Mental health issues can arise and evolve unexpectedly. Four years ago I was working in an office one evening and went into the toilet cubicle. As I closed the door I heard a massive bang and the next thing I knew, I was slumped against the wall with blood everywhere. It turned out a tile had come loose from the wall and whacked me on the head. I wasn’t knocked out, but it was the after effects that were the issue. I had post-concussion syndrome and it impacted my left middle ear and therefore, my balance.
One of the toughest aspects of my recovery was the first 100 days as it was so intense. Every aspect of my life dissipated – I stopped playing with a band, stopped making videos, avoided seeing my friends and didn’t do any sort of exercise. My feeling of self was majorly affected and I developed depression, loneliness and a lack of self-worth. Usually if one thing falls away in your life, such as a friendship, you have other things to focus on but I didn’t have that. I felt like I was floating in space.
One of my first YouTube videos about my experience with mental health was in 2009, ‘You Are Not Alone’ was filmed just after I’d had therapy and is me explaining that anyone can go through tough times, no matter how confident they appear to the world, and it’s okay to go and get help. This sparked a conversation within my community and people opened up about their own experiences.
The internet is a tool for information and shared experience. I’ve always regarded video as an empathy machine and whenever I’ve talked about what I’ve gone through the response has been so amazing and humbling. Although not everyone has been in the exact same situation, if they take away one nugget of advice or positivity from my videos then that’s progress.
It’s also a two-way street, the responses that I get from others can also help me. That’s the great thing about the online world, it’s a platform of shared experience, empathy and critical thought that provides an opportunity to learn from other people’s success, mistake and failures – everything.
I’m inspired by so much I see online that resonates with me. Courage is contagious and the fact that I see value in what they’ve done spurs me on to realise that people will find value in the content I create. People talk about an issue that I can relate to, but I have my own take on it. There’s plurality of the experience and the diverse nature that everyone has a different experience, even if there are similarities. Everyone should find a voice and speak out because they may help someone out there in a way that others may not have been able to.
One of the proudest moments in my YouTube career has been when I was named a Creator for Change in 2017. It’s a programme that encourage and supports creators who are tackling social issues, promoting awareness, tolerance and empathy on their channels. I’ve had the most amazing experience, meeting people from all over the world, bringing their diverse range of experiences and ideas to the table, which really strengthened my view. To be able to do it for a second year, with a lot more confidence, is exciting. Last year gave me more confidence around production and the grant money helped me do some of my bigger ideas.
Through Creators for Change I’m able to work on my own podcast show. It’s longform content talking about how people have evolved over the years and there’s no doubt that mental health will come up as we’re all human beings and we’ve had vulnerabilities. It’s in those moments of felt weakness that our true strength comes through if we are able to fight through it and I think those are some really good stories that are worth sharing and I will be sharing.