaline is induced when the body is under extreme stress such as exercise and physical pain. It is commonly known to athletes and sport enthusiasts, capable of triggering a “fight or flight” response. It is a potent little substance that, when released, can push the physical pain threshold of a person to a point beyond their natural limits. The result of adrenaline can cause increased heart rate, faster breathing and high blood pressure. It is more commonly attributed to Topspace and, both from personal experience and other testimonies, the effect is a feeling of detachment from reality, pinpoint awareness and coordination, quickened reflexes and response times.
Endorphins is the counter effect to adrenaline that is released to calm the body. Left unattended, high levels of adrenaline can cause a heart attack or system shut down, and endorphins are the chemicals to balance out and prevent these effects from occurring. In the fetish community, it is often referred to as the major cause of subspace or, as I self-coined, the “happy place”. Endorphins are released when the brain registers that the effects of stress are harmless and upon release results in haziness, pleasant sensitivity to physical sensations, and a general feeling of contentment. It is a feeling of ecstasy, both in body and mind, most commonly triggered, at least in the vanilla world, by the brink of an orgasm.
Serotonin is a chemical that can be found in foods, most commonly induced by substance use such as amphetamines and heroin. It is a highly addictive substance and, simply put, is known as the key source of ‘happy’ emotions. The effect of serotonin is an intense euphoria and high, an incredible feeling of ecstasy (hence the name of the street drug), that can have a lasting effect for hours at a time. When combined with sexual stimulation, the bliss of the experience is seemingly unforgettable and irreplaceable. It is often dormant and is released only in small doses, say during an orgasm, meaning that the rest is often stored away in reserves.
When these chemicals are all released, the headspace is referred to as either Top or subspace respectively; however, like a good night of drinking or substance abuse (if that is your thing), the gap within the body system will result in a reverse effect to the ones listed above. These natural body chemicals are gone the following day, leaving the body to restore itself to its normal functional state, and similarly this results in the brain trying to process their absence. The resulting emotions range anywhere from depression, sluggishness in movement, body fatigue, hunger, thirst, sleepiness, and/or melancholy.
The most common reaction, especially to newcomers, comes in the thought of “I must be losing my fucking mind!” followed at times by feelings of guilt, anxiety, despair, loneliness, or abandonment. These feelings, believe it or not, are perfectly NORMAL in this particular walk of life. That is if normal is anything but relevant. Do not panic. Do not consult your therapist. Do not attempt to take anti-depressants without a subscription. The drop happens to everyone at some point or another. Just like a hangover from a long night of drinking, the drop is the after effect of a good satisfying kink session.
The most immediate method to negate these horrible effects comes in the form of “aftercare” wherein both the Top and bottom take time together to pick each other up, insuring that they are both cared for, in the right piece of mind, and stable. Often times this comes in the form of food and beverage, cuddling and hugging, and the good old fashioned back rubbing. For these reasons, there is an astronomical difference between triggering a venture to the happy place via BDSM and the hazardous plunge into addiction and vice via the use of illegal substances.
Arguably a person may adapt to these effects and aftereffects on a long enough basis, setting forth new limits and thresholds, and similarly a well coordinated scene may prompt a synchronized release of these chemicals, resulting in satisfaction and the potential of having a revisiting partner. However, like any trained athlete or professional sports person, there is a limit and while aftercare is good for the immediate, the results are only effective to a certain extent. Given enough time the drop will be at its peak, depending on the intensity and extent of the activities, resulting in a noticeable change that varies anywhere from days to even weeks after the initial session.
At larger events or play parties, simultaneous in the number of scenes, these effects are prolonged much further than usual, say at a fetish convention over the weekend, which pushes the body to the very brink at times. The limits differ between different persons, Top or bottom (or both), and each person reacts differently to the drop that follows. It is important to emphasize aftercare and responsibility to these matters, such as keeping in touch and reaching out to one another for support if negotiated. Nothing in the world is more exhausting than a weekend of bruises and glazed expressions than returning to bore of mundane work and academics. Nothing in the world is more tedious than constantly checking up 24/7 unless that’s been discussed.
In some communities, notably between friends, there are events known as “Aftercare Parties” in which there is nothing but good food and conversation. Play is kept to a minimum and both Tops and bottoms reach out for support and return it as well. Other public events that are good for heavy drops are munches or venues with familiar faces. Nothing in the world can restore a person’s mood than a friend nearby, someone to talk to, and maybe even hug. Cuddle parties are notorious for these situations – the motivation to get up from a pile of cuddling bodies is near impossible.
It is, in my personal opinion, absolutely important to focus on aftercare especially with people you are interacting with the first time. Because individuals vary dramatically from one another, both from kinks and limits, their response to the drop will similarly vary as well. Do not be surprised if one partner prefers to be left alone to it whereas others require more attention than the other. Responsibility is a critical part to a person’s true character and nature. Good food, good company, maybe put on a movie and cuddle; take the time to perform R&R and try not to overwork or overthink, especially on negative thoughts and emotions.
