Great Britain

I made an illicit ‘sex bubble’ during lockdown so I could get off despite restrictions, I couldn’t go 4 weeks without it

A WOMAN has revealed how she formed an illicit 'sex bubble' during lockdown despite restrictions as she couldn't go four weeks without it.

Here, press officer and journalist Hannah Shewan Stevens, 26, from Birmingham, explains to Fabulous why she risked her health to get some action...

I formed a sex bubble to free myself from mental anguish triggered by lockdown 2.0.

At first glance, it would be easy to assume that I am a raging nymphomaniac incapable of keeping my legs together for more than a few weeks at a time, but there is more to the tale than a need to get laid.

Because I have an autoimmune condition called scleroderma, which makes my body attack itself and requires immunosuppressant drugs to control flare-ups, I am in the higher risk category for Covid-19 and shielded for the majority of the year.

Isolated at my mum’s house in the country, I committed to being a social pariah for the entirety of 2020.

Even when the first lockdown lifted and the masses descended on pubs and restaurants for the Eat Out To Help Out scheme, I remained indoors and only accepted one invitation for a socially distanced lunch.

I became an obsessive hand-washer, all but glued a mask to my face and circumvented crowded public places to decrease my chances of contracting the coronavirus.

It was torturous to watch everyone regain some semblance of normality without being able to join in but I continued to prioritise my physical safety.

In October, I moved back to Birmingham to tentatively restart my life, as much as I could in a tier 3 area. Then the second lockdown was announced.

With the new lockdown looming, I felt like loneliness was engulfing all my senses and that, if I wasn’t careful, the feeling would shatter my mental wellbeing.

Isolated from my family and set adrift without even a hint of affection, I was overwhelmed with fear of how I would cope with another lockdown, especially as I knew my condition would require shielding past the four weeks the rest of the country were facing.

In the lead up to the start of lockdown 2.0 and throughout its first week, isolation submerged me in a pit of anxiety and depression. Insomnia and horrific nightmares haunted my sleep and loneliness crept into my body as viciously as any viral invader.

I also have PTSD, which I cope with by using a variety of coping mechanisms but one of the most crucial is touch.

By prioritising grounding touch, both sexual and platonic, I am able to ward off the worst of my mental health symptoms and remain grounded in reality.

As the days wore on, I found it increasingly difficult to ward off feelings of severe depression and suicidal thoughts stole into my mind, feeding on the vulnerabilities that quarantine had created.

Then, while surfing some dating apps, I came across an old friend with benefits from my university days.

We reconnected and I discovered that he lived alone, making him a safe option for a lockdown sex bubble.

The decision to form the bubble was not made rashly, however, I considered my options for days before deciding to choose grounding and intimate touch over assured physical safety.

Even though only a few weeks remained of the second lockdown, I knew that my mental wellbeing would deteriorate faster than the clock was running down.

I knew that I could not make it to Christmas without suffering severe impairments to my mental wellbeing.

Hannah Shewan Stevens

Plus, as my area in Birmingham is in tier 3, I would have had to continue isolating long after the lockdown lifted.

I knew that I could not make it to Christmas without suffering severe impairments to my mental wellbeing.

Eventually, warding off all-consuming cravings for intimacy and affection felt like the safest way to care for my health.

Before meeting up, we discussed the practicalities of forming our sex bubble.

I knew it was technically allowed because he lived alone and we could form a support bubble, so it felt like the perfect solution.

We agreed to not see anyone else while in the bubble to ensure we protected our physical health while satisfying a mutually held urge for physical contact.

As a very tactile person, intimacy is a necessary tool for protecting my mental health. When I am starved of intimacy, PTSD symptoms quickly become unmanageable and I am more likely to slip into a dissociative state, where I feel disconnected from my own body and reality itself.

Forming a sex bubble felt like the most natural way to fulfill my need for sexual and sensual intimacy, as well as physical affection.

A thirty-second hug releases a rush of oxytocin that increases our bond with an affectionate partner, so I knew that this dopamine rush could prevent tipping into a chasm of mental devastation.

My stability was wavering and accidentally nudging a stranger in the shops became the starring moment of any day.

I sought out hugs where I safely could but even the longest hug was incapable of delivering the desired effect of warding off mental health woes.

Forming a sex bubble felt like the most natural way to fulfill my need for sexual and sensual intimacy, as well as physical affection.

Hannah Shewan Stevens

I knew that a sexual encounter would satisfy every sensual, sexual and affectionate need and have a far greater impact on my mental stability. 

The first time we slept together, the walk to his house was like a secret mission and, while our meet up was within guidelines, I felt as though I was breaking the law to have sex.

I’ve had sex in some forbidden places before but no other encounter has made me feel like an outlaw.

With the whole world on lockdown, I felt like a rebel for choosing to treat my mental health struggles with a sexual encounter.

The illicit atmosphere infused the sex with an unrivalled passion and I have to admit that orgasms with a hint of danger are much sweeter.

Although I had been plagued by anxieties over my decision, lying in my partner’s arms in the afterglow of amazing sex, I had no regrets.

My physical health was intact and my mental health already felt more controlled. It felt like my mind had been rejuvenated with every touch, grab and grind. 

A snuggle was like pressing snooze on reality and drifting away in a safe cocoon formed from the sex-induced oxytocin rush. I felt free from the chains of isolation and the darkness that had threatened to take over my mind receded into the corners again.

We have established that neither of us wants to pursue a romantic or committed relationship, however, we have agreed to keep to our lockdown sex bubble in order to maintain our easy access to loneliness-crushing sex and intimacy.

The rush of the encounter put my PTSD symptoms back into a controllable cage and my mental wellbeing felt free from danger for the first time all year.

Sensual and sexual touch may seem inconsequential in a global pandemic but most humans need it to survive, so I hope that more people form their own sex bubbles to maintain their mental health through to the end of this Covid-19 dominated year.

With the whole world on lockdown, I felt like a rebel for choosing to treat my mental health struggles with a sexual encounter.

Hannah Shewan Stevens

I believe it could save many people from tipping over the edge into a depressive abyss that they may not be able to come back from.

I live with a long-term chronic condition so my health has and always will be a concern, however, it cannot be maintained without a firm grasp on my mental health, which was in severe danger of being set adrift this winter.

In the future, because dark thoughts can be more life-threatening than any virus, salvaging my mental wellbeing will always take priority, no matter how illicit the solution is.

My sex bubble may not be the right fit for everyone, and I am sure many fellow shielders will make safer choices, but I have no regrets about protecting my mental health first and my physical safety second.

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