Imogen Horton, better known as Imogenation on YouTube where she has 386,000 subscribers, gave her followers a look behind the scenes at why she hasn't been uploading lately.
In a video called "The effect of hate," Horton posted 30 minutes of raw footage she hadn't used. She showed how she'd been struggling to even get out the greeting at the start of her vlogs, and how attempting to film was triggering panic attacks where she could barely breathe and felt like the walls were closing in.
"I've always been quite a positive person and I've been able to fight against any worries but this last month just became increasingly more difficult," Horton told Insider. "I think it's such a hard time for everyone at the moment that the online hate and abuse went from being manageable to completely unbearable, and that is when I really began to struggle."
She said YouTube went from being something she loved to something that was completely overwhelming.
"I was just looking at the viewfinder and picking out a hundred different insecurities, I was second guessing everything about myself, and I felt like I'd lost myself," she said. "I'd sit down to film and automatically these horrible thoughts would come into my head."
In the video, Horton tries to start a "get ready with me" vlog, but is clearly incredibly insecure and stops recording when she can't find the right color foundation. In another clip, she can't get further than saying "hi" before fiddling with her hair or worrying about her voice.
Horton told Insider she's always been an anxious person, but had worked hard to control it throughout her 20s. The constant mean comments she receives meant some of that control started to fade away.
"There are only so many times you can keep getting put down until you start to believe it," she said. "I guess I reached my breaking point and the panic attacks seemed to come thick and fast when one finished I had a couple of minutes until another one would begin at one point."
She lost sleep because she constantly worried about what would happen and what people would be saying about her during the night.
"I felt suffocated," she said.
Horton included some commentary in her video, where she explained how she'd become so obsessed with finding and deleting hate comments that it was consuming her life. She said her husband was considering taking away her phone so she couldn't spend so much time looking at the negativity.
"I hated the thought anyone that watched my channel who actually liked me would see all these horrendous lies being told about me," she said. "I would actively look for hate comments over nice comments because it was almost like self-harm, torturing myself to go back and hurt myself because I felt like that is what I deserved."
She could feel the anxiety and panic grow inside her, but she couldn't stop.
"I just felt so lost and heartbroken that anyone could try to hurt me like that," she said. "I felt like they were taking every single good thing from me away, anything I used to like about myself was being destroyed in front of my eyes."
Horton said she wanted to show the reality of what she was dealing with, and how nobody lives a perfect "Instagram life." She thinks mental health needs to be taken more seriously, and those in the public eye should be judged less harshly.
"One comment that always sticks in my mind, which I hear very often, is 'you put yourself on the internet, you have to deal with it' and I really don't agree with that at all," she said. "Just because someone chooses to upload YouTube videos does not mean they should be told 100 times a day to take their own life."
At her lowest point, Horton said she felt so incredibly alone. She said if she can help just one person feel like they are not alone, she'll be content.
"I'm not perfect, I've made mistakes and that is all part of being human," she said. "Everyone makes mistakes but I know along the way I've needed guidance and someone to reach out and help me find my path. I wanted to be that person for some people."
Being in a dark place doesn't have to lead to lashing out, she said, because tearing someone else down with trolling and hate comments will never make you happy in the long run.
"Surely nobody who has ever sent me hate could watch that video back and feel proud of how they've made me feel," she said. "Even watching the video back myself I found it uncomfortable to watch because it was very raw and painful, and that is what I wanted people to see to hopefully show the direct effects that words have on someone."
She said people don't often realize the true impact of their words on someone, particularly someone who is already battling their own mental health struggles.
"I am a smaller YouTuber than many, I'm very small in the grand scheme of things, so I can really see how someone in the public eye who has it on a much larger scale could be tipped over the edge," she said. "I wish the world was kinder to each other because, especially in today's climate, we need each other more than ever."
Horton is now seeing a therapist and life coach to help her get back on track, to talk more about how she's feeling instead of pushing them down until she reaches a breaking point. She said she knows it will be a long, slow process, but hopefully her journey will inspire others to reach out for help too.
"Improving my mental health is definitely at the top of my priority list now," she said. "I am actually grateful that all this has happened because it has made me put myself first, and hopefully I can come out of this stronger, happier, healthier, and the best version of myself."
Watch Horton's full video below.
Warning: Some readers may find the footage distressing.
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