YouTube icon Dan Howell explains how coming out as gay transformed his mental health
YouTube star Dan Howell has described how coming out as gay transformed his mental health after his “toxic masculine” upbringing.
A year on, he has recently released the “practical mental health guide” You Will Get Through This Night, which tackles the crossover between masculinity and mental health for queer and straight men alike.
Howell told GQ: “Because I was brought up in a very toxic masculine environment, I have the same mental health struggles that anyone male – regardless of whether they’re gay or not – can relate to, which is that pressure to have the stiff upper lip and not show any vulnerability and not ask for help in case you’re perceived to be weak.”
But this stigma around vulnerability, he said, led to him to ignore his authentic self and develop a “traumatising relationship” with his sexuality, which took a huge toll on his mental health.
Howell, who has used his YouTube channel to discuss his struggles with mental health, most notably in his 2017 video “Daniel and Depression”, said: “I could not have estimated how intrinsically linked my sexuality was to most of the suffering in my life.
“It really boils down to a single point about authenticity: if you are living a lie, if you are pushing against something fundamentally true and inevitable about yourself, you’re just going to burn out and reach a point where you can’t do it anymore.
“That’s what happened to me.”
Dan Howell said his attitude towards his mental health has ‘done a complete 180’
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Dan Howell continued: “What happened with me was I reached that wall, I hit that point where I just couldn’t keep going anymore in my day-to-day life.
“As someone who creates, and is supposed to be an entertainer and to talk about myself for a living, I literally couldn’t work anymore until I tackled this topic.
“It had everything to do with my self-esteem, my world view and my own relationship with my own emotions… For me, the moment – well, I say ‘the moment’ I came out, it was a year-long process – it was literally a weight that lifted, in a way I can’t describe to anyone that hasn’t been there.”
While coming out didn’t solve his mental health struggles, it helped him to approach them in a different way, which eventually led to him writing his new book.
“It felt like my entire life I’d been wearing a suit of chainmail that I just instantly dropped on the floor and I felt like a completely different person,” he added.
“And that kind of acceptance of yourself allowed me to re-evaluate every aspect of myself in relation to my mental health. I’ve just done a complete 180.”