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Sex Worker Burnout

Sex Worker Burnout

Escort Burnout blog title image

Burnout : A by-product of fucks given…

I’m going to cut to the chase. I’m currently suffering from sex worker burnout.

“Burnout” is a term that is thrown around a lot. It looks and feels different to everyone, and comes in various different levels of severity, but make one thing clear; no one is immune. Sex workers are especially susceptible, and I like to think of it as a superbug strength strain of burnout. But even though sex worker burnout is next level, it isn’t always easy to detect in another person.

Those close to me would be able to see that I haven’t been myself. I haven’t really been active on social media, I haven’t been working as much as I want to – or feel I should. I don’t go out of my way for anybody or anything. This is what I call hibernating.

For those of you who aren’t close to me, “hibernating” is my coping mechanism for burnout. Sex work burnout or otherwise.

Hibernating works a treat for getting through the hard times. When I say hard, I don’t really mean life and death HARD. I just mean first world problems “hard”. Stressful and busy, low grade, fever level of pressure to stay on top of what each day brings. The times when things that you usually have the energy for seem like way too much effort.

No matter how you look at it, feeling exhausted by everyday stuff isn’t fun. My pile of dirty washing gets bigger as my UberEats bill gets longer. The number in that little red bubble on my phone that counts unanswered contact from the outside world haunts me. It goes from single, to double, to triple digits. And still, my “fucks left to give” for those things gets smaller by the minute. That stuff just doesn’t matter when I’m hibernating. When I have escort burnout.

These periods of escort burnout also put a lot of stuff into perspective. Needs versus wants, necessary versus unnecessary; what is actually important comes to the surface. Being a dangerously self-reflective person, I always find this part interesting. Not just for escorting, but for my whole life in general. 

As humans, we go back to our default settings when under stress, or when going through something unsettling. That’s when you really get the chance to look at your life and choices under a microscope.

My periods of sex worker burnout have taught me an incredible amount about myself. About the base, true, real person underneath it all. Sure, it shows me my demons, but they aren’t even that bad when you boil them down. It unearths the root cause of why those demons come out to play in the first place.

Admittedly, I have been through much more burnout because of my chosen profession. Escorting is a unique career with its own physical and mental demands. Similarities, if not parallels, can be drawn with the work done in professions like manual labor, therapy and the military. But if call centre workers or chartered accountants can also experience burnout, it is a broader issue worth talking about.  

Escort Burnot Escort responsibility

In my opinion, “burnout” is an emotional version of over-training at the gym.

You can easily over-work a muscle, or over-train physically. From this point, you fail to see any progression. When you continue to ignore the need for a break, your body will take over. In sport or physical exercise, you get injured, which forces you to take a season on the bench to recover. Even if you haven’t played a sport or worked out physically enough to experience that, everyone has been through something similar. Maybe your body forced you to take some down time after a particularly stressful period at work, by getting sick. You might even get sick at the beginning of a holiday that you really need. When you work extra hard to make it through to that holiday, holding out for a break, your immune system has been working overtime to help you keep your shit together. Eventually, somethings gotta give!

The type of sex worker burnout I’m suffering from currently, and have the most experience with, is brought on by emotional factors. Over-working my emotions or my emotional state can happen anywhere and everywhere. In addressing my own issues, the complicated lives of family and friends, or in lending a compassionate ear on a regular basis to my escorting clients who value our emotional exchange as much as the physical.

I mention it in my bio, and it’s true. I invest a lot of energy into the relationships I have with my clients. Without a doubt, an exhausting choice, and arguably a bad business decision, but so be it. Although I have a lot of personal and professional pride in the way I run my business, sometimes I wish I didn’t care enough to get to this point. Yet, since I haven’t found a way to do that, I continue the only way I know how. 

Being an escort is often more about being a friend, confidante, partner, listener, problem solver, and sometimes just a patient sponge for whatever excess emotion or energy someone can’t contain themselves – than it is about satisfying a simple sexual need for release.

For me, being an escort is more emotional and mental, than it is anything physical.

Escort Burnout You are no less of a person for suffering

When I started escorting, it was this emotional and mental aspect that took me by surprise. As a “newbie”, or “baby hoe”, even if you were lucky enough to have something of the above explained to you, the extent of it would still feel like a slap in the face.

I “burnout” more while escorting than I would have in other careers because I use the same social skills, and offer the same moral support (even if it is just from time to time, or in smaller amounts) to clients as I do with my friends and family.

Before I was an escort, I found supporting others exhausting at times. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t. And there is no way I could maintain a friendship circle as long as my client list. Then, all of a sudden, you have friends and clients. And the balancing act begins.

I also have to add, that as a client of escorts, whether you have accepted it within yourself or not yet, you are looking for something.

I joke that my clients come for the blowjobs and stay for the connection. That may be a crude way of putting it, but I think it’s somewhat true. If you are a client and reading this, thinking “I only want the sex”, don’t disagree with me just yet…

“Looking for something” doesn’t have to be as deep and meaningful as search for a new best friend and soulmate. It could be as simple and satisfying as wanting to feel sexy again after a hard break up, or weight gain, or the birth of a child.

