A lot of people think camming is easy money. It’s not. But it is flexible.
And when it comes to dealing with mental illness, flexibility is key. Human minds rarely work in rigid patterns – especially not disordered minds. While in school, just knowing that I had to show up gave me panic attacks. I wanted to succeed – I just didn’t know how in a structure that rigid.
Having dealt with mental health issues my whole life, I dropped out of high school at sixteen after trying desperately to keep up with both school and nursing my brain. In hindsight, dropping out of high school was one of the best decisions I ever made. At the time, it further convinced me that there was no place in the world for someone who couldn’t even complete high school. And mental illnesses rarely just “go away” – just thinking about dealing with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and executive function disorder for the rest of my life was exhausting. The thought of living a full life, one that included more than just struggling through my diseases became something I considered unachievable, something for people who knew how to be happy. And so by the time my 18th birthday arrived, I gave up. I would, I thought, claw my way through life until it got too tiring, too unbearable. Then I’d be gone.
The day of my eighteenth birthday I signed up for several camsites and began broadcasting four days later. A few of my older friends were already camgirls, and I’d wanted to join since they first told me what they did. For someone with intense interest in both sexuality (especially kink) and psychology, it was fascinating. And perfect for me, who wanted to move out of my parent’s house as soon as possible, if only to prove to my family that I was capable.
It’s a year later now. I live in an apartment with my best friend, make enough to live on, and am able to work at a job that inspires me to put in effort.
While the pressure of camming can be intense, especially if it’s your only source of income, it’s manageable. And if you can do more than just manage it, it can teach you how to overcome the inertia of mental illness.
Burnout is very real and far more so for mentally ill models, so I don’t recommend just throwing yourself at your computer screen while you have the energy. Use camming as a channel to understand and harness your energy. Before I started camming, my executive function disorder meant that when presented with a challenge, I usually did one of two things; give up or attack it with such ferocity that I tired out fast. Usually so fast that I never even finished the problem at hand. Since camming I’ve learned how to measure my energy and apply it to what needs to get done.
Another benefit to webcam modelling- there’s always something else you can be doing, always another stone to build yourself up with.
The sheer number of options of what you could be doing today to “build your brand” aren’t an insurmountable wall between you and success. Being on cam should obviously be a priority. But if you need a little time after a panic attack, or are trying to gain the momentum you need to start broadcasting, there are a million options to explore. Promoting your Twitter, organizing your cam space, and setting up games to play on cam are all low-key and still worth your time as a webcam model.
When you’re a webcam model, energy is your whole business.
You need energy to put on an entertaining performance on cam, you need energy to promote yourself, to keep up with regulars. Most mental illnesses affect your energy. Whether it drains it, or gives you short bursts of uncontrollable energy, it’s hard to keep up with the constant need to pour yourself into your work. Burnout is a phrase regularly used by webcam models to describe a lack of enthusiasm for their own hustle. Burnout has a lot of direct correlations to depression. It leaves you tired out, wanting to do more but without the will to do it. It’s nearly impossible to cam and make money while you’re feeling burnt out, unless you’re a damn good actor. Members pay for, in essence, excitement and entertainment. If you don’t have that, what do you have?
Trick question. You still have yourself. And while usually the best thing to do is just get on for an hour or two and see if you can pick yourself up, sometimes it’s OK to just take a break.
Plan it like a vacation. Hustle extra hard for a few days, and then take the same time to dedicate to yourself. Give your brain a nap from the constant movement of camming and let yourself remember that you are more than just whatever role you take on behind your screen. Explore how you unwind – taking long baths with candles is fun, but it doesn’t really work for everyone. Mental illness can make it hard to remember who you are as a person, what you love and what makes you feel good. Take some time to really rediscover those things. If you don’t find a perfect answer, don’t worry. You’re human, and you might not ever find all the answers to those questions. But as long as you’re trying, you will find more knowledge of yourself, and in turn, how to work to your best advantage.
Burnout is manageable. But it’s still a pain in the ass to deal with.
And realistically, not all of us have the ability to take a few days off camming to let their mind relax. That makes dealing with mental exhaustion before it drops you all the more important. Make your cam room somewhere you enjoy being, somewhere you can chat and truly play. Don’t do things you’re uncomfortable with; consider every show you do on cam part of your “brand”. You’ll get more customers that you genuinely enjoy working with, which will keep you from getting sick to death of logging on every day. Whatever tactics you use to calm or center yourself when dealing with mental illness can almost definitely be applied to camming.
Most grounding tactics, including meditation, are designed to clear your mind and give you energy, both things you want as a mentally ill webcam model. Staying afloat as your own person will enable you to do your best at your job as well.
All in all, camming and my mental illness have a lot in common, and maybe they do for you too. For me, they both require careful attention, a sort of background monitor of my own emotional state. While camming for survival, I’ve learned lots of tricks that allow me to manipulate this state so that I can get it done- whatever “it” may be. Without camming, I would most likely not have achieved any of my goals this past year, and definitely would not have the excitement for my future and belief in myself that I do now. I’m no longer a hopeless seventeen year old girl with a self-fulfilling prophecy of self-destruction.