Libido Lockdown: How Coronavirus Killed My Sex Life
Coronavirus anxiety and the struggle to feel sexy
2020. Year of dashed hopes, ruined plans, social distancing, covered faces, stress and anxiety – plus a renewed appreciation for the NHS and all keyworkers. How did you spend the COVID-19 lockdown? Did you use the time to slow down, listen to your needs, learn a new language, reach your peak of physical fitness, begin a new hobby or craft? …me neither. I don’t know anyone who did, to be honest.
When the UK lockdown started mid-March, the Brits went peak British. We put the kettle on, had a strong cup of tea, mustered the so-called ‘Blitz spirit’, rallied, shook our collective fists at coronavirus, made jokes on Twitter – then went and bought all the bog roll we could get our greedy mitts on. Still not sure why toilet paper is the go-to crisis panic buy, but the factories literally couldn’t churn them out & get them on the shelves fast enough.
After stashing our cupboards with mountains of loo roll (and baked beans and teabags), and playing Beat The Neighbours during the weekly NHS clap, it was time to take a deep breath and attempt to somehow Get On With Life. Ok, so schools were out, and everyone had to try and work from home, unless you couldn’t work from home -and because schools were out, the people who usually worked from home couldn’t actually work from home… but we’d do our best. Positivity and optimism, that’s what we needed.
“See this as an opportunity!” social media posts preached on the daily.
“Use the time to reach your full potential!” bleated countless tone-deaf articles.
None of this was inspiring. All it did was induce dangerous levels of guilt. There’s a difference between trying to stay positive and optimistic, and seeing a global pandemic as a fantastic chance to “become the best you you’ve ever been!“.
I personally spent March, April and May hoovering up comfort food, alternating mugs of tea and wine, masochistically tuning into the daily televised UK government news reports in case there were Important Updates, and rocking back and forth in sheer terror. These were the days, if you remember, when we’d been shunted from our ordinary lives into a dystopian alternate reality where we were suddenly only allowed out for one daily walk round the block.
Mind you, exercise? Furthest thing from my mind. You could keep your Joe Wicks, thanks. It was all I could manage to drag on some clean pyjamas to hang the laundry out in the garden.
As time has gone on, I realise that part of the anxiety I’ve been feeling – aside from the fact that there’s a global pandemic for which there’s no known cure or vaccine as yet – has been the inability to acclimatise to ever-changing ‘new ways of living’. The constant state of flux – with the daily onslaught of expert advice, not-so-expert opinions vomited all over social media and regularly changing guidance and laws to remember – means that my stress levels have been through the roof since March. I’m sure I’m not alone.
This year it feels like everything has changed. I never envisaged that during my lifetime that:
- There’d be such a thing as ‘social distancing’
- That I’d have to strictly limit how many people I invite to my home
- That they’d have to be part of whatever a ‘bubble’ is
- That the politest and most decent thing to do when you see someone on the street is to give them a massive berth
- That I’d have to douse my hands in sanitiser upon entering a building
- That I’d have to regularly cover my face.
This kind of living was for apocalyptic Hollywood movies, set in London or New York, not a rural village in Lincolnshire, England. Films, where heroes save everyone from the impending doom. This stuff just doesn’t happen in ‘real life’. Well, until 2020.
I’m tired of living in ‘unprecedented times’. I very much miss precedented times, thank you very much.
Over spring and summer it’s become clear that this coronavirus, COVID-19, isn’t some whirlwind ‘bug’ which is going to disappear or be banished anytime soon, as we’d all hoped. As time has gone on, the struggle to live with this virus amongst us has intensified.
At the beginning, I rallied with everyone else against this new ‘enemy’. I felt a surge of energy to Do All The Right Things: stay home, stay safe, protect the NHS. Wash your hands. Don’t panic buy. Keep calm and carry on. Since then, the months have dragged on with still no end in sight for this bastard bug which has killed many, forever changed the lives of others, and disrupted the lives of everyone else. There has been a constant assault on our mental health with the likes of contradictory expert statements, changing guidance, differing laws between the nations of the United Kingdom, the mess that is politics, worrying news reports from the rest of the world – plus dealing with seeing others’ stress and anger at the situation, on social media and in the comments sections of news reports. That initial energy has waned. I feel burnt out.
As hard as I’m fighting against coronavirus, by Doing All The Right Things, I’m also fighting every day against being defeatist and catastrophising unnecessarily. Even writing that, my mind instantly retorts, “but is it unnecessary though? You’re living through a global pandemic! THIS IS THE PERFECT TIME TO PANIC!”.
On top of the stress and anxiety, the keeping up with “how we should all be staying safe and being a decent person in times of coronavirus today“, the resisting the urge to buy just one more pack of loo roll and a tin of baked beans while they’re still in the shops, the drowning out of the impending sense of doom and catastrophe and worrying that these may in fact be the End Times by supping perhaps a little too much wine on a regular basis, there’s the guilt.