It could be “looking for” the chance to hang out with someone hot and fun – without all the stress and expected time commitment that comes with stereotypical dating. This is why I often meet clients who work in demanding professions, and who are time poor where recreation and fun are concerned. Even if you don’t have the wherewithal to meet weekly, you can still be “looking for” someone to ask how your day went, or someone to actually listen, “looking for” a day where it can just be about you, or “looking for” someone to actually see you. 

The biggest one, but also the most shrouded in confusion is “looking for what you are looking for”. The journey of discovering what is missing, or which box remains unticked.

We are expected to find whatever it is that someone is looking for almost instantly when they turn up at our door. After we find it, we have to figure it out, and then fill that mould or shape our service (to some degree) to fit that. On the fly, and within an hour sometimes. This is another issue altogether, and I will write about it later, but that highly cognitive and emotional work out is another factor that brings on burnout for an escort. 

Escort Burnout Looking for something

There is a large amount of responsibility in the role of an escort, which is not often acknowledged.

For me, escorting has always been more than a job. Yes, there are professions that involve aspects of emotional investment which may also become draining. I am not in any way trying to shrug off how hard this investment is in any job. But I am touching on the fact that councillors, therapists, psychologists, life or business coaches, advisors, teachers, doctors, and so on, are all taught, in one way or another, ways of dealing with this emotional toll so that it doesn’t adversely affect their health or professional success. We, however, are not.

There is proof of how detrimental it can be to an individual’s mental health when they can’t switch off. Good training for these professions comes with distancing, self preservation and self-care techniques. They “burnout-proof” themselves as much as possible, although you can never avoid it completely.

Escorts are not taught this, nor are these inherent skills that everyone can figure out without guidance. I wish that young or inexperienced sex workers were more prepared to be be really capable of understanding what sex work entails. Sometimes, the emotional factors are invisibly tucked between the crisp $50 notes, only to be dealt with later.

… While writing what I felt was going to be an informative and reasonably upbeat account of my current mental state, this post took a dark turn and I didn’t mean it to…

OK. I’ve gathered myself. Let’s get back to the point.

Regardless of gender, race, profession, country of residence, appearance, IQ or EQ, burnout is a sign that you care.

It’s a sign you invested yourself in something to the point where your own wellbeing became a second-tier priority. You are or were so determined to achieve  – whatever it was, for whatever reason – that you lost track of your ability to see you needed time off. A mental health day, a holiday or even a change.

You are no less of a person for suffering it.

In fact, without glorifying burnout, especially sex work burnout – which would be dangerous and senseless – you should be proud of yourself for giving, enduring or achieving whatever it is that you have been through recently.

Take a seat. Have a wine, or a chocolate bar. Cheers to you. It’s your turn now.

Burnout of any kind, but especially sex work burnout is a sign you should invest in yourself more. It’s a sign that you deserve some time out.

Escort Burnout Self preservation is not selfish

Burnout is there to force you into a period of recovery. And it’s shit so hopefully, you will learn to notice the warning signs a little earlier next time.

You already know that when I’m burnt out, I hibernate. But when the sex worker burnout fever breaks and winter is easing, I finally start to see my demons in the daylight. They may be ugly but they are mine, so warts and all, I take them for a beer. I also invite all the wonderful parts of me too; my best intentions, my high personal standards, my sheer capability. They are all factors in how I got to the point of exhaustion.

Sitting around a table, I look at myself dissected into parts. Some are personality traits, some are scar tissue, some fears and some triumphs. I proudly pick my poison, and then I indulge in a massive celebration. I celebrate that I gave enough fucks about something, someone or everything in my life that I almost fell apart. Although I suffered, I’m still here, and the positives come when you figure out why. So during that party, I reflect, learn and laugh as much as I can.

When dawn comes and the clean up begins, I start to pack all those parts of me back inside. This time, in a different order. Power and priority seating goes to different characteristics, my troublesome traits get moved to the back.

Lastly, I remind myself of the safety briefing on an aeroplane. There are two parts worth remembering.

1.

“If an oxygen mask falls from the compartment above, please place it over your nose and mouth, and continue to breathe normally.”

This reminds me that…

Sometimes you will need help. Accept it when you need to. Put procedures in place for the future. Breathe, and everything will be ok.

2.

“Ensure you put on your own mask before helping those around you”

This reminds me that…

Neither I nor you are able to be there for anyone else if we aren’t breathing. You can only give, help or achieve – whether that is for your employer, your spouse, or your clients – when you look after yourself first.

Self-preservation is not selfish, it’s actually the most generous thing you can do for those around you.

Practice being good to yourself. Practice self-care. Only when your burnout is over, and you are back in your best form, can you continue to give in the way that really fuels that fire in your soul. The fire that has been missing recently.

Trust me, when burnout is over it will come back.

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