Psychological First Aid
Updated: Jul 25
Psychological First Aid: Handling Panic and Understanding the X Drop
Playing with dark emotions necessitates psychological first aid. This aid ensures that all partners feel secure before, during, and after sexual experiences that engage with dark emotions. Supporting your partner requires a level of preparedness in the case that sensations precipitate hurt.
During sexual activity, crossing a line can cause real hurt. Actions or words may trigger PTSD, panic attacks, and rage outbursts. If such shock occurs, emotions must be handled carefully. To manage such a high-intensity stress response, there are several paths to take. First, do not panic. Your panic or worry will escalate the anxiety of others. Instead, you may want to refocus their attention. You can do so by asking them to describe something in the room—this shifts their focus away from their sensations or thoughts and will thus help ground them in the space you are located in. Talk to them. You can describe what is going on in the person’s body and let them know they are not in any danger. Help them re-interpret the sensations as non-threatening. Talk—especially a low, soothing, and quiet voice—stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. Coach them on their breathing. Help the person to take longer, slower, deeper breaths. And in regards to steady breathing, long strokes on the body also stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system and reduce the rate of breathing. With this method, be careful about touch if the person is raging, as long strokes may further agitate them. Take care to understand such first aid before engaging in dark emotion play.
The X Drop, also referred to as the Subdrop or Topdrop, is a term commonly described by BDSM community members as the after-effects of high adrenaline and endorphin rushes. It is marked by post-transcendence emotions—grief, disconnect, emptiness, fear, and bereavement. As the high comes down, deep exhaustion may set in. Aftercare is one such way to lessen the effects of the Drop.
Aftercare for psychological play and the accompanying Drop should be both physical and emotional. Aftercare is, simply put, the time taken between partners to ease out of kinky sexual activities, and it is necessary to provide for the emotional transformations. Aftercare can look like bringing your partner water, a soft blanket, or caressing, embracing, and kissing. It may also look like assurance that nothing done during the scene makes them “perverse” or a conversation about emotions that came up. Aftercare should be negotiated prior to the scene so that all partners understand boundaries—some partners may not be comfortable with what is typically hailed as aftercare, and some may have other needs to be met. Open conversation makes playing with dark emotions more enjoyable for everyone—before, during, and after the sex.