My fail-safe method to a night of kink is quality bed rest, a plate of junk food, cigarettes (though it may worsen the effects), comfortable shower and clothes (or none at all if you prefer), gentle relaxng music suiiting your tastes and masturbation. If you truly were to express your love for someone, a massage is simply to die for. Remember to always be gentle to oneself – unless you are a true masochist, in which case don’t.
THE DROP AFTER KINKFEST
Wake up call: Good morning, this is your wake up call for 8 o’clock.
Wake up call: Sorry, sir, I did not catch that.
Wake up call: Sir?
Me: What time is it, that I can be, latest gathering to leave for the check-out? Today. This morning. Lobby check thing.
Wake up call: Sorry, sir?
Me: <sighing heavily> What time is the latest check-out time?
Wake up call: 1 PM.
Me: Call me at 12:30. Please.
My head hurt. My legs hurt. Every stinking part of me hurt that morning. Having packed my bags until 4 AM the night before, the wake up call resulted in a macabre display of walking around in nothing but a t-shirt and underwear, vainly pawing at the empty room coffee machine, and a constant constipated grimace on my face. When it finally came to dragging my luggage and shouldering my backpack down the stairs, doubtlessly there might have been the complaints to the front desk about a zombie wandering the hallway to the elevator.
The size of my head felt two sizes too small for any good and part of me was loathe to board a Greyhound to San Francisco, given that I had not only lost my agenda, but also was suffering from the effects of a terrible case of the drop. Every movement I made, half-dragging and half-kicking, at my luggage was a dangerously fragile push towards spontaneous cursing and crying. What made it worse was the fact that in my half-awakened state it did not occur to me to call the bellhop for assistance.
The breakfast cafe was closed.
I ate the mints from the concierge desk for breakfast.
Eventually I said fuck this, sat down, and pulled up my laptop. I immediately found a cheap motel for four extra days, made my reservations and called a cab; an hour later, I collapse headfirst onto the cheap motel bedding and began groaning in protest. When I was finally done moping around and staring off into space, I hopped in the shower and set out to explore the surrounding neighborhood.
Across the street from my hotel was a strip bar, adjacent to a series of retrofit burger joints, cafes, and vintage clothing outlets. Here in this part of Portland, known as Old Town, the urban landscape is composed primarily of moderate sized offices and brick apartments. Colorful flyers for local bands plaster the base of street lights; rows of bushes and potted plants decorate the outdoor seating of coffee shops and sidewalk pubs. Traffic is considerable smoother than Seattle and Vancouver, rarely did I see a continuous stream of sedans or family vans cruising by.
The most striking thing about the inhabitants of Portland are their unconventional taste of appearance. A good majority of street walkers are dressed in plaid clothing of green and navy blue, tight jeans or black full-length pantyhose, colored hairbands and oversized sunglasses. Hair streaks come in various bright colors are commonplace. Most of the clerks have visible body piercings and tattoos on their persons. There seemed to be an extraordinarily high risk of chancing upon hipsters at coffee bars and such, though in reality most of these young adults would not surprise me if they were simply college students or fresh graduates.
The air here was clean, much cleaner than you would expect, but there’s a strong presence of smokers in Portland; cigarette butts align the pavement, inside potted plants, and along the corners of crosswalks and bus stops – it seemed much more tolerable to have a smoke, out in public and on a bench, without having to worry about the looks of everyone else. Finding a perch on the pile of concrete slabs that sat in the parking lot from nearby construction, I spent the afternoon of my arrival having a cigarette and listening to Imogen Heap. Somehow the music fit the laid back atmosphere though frankly my shoulders were killing me.
Lunch was a simple affair at a nearby Italian cafe. My first purchase in Portland resulted in immense satisfaction for one simple reason: No sales tax. My $6.00 sandwich was $6.00 indeed. This turned out to be a constant occurrence, the overindulgence of cheap food, in Portland – I still miss it at this point in my travels. The Italian sausage was oversized, slightly overcooked and definitely overwhelming. I was satisfied by this discovery.
However, smoking environments and sandwiches aside, my mood had still been downtrodden by both the ache in body and spirit. I felt tired and weary, my thoughts turned dangerously close towards turning back and going home, where comfort and familiar company lay in wait. Those thoughts never once seemed to go away that afternoon and I laid on my back contemplating events to come. Eventually I settled the biggest ice cream cone you could imagine across the street, followed by more cigarettes – that worked for the time being.
Instead I turned my attention elsewhere, aware of the effects of the drop, and logged onto my FB and FL. There were messages from back home, enough to draw a reply, and though I tried to write my blog then – the effects leaned towards procrastination and slouching, a constant ribald affair of laziness and moping. I felt I was desperate for company, the friendly kinky kind, and eventually that’s where I chanced upon another lead; a group of post-KinkFest locals, recovering from the drop as well, had organized a meet that evening at a local cafe.
Wasting no time, I changed into casual clothes, grabbed another cigarette and hopped on the MAX to my destinaton. What I was not expecting was a near altercation in the most uncertain of circumstances.
Next Update: Annabelle & the Loathesome Stalker