Anxiety, Depression, Hypnosis, Distractions
I was talking with a Pro Domme friend the other day, and while we were mainly not talking about work stuff, we did, as always happens in this industry, end up touching on work stuff, and the experience of trance. She told me how, in Skype sessions, she’ll watch for clients as they start to disassociate and pull their focus back, and this got me to thinking about something I’d never put in context of hypnosis before:
My Attention Deficit Disorder!
I also got to thinking about, and this will be covered in another blog very soon, how the kind of person that, generally speaking, most wants to experience a loss of control is fundamentally terrible at doing so just from a skills perspective.
So, let’s talk a little bit about various mental health and neurodiversity issues, cobbled together from person and anecdotal experience, and examine how they can impact our experiences and relationships with hypnosis and being hypnotized.
I think it goes without saying that I’m not a mental health professional, but given the nature of what this is all about, let me explicitly state that I am not an expert on any of this stuff (past functional professional expertise on hypnosis). Now, with that out of the way, let’s get to it.
Attention Deficit Disorder (…hyperactivity optional)
So, the mind’s natural disposition is to wander. This isn’t to say it’s to be unfocused, but as humans our genetic survival was very much a result of our problem solving abilities (and being bipedal pursuit hunters/runners, having strong predatory vision, hands, etc. etc.), so our minds wander because that’s how we find and engage with problems.
Our ability to focus on the application of solving those problems, see also: focusing, is an answer to wandering thoughts and questions, and largely speaking, we’re all pretty good about locking in when push comes to shove (doing things so we don’t die). That said, for some people, as things become more abstract or less immediately present, or demanding of a certain kind of focus on mediated experiences and tasks, it can become hard to maintain that focus.
That is, in a rough kind of way, what Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is, at least for me. There are conversations around ADD about it as a beneficial adaptation, that it could serve a more obvious purpose in different kinds of environments, at least depending on the severity of its presence, which makes a certain sort if sense, especially when it is paired with a seemingly present connection to anxiety, but we’ll get back to that later. For now, I just wanted to through those things out there.
Having ADD is like, “I’m doing something, and if this is important to me it’s all I’m doing, but if I have a break in the process, or care a little less, I’m now engaging with a series of other things not the task I’m set on performing or engaging with, until I can at least cycle through those other problems to solve in my brain and get back to this task which I have clearly defined as a lower priority”.
So when being hypnotized, this can POSSIBLY (keep reading) have some interesting consequences.
Being hypnotized requires a certain kind of mediated focus (you’re not doing a physical task), which by its nature already “can” create a conflicting requirement for the ADD brain, and this is not to say anyone whose mind wanders during the hypnosis experience (see above: it’s what our brains do) has ADD, but it is to offer a though that maybe the ADD brain is more disposed to wandering/disassociating than the neurotypical (non-ADD) brain.
There are a few things that can help with this, and none of them are me saying “take your meds”, but also if you’re on meds, take your meds. Take them on schedule, take them as prescribed, be an adult and take your meds.
The first thing, and this is both the easiest, and the hardest thing to do, is lower your expectations of how hypnosis, works, feels, and what it does to you. One of the biggest, if not the biggest core issue for people who want to and struggle with experiencing trance is an inability to recognize it as it is actually happening because they are expecting a more dramatic result.
This isn’t just for the ADDers out there, “is it working” is a thread we are all inclined to pull on, and in turn unravel the sweater that is the experience we are actually having. We can manage this question both by lowering our expectations and assumptions about what we will or should be experiencing, and also by doing something all of our therapists always tell us to do.
This is a weird thing to say in regards to hypnosis, because of what we assume hypnosis is, and how it is communicated to us, that we turn down our conscious engagement, and being present is being consciously engaged, but our awareness, our observer selves can help us more than us just trying to let things happen.
Hypnosis with another person is like playing catch, and hypnosis by one’s self with a recording is like throwing a ball against a wall and catching it when it bounces back, both use the same motions and have the same actions, but in one of those actions we are the ones with complete control.
