Porn Stars Are Having a Mental Health Crisis


COVID-19 is creating a mental health epidemic. Suicide numbers are increasing. According to Stat News, opioid addiction and alcoholism are rising, too. Because porn stars are people, too, we are also suffering from mental health problems. You likely don’t know anything about this because porn stars have entered into a pact to keep mum about our mental health crisis.

Porn doesn’t cause mental health disorders, but the stigma surrounding porn can exacerbate pre-existing conditions. If you suffer from anxiety, you might grow more anxious when your job can lead to family tension, judgment from friends, and difficulties with romantic partners. On top of this, when we do suffer, people presume our mental health problems stem from porn. It reinforces the stereotype that we’re all suicidal, abused addicts. So we shut up about our problems.

All mentally ill Americans tackle this issue, and many Americans repress conversations about mental health. Most of our insurance plans even refuse to cover therapists. As my acupuncturist recently said, Western medicine fails to treat the body and mind. If we lose an eye, we take off work and see a doctor. If our mental health suffers, we keep on pushing. Adult performers offer to keep quiet because society already stigmatizes us as sex workers. But our hesitancy to speak feeds into the stigma surrounding our work choices, and that isolation alone can cause mental health problems in our community. I say, “Screw that.”

In the past few months, friends have complained about imposter syndrome because they’re raking in hundreds of thousands on OnlyFans, which they worry they don’t deserve. Other girls feel isolated and anxious because COVID-19 has changed their day-to-day routines.

Take an extrovert like me. Like many girls, I entered porn because I am outgoing and love human interaction, but I have mostly shot alone in my house during the pandemic. Somedays, the only people I talk to are my fans. When they speak to me, they talk to the character I play: the internet’s favorite dirty stepmom. I play along because I love my fans, and most of them know little about my actual life. Other sex workers live life as one person, but I live two lives. On set and on-cam, I am very sexual and perform as a stepmom; off set, I like vanilla sex (sorry to bust your balls, guys, but I’m not interested in stepson roleplay!). Before COVID-19, I played my role on set, then went home and lived my life as who I am. The pandemic has turned my house into a film set. The divide between my persona and real identity sometimes jars me. As a people-pleaser, I now feel obligated to respond to OnlyFans and social media messages 24/7. I lack me time.

Many sex workers have tackled this problem for decades. I know several girls who entered the business at 18. They’re now 34-year-old successful businesswomen, but their fans still want them to act like young women. Every day, these grown-up bosses pretend, “Oh no, I don’t know what to do, daddy,” when they earn way more than anyone’s father. Logically, the duality can increase mental health problems, which are only magnified by COVID-19.

Every day, these grown-up bosses pretend, “Oh no, I don’t know what to do, daddy,” when they earn way more than anyone’s father.

Like many porn stars, I would likely be dealing with mental health even if I wasn’t a sex worker during the pandemic. Long before I entered porn, I suffered from anxiety. The disease—and it is a disease―runs in my family. Some families fight genetic heart conditions; others tackle anxiety. I have succeeded in porn both despite and because of my mental health problems. Thanks to my anxiety, I finish every task before it’s due. I show up on time, and I overperform solely because I worry about disappointing people. At the same time, anxiety can stop me from working. One time, I grew so anxious, I stopped moving. I was frozen, unable to move forward both literally and figuratively.

I sought a therapist. Like millions of people, I learned new coping mechanisms. I meditate twice a day. Multiple times a week, you can catch me on a treadmill, burning off calories and, more importantly, burning away nerves. When anxiety crashes down on me on a shoot, I take deep breaths. I’ve gone through years of realizing what works and doesn’t. I’ve longed to vent to people, but during every mental health crisis, I’ve stayed quiet.

During COVID-19, I’ve worked through every anxiety attack and have yet to take a mental health day. If I broke my leg, I would see a doctor and ask for time off work. I would probably even notify my fans, since they would receive less original content in their OnlyFans newsfeed. I’m working from home while millions of Americans lack employment. How can I justify a day off? When I suffer from anxiety, I keep it to myself. I go to work, put a smile on as I cam, and act like everything is fine. I lie. I’ve worried people would see me as yet another fucked-up porn star. People already presume I was abused as a child because I work in porn, even though I come from an average, upper-middle-class family. But my charade reinforces the stigma surrounding porn stars’ mental health. Today, I’ve decided to stop lying.

I get why porn stars are silent. Publishing this article boosts my anxiety. My anxiety reinforces my silence, which enhances the stigma. By speaking out, I hope to show that a porn star who deals with mental health isn’t a basket case. You’re more likely to see me meeting with my financial planner than catching me drunk falling down the stairs at the Pornhub Awards. Mental health problems don’t determine my fate, and they don’t select yours. I can succeed while battling anxiety. So can any other porn star.

My anxiety would decrease if the stigma surrounding porn stars’ mental health ended. In the short term, writing this article boosts my anxiety. In the long term, I hope it will help to slowly produce the social changes that will help decrease my anxiety. To stop the stigma, we must speak out. After all, my therapist-friends battle depression and anxiety, too. It’s not just sex workers suffering. It’s human beings.



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