Help me welcome Enid Bell, erotic author, to this kinky corner of the world. This week she shares with us her journey from mental illness/breakdown to erotic author. We all start somewhere, and she is yet another example that our worst moments can be our most transformational - and that we are all works in progress. Show Enid some kinky love, y'all!
There I was. I was sitting in my living room with five strangers. I was sat at my desk; two of the strangers sat on the sofa, the other three were standing around awkwardly. The seated two were the only two talking, but no one had spoken in a while. Until one of my visitors - the only woman amongst them - asked “So, what happens next...”
She asked a good question, the only one I had been able to answer semi-succinctly all day.
It was Monday. The Friday before, I had lost my job, after taking innumerable days off with mental health issues. On that Monday I had not slept in; I got up to attend a 9am meeting with a representative from an organisation that finds jobs for the disabled, which included the mentally ill. She had told me that I was too ill for her organisation to help, and that I needed one dedicated to mental illness. The only one that she could name I had worked with before, and they had been about as useful as a chocolate dildo.
I was desperate. I was an unemployed 32-year old, who could not keep a job, and the people whose job it was to help me keep a job were refusing to do so. I tried to storm out of the cafe where we had met, but my legs failed and I collapsed (A classic panic attack symptom. The brain pools blood in the body’s core, away from the extremities -so my legs were numb, and my hands were shaking). So shortly after I got home, the five people from Community Mental Health arrived, to make sure I didn’t do anything rash.
After the woman asked “What happens next” I told her to stop asking things like that. I told her that someone on my position - wracked with crippling indecisiveness - needed to be told what happens next. “Well, pack your bags she said,” on a deep breath out “we’ll take you into respite care.” I had just one question, “Will they have wi-fi?” She checked a large binder and answered: “This one, yes.”
If you have read my book The Passion of Innocence, the respite care home was the inspiration for the halfway house where the story’s sapphic lovers met. It looked like a regular house, except for the large number of bedrooms, that could accommodate like twenty people. The only foreseeable advantage to this place over my home was a round-the clock psychologist who could ensure that I was taking my medication, and the assurance that this was a place of rest where my lack of employment should not affect me. It was the latter that benefitted me the most.
It’s amazing how effective having a worry just taken away from you can be. Worry often feels performative to me - .e. I panic to show others that I am taking the issue seriously. Thus, being told not to worry can be surprisingly effective under the right circumstances. By being taken away, I went from the rock-bottom depth of anxiety to feeling quite well, thank you very much.
I took with me a tablet, and on the first night I logged onto Reddit’s /r/needafriend sub, a place where the lonely and housebound (I was not allowed out for the first 24-hours) can meet. I got talking to this lovely trans woman who told me all about her tentacle fetish (I think there’s a word for that, which escapes me right now). And so as a writer, I promised I would write her a story. It was the first erotic story I had ever written, and I am tempted to reproduce it in full here, but that’s probably ridiculously self-indulgent. But I will summarise it.
It’s about a guy who wakes up one morning as an octopus monster (allusions to Kafka made it seem less ridiculous). He goes and lives in a derelict building, but begins to hunger. Assuming that he must feast on human flesh, he imprisons a homeless teen. Unable to devour her while she smells like a homeless person, he runs a bath for her and undresses her. But when he has her naked, he finds himself drawn to her; with eight tentacles, he simulates every one of her holes and erogenous zones simultaneously. In doing so, he discovers that he feeds of orgasms, and her earth-shattering one has cured his hunger like a good meal.
We end with her living comfortably in love with him - queen bitch in his harem, welcoming and recruiting women who have never managed to orgasm through traditional methods, to let our Gregor Samsa feed on them.
She loved it, though it mortified me. Writing out that description it sounds pretty sexy, and not bad at all mortifying. But trust me, that’s how I felt about it. We all have to start somewhere. That piece may see the light of day one day, but not today.
Anyway, I spent the rest of the week honing the craft, and by the end of it I had a draft for my first published piece.
Now, I know what you are thinking. If I have mental health issues, I am probably being medicated, and if I am being medicated, I probably have next to no libido. You’d be right about the medication, but it’s a bit more complicated than that….
There’s that old cliche that men like pictures, where women like words - porn for men is well, porn; but porn for women is romance novels and erotica. Even that’s a criminal over-simplification, but if we accept it just for the sake of explanation, then my sexuality has become more… well, female.
It’s all in the words, whether that’s the written word, or the spoken I might not get too excited down there (except for with my girlfriend), but I love dirty talk, and I love reading erotica. Meanwhile writing erotica is like making a dream come true - it’s transmogrifying a fantasy into something real that I can touch and share.
There’s an inherent contradiction to that though: If I am writing my fantasies*, how do I ever expect my stories to have wider appeal. Well, I have always been fascinated by sexuality, and all the different ways people can be sexual. Every single possible sexuality is something that I want to explore; even if it’s not something I would personally want to do. I read a fascinating article about anonymous women talking about how they masturbated. One woman mentioned that she liked to watch porn of lesbians and toys - even though she was straight and did not like toys. She shrugged it off with a “I'm into things that I don't actually do myself”, and I just thought, “You and me both, hun”.
That’s not to say there aren’t similarities between what I write, and what I like. I like real looking women, which is why I always try to make my characters as believable as possible. It’s the real world that they live in (almost).
So, despite my meds, to I get of on what I write? Does writing excite me? Very much so. It’s an outlet to a part of my life that the meds usually deaden.
Speaking of how this has helped me, in the weeks since I have been out of care, my life has not improved much. I am still poor and anxious. But writing is an outlet that has really brought me out of the depths and kept me out of the depths. I also get to claim that I am not unemployed, I am self-employed, as my stories are all on Amazon. It’s only netted me pocket money so far, but my life has meaning.