I have been considering writing about this topic because I wanted to give my own perspective on how kink can help people with Fibromyalgia. I think it’s important to talk openly about the ways that sex helps us — especially sex outside what can dubiously be defined as ‘normal.’ There are plenty of people who will talk about how they believe an open and free sexuality to be destructive, so we need as many voices saying the opposite as we can.
As stated above, I have Fibromyalgia, a poorly understood chronic pain condition. It causes severe muscle pain, and thanks to its buddy Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (which is probably just another side of the same condition) sleep disturbances, lack of energy and sometimes mental confusion (the infamous “fibro fog”). My condition varies from day to day, but it is difficult to impossible for me to work most jobs and I am almost always in some, often significant amount of pain.
The most obvious benefit that kinky behavior has for me is honestly the one I am least interested in writing about here — endorphins. Yup, those happy little brain chemicals that get released from pleasure, pain, and exercise are great for me, providing intense relief that’s better than anything I’ve ever taken from a pharmacy. When I am submitting to someone, or otherwise experiencing consensual pain and intense sensation, it can distract me from the bad pain in my body. The act of submission — in its deepest, most psychologial form, is an act of meditation, a loss of focus and control that can be deeply relaxing and therapeutic.
But as a switch — someone who can either dominate or submit or move fluidly between the two extremes — I can experience another side of this dynamic. It’s these more subtle gifts from kink that interest me the most right now. Dominating someone is a kind of meditation too, and I enter a kind of ‘dom space’ where I focus on them so intensely that my own aches and pains become far less important (at least up to a point). More than that, however, I have been coming to realize the deep benefits I receive from being served.
The thing is, I am a very independent, strong-willed person. I like to do things for myself, when I can. At the same time I’m a very nurturing person — I love to cook, to listen, to give advice when asked for it, and to otherwise see to the needs of others around me. I know that, as a hedonist, my happiness depends on the happiness of those around me and I do what I can to cultivate that. As a result, however, I sometimes have trouble asking for help when I need it. Even after decades with this condition, it is still hard to accept on my bad days that this strong, otherwise essentially healthy and still youthful body, is simply unable to do what I want it too. It’s all too easy for me to force myself to do more than I should when I’ve run out of “spoons.” This can easily lead to a self-destructive spiral where I try to do too much, and find myself with less and less to work with until I crash.
Yet I am coming to realize how different this can be when I am spending time with one of my service-oriented submissive lovers. For someone who really enjoys doing for me and pleasing me, I can actually nurture by making them do stuff. The act of doing something for me is deeply pleasing to such a sub, and this in turn makes me happy and keeps me from overexerting myself. This can be as simple as asking for another refill on my drink from the soda fountain (saving me from a walk across a restaurant that is painful on some days) or as detailed as asking that the groceries be put away and dinner started while I lie down.
For some reason this is still a difficult lesson for me to learn, and I still catch myself, for example, lifting that heavy box when I know I shouldn’t and I know it’s well within the abilities of my pet. Little by little I am reprogramming myself to ask for more help and I think it’s making me a more skillful dominant too, better able to please my lovers. Just like people can villify sex, it’s also easy to talk about the ways a submissive benefits from a BDSM relationship — it’s often heard in the scene that’s it’s ‘really all about the sub,’ but it’s of course much more complex than that. And if it works, both sides learn and benefit.
Of course, fibromyalgia also presents its own challenges when it comes to sex and kink, but that’s a topic for another post.