Flickr // CC
So I’ve been wanting to write about this topic for a while…
There’s often talk about the apparent correlation between kink and mental health issues. In the general population, roughly 1 in 4 of us will have a mental health issue of some sort, at some time. The most common tends to be depression or anxiety based. I count myself among those who have (and in my case, continue to) suffer.
For me, I started to experience what was later diagnosed as depression and anxiety probably around 10 or 11 years old. Some might think that’s early, though a surprising number of people do experience very early problems with mental health disorders. As of now, I am 23 and still battle against my demons.
Whether or not there is a higher incidence of mental health problems in the fetish community is hard to say as any evidence would be anecdotal at best, as no studies have been conducted nor numbers assessed. However, anecdotally speaking at least, there does seem to be at least a loose correlation – in my experience – that suggests such issues do seem to have a higher rate of incidence amongst the kink sceene.
As many psychological movements in the world still categorise elements of kink as being themselves hallmarks of variant forms of mental illness, some would likely argue that the connection may suggest kink could be a disorder or ‘sickness’ as it is at times seen in the vanilla world to be.
Recently, though, I have been thinking more about alternate reasons why this may be.
From a young age we are raised (generally speaking) in a vanilla world. This world is still broadly speaking, not especially sex positive, and even more critical of “deviant” sexual needs and wants. From as early an age as we develop these desires, we hear that they are not healthy. For some of us, we establish vanilla relationships and go about our lives often surpressing part of who we are. I believe this to be unhealthy behavious; as to deny a part of yourself can only bring pain and sadness.
I have found personally, that as i feel my kinkiness is an integral part of who I am and that those needs and desires are as strong as my needs for sex in general, for social contact and friendship, that if those desires are surpressed for too long a time I do find my stress increasing, my mood descending and my ability to cope with the world at a low.
Perhaps a correlation between a kinky self-identification and mental health problems could be traced to having to mould and shape ourselves to fit a world unforgiving of BDSM?
All in all, be true to yourself and you may be surprised at how good it feels.