I don't need to tell you that we're all currently being heavily tested with that pesky virus still out there. Our towns and cities resemble scenes from a Schlock B-Zombie movie, the few people out there covered in face masks seem to avoid even eye contact.
This isn't even easy for us older kinksters who've experienced the destruction HIV has caused to our communities from the late 1970s onwards. Indeed, this one comes with its own horrors: 'will I get the virus? If I do, will I be fine? How long until the end of lockdown? Will I still be in my job? Will my money last?'. And just like the early days of HIV, there's no vaccine but instead, a lot of uncertainty.
We have all been forced into a life indoors: either on our own, with family, friends, flat mates - but definitely against our will. And that's before we got stir-crazy!
I especially feel for the of members of our community stuck with their homophobic family members in their homes. Or those that might face domestic violence, which is at an all-time high. Should this apply to you, please get in touch: [via the below link] - never forget, you are not on your own, even if it might feel like it.
Obviously, the point of this article isn't to confirm the current miserable situation you're already well aware of, but to offer a few helpful pointers in coping, as we still have a way to go:
1.Focus on the present Structure your days, maintain a daily routine around sleep, food and activities, then try to stick to it. Write down in bullet points all that needs doing for the current day. Strike through when done. Cherish the sense of achievement. Then treat yourself or your boy/puppy - good boy!
Psychologically, especially in times of uncertainty such as now, there's a huge benefit in keeping your mind anchored to the present: case in point, people who suffer from depression usually phrase their sentences like:
"I don't know why I bother, everything I've done so far was for nothing, I might as well leave it and just chuck it in…"
Whereas the language of people who suffer from anxieties tend to sound more like:
"Oh my god! What will I do if x, y or z happens?"
The depressed disputes his past, denies all his life achievements to date - and subsequently his self. The anxious mind lives mainly in the imminent near future, ruminating, soon catastrophizing, feeling too close to the fan, seconds away from the flying splatters of shit.
The perniciousness of depression, anxiety and when being isolated, is that you'll eventually create not only a bigger distance from your present friends, family and society, but in the end to reality itself.
It is only in the here-and-now where we can impose some control on our lives. And the good news is, this can be practised: yes, all of us, independent of ability or age, we all have the power, the agency to change our lives for the better:
start by assigning a daily time where you'll be on your own, sit comfortably, close your eyes and focus say, on your breathing. Your mind will wander off. That's ok. Congratulate yourself that you've noticed it, then bring your attention back to your breathing. Or indeed on parts of your body: entire meditation practises devoted to it (body scans) that centre around our bodily sensations. You might like some audio-guidance, here are some apps I wholeheartedly recommend:
- headspace - mindfulcreation - calm
So, why suddenly meditation and what's it got to do with COVID-19? A key meditation skill people learn, is through the Buddhist principle of non-judgmental awareness. Here in the west, we'd use 'equanimity'. Through meditation, we eventually attain the ability to have positive and negative experiences without grasping at or denying them, but just having a calm acceptance for what they are – basically a mindset that's the opposite of a drama queen.
A positive result of maintaining a bodily focus is that it'll be increasingly easier for you to deflect away from the part of your brain that's active when you feel anxious and towards the ones you'll activate when doing everyday activities.
Practise this, and you'll create neural pathways in your brain, which will enable you to maintain the use of this new skill (which is exactly what it is, like learning French or practicing relaxing your arse muscles for you Dom's arm).
Our brains adapt to every new experience: be it cooking, checking on your friends, checking your supply of meds, polishing your master's boots, focusing on either your breathing or on either gear or toy or you've got on (or in).
Now you know why your parents kept on suggesting to count sheep to help falling asleep, why many religions have prayer beads or us gays stare at our mobiles in our bars - all aid to anchor our attention to the present as opposed to being dragged away by our anxieties.
The point of all this: to bring focus on the things you can change ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serenity_Prayer) and to deflect away from those you can't: fact is, there isn't much in your hands to find a vaccine against Covid-19, but you can use your time to inform yourself to keep sane and healthy.
Simply, we're accountable for our lives. So, it is through our present actions where we can tackle whatever needs resolving, not through our anxious thoughts.
