Pain Processing

While proofreading an acupuncture manual last week, I came across a warning: “Those suffering from stress are usually more sensitive to pain.”

My relative enjoyment or hatred of pain is something that’s confounded me for a while. Some types of pain are fine; others aren’t. Some pain I can enjoy on one part of my body, but on other parts of my body the same degree of pain is intolerable. Some days, I revel in pain, fully eroticize it, let it drive me into ecstasy; other days, the thought of any sort of pain makes me curl up into a ball and cover myself with a blanket.

Recently, I’ve realized that there is definitely a strong connection between particular mental states and how I process pain, and that at times when I’m anxious or depressed, it only makes sense that a whipping wouldn’t feel quite so good as it did last week.

Some of that runs counter to what my conscious mind thinks I need; when I’m stressed, when I’ve had a hard day at work, when I want to escape from the world, I often fantasize about giving up power, surrendering, complete submission. And often, those fantasies involve quite a lot of pain. It seems somehow logical to me that a good solution for stress would involve pain, in part because I’ve sometimes inflicted pain on myself in order to break myself out of difficult mental states, in part because there’s always a strong caretaking element of that sort of play, or at least as I’ve experienced it within a loving, long-term relationship.

But then, maybe all I really want is the caretaking, at times like this. This past week, I was startled at how any sort of pain was completely unbearable for me, the same pain that a week before had me begging for more. It threw me, because I was so desperately wanting some sort of relief from the internal pain and stress and depression, and had expected that heavy S/M play would provide at least some sort of respite. Instead, it seemed to make it worse. So we stopped, and haven’t been playing for the week since then.

And yet, on Sunday, when things were so bad that I shut myself up in my room all day and shook and cried for no discernible reason at all, I eventually turned to pain to make it stop. To still myself. To cut through the fog in my head. And it worked.

I’m still not sure why.

1 comment so far

  1. Curvaceous Dee on

    I find external pain a wonderful relief from my internal (migraine) pain – most of the time. Like you, there are times when I yearn for it, only to find that it hurts rather than helps … and that there is no escape or relief.

    I’m glad that, on Sunday, pain helped you.

    xx Dee

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