“You’ve got it so fucking easy,” I tell myself. “How dare you feel this stressed and anxious when you’re ridiculously privileged. You spoilt brat. You can’t cope? With your supportive partner, your healthy children, your lovely garden, your job that was already from home, and countless other blessings that you should be damn grateful for? You’re pathetic. You whining little weakling. Other people have it a lot worse and they’re coping. Wipe your damn face and stop snivelling. Get showered, get dressed, get on with it.”
My feelings are still valid, another part of my brain responds, defensively. Just because other people may have it worse doesn’t mean that I can’t also struggle in a global pandemic. I can recognise my privilege while also finding it all bloody difficult.
Finally, with all of the above in mind: sex. Because yes, appropriately, sex is the last thing on my mind this year. Amazing I know, but living in a dystopian reality where the world is battling both a raging virus for which there’s no known cure or vaccine, and governments which teeter on the brink of war at any given moment, isn’t great for the old libido.
As well as my libido sinking lower than a politician trying to excuse an unnecessary lockdown trip to Durham, various other factors have contributed to my struggle for sex during lockdown.
There was just no time or opportunity.
Yeah, I know we were all stuck at home during lockdown. That’s ideal, you could be forgiven for thinking. You and your partner both work from home, and in the adult industry to boot. Relaxing wanks and saucy quickies are the order of the day!
Well, no. Before coronavirus, we did actually have to work – and I do mean at our desks not between the sheets. Mostly.
This year? With our two boys home instead of at school? Not a chance. Even if I had’ve been in the mood, which I haven’t been. For all the stress & anxiety reasons described, at length, above. Having a bored autistic 7-year-old bouncing off the walls while the teen rages loudly at the Xbox isn’t really conducive to becoming highly aroused.
And even if we did manage to get it on, we’d have to really keep the noise down due to the kids being home. Ugh, parental sex. Now, I’m all in favour of forced silent sex sometimes, when it hasn’t been thrust on to me non-consensually as the only bloody way I’m gonna ever get fucked any more. While trying to blot out the image of Boris behind a lectern every time I close my eyes.
Perhaps some kind of childcare shifts between my partner and I could ease the load, you might reason. Give you a chance to relax a little – oh, and catch up with all that work you’re supposed to be doing every day. Your job, remember that? Best get back to it.
Firstly: our house isn’t that big that merely shutting my office door (yes, I know I’m lucky to have an office and I’m very grateful) means shutting out the squeals, clunks, toys chucked down the stairs, screams of frustration that a device has run out of charge or simply the knowledge that in close proximity to the other side of that door there is a child. My child. Yes, even when it’s his dad’s turn to look after him.
Secondly: I work in the adult industry. My job is to write about sex and sex-related matters. You know what isn’t helpful during this process? A soundtrack that consists of a 7-year-old yelling for more Ribena, biscuits or that he needs to go poop – or worse, that he’s already pooped and missed. Ever so slightly off-putting when trying to write about my latest masturbation experience, spin a creative erotic tale or plumb the depths of sex and relationship advice on the blog.
Because yes, my struggle for sex this year hasn’t just been with regards to feeling in the mood for / having the opportunity to enjoy solo and shared erotic pleasure, there’s been a parallel struggle going on. A struggle to write about sex, to continue my work in the sex industry, to feel inspired and motivated enough to even log into my website never mind create enticing and informative content for my readers.
And again, there’s that guilt. I have a home to work in, I have a partner to collapse into the arms of, I have healthy children, I have a business which ticks over and I don’t have a boss breathing down my neck all the time. Well, other than myself. I’m a pretty tough boss, to be honest.
I’m obviously aware of other people’s differing struggles for sex during lockdown too. Getting any sex at all if someone is single, or just not being able to have physical sex with their partner because they don’t live in the same house. The struggle might not even have been for sex, but craving physical affection. The enforced, extreme social distancing of the severest parts of lockdown meant that physical touch and affection was instantly banned for many people living alone when the new rules disrupted life earlier this year. I can’t even imagine how difficult that was for everyone affected.
Things are slowly starting to change. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, even if it flickers worryingly from time to time.
Here in the UK we can go out when we like now, not just once a day, and for as long as we like. We don’t have to stay close to home. There are various rules and laws we need to adhere to, for the safety of ourselves and others. Distancing, face masks, sanitising our hands, keeping within our social bubbles, not meeting up with more than the allowed number of people.
Children returned to their primary and secondary schools this month, to resume their all-important education, and to allow parents to return to work both to help support their families and to help rebuild the country’s economy. There’s no cure for this coronavirus (COVID-19) yet, but work has started on a vaccine.
This has been the first time since about February that I’ve been able to write, uninterrupted, for my blog. To pour out feelings and emotions on the page and let rip about how all of this has affected me. I’m still processing a lot of it, so I feel like I’ve only really skimmed the surface here about all the stress, tension and disruption this year has created. It has all been traumatising, and continues to be so in a lot of ways. But with the boys back at their respective schools, and quiet returning to our home between 9am and 3pm, I might just be able to get back to doing what I love. Creating informative sex articles and losing myself in creative erotic stories for my readers’ enjoyment.
Hoping those regular relaxing wanks and saucy quickies return in time, too…