Turning the Tanker Around V2.0


Today’s guest blog is brought to you by Noël Fanthôme.

At the end of my last article, I left you with the image of my extensive sexual exploits having caused a computer to raise its electronic eyebrows, together with the sworn commitment to remaining celibate in order to maintain the principles of lockdown. My developing relationship with my right hand was, therefore, being the nearest I was going to get to any sexual satisfaction for the foreseeable future.

But, as Meatloaf sang, “2 out of 3 ain’t bad!”  For all my best intentions and high-minded principles, I have to admit that I failed. I met up with someone who was equally as careful as I have been and with whom I eventually formed a bubble.

Yes, I ‘bubbled’ prematurely.

Please allow me that transgression. I’m nearly human.

Well, after a while, there’s only a limited amount of online porn that one can stand. Very soon it all becomes much of a muchness and a repetition of the same sweaty themes. As for the dialogue – I’m sure that even my limited skills at writing dialogue could do somewhat better than:

“Oh, Yeah! Give it to me, Daddy!’ and ‘Take that. Bad Boy!”

Although In my case it would be more like “Oh – no – hold it just there- my back’s gone!” or “Hang on – I’ve got cramp!”

Having been locked down with only occasional work contact, very little social contact and only a boring screen for company, I realised just how important actual human contact and touch are. Whatever form they take, touch and human contact validate, reassure and affirm us as people. Without those we lose a sense of being. And that’s why I lapsed. I needed to touch and to be touched to feel validated but, beyond the physical, I also need subtle guidance and influence from people around me to stay whole.

For me, to use an old Birmingham phrase, looking back, I was actually ‘going yampy’. Living alone and without other people to put me back on the right track, every little issue became hugely out of proportion. A minor misunderstood conflict blew up in my mind. My self-absorption accelerated and I started spiralling down. I envisaged losing my job, my home and my friends as a result. In short, I was developing warped perception of my limited world.

Things got worse, and I look back now in shocked horror at where I was. I had actually planned my exit and written my suicide note. It was only when I was required to return to work to exchange a laptop that, when drawn into ‘normal’ warm chat and banter with my colleagues that I started to realise that I had lost the plot. I think that they sensed something too, and I received messages asking if I was OK when I went home. Without that ‘colleague connection’ that jarred me back into reality, I wouldn’t be here now. My ‘bubble’ person also sensed that something was wrong and was subtly supportive. The joint human support got me heading back to my version of normality.

I don’t see myself as having a mental health problem any less than I see myself as having a problem with my physical health. If I have flu, then my physical health has dipped. I am not sick. Similarly, if I have a mental crisis, my mental health has dipped but that doesn’t make me mentally ill.

I’m absolutely fine now but much more aware of the severe effect that lockdown has had on my mental wellbeing.


Lockdown, for many people, has been equivalent to a bereavement, with the loss of our normal activities, routines, coping mechanisms and daily signposts that we follow to achieve normality and to maintain our bearings. Most people I know are having ‘downs’. We have been bereaved of our accustomed lives and we find ourselves wandering around in a fog of uncertainty and in need of support.

That support is out there. Even though face-to-face meetings are no longer possible, Birmingham LGBT’s Counselling Service is still running remotely, by telephone. Other support organisations like Samaritans exist, and many religious organisations offer talking therapy to help people through these difficult times.

Lockdown has the potential to throw us all and, if we are going to get ourselves out of this mess, we need to look after ourselves and look out for others around us by using support facilities such as Birmingham LGBT’s Counselling Service. After all:

Nothing will work unless you do. – Maya Angelou

© Noël Fanthôme. 2020.

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