4 months ago Elle Mills showed the internet what it looks like to have a breakdown.
She posted a video for her 1 million youtube subscribers called “Burnout at 19” and IT. WAS. RAW. She gave a very honest look at how miserable her life felt even after she found fame and success through her youtube channel.
It is very clear from the footage she shares that things were not ok. Honestly, there are parts that are hard to watch.
Yesterday she posted a follow up video called The Aftermath of My Youtube Breakdown and I think it offers some great insight.
She gives some updates on how she’s doing and what changes she’s made to her lifestyle. BUT THEN (and this is the genius part) she interviews her friends and family about her progress from their point of view. Things get raw again.
Be warned: there’s some bad language.
HERE ARE 4 INSIGHTS I LOVE ABOUT THIS VIDEO
“REACH OUT EARLY”
One of the first things she says is that she’s learning how to reach out early before things build up like they did when everything broke down the first time.
This is a great point for all of us. If a husband addresses “the problem” when it’s just a casual flirtation with the girl at work, then he can deal with it before it’s a full on affair. If a teen learns that it’s ok to talk about your feelings even when you don’t fully understand them, they can deal with it before it leads to cutting.
“PERFECT IN PERSON”
One of her friends points out that Elle will put on a happy face in person and then turn around to share her darkest feelings online.
This is huge. There’s something about sharing your thoughts and feelings through a screen that feels safer.
I think it’s the reason people feel comfortable getting in the most insulting and infuriating arguments on Facebook, saying the cruelest things they’d never dream to say to someone’s face.
It’s also true for vulnerability. Having someone watch you peel back the layers of your feelings and really share can be terrifying. If we post on social media instead, maybe it’ll get lost in the chaos of everyone’s feed. Maybe people will think it’s a joke. We get the release of sharing without any of the mess that comes after. In the moment it feels like that’s all we really needed but confession is only supposed to be the first step. Admitting we have a problem doesn’t solve but it does open you up to actually deal with it. When we only share in impersonal settings we’re never held accountable for the change we know we need.
“I DON’T WANT TO LOSE WHO I AM”
Another friends thinks Elle is afraid to deal with some of the things in her life because she thinks that if all these problems go away, she’ll “cease to be the person you are right now.”
I think this is a huge fear.
I saw this tweet last month…
That tweet sucks.
Chris Gethard is a comedian who is very open about his own mental health and what he’s done to seek help. He commented on this fear in an interview.
“I will often times have younger comedians approach me and say, ‘I don't want to go on pills. I think they'll take away my edge,’ or something. And, like, well, good luck with that. I hope it works out, but I think that's a really dangerous myth, and I wish people didn't perpetuate it.”
I know I’ve had the same fear when it comes to comedy. What if I deal with all my issues or I have to go on medication and I’m not funny anymore?
For Gethard the exact opposite of this fear was true.
“I actually got funnier. My career didn't really do anything until I was on medication for a few years … As interesting as it might be to be a loose cannon, once I was medicated and once I was in therapy it was like, ‘Oh, now I can organize my thoughts. I can do second drafts. I can take meetings and not be just wracked by anxiety and nervousness.’ All these skills you need to be able to have to have a career are things that only set in once I actually straightened my head out.”
Getting better won’t mean you’ll stop being interesting. Your identity isn’t defined by what’s wrong with you. You are loved for who you are.
I know I had to learn that getting help wouldn't take away my personality. It actually improved my life. IN A LOT OF WAYS.
PROGRESS OVER PERFECTION
I love that Elle Mills makes fun of the type of video she could have easily put out as a follow up. She could have pretended that she made a few changes and suddenly her life was fixed.
There’s still work to be done.
She says towards the end she needs to value “Progress Over Perfection.” Yes.
Things take time. We need to be patient with ourselves and with each other. It’s easy to get discouraged because we want everything to change right this second. Sure, you haven’t arrived yet but are you heading in the right direction? Are you taking steps towards that new you?
Every day you take a step in that direction is a day worth celebrating.
The ending of the video is a little too neat and cheesy but that’s forgivable.
I applaud her honesty. She is not the only youtube creator suffering from burnout. It’s a growing problem in the community. And I hope her ability to share her journey helps others to start taking steps in the right direction too.