note: i won’t be talking about dom space/drop, largely because i can’t remember how it feels or how it affected me, as it was a long time ago. my experiences with sub space are much more recent.
i don’t typically talk about my emotional instability. partially because it’s not typically present and thus doesn’t affect the majority of my life and functionality. part of it is dependent on stress, other parts dependent on medication and menstruation. but when it is present, it can leave serious impacts on my relationships with people, how i interact with people, how i respond to the world and my overall functionality. for this reason i do not consider myself emovtypical, even though the majority of the time my emotions lie in a range that society deems typical, i do have episodes where my emotional instability flares and impacts my functionality and ability to interact with the world. i consider it a part of my mental illness, as schizophrenia is associated with emotional instability, and schizotypy impacts both schizophrenic and schizotypal individuals, just in varying degrees or intensities.
of course, the other reason why i don’t like to talk about it is partially out of shame, feeling ashamed of its impact on my functionality, feeling ashamed of the things it results in, how much i can change during such moments and how badly it can impact my relationships with people – and myself. i suspect that there is a reason why i was originally diagnosed with depression – while i don’t consider it an accurate diagnosis, the people that were making that judgment and being in control of my care at the time did not know of the complexities of my mind and its relation to schizotypy, and likely the complexities of schizotypy itself. it is a vast and complicated subject, with many intersections and many misconceptions. neurology is tricky and complex, and not something many know about or understand without professional experience and education with the matter.
all of this probably doesn’t seem like an appropriate precursor to conversation about sub space and sub drop, but it is. because many folks with submissive tendencies  such as myself are neuroatypical and/or emovatypical, and mental disabilities have just as much of an impact on kink activities as physical disabilities do. sub space and sub drop are highly intense examples of this.
i read an article at leather and roses at one point about the connections between sub space and dissociation (note: i cannot vouch for the expertise of the individual writing the article). while i’m unsure of the specifics of their connection, due to my intimate experience with dissociation, i immediately understood the reasoning for relating the two, and can relate to descriptions and similarities as i enter sub space.
sub space, for those who do not know, is a state of mind where a person with submissive tendencies feels the world around them fade away, and the only things that seem to exist are them and the person(s) that they are submitting to. i would liken it to a moment where no desires exist other than to serve, and when one feels like they will go to any means necessary in order to serve in a way asked of them. it is a highly intense moment, rife with pleasure and emotion, a combination of contentment and a lack of anything all at once.
the point here is that while it can be one of the most enjoyable moments of the individual’s kink experiences, one that is frequently sought after or yearned for (even if not actively seeking it), it can also be very dangerous if taken advantage of by an outside source or if not taken care of properly during and after the scene. this is even more important for those of us who are emovatypical, because the emotional peaks can reach incredible levels (think of mania – and then multiply it several times) and then drop rapidly to incredible lows and possibly severe depression. it is a roller coaster of emotion and mental intensity and because of its direct relationship to the individuals in the scene, the scene itself and any instances where it can have an impact outside of these moments (such as 24/7 power exchange lifestyles), must be addressed with utmost care in order to bring the submissive down from high peaks at a careful, steady and controllable pace to help prevent emotional spiraling.
a few suggestions i have from personal experience:
note: do not take these word for word, as everyone is different and thus their responses to scenes, sub space/drop and emotions will be different. all examples are just that, examples, meant to get a person thinking about individual experiences and responses, and thus ideas that will best suit them and their given experiences.
before a scene:
- plan scenes ahead of time in order to adequately prepare for possible circumstances; do not just go into the moment head-first (pun not intended >>) when dealing with mental and emotional complexities because it can leave one caught off-guard should something go off-kilter
- prepare soothing or comforting things for each individual involved for easy access after the scene (or possibly during, depending on circumstance), such as calming scents or hot water ready for a favorite kind of tea.
- plan out ahead of time how individuals participating should respond in given situations such as flashbacks or sudden changes in emotion
- if preferable, only do scenes with people one knows and trusts, and thus individuals who are more likely to know how to respond to unexpected emotional changes (i say if preferable because some individuals may feel comfortable with doing scenes with people they don’t know as well based on rational confidence with their emotional stability, which is perfectly valid)
- if possible, try to keep scenes confined to where the people involved feel both comfortable and familiar
- for subs: if one has prior experience with sub space/drop and how it affects them, take into consideration these effects and behaviors or mindsets that can have notable impact or possible hazardous results (personal example: i dissociate heavily while in sub space, making me less aware of hazardous surroundings, esp. in regards to my physical disabilities. i can also find myself in a mindset where i will be willing to serve even in ways that are triggering for me due to past trauma, thus making me more prone to flashbacks and panic attacks if i pull out of sub space suddenly and realize this connection. i also have a tendency to strip completely, which may not exactly be a viable option depending on things like weather or environment). if possible, let others involved aware of these possibilities in case they need to respond or intervene.
during a scene:
- have options for emergency outs such as safe words/signals, red light/green light (pay close attention to yellow if brought up, as this can be a major flag), or objects at hand to drop, tug or ring at necessary stop or warning points such as a ball or a small bell
- periodically ask for input of the other people involved regarding their overall mental state, to know whether to keep going, to be cautious or to end the scene
- pay attention to possible warning signals or behavioral changes that may indicate a change in mental state in the individuals involved (this tends to be easier with people that know each other well, as every person’s body language and trigger signals are different)
- if someone is in sub space, do not take full advantage of this in hazardous ways. this includes having them submit or serve in dangerous ways or ways that could trigger them, esp. if warning signs have been present prior.
after a scene:
- make use of things that people involved find comforting (some of which can be prepared ahead of time) in order to help bring oneself into a state of calm and contentment
- if applicable, remind the people involved of how one cares about or loves one another to help avoid feelings of loneliness or abandonment that can lead to sub/dom drop
- cuddles and snuggles can be totally awesome here, and help give a feeling of comfort and reminder of care
- do not just stop abruptly and move on to doing something else – this can very easily lead to sub/dom drop as no aftercare is aiding in coming down from the intensity of one’s mental state and the scene itself
but the most important thing i can say is be aware. pay mind to everything around you, both one’s surroundings and the language and behaviors of the people involved. otherwise one can miss important cues that can result in emotional episodes, and they can be harder to respond to. and pay mind to the people’s responses to various things, both during the scene and not, in case one needs to change how they react to episodes or emergencies in case they occur. try to stay calm if possible, try to avoid panic if possible, and remember that people are people that need to be treated with respect, and that everyone is different and has their own struggles to face and what helps with them. they are still the same people you knew before, and being emovatypical is a part of who they are – respect this and treat them that way. and recognize that it’s not a matter of them just being overemotional or oversensitive. it is who they are, an intricate part of their being, and thus a part of their overall wellbeing. they just happen to have kink and subby tendencies to go with it :)
1. the reasoning for this wording is because i do not feel as if sub or dom space are specific to those who identify strictly as submissive or dominant, and thus that they can be experienced by anyone who identifies with submissive or dominant periods such as switches.