So, being present and engaged when being hypnotized doesn’t mean “analyze everything the hypnotist says” because no, that won’t help us at all, it means:
Follow instructions and be aware of what you are experiencing.
If the hypnotist says something like, “notice how easy it can be to just be still as you take a deep breath”, if you take a deep breath and feel the stillness in your body, you’re well on your way to trance. If you ask yourself, “Am I actually still? Why can I ask myself why I don’t just notice I’m still without doing anything?” that’s not being present, that’s being critical.
An uncritical engagement and observation of an action will actually serve to help focus the mind, because both involve active engagement, and that engagement is the act of “catching the ball” in both metaphors up above. This active engagement helps with quieting the passive, problem solving ADD self, or the curious, anxious self (or both), and that will keep you present.
So when paired with lower expectations, you can engage with what IS happening, and as it happens, you start to practice is happening, and practicing good things leads to good habits, or at least adaptive habits, and adaptive habits are essentially how we manage our symptoms etc.
Then, at some point, when we really lock in to going into trance then our hyper focus, our ability to aggressively problem solve/engage with things we prioritize, can be an asset, but you have to get to that point first, and for a lot of us, that takes practice.
Of course, it can be hard to know you’re practicing in a beneficial way, and if wondering if it was working at all wasn’t already enough to deal with, just imagine trying to get that practice time in when you have…
Anxiety (and some depression talk too…)
Anxiety is, practically speaking, engaging with too much, or engaging too much with one thing. What I mean by this is, it’s engaging with things you can’t control, dwelling on uncertainty, being hyper vigilant (we’ll get to this), and all sorts of other shit that makes you worry. Anxiety can be, as I understand and alluded to up above, an off-shoot of/second order effect of ADD, and we’ll talk about it as a discrete thing, but also as it connects in this context.
Being anxious is hard.
It makes you question things, and when you’re questioning something like if you’re being hypnotized, well I think we’ve gone over how that doesn’t help. But there’s another part of it. If you’ve been hung up on being hypnotized, if that’s a source and focus of your anxiety, in that it’s something you really want/have really wanted, then the more you want it to happen, the harder it can be to get.
This isn’t just for people with anxiety, it happens to a lot of hypno-fetishists, though I would hazard that if you suffer from anxiety, as in you’re more anxious than the average person (what is average?), then managing this side of it can be especially hard.
There is no magic bullet for any of this stuff, but the things that help with focus, the lowering of expectations and engagement with what is happening/being beneficially present and not hyper critical, then it starts to answer the questions we have as they happen, but unfortunately there’s no real solution for “OH MY GOD IT’S FINALLY HAPPENING” other than giving yourself permission to enjoy it.
And yeah, that’s a valuable tool in and of itself.
I am giving myself to be present, and to relax.
I am giving myself permission to take deep breaths and focus.
Those kinds of ideas for affirmations and ways to anchor yourself can be valuable tools before, and during a session, especially if you feel your mind wandering and start to feel doubts.
Don’t worry, your mind probably will wander (and if it does, again, it doesn’t mean you’re neurodivergent), it doesn’t mean it’s not working, but the other fun part is that regardless of how often you hear things like that, anxiety is often times married to doubt, and doubt is a self-preservation tool, at least when we can deploy it right.
When we hear any version of “oh no it’s not you,” we’re skeptical, and less prone to be trusting based on our doubts (and past experience etc.) That’s why it takes practice using the tools we have to address our anxiety, and that’s why it helps to think of being able to go into trance as a skill set, and not as something that’s just supposed to happen. When we make it a skill we can develop though our efforts, we take control of it in a meaningful way, and what are hypno-fetishists if not some form of control freak!
It’s also important for the ADD and anxiety crowd to practice these tools, because if you have one or both of those two things (and/or are everyone I know), you are also probably dealing with depression (which might actually be a feature and not a bug these days…).
Sometimes depressive lows happen, this isn’t a question of “how to not have depression”, it’s a recognition that sometimes external forces can and do exacerbate our depression, and that obviously includes our personal experience, especially things we have strong emotional connections to.
