Health

YouTube's Most Famous Female Star Opens up About Her Mental Health and Body Image Struggles

April 6th 2016

By:
Taylor Bell

YouTube's highest paid female star Lindsey Stirling just took a stand against the stigma surrounding mental health issues. The YouTube star just opened up about her secret battle with depression.

Stirling, who rose to fame by posting videos of herself playing the violin on YouTube, has more than 8 million subscribers and more than 1 billion video views. In one year alone she made $6 million dollars, according to Forbes.

Struggling with depression affects a wide swath of Americans — regardless of how successful a person, like Stirling, becomes. In an emotional op-ed for the Daily Dot, the social media star revealed how she experienced an intense period of depression and self-hate.

"The people who follow me on my social media often post comments such as, 'Lindsey makes me happy' or 'It’s so great that Lindsey isn’t afraid to be herself.' My followers revere me as an icon of happiness; however, just a few years ago, I was a very different person than I am today. In my college years, for no particular reason, I slowly sunk into depression and anorexia. The change took over my life so slowly that I never detected its intrusion into my personality. When I saw people who exuded genuine happiness, I looked at them longingly, wishing I could be like them. All the while, I assumed that some people were just lucky; I thought that some people were happy and some people just were not.

She continued:

"In my mind, I knew I was ugly, I knew I was worthless, I had no purpose and I frequently hid in my room, crying for no reason while my roommates laughed in the living room. It was ludicrous to think that what I was feeling was normal."

Stirling hopes that sharing her testimony with others will inspire people to overcome negative stigmas surrounding mental health disorders and seek help.

"I share this with you not to call for your pity, but for two reasons: First, some people may strongly relate to these feelings but not realize that what they are feeling is not normal and more importantly, that they can change. Secondly, I never could have become a successful, world-traveling violinist if I had remained in this self-destructive state."

According to the Mental Health Foundation, 450 million worldwide have a mental health illness, and 9 out 10 mental health sufferers say that the stigma around mental health and discrimination negatively impacts their lives. Some of these stigmas include mental health patients are unstable, vulnerable, and weak, according to a report in U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.

"In order to solve this world epidemic, I feel the first hurdle to cross is the stigma surrounding mental health. People are ashamed to admit to themselves, let alone their families and friends that they could be suffering from an actual problem. If they do admit they have depression, anxiety, or multiple personality disorder, they feel broken or tainted by an irreversible label. So rather than confronting the inner issues, most people are coursed into shame and silence."

Often those with depression don't want to acknowledge the severity of their depressed feelings. Instead, they believe that their depressed feelings pass with time, according to Psych Central.

But for Stirling, an important part of her journey with depression and anorexia began when she acknowledged she had a problem and began to seek help. Stirling sat down with a therapist and worked on ways to empower her mind.

The social media star admits that she her happiness is always a work in progress but it is something that she is dedicated to securing:

"As a recovering anorexic, I believe that happiness is achievable for anyone. I don’t pretend to be an expert and I am nowhere near perfect. The above comments merely stem from my experiences and my limited studies. But by using these ideas, I continue to work for my happiness on a daily basis. It has been the most important thing I have ever invested my time in and it has enabled me to choose and become who I want to be."