As someone who ties different people with different physical and mental health issues as well as self tying, I am very aware of the impact a person’s mental health and well-being can have on the scenes we create. Top, bottom or self tying. It’s not always easy, because we are human and have various life challenges to overcome and aspirations of what we want our rope to give us. We can sometimes be overly influenced by trends on social media and peer pressure, which hinders our own personal growth in rope.
In my experience, all people with mental health challenges can engage in rope play, so long as you are:
- Honest to yourself and others about how you’re feeling
- Are engaging in rope with people that respect your needs.
- Take your time to learn how your body processes the sensations you may feel.
- Think about the environment you are in when you tie
- Think about any aftercare you will need.
- Speak to your mental health care professional if you have any worries whatsoever
- It’s what YOU want to do
I’m not a mental health professional, so if you feel you are struggling with your mental health in any way then please reach out to your doctor or a supportive friend or family member. Remember, you are not alone. Mental health problems are very common and it is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. We have often received messages growing up and in our cultures that having mental health challenges are something to hide, that we should keep a stiff upper lip and not talk about our problems. This attitude exacerbates an already difficult situation.
As we progress through the Covid19 pandemic, it has triggered a lot of mental health problems. We have been isolated in lockdowns, trying to manage the changing situation with new variants and changing guidance from our governments, as well as contracting the virus or seeing our loved ones do so. Equally, it has lead to discussions in the general media and in some workplace settings as we learn to accept and adapt our practices to be more inclusive to people with visible or hidden disabilities. Removing the stigma of mental health is a role we all need to consider, whatever situation we are in.
I believe that the sooner we stop trying to shun away our mental health, the better. Our mental health is part of who we are and should be celebrated. Suffering with depression, battling eating disorders, managing autism, processing PTSD, and many other mental health problems, is part of who you are. The trick is getting the right help to process what you are experiencing and to learn how to manage it so that you can live a fuller life, embracing your uniqueness.
In fact, getting the right mental health support from the right people can be hugely liberating. Surrounding yourself with people that understand whatever you are experiencing, with acceptance and compassion rather than judgement and shame, can make things easier. Though, I also appreciate just how difficult it can be to talk about very personal things and how overwhelming our thoughts and emotions can be. Whenever you’re ready, do seek help.
Inevitably, this will impact how you engage with rope on yourself and others. I’m a strong advocate of creating robust personal risk assessments on a regular basis to inform ourselves and our partners of our desires, limits and aspirations within each scene. It can be tempting to meet with someone or to decide to tie yourself to create an idea you have for a scene, but in all the excitement forget to stop and think about how you are feeling mentally in that moment. It’s just as important to be honest with yourself as it is to other people about how you’re feeling, to resist social pressure, and to take the responsibility of any risks you are taking with your body and mind.
Instead, take a few moments to reflect on the following questions to determine if you are ready to engage in your scene.
- How have you been feeling over the last few days?
- How well are you managing your symptoms at the moment?
- How do you think your current mental health state might impact your scene?
- Have you been taking your medication as prescribed?
- Do you know of any triggers to avoid at the moment?
- What techniques and therapies can you use to manage any phyisical or mental health changes that you predict will happen in your scene?
- Are there any other external factors that have caused you problems either in your rope play or in other life situations that are likely to arise again?
- Do you feel confident to negotiate what you want?
- Is the person you are tying with aware of your condition?
- How receptive is your partner to your needs? How receptive are you to theirs?
- Does your partner know how to manage your needs in a safe and fulfilling way?
- What is your personal intention for the rope scene, and does this marry well with your partner’s?
- Are there any life events going on that may influence your stress levels and your motivation to do rope?
- Are there any compounding phyisical health problems that could be affecting your mental health, and how can you negotiate those needs also?
- Do you have a crisis plan, and how can you use this should you need to during or after your scene?
I hope that this writing can be useful to individuals negotiating scenes inclusive if their mental health needs. And also useful for our communities, as we do what we can to ensure our spaces and events are informed on the variety of needs that our members have. We need to pro-actively remove the shame and stigma around mental health and have open conversations promoting safer practices.
These are my personal reflections on the topic. If you have any thoughts about about managing mental health needs of your own, please share in the comments.
Cover image: self tie pentagram chest harness whilst wearing a black velvet coock with purple lining and florescent green nylon rope. Exploring what is visible to others in contrast with our true selves, using different textures. Rope, photo, and model Dea Nexa.
A few Mental health resources:
NHS England https://www.england.nhs.uk/mental-health/
National Suicide Prevention Alliance https://nspa.org.uk/
BEAT eating disorders https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/
Off The Record support for 16-25 year olds https://www.otrbristol.org.uk/
Torrence Higgins Trust https://www.tht.org.uk/ for support for HIV
Refuge Domestic Abuse https://www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk/