noun, often attributive \ˈhelth also ˈheltth\
: the condition of being well or free from disease
: the overall condition of someone's body or mind
: the condition or state of something
Ah, I love m-w.com so much- it’s really come one of my favorite websites on the internet (shhh, please don’t tell M0cojute.com!) Above is a very basic definition of health. In terms of rope bottoming, all three definitions are highly applicable. I particularly like the second and third definition.
Overall, health is something that should be of high concern to everyone, not just rope bottoms. Knowing your health status is ultra important for living day to day. Although, it’s not quite a skill, physical and mental health is something we can all improve with a couple of tips and hints.
So when we talk about health, generally speaking, what are we talking about? For me, it’s important to discuss what health is NOT about. Health is not about being thin. REPEAT, HEALTH IS NOT ABOUT BEING THIN. I think that a lot of society and culture has it heavily ingrained in folks that being thinner means you’re automatically healthier and that couldn’t be more wrong! The emphasis on health, when it comes to rope bottoming, has nothing to do with how much a person weighs. It has everything to do with your lifestyle and mental state.
To me, and to several rope bottoms in my community, health is a combination of the general condition of the mind and body. Good health for rope bottoming would have an overall positive condition; bad would be an overall negative condition. These definitions seem pretty loose and for good reason; general health is something only you can determine of yourself.
My physical health is just a small fraction of my health, but is still incredibly important. I do what I can in order to keep healthy. Small things like staying hydrated, working out regularly, get physical check ups, and sleep. You’d be surprised how things like actually drinking enough water or sleeping a full 8 hours a night will change how you physically (and mentally, but we’ll get to that) feel.
I know earlier I said that preferred the second and third definitions of ‘health’ in comparison to the first- it’s because of the word ‘disease’. Yes, you should not have the flu or suddenly come down with a case of E. bola virus when bottoming in rope. The immune system is too busy fighting off infection, why are you fighting your immune system? When you’re sick, you should let your body rest. The rope can always wait.
(Here comes my rant!)
My problem with the use of the word disease is that BDSM is often equated with sexuality. Diseases equated with sexuality are STDs. You don’t need to be free from STDs to a good rope bottom. I have had many a rope bottom tell me, somewhat apprehensively, that they have z, y, or z STD, as if that would make me not want to play with them. STDs have a really terrible stigma about them, as if a person is dirty or no good for having them. It’s really no different from catching the chicken pox (No, really, look it up, varicella-zoster virus, which causes Chickenpox and Shingles, is a herpes virus. Guess what else is a herpes virus?) While I do appreciate when people tell me these things because it means they’re being honest, it has absolutely no bearing on their skills as a rope bottom.
(end rant, thanks for hanging on for that!)
Physical injuries are something of which to also be aware. Our play party nights often include various other forms of play that may eventually make being a rope bottom more difficult. If I do an intense whipping scene in which my skin is broken, I probably shouldn’t do a rope scene shortly afterward. Anything that takes a toll on the body or mind will affect your ability to bottom in rope. Things to be cognizant about:
- What plans do I have for the rest of the night in terms of rope or other play
- Do I have any broken skin or bruises that will change how rope feels on my body
- What is my mental state like? Am I still in headspace from a previous scene? Will this affect my headspace in rope?
The overall emotional and mental state actually seem to be a bigger part of health that most people forget. Your mental health dictates most of what you do day to day. The difficulty of this is being able to judge your mental and emotional state in terms of playing. It’s such an individual thing- for example, if I’m particularly upset or emotional, I love bottoming for single tails and tears, but absolutely cannot bottom in rope. If my mind is even slightly foggy, if I think I may be slightly manic or depressed, I stay away from playing because I never know how it’ll affect my mental state.
I don’t have much advice for mental health because I am not mental health professional. I highly recommend really getting to know yourself and being aware of how your mood affects your play and day to day life. Things to be cognizant about:
- How am I feeling today?
- How will I feel if I have a rope scene with ____________?
- Am I prepared to handle going into a headspace?
- Am I prepared to handle it if this scene doesn’t go well?
I’m sure there are tons of other questions you can (and should!) ask yourself about. This is a very highly individualized processed, so please do what best suits you!