People describe depression different ways, for me it feels like I’m empty. Not burnt out, not writers block, just empty, that there’s nothing inside, a therapist I talked to once described it as “trying to fix something that feels wrong, but doing the wrong thing to address it”, and a friend’s therapist described serious depression (which I don’t have) as “ feeling down and not feeling like there’s any hope”, so it takes on a lot of faces and feelings, but it all seems to circle back to a sense of wrongness.
So, what’s wrong with us if we can’t even be hypnotized when, “There’s no such thing as a bad subject”?
What kind of weird outlier human failure does that make us when this thing that’s supposed to work with everyone, because if there’s no such thing as a bad subject shouldn’t we be able to be hypnotized by someone we really want to hypnotize us, doesn’t work?
Yes, saying that does put the emphasis on the hypnotist, but that’s not what it does in application, at least not if you have depression and/or anxiety. The doubt kicks in, and you think it sounds like a stupid platitude, or you blame yourself for not being the right fit for the person you want to hypnotize you, and then we’re off to the “I feel bad and I’ll never get what I want” races.
And yes, the way we address these issues is the same way we address the other stuff we’ve talked about, lower expectations, and being present in a meaningful and uncritical way.
But there has to be something else to all of this…
Why We Can’t Let Go
Can’t is a powerful word, and it implies a permanence or hard limit to things. It gets a bad wrap in the “let’s re-frame things” world, but that’s because can’t has a specific utility in language, and needs conditions.
“I can’t do it” is a very final statement.
Me, I can’t go on rollercoasters, because heights scare the fuck out of me, like they paralyze me. I have a genuine crippling phobia of heights.
I also taught martial arts for six years (trained for longer), and I spend a lot of time talking about the idea of learning how to do things, and the difference between, haven’t learned, good, bad, and can’t.
If you haven’t learned how to do something, then you can’t do it.
If you you’re learning how to do something, you can’t do it badly, because doing it well requires a level of knowledge/practice you don’t have yet.
Being bad at something means you’re not good at it yet, that you don’t have a natural disposition for it, or you have a low to non-existent upwards skill, aptitude, or even interest in it.
We all start or are “bad” at plenty of things, but bad, just like can’t, has context, so yes, you can be bad at letting go, and yes you can be a bad subject, just like you can be bad at juggling, or cooking, or have bad hand writing.
How all of this ties in with ADD/Anxiety/Depression is also how it ties in with being in Femdom Erotic Hypnosis, because the people that want to let go the most, us, tend to be the worst at it. I had a therapist tell me that what we do in submission is something we don’t/can’t do in our day to day lives, and I’ve been chewing on that for a while.
Let’s say you’re into physical bondage, okay, you get tied up, you get spanked, whipped, etc. and that’s you letting go. It’s a little easier in that it’s more immediate and more tangible, and I’m not saying there’s no skill involved in it, but it’s much less conceptual in practical application than “learn how to let yourself be hypnotized”. Of course the downside is that you need another person etc. to do it, and you can basically “only” do it in physical space, but we’re veering off point here…
In submission, you’re learning to let go, you’re learning to surrender, and if you have any/all of the stuff we’ve been talking about, those are things you have to learn to manage on top of the actual act of learning how to submit in a much more internal and high concept way. In short, you’re going to also learn how to be patient with and fair to yourself, unless you find someone you really click with who just blows you away… and… realistically speaking, even then you’re still doing to have to put the work in on yourself.
And you know what, that might be a bummer, but it’s not a bad thing.
Now in closing I want to offer this.
Nothing I’ve said is a universal, nothing I’ve mentioned up above is a catchall, and it wouldn’t be fair to you, or to me to assume it was. I can’t emphasis enough how I am not a mental health professional, and how what I’ve shared is either personally anecdotal, or shared anecdotal content. It’s also not here to make you look at any hurdles in your way and make you think, “well shit, I can never be happy”, because if you’re reading this and thinking that, that’s the depression (or that fatalism) talking.
We, each of us, have the ability to get to where we want to be. We’ll probably need help, and we’ll probably need practice, but as long as we lower our expectations, stay mindless in the right way, and work on it, we’ll get there.