Despite all the information out there, many people still have trouble seeing anxiety and depression as legitimate mental health issues. Case in point: when YouTuber Charlie McDonnell started looking for help for these issues, his own doctor didn’t really believe him.
“It has only been recently that I have been formally diagnosed with these,” he says in his latest video. “To be honest, the first time I went to see a doctor about it I kind of got brushed off. He was like, ‘This probably isn’t a big deal. Maybe go see a therapist if you can.’”
So it’s hardly surprising that being open with his fans on YouTube and social media about these issues was a bit nerve-wracking at first.
Following up on his recent tweets, McDonnell explained that it took him a while to admit to himself that something was wrong. “I honestly just thought I was being a bit whiny. I thought, ‘It’s not that I’m depressed, I’m just lazy. It’s not that I’m anxious, I’m just a bit scared … I need to man up and deal with it.”
Being online compounded that problem — he says his anxiety really began to assert itself around the time he got involved in YouTube — because there’s a certain culture of being constantly upbeat and entertaining for your viewers.
“There is a certain amount of bumming out you’re allowed to do on YouTube, it feels like. It’s okay to have problems in videos, so long as you can find a way to say at the end that you’re getting through. You’ve got to find the upside.”
There’s also a tendency among some online communities to criticize the use of antidepressants, which prompted McDonnell to explain that it’s not always enough for people to take a walk outside to make themselves feel better.
“The one thing that medication really did help me realize was that it was an illness. It was a very physical way of being like, ‘You are taking a pill for an issue that you have, so it’s not a part of you.’ And separating those two things, me from the illness, was very important for me personally.”