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Mental health among adult performers has been a recent topic of discussion — and for good reason. In late 2017, after the death of multiple stars, the industry seemed to finally get real about such issues. As a survivor of a suicide attempt in 2012, XBIZ invited me to share my outlook on this topic with the rest of the industry.

An alarming one in five adults in the United States deals with mental illness and yet it is rarely talked about openly in any industry, let alone porn. As performers, our job is to be a sexual being, a perfect fantasy. When we talk openly about the fact we’re depressed, it can ruin the illusion. This could contribute to why a lot of people keep quiet about their struggles. Not only is it “not sexy” to talk about mental illness, we work in such a competitive industry that it’s hard not to worry about being judged. “What if directors think I’m crazy? I’ll stop getting booked for scenes and be blacklisted. No one will hire me and I’ll be broke.” These are very real thoughts.

How do I know this? Because I was once in the same position, addicted to cocaine and an alcoholic. I was far from mentally stable. I was using substances to numb the pain I felt internally. When I was drunk or high, I would temporarily forget about my problems and be able to put on a happy face. It wasn’t until I decided to get clean and sober that I realized I would have to face my demons head-on.

The pressure we face as performers is undeniable. Our entire bodies are on display for the world to judge. We get hired based upon our looks. Fellow performers can often be catty or form cliques. It can feel like high school all over again.

When award season comes, it’s hard not to be affected mentally. If you’re not nominated, it’s crushing. It feels like you aren’t good enough, that you’re not appreciated, and that you’ll never be noticed. If you do get nominated and then don’t win, it can be crushing as well. Porn is a tough world and you have to have thick skin to mentally survive.

I want to be completely clear: I do not think porn is to blame for mental health problems, but I do think it can definitely have an effect on someone who is already prone to mental health issues.