Mental health is hot on the tip of everyone’s tongue at the moment. This might because the awareness week for this worthy cause was in May and it might also be because charities like MIND have done so much wonderful PR around this issue. The reason we are also aware of this is thanks to outspoken sufferers such as Stevie Miller who is a YouTube Creator for Change who suffers from Bipolar Disorder who spoke out about her mental health story back in 2015. Since this initial upload her video has now been viewed nearly 250K times raising awareness of the disease and it’s side effects.
Since then, she’s become one of the strongest voices in the UK sharing about her experiences dealing with mental health issues, anger management, self-harm, how it’s affected her relationship with her family but most important of all, how she’s learned, grown and become more confident sharing to her community on YouTube and inspiring others to do the same.
We decided to speak to her about her channel and what inspired her to talk about her condition in such a public fashion.
How hard was it for you to start talking about your mental health problems on your channel?
To be honest, I didn’t find it hard at all. I was brought up to never be ashamed of my mental health as mum has always helped people who struggle and that inspired me to do the same thing. Also, many people talk about mental health, but not so many people bring humour and light to the situation. Having mental health doesn’t mean everything has to be dark, gloomy and serious – and I’m here to show the world exactly that!
What made you decide to use YouTube as the platform for such a discussion?
YouTube is a massive platform and I have a massive personality so it seemed like a good fit! I initially thought about starting a blog, but I know that I find it easier to concentrate and take information in when watching videos. I also feel like I can showcase more of my personality and be more real in a video as opposed to a blog post. Not to mention, the community on YouTube is amazing and I’m so thankful for all the support, from both subscribers and YouTube team.
How has your life changed since talking about your mental health on YouTube?
My life has massively changed. I’ve been offered so many amazing opportunities as well as having the opportunity to meet and chat with some incredible people. I’ve finally found my purpose and I can honestly say that had I not found YouTube and this incredible community, I don’t think I’d be here today. People always tell me how much I’ve helped them and even saved their life but I don’t think they realise that they save my life on a daily basis.
What has been the response to your channel and the content you discuss?
The response has been overwhelming!! Never in a million years did I think that things would pan out this way. I’ve struggled with low self-esteem most of my life, so as you can imagine, I’d constantly doubt myself, put myself down and convince myself that no-one will watch my videos and those who do will cringe and think I’m ridiculous.. Oh, how I was so wrong. Of course, I get negativity but that’s just life. Some people will love you, some people will not. All that really matters is that you love you. As cliché as that sounds, it’s true. And I’ll spread that message over and over until the world believes me.
What would you say to someone struggling with similar issues? Is there anything you wish you had known or someone had told you?
I’d probably tell them to not fret about a diagnosis and to remember that medication is a small part of recovery and is not nor will ever be the answer to your struggles. Just because you’re not on medication, your feelings and health are still valid. Just because you don’t have a diagnosis, your feelings and health are still valid. Be open, be honest – with yourself and others – and never, ever, ever give up. Easier said than done, but I’m living proof that it is completely possible. You can live a positive and happy life despite mental health and you will live a positive and happy life despite mental health, all you have to do is consciously choose recovery and do your best every single day – oh, and don’t forget, your best will differ from when you’re well as opposed to ill.
Your story started at a very young age, with mental health issues arising at the age of 9, anger management counselling when you were 11 and self harm starting when you were 13 . Do you think there is enough understanding and help for people who have mental health problems at such a young age? How did people react to your situation at the time?
I don’t think there is even close to enough help and support out there, not for young people or adults. As for understanding, over the past few years, it has got a lot better but there’s still loads of room for improvement. I find, for the younger generation, it’s a lot more difficult to get the correct help as so much is put down to hormones and environmental factors. Obviously, it’s a lot more challenging to diagnose younger people as symptoms may change, ease or get worse but I think there could be more support to help younger people understand, accept and manage how they are feeling.
You recently uploaded a video where you were candid about your recent struggles. Was this hard for you do to?
It was massively hard for me to do. In fact, my mum had to push and push and push me to upload it. I wasn’t even planning on filming it in the first place, but my mum motivates me and inspires me to do what I love every day and to not be bothered by the opinions of others, so she got out her phone and started recording. I spent the majority of 2017 being put down and allowing people to dull my sparkle. I lost touch with my true self and I was scared. I didn’t know what to do or how to get myself out of that dark place. But I did it and I’m so proud of myself. Honestly wouldn’t have been possible without the love and support of everyone.
Do you typically feel any pressure to try and be positive and if so, what was it like to film a video where you had to be more serious/negative?
I don’t feel pressured as such, however, I am aware that a lot of my viewers are young so sometimes feel a bit unsure about posting certain things or worry about wording things wrong, but then I remember that I made a promise to myself to always be real, we so easily show our good days, our happy moments, fun memories but we feel ashamed to show our bad days, sad moments and tough memories which makes absolutely no sense to me. No one should ever be ashamed of their struggles or how they feel. Everyone has bad days, that’s just life.
You have previously mentioned struggling to understand who you are right now or what other videos you can do/content you can make on YouTube. Is that still the case or are there ideas you are currently considering?
That’s still the case, although I have come a long way since the video where I’m breaking down. Regaining self-esteem and confidence after spending a year being put down and made to feel absolutely worthless, disassociating for several days at a time, I began to believe all the nasty words. I was unsure about everything. Even down to what my favourite colour is. Hoping that I wake up and am just back to my normal self overnight is an unrealistic goal. It’s going to take time and hard work which I struggled to accept initially, but with the help of my mum, siblings, friends, and even complete strangers, I realized that I can do it, it’s a daily struggle but I’ve always loved a challenge. I want to prove to everyone out there who can relate to this that it’s so unbelievably possible to regain control and build up your self-esteem and get back to being the true you and that motivates me endlessly to carry on. I’m doing this for myself, but I’m also very much doing this for everyone who is struggling or been put down or made to doubt themselves. To anyone reading this – YOU ARE ENOUGH. You are so unbelievably enough, just the way you are.
Lastly, is there anything you are looking forward to sharing with your viewers in the upcoming months?
I have so much I can’t wait to share with everyone. Videos are going to become more regular, I plan to do meetups across the UK. This community and everyone in it has helped me massively. This isn’t my journey, this is OUR journey! Watch this space, because together, we’re about to slay!
More information about Stevie Miller’s channel can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6tDQLrJPQmZLJE9x4o8XBQ
More information about YouTube’s Creators for Change platform can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/yt/creators-for-change/