VSOVID-19 is creating a mental health epidemic. The number of suicides is increasing. Opioid addiction and alcoholism are also on the rise, according to Stat News. Because pornstars are people too, we also suffer from mental health issues. You probably don’t know anything about it because the pornstars made a pact to keep quiet about our mental health crisis.
Pornography does not cause mental health problems, but the stigma surrounding pornography can exacerbate pre-existing conditions. If you suffer from anxiety, you strength become more anxious when your job can lead to family tensions, judgments from friends, and difficulties with romantic partners. On top of that, when we are in pain, people assume that our mental health issues are from pornography. This reinforces the stereotype that we are all suicidal and abused drug addicts. So we keep quiet about our problems.
All Americans with mental illness are tackling this problem, and many Americans are cracking down on conversations about mental health. Most of our insurance plans even refuse to cover therapists. As my acupuncturist recently said, Western medicine does not treat the body and the mind. If we lose an eye, we quit work and see a doctor. If our sanity suffers, we keep pushing. Adult artists offer to shut up because society already stigmatizes us as sex workers. But our reluctance to speak out fuels the stigma surrounding our work choices, and this isolation alone can cause mental health issues in our community. I say: “Fuck you”.
Over the past few months, friends have complained about impostor syndrome because they make hundreds of thousands on OnlyFans, which they fear they don’t deserve. Other girls feel isolated and anxious because COVID-19 has changed their daily routine.
Take an extrovert like me. Like a lot of girls, I got into porn because I’m outgoing and enjoy human interactions, but mostly filmed at home during the pandemic. One day the only people I talk to are my fans. When they talk to me, they talk to the character I play: the internet’s favorite dirty mother-in-law. I play because I love my fans, and most of them know little about my real life. Other sex workers live as one person, but I live two lives. On set and on camera I’m very sexual and I act as a stepmom; off set, i love vanilla sex (sorry to break your balls guys, but i’m not interested in stepson role play!). Before COVID-19, I played my part on set, then I went home and lived my life as I am. The pandemic turned my house into a movie set. The gap between my personality and my true identity sometimes confuses me. As a pleaser, I now feel compelled to respond to OnlyFans and social media posts 24/7. I miss I time.
Many sex workers have grappled with this problem for decades. I know several girls who entered the business when they were 18. They are now successful 34-year-old businesswomen, but their fans still want them to act like young women. Every day these adult bosses say, “Oh no, I don’t know what to do, daddy,” when they make way more than anyone’s dad. Logically, duality can increase mental health issues, which are only magnified by COVID-19.
“Every day these adult bosses say, “Oh no, I don’t know what to do, daddy,” when they make way more than anyone’s dad.“
Like many pornstars, I would likely struggle with mental health even if I weren’t a sex worker during the pandemic. Long before I got into porn I suffered from anxiety. Illness – and it is an illness – is rampant in my family. Some families fight genetic heart disease; others tackle anxiety. I have been successful in porn despite and because of my mental health issues. Thanks to my anxiety, I complete each task before it is due. I show up on time and outperform only because I’m afraid of disappointing people. At the same time, anxiety can keep me from working. I once got so anxious that I stopped moving. I was frozen, unable to move forward both literally and figuratively.
I looked for a therapist. Like millions of people, I have learned new coping mechanisms. I meditate twice a day. Several times a week you can catch me on a treadmill, burning calories, and most importantly, burning my nerves. When anxiety overwhelms me during a shoot, I take deep breaths. I’ve spent years realizing what works and what doesn’t. I wanted to talk to people, but during each mental health crisis, I remained silent.
During COVID-19, I worked through all the anxiety attacks and have yet to take a mental health day. If I broke my leg, I would see a doctor and ask for time off. I would probably even let my fans know as they would receive less original content in their OnlyFans news feed. I work from home while millions of Americans are out of work. How to justify a day off? When I suffer from anxiety, I keep it to myself. I go to work, smile when I walk in and act like everything is fine. I lie. I’m afraid people will see me as another fucked up pornstar. People already assume that I was abused as a child because I work in porn, even though I come from an upper middle class family. But my masquerade reinforces the stigma surrounding the sanity of pornstars. Today I decided to stop lying.
I understand why pornstars keep quiet. Publishing this article increases my anxiety. My anxiety reinforces my silence, which reinforces the stigma. By speaking out, I hope to show that a pornstar who deals with mental health is not a basket affair. You’re more likely to see me meet my financial planner than catch me drunk falling down the stairs at the Pornhub Awards. Mental health issues don’t determine my fate and they don’t choose yours. I can be successful while battling anxiety. Just like any other pornstar.
My anxiety would decrease if the stigma surrounding the mental health of pornstars ceased. In the short term, writing this article increases my anxiety. In the long run, I hope this will help slowly produce the social changes that will help decrease my anxiety. To end the stigma, we need to speak up. After all, my fellow therapists also fight depression and anxiety. It’s not just sex workers who suffer. They are human beings.
#Pornstars #mental #health #crisis