The Show Must Go On: Working With, And Through, Depression As An Online Sex Worker

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It is late Saturday afternoon and I am still in bed. If I am being honest, I have spent the better part of this week in my bed. Sure, I got coffee, met with my therapist, and even managed to spend an hour or two with friends, but as soon as I walk through the front door of my apartment I always end up back here. This is a pattern that I know all too well by now. It always happens quickly and unexpectedly. 

Sex Work Is Work… And Sometimes, Working Isn’t Easy

Being a full-time sex worker, a financial dominatrix at that, is not always as glamorous and effortless as it can sometimes be portrayed. Scrolling through my Twitter feed, or even sometimes my TikTok feed if a viral video pops up on my for you page, there are countless posts, articles, and podcasts glamorizing financial domination. It’s painted out to be simply as easy as ‘fuck you, pay me.’  It’s anything but.

While there are moments when it feels wonderfully easy, the truth is, any sex worker is still running a business. 

There are multiple components to keeping your business up and running and bringing in enough revenue to survive. Most sex workers I know are on a handful of online platforms, Onlyfans, Loyalfans, Sextpanther, and many more. You’re constantly trying to schedule posts for each platform, respond to messages on every one, and keep your clip stores up to date. 

On top of that, you’re using social media to your advantage and trying to keep up with the ever-changing algorithms to market yourselves and reach a higher audience. All while trying to consistently create new content to keep up with everything else. So what do you do when you are too depressed to get out of bed, let alone sit in front of a camera and produce new content? 

Dominated By Depression

When I am in a depressive episode, it is almost impossible for me to work. My entire job is based around this brand I created for myself and on my lowest days, I don’t want to be “her.” Life, however, doesn’t stop. The bills still become due, so sometimes I force myself to go through the motions anyway. I wash my face, apply my makeup, and do my hair just right.  Wait until the lighting in my bedroom is perfect and then grab my camera. 

Instead of being met with the untouchable confidence this job has offered me at times, I just feel hollow. I take a look at the woman in the camera and she does not look like me. She is not smiling the right way, her body seems to take up more space, and the angles are all unflattering. The positions seem harder to hold, her eyes are dim, and she does not look like someone I recognize. She does not look like someone who wants to be performing. How am I supposed to sell the image if I don’t even believe in it?

Rest Isn’t Just Okay. It’s Essential

I have learned the hard way that forcing myself to create content when I am in a bad headspace can be more detrimental to my health than allowing myself to simply take time off. When I am in a depressive episode, the last thing I want to do is spend hours taking photos and videos of myself and editing them. My deepest insecurities come to the forefront of my mind and nothing I do, nothing I create, will ever be good enough for me in that moment. I will always find something to hyper-fixate on to convince myself that I am not worthy. It is incredibly difficult for me to give myself any kind of grace or kindness and I always end up feeling worse at the end of the day. 

So instead, on those days, I practice doing small forms of self-care. I try to take care of myself, my body, and my mind in any way that I know how. I won’t even open the Twitter app. I allow my automatically pre-scheduled posts to be the only things on my platforms that week. I remind myself that it is healthy to take a break, not just once, but as many times as I need to hear it. I am worthy of rest. 

As hard as it is for sex workers to admit sometimes, my income will inevitably take a hit. This is okay, too. It does not make me a failure. I do not always have to be the best, as long as I am doing what is best for me. 

Finding Myself Again.

This wave will pass eventually. I remind myself that I will smile again. I will apply the red lipstick, slip on my favorite silk robe, wear high heels, film a clip, and not feel like an imposter. I know that I will feel like myself again, even if I couldn’t feel more like a stranger inside my own body right now. Sometimes, if you’ve tried everything else, you just have to sit and wait for it to pass. 

I wish that I could provide an easy answer on how to fix it. Somehow my years of painful experiences, my self-led research, and my endless attempts of trial and error had provided me with some epiphany of how to stop feeling weighed down by my sadness, or at the very least, how to not let it affect my work. Unfortunately, I still do not have all of the answers. Even if I did, I know that it would look different for everybody.

I just have to believe that sometimes, doing our best is enough. It has to be enough.