Depression and submission
I worry about writing this post. I worry about it because male submission isn’t far from being considered a mental illness by some, and masochism is still considered a mental illness in some circles. But if I want male submission to truly be de-pathologized – and I do – and if I want masochism to be accepted as a viable expression of love and affection – and I do – then I have to be honest about this topic. I have to be able to explain that I am submissive, I am masochistic, and I have depression. Plus, I have to be able to explain how they interact, how they sometimes pretend to be each other, and how I can tell the difference.
The short answer is: It isn’t easy to tell the difference. Depression is a mummer. It wraps itself in different clothes every day. One day it is a desire to listen to sad songs. Another day, I just don’t want to talk to anyone. Maybe I want to watch a sappy tear-jerker movie. Then I don’t want to get out of bed because I’m tired and can’t think of anything to do.
At one point, my depression became a desire to hurt. I inflicted pain on myself because…well, there is no way to make anyone understand why. If you’ve been there; then it makes perfect sense. If you haven’t; then it sounds sick and scary. It’s like the relief an obsessive person gets from double-checking the locks on the door – it’s relief…but it’s temporary, and the desire to do it again is almost too much to hold back. And what else gives even that brief taste of relief? Nothing.
This knowledge was in my mind when I asked Mistress to hurt me the first time. And the second. And the third. But after that, I began to notice differences.
First, when I asked for pain, I wasn’t seeking relief. I wasn’t suffering mental anguish that I needed to…process physically. What I felt was an overwhelming need to place myself under Her authority. The pain was simply a means of demonstrating that. It was a way of experiencing surrender.
Secondly, when I hurt for my depression, I never once became aroused by it. But suffering at Her hands nearly always gets me hard.
Self-injury was, by necessity, an exercise in being alone. I had to put everyone in the world out of my mind and out of my space. I created a micro-verse of one and took in all the pain of existence into my flesh. With Her, it is inviting someone in closer and more intimately than I have ever experienced. We both experience my pain, our mutual excitement feeding each other and continually pulling us into each other.
When I hurt myself, I felt nothing but the physical pain. There was no emotion involved. When She hurts me, I am overcome with love.
It is not the same. Even when the actions are the same, the motivation comes from a very different place. One is destructive; the other is constructive. One is dark; the other is light. But they are the same injuries to my flesh.
(Aside: I’m adding this here, because I’m not sure where else to put it, but I think it needs to be said. Unless things have changed since I was educated (and it doesn’t seem like they have), professionals are taught to ask about depression and suicide this way: “Have you ever thought about hurting youself?” It’s the wrong question, for both suicide and self-injury. “Have you made any plans or considered options for suicide?” is a much better screen for the first. “Have you hurt yourself for relief?” is better for the other. Don’t ask me if I’ve thought about it – I have. I can honestly say that I’ve thought about it enough – and been in a dark enough place – where I understand how suicide becomes a rational decision for some. But I never once considered it for myself. And, of course, I thought about hurting myself…but was it for relief or was it for sexual arousal? For me, self-injury was always about relief, but for some, it will likely be for arousal. Same action, two very different paths.)
My submission guides me to accept leadership from another. Mistress has filled this place in my life, but without it, I was incomplete. I could get up and do the things I needed to do. I’ve accomplished a lot in my life, and in the face of no small amount of adversity. So it isn’t like submission is a need to be led or do nothing. It is a need to find being led fulfilling.
Depression can wear that mask, too. It looks like resignation. It isn’t fulfilling, but it gets a bit of distance between me and whoever I’m following. Understanding that distance is the key to discerning which is which.
With submission, I effectively say, “I choose to go with You. When I disagree, we can talk about it, but I’m giving You the power to decide our course of action. Then I will bend myself to Your decision.” With depression, it’s more like, “I might as well go with you. Go ahead and pick a direction. I’ll let myself be swept along.”
Submission is active. Depression is not. Submission involves choices. Depression does not. Submission is a journey for two. Depression is a destination for one.
I don’t have a nice little bow to put on the end of this one. Depression is more than a little scary for me because I’ve seen its ability to disguise itself. I know that it waits patiently to take what is the best in me and turn it into a dark beastly shadow of itself. But I’ve learned that I don’t have to allow that to happen. I can acknowledge my feelings, explore their origins, and act or not act as I believe is best for me. I do not have to submit to depression.