How Streaming Helped my Mental Health
Guest Post by FrenchieFry, from Art of Positivity Blog
Streaming is a magical thing. It is a great way to interact with new people. To share common interests with others. To work together as a community. To feel like you are a part of something more, something bigger. For some, it is a chance to escape reality and feel less alone. The best part about it? You can do it all from the comfort of your own home.
Why I started streaming:
I live with social anxiety, panic disorder and generalised anxiety disorder as well as numerous physical chronic illnesses. When I began streaming, I was extremely isolated. I had been struggling with both my physical and mental health. I did not have many friends in real life (IRL) who understood what it is like to be chronically ill, and as a result of losing tonnes of friends over time, I became socially isolated. Streaming seemed like a good way to meet new people and just let loose.
How my mental health affected my outlook on streaming:
When I first considered streaming and I became excited about it, my anxiety also started to soar. I worried that people would not find me interesting or entertaining. That I would not be able to foster a community of my own. I thought I would never be able to dedicate myself to it properly because of my health. I was completely riddled with self-doubt and I often found ways to belittle myself by comparing my progress to others. My anxiety led me to believe that I would fail.
I could not have been more wrong.
My journey with streaming:
Streaming held more challenges for me than I initially thought it would. On the one hand, I had this idea that I would be fine with just sitting down in front of a camera while I played video games or doing art. That I would be comfortable talking to total strangers because they had no preconceived notions of who I am as a person. I could just be myself, right? Wrong, it was not that easy, at least not for me.
I had to push myself to talk, to learn how to entertain. I had to grasp hold of the idea that I am there to entertain the chat, not the other way around. I had to push past my own insecurities and learn how to form genuine friendships online, not an easy thing to do when you struggle to trust everyone you meet.
The worries I had before I started streaming rang true too. My schedule did take a hit because of my health. I needed to take breaks from my stream time to focus on my physical needs. I was struggling to manage my mental health, fighting for my disability payments, pushing to get diagnoses from my doctors, working through enormous amounts of pain and struggling to come to terms with the fact that I was forced to leave college because of my physical restrictions.
On the other hand, through all of this though something incredible happened. I met amazing people. I gained friendships that I hope will last for life regardless of the direction any of us take with our streaming careers. I was able to build a wonderful community full of kind, compassionate and understanding people. Streaming pushed me out of my comfort-zone. It taught me how to roll with the punches and to tell my anxiety to stick it!
Each time I had to take a break from my schedule I had people there to reassure me that it was going to be okay. Every time the little monster in my head would try to tell me that I’d really fudged it up this time, I was able to look at the countless supportive tweets and comments from genuine friends I had made. Those tweets were telling me that it is ok for me to take time off. It is ok for me to care for myself and put my health first. They supported me when I took a creative direction over gaming because of my physical limitations. That I had not screwed it up like my mental health would make me believe.
Out of those friendships too I was able to learn to trust. I learned that there are genuinely good people out there, willing to help without wanting something in return. It taught me to push the nagging paranoid thoughts back just far enough to be cautious but not straight up dismissive of people when they reach out to me.
My anxiety is a monster. It makes me believe that I’m not worthy of people’s approval, compassion or understanding, yet almost daily I have friends through streaming who compliment me for my compassion, kindness, support, and the work that I do.
Streaming taught me to value myself the way others might. Do not get me wrong, I certainly still have my moments of self-doubt and the odd pity-party, but now, because of streaming and therapy, I am able to remind myself that I am worthy of being cared for. That it is possible for people to like me, that I am able of accomplishing things and that I am not a failure. My work has meaning and value.
Amongst all of this, through streaming I also learned to slow down. When you live with anxiety you often feel this overwhelming feeling that you are not doing enough and that you need to keep working and do more or that you are never going to succeed. I have learned success means different things to everyone. For some it is being able to stream full-time and provide for themselves and their families solely from that. For others it is making partnership. For me, my success was going live that very first time. It led to incredible goals being accomplished.
I had always wanted to run a blog where I and many others share our stories. A safe place to discuss what it is like to live with chronic illnesses regardless of what the illness is. I held back for years because my anxiety made me truly believe that nobody cares, I will just be judged as someone crying for attention, or that worst of all, they would think I was faking it all.
The confidence I gained through streaming allowed me to push past the anxiety I had been holding onto for years and allowed me to chase my dreams. I still have doubts about the content I put out there and what the future holds. I still worry that my health will dictate my success. I still get anxious about people’s impression of me and my content. However, because of streaming I now have a whole new set of tools to take on those fears and to manage my mental health. I have a community I can learn from and pull strength from during hard time. I have friends I can talk to for support. Belief in myself and those around me. I can dampen the noise my mental illness causes inside my head, but most importantly, I no longer hold the shame that comes with living with mental illnesses. I have truly learned that I am not alone in all of this. There is a whole community of us who face these worries and more, every single day. Streaming is that safe space for those of us who may not have anyone else. Streaming is a way for us to flourish and grow into ourselves. To trust our abilities and to trust others when they tell us we have got this.
FrenchieFry is a female, chronically ill content creator from Ireland! She is a huge lover of art and philosophy. She enjoys talking to people, learning about other’s experiences and exploring new cultures and traditions. FrenchieFry is a Mixer streamer, an avid bookworm, and thoroughly enjoys creating art of all types.