I started my YouTube channel in 2006 when I was 13 years old. I can't believe it is nearly a decade ago! I had been posting videos on Bebo before then, but YouTube was a completely new platform for me, with a larger community. I had seen a few people creating vlogs and thought I'd give it a go myself. Over time my channel became my counselor of sorts; I was posting anything I could create about anything I fancied, and it started to become an outlet for coping with my trichotillomania.
For those of you who don't know what trichotillomania is, it's a chronic condition that compels people to pull out their own hair resulting in baldness and emotional repercussions. As with any mental health issue, many people have a hard time understanding it and what it's like to be a sufferer. Creating my own vlogs, talking about my feelings, and going through the highs and lows of having trich was extremely cathartic for me.
I started to realise that things had taken off in 2009, when I had 100,000 views in one month for one of my videos. I remember putting that number into perspective, thinking that a stadium's worth of people had seen my video.
I realised that more and more people were responding to my vlogs, and that I was actually helping them as well as myself. This was a great feeling, and was a big motivator for me. As this continued over time, I realised the huge responsibility I have towards my subscribers, something that can be challenging at times, especially when I've been having a hard time personally with my disorders. I now have two YouTube channels, one for general topics and one purely dedicated to Trich and raising awareness of the condition. I want my videos to be honest depictions of how I feel and show my condition in a true light. Being able to express myself, engage with people and help them, I am also helping myself. Living with trich has meant that I've had a lot of ups and downs, but it's always extremely comforting knowing that there's a whole community of people behind you and supporting you.
I love posting content that gets people talking; I also use editing and different techniques to my advantage. I've been able to consolidate all my knowledge quite nicely during my filmmaking degree, but a lot of the things I do have been completely self-taught. I love creating different characters and using a technique known as 'cloning', where I'll appear twice or more in the same shot, to keep things interesting and mix them up a bit. This means that my posts have to be really well planned out in advance, so a lot of time and effort goes into each video. This means it's even more rewarding when hundreds of people comment, and I really enjoy being part of the conversation.
Thinking back, I've always had a passion for film. When I was younger I wanted to be an actress, but I was always fascinated by behind-the-scenes documentaries for films such as Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings! YouTube simply served to take this passion to the next level. Balancing YouTube work alongside my Degree has taught me a great deal from both industries. At film school I spend most of the time behind the camera, which has given me a really good foundation, especially as I hope to be doing more on the other side of the camera, like presenting. My channels have really opened doors for me and helped me to make loads of friends and contacts, both in the film industry and within my own trichotillomania community.
A great number of people ask me what's next, and the truth is, I'm not sure! I have a better idea now than I had six months ago and I think the popularity of my YouTube channels and my film education have really helped me to put my future dreams into action. In the meantime, though, I'll be vlog-ing away as usual!
Follow Rebecca Brown on Twitter: www.twitter.com/beckie0