Self grounding with kink.

CW:mental illness.

photography by Holly Stevens

If you want to see the rest of the photos from this shoot, click here

I have a severe anxiety disorder, depression, PTSD and OCD. Many people in my life know this about me, but this might be news to you, reader. See those who only know me on social media really only get the best moments, or at least a hollowed version of the bad. I try to be as open as I can about my mental health, in hopes that you, or someone out there, will know that they are not alone. There are people like you, everywhere. Seeing yourself in someone else is healing and connecting! However, viewing someone’s life through the lense that is social media doesn’t exactly show you how bad the bad can be.

When I got into kink, I never really imagined just how cathartic it could be. The emotions that come from being in a dynamic, doing a scene, or just diving into raw emotion through exploring kink, are groundbreaking. They rock my whole fucking world! The utter high of an impact scene, for both Dom and sub, lead to such intense emotions that often we need after care to process! (In most cases, everyone is different)

In my opinion, The intense highs and lows that come from kink can be extremely reminiscent of highs and lows of mental illness. Personally, the heightened senses & extreme sensitivity to stimuli that can happen for me during a scene, allows me the hyper vigilance to manage a scene in an efficient and safe manor & have a good time. However, when I’m just chilling on my fucking couch, and I have that same level of heightened scenes, and extreme sensitivity to stimuli, that is what a panic attack can look like for me.

Everyone’s panic / anxiety attacks can look different. Mine often look like I mentioned above, this can be combined with an inability to function in a way that makes sense, ie; not being able to say what I need. People closest to me know that when this happens there are certain things that can ground me, and bring me back to reality. But what about when no one else is there? I have different coping mechanisms, sometimes I take medication when it’s just too much to handle, sometimes I just ride it out, but sometimes I use kink, to ground myself.


In my room I keep 20 clothespins on a string, hanging from the wall. I love using them on subs during a scene. The intense, quick sensation is truly exhilarating. You must be very careful tho, in my experience clothespins should only stay on for about 10-20 seconds at a time depending on where you put them. They can stop blood flow, and on certain parts of the body, that’s a nono. Usually I start with my hands, I put them on my finger tips, and the flaps of skin between fingers, and then after about ten seconds I switch them to a new spot. I take breaks for 30 seconds, and then find a new spot. Doing this returns me to my body. The intense feeling reminds me that I have a physical body, and grounds me to my environment. My advice to you is, start with one. Keep on a spot for 5 seconds MAX. Over time once you know your limits, add more pins/seconds.


Ice cubes are another really fun way to do sensation play. They also work really well for anxiety attacks! When the clothespins aren’t doing the job, or maybe I don’t have access to them, ice cubes are a great way to remind me of my physical self. The cold sensation is jarring, just the amount of shock that I need to distract myself from my thoughts.

I usually get a large bowl of ice, or have someone else get it for me. I take one and I just hold it in my hand, letting it melt and drip onto my legs. Sometimes I rub it on my arms or the back of my neck. If someone is there with me I have them run it on my back. That makes me squirm a lot, but the distraction is perfect. I try not to do this for too long, maybe 10 minutes max. Then I’ll usually cuddle up underneath blankets to get warm again.

There are many other ways that you can use kink to ground yourself. My advice is if you have an idea and can execute it safely, try it! It might be a really good thing to keep in your pocket and pull it out at the right time.

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