When I see clients who are brand new to BDSM, I always have a quick talk with them before they leave the dungeon about what to expect regarding sub drop. However, I think that many would benefit from some planning ahead for their comedown. Many of the newbies I see haven't ever heard of sub drop- it isn't featured in FemDom porn after all! They are surprised to hear that they may experience any negative effects following play and most expect that they will be immune to it. I can always tell how badly a person will drop based on their mental state at the end of the session and the majority of those I play with do experience it to some degree because of the authenticity and immersion that are integral to the way I play.
You have probably heard of the concept of subspace, which is an altered state of consciousness achieved during play that involves a power dynamic. Subspace and sub drop are neurochemical processes- that is, they happen because of chemicals in the brain that are released during play. Unfortunately there is a serious lack of legitimate scientific research on these processes, but we can speculate what's happening based on what we already know about the neurochemical processes related to pain, sex, and intimacy. Since sub drop is really just the comedown from subspace, it's important to first understand what happens in the brain during subspace. During intense BDSM play (whether it is emotionally intense or physically intense), the brain is flooded with Dopamine, Nor-Adrenaline, and Endorphins. The type of play and intensity determine what neurochemicals are released. Endorphins are responsible for a feeling of calmness, reduced pain, and euphoria because they bind to opiate receptors and quite literally make you feel high. This is what most people are referring to when they describe "subspace". Nor-adrenaline increases awareness of sensory input and reduces pain, while amplifying other sensations, which can obviously also cause euphoric feelings. Dopamine is released in response to both painful and pleasurable stimulus and increases the pleasure felt as a "reward" to an activity (for example, dopamine is released when you eat something tasty, or when you take most addictive drugs).
In addition to those chemicals, oxytocin also likely plays a role. This hormone is released during arousal and sex, among other things, and is responsible for the feeling of "love", increased trust, and closeness with another person. This is what helps you bond to your Domme.
With all these chemicals flooding your brain, you experience the high that is referred to as subspace. Time seems to both slow down and speed up at the same time, and your focus is entirely on your Domme and the experience you're sharing. You feel floaty, and any thoughts of life outside the session fall away. It's wonderful! Unfortunately all good things must come to an end, and as your brain attempts to return to normal a few things happen:
You've used up all your feel good chemicals! Our brains have limited amounts of these chemicals that can be released at a time, so once they wear off you aren't just back to normal- you're operating at a deficit for a period of time. This is part of what makes you feel low energy during sub drop and why you may feel a loss of pleasure in things you normally enjoy.
When oxytocin drops off after a huge release, you lose the feeling of closeness you felt and may feel lonely, abandoned, and empty in contrast.
All those endorphins binding to your opiate receptors made you feel euphoric and reduced your pain levels, but when they're all used up you may feel a general sense of dysphoria. You may feel physical and emotional discomfort, increased pain (especially if you engaged in painful play such as an ass beating), and just in general feel awful in a way that's hard to describe.
You might experience a small drop in blood sugar and body temperature along with your sub drop, especially if pain play was involved.
You may experience cognitive difficulties- stumbling over your words, difficulty connecting thoughts, lack of focus or inability to pay attention, general brain fog or a feeling that your brain is empty or jumbled.
Irritability and frustration when presented with complex or involved tasks is likely.
So what can you do about all of this? With time, most submissives develop a routine to comfort themselves during this unpleasant aftermath. Different things work for different people, but here are some general tips that seem to work for most people:
Eat some chocolate (or something else with sugar, but chocolate is especially good)
At some point when you are ready, eat a big decadent meal. You may want to have a favorite meal of yours pre-made for after the session, or order some delivery. The easier the better
Get cozy! Make a nest of blankets or put on your favorite plush robe. This will help you stay warm and also help you feel comforted
Don't plan any stressful or involved tasks for after play. Set aside time to just lay around and rest
Watch a feel good movie or a silly, mindless TV show. This will keep your brain occupied in a positive way
Cuddle with your pets or loved ones
Talk to your Domme or a friend about the session. I find this to be the most helpful. Reliving the fun you had and getting to talk about it after the fact can alleviate a lot of the emotional effects of sub drop and help you to feel like it was worth it
Reach out to your Domme for reassurance. It's normal to feel guilty, shameful, or unsure of whether you did a good job after play. Hearing Them tell you that you did well is incredible helpful
Be patient. It will take some time to return to normal and you can't force it. Trying to do so will only make it worse, so just accept that this is the price of all the wonderful things you experienced and wait for it to pass
Spend some time in nature and get some sun the next day. Sit by the water somewhere peaceful or go for a leisurely stroll on a wooded trail
Spend time with friends the next day. Perhaps make plans to have lunch with someone you are close to
Do something that makes you feel accomplished, proud, powerful, or particularly intelligent. This can help you to regain some of the power you handed over during the session and feel like a competent person again
Take a warm bath. This can also help to soothe any sore muscles or bruised areas that may be bothering you from unusual bondage positions or impact play
Try to avoid drugs or alcohol since your brain is already operating with a deficit of many of its feel good chemicals. These things can really compound the problem and make it worse or make it last longer
Basically you just want to focus on pampering yourself and engaging your senses in calming, decadent ways and keep stress and complexity to a minimum. Treat yourself like a child and try to do things that appeal to your childlike senses and needs. That may sound silly but in My experience sub drop reduces us to a level of vulnerability many haven't felt since they were a child, and framing your feelings and needs in that way can help you understand how to best take care of yourself. I hope that this blog helps you to prepare for some of the things you may experience and has inspired you to think about what might work best for you personally when dealing with sub drop!