2.Reach out to fellow kinksters on here, to your friends and family, anyone near you It is precisely now, when we're separated by the pathology of a virus where we need to find to each other through the healing properties of our common humanity. It is especially in unprecedented times like these, where we need to break the isolation imposed upon us. So please, don't use recon only as a meat catalogue. Focus on the human ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mensch), the person behind the profile.
There're only advantages here: not only is this about the importance of breaking your current danger of social isolation, but also of increasing the likelihood for you to find Mr. Right (or at least Mr. Right-now). If you want someone to accompany you, start by opening up a path. He'll either go along or might choose not to. But open one up at the first place. So:
- be as transparent as you can (job/family setting allowing) if you can e.g. have a picture - ask questions, show interest. Don't be afraid to express your curiosity, your vulnerability, both are commendably human traits - don't merely message: Hey, Hi, Hot! or Woof! - be specific: what drew your attention? What is it you found hot/woof on his profile? Give the guy something to respond to, he just might return the compliment/interest you showed him, and he might just head towards you in said path - less "back to me!" more "enough about me, how're you doing?"
Because we all want – and need – ourselves to be seen, heard, recognized and validated. It is in our DNA as a species - no, not just homo homosexualis but actually homo sapiens: we are not only dependent on each other but interdependent. Our sanity and survival are intrinsically linked:
"My humanity is inextricably bound up in yours." - Archbishop Desmond Tutu
If we don't have anyone who'll feedback ourselves and our feelings back, we'll lose it - literally: bonds with friends, family and indeed to our self will vanish from our reality. Unsurprisingly, the worse torture methods is putting someone in an isolation chamber.
So please see to keep forging and maintaining your social circles, you'll soon realise the important part you play in another one's life. Trust me, you'll be less likely to feel anxious or depressed after someone expressed his gratitude for you having listened to his worries.
Also, us kinksters are by default a rather sociable/slutty lot so use the technology we have and see to stay in touch with e.g. the Leather Social in London, who meet regularly online.
Not only is the point of Recon/the kink scene to proudly celebrate our kinks and quirks, but this entails also your right to talk about it, to inquire and negotiate. the resulting advantage: nothing needs to be assumed anymore, as your bloke will know about you and your pervy inclinations. Be aware, this'll work the other way too; you are accountable either way to what you commit and consent to. And should you get a 'no mate thanks' then that's just as fine.
Be forgiving and kind to yourself too: it breaks my heart whenever I meet someone from our community who puts himself down. Remember: we're already in a societal minority. If you don't stand by your self and kinks, that minority will be even smaller. So, go out there and keep on forging bonds and experiences.
NOTE: When currently meeting blokes, see to keep any action online for now.
3.Look after your health Sadly, there is still a higher prevalence of smokers in our LGBT+ community. Remember, COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, where the virus goes straight to the lungs, meaning now is the very best time to stop smoking. We also have still a sizeable number of people in our midst whose immune system is already compromised due to either HIV, Hep C or cancer, all conditions that place those affected at a higher risk. Our members of the BAME community are under a higher risk too, its exact reasons are still being researched.
4.Especially when we're all even more prone to have mood fluctuations, keeping hydrated and eating healthily is crucial Aim to maintain a steady intake of greens, fibres, healthy fats and proteins. Don't overdo your sugar intake - you can pig out on the weekends - indeed if you pig out mainly then and eat mindfully in the rest of the week, it'll contribute keeping your eating habits, weight and mood more steady. The same applies to alcohol/recreational drug use: please do not start dabbling just because you're bored, you'll only start forging bad habits you'll struggle weaning yourselves off them.
Another mental health pointer: where possible, always stick to official news outlets like https://www.nhs.uk bbc.co.uk or who.org for any updates on Covid-19. There's simply too much bullshit doing the rounds, most are mere clickbait. Indeed, see to limit yourself to a daily news hour, to keep your mood stable. And practise patience. Remember, this is what it looks like right now. This will eventually come to an end. Till then, keep busy, take good care of yourselves and each day as it comes.
Wishing you all the very best in health, be it mental as physical. Stay horny, stay safe,
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