Last week we talked about the wonder that is space for subs and Doms. But physics teaches us that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This week, we are taking a look at the literal downside of space — the phenomenon known as drop. As with space, most attention goes to subdrop, and it is true that subs tend to experience wider swings between a scene and its aftermath, but Doms drop, too. Today we will examine both sides of the slash.
Dropping the Beat
What is drop? The BDSM Wiki defines it as a depression-like state occurring following a scene that is “caused by adrenaline and endorphin crashes after the…spikes that may occur during a scene.” One need not enter space to suffer drop. Think of it like a wave. The emotional, mental, and physical effects take time to build, flow, crest, crash, and withdraw. Unless they are completely disinterested, the parties in a scene will ride some version of this wave. This does not mean that drop is unavoidable, but it does mean that the ingredients are pretty much always there.
Drop has much in common with depression, and the symptoms often look similar. These can include: excessive sleeping, insomnia, irritability, restlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating or remembering details, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, feeling worthless, guilt, overeating, loss of appetite, headaches, persistent aches and pains, digestive issues, sadness, anxiety, loss of interest in hobbies or other pleasurable activities, even suicidal thoughts.
If you finish a scene and your partner seems fine a few hours later, do not breathe too freely just yet. Drop does not always happen immediately. Much like a wave, it can be deceptive in its approach. In some cases, there may be a delay of up to 72 hours before the symptoms manifest in any major way. It is important to maintain contact and monitor one another during this time period.
Whose Drop Is It, Anyway?
Who has responsibility in trying to prevent drop and/or care for the person who is dropping? Ideally, the parties in the scene will assist one another. The scene itself should lend itself to riding that wave with a slow build and cool down, followed by decent aftercare (which should be negotiated ahead of time). In most cases, the parties involved will provide care after the scene. This frequently includes warm blankets, cuddling, water, talking, and gentle touches. Everyone has their own styles. I know one bottom who likes a quick pat on the shoulder, a couple of kind words, and then to be left alone. A little I am friends with prefers to be put into little space.
On some occasions, someone else stands by for a hand-off to provide aftercare. I know at least one top who simply does not provide it. I also have discussed an impact scene with a bottom who is married and would have aftercare provided by her husband. However it is accomplished, whatever it looks like for you, do not skip aftercare. One of the first times I did an impact scene with someone, she left without aftercare and dropped hard the next day. The effects lasted the majority of the week, and I found myself quite concerned for her. We have both since come to look back on it as a learning experience.
Focus is often placed on the submissive’s aftercare in an attempt to stave off drop, especially if that sub has hit space during play, and that is very important. But it must be said that Dominants can drop as well. D-types are often stubborn creatures who refuse to share what they experience internally, so the submissive(s) need to check in on them as well. Domdrop is similar, but because the Top is usually more energetic in the scene (such as during impact), the effects are usually not quite as severe. They can still be deeply felt, however. Frankly, we should not be so reluctant to share such vulnerability, at least with our submissives. There is nothing un-Domlike about dropping or in needing help to get through it.
A Little Drop of Kindness
At times, despite our best efforts, someone will drop. It behooves us to be ready and able to deal with the situation when it arises. First and foremost, stay in contact with the other(s) in the scene or whoever provided aftercare — and be available for contact. Talk on the phone. Meet up for coffee. Watch a movie and hangout. This crashing wave is as much emotional as it is physiological. Just knowing someone cares can go along way to alleviating the symptoms. According to the BDSM Wiki, other ways to combat drop include:
- Eat chocolate. It sounds like something out of Harry Potter, but chocolate has certain properties similar to oxytocin and helps to ward off drop as well as dementors.
- Go outside. Getting some sunlight produces vitamin D, which can be a nice boost. Gentle exercise can also help release endorphins and boost mood.
- Distract yourself. Keep busy with productive tasks. This not only provides distraction but provides a sense of accomplishment, which helps to drive away the dumps.
- Pamper yourself. Sometimes you just need to take time for yourself and treat yourself nicely. Take a hot bath. Read a book. Curl up in a fluffy robe.
- Write it down. Journaling is a useful tool in many walks of life and forms of therapy. Sometimes just letting the emotions and feelings come out on the page can exorcise the demons.
Also, keep in mind that drop does not last forever. The clouds eventually part, and the sun shines again. IT can be difficult to keep in mind at the time, but the fact remains. If the downward spiral continues or deepens, there may well be underlying psychological issues (such as depression) that need addressing with more professional help.
At the End of the Day…
Drop is part of the lifestyle. It can come about from mishandling a Top or bottom after a scene, but that is not always the case. Sometimes it happens despite everything being done as correctly as we know how. You have not failed as a Dominant or submissive if your partner drops. You are not failing if you need to reach out to someone to help pull out of dropping. I would argue that the real measure comes in how you handle it when it does happen. Be there for one another. Support one another. Bring one another through it.
As always, remember: This is your life; live it your way!