‘You feel like you’re drowning’: Why YouTube content creators are burning out

As competition increases, YouTube stars are speaking out, making changes

YouTube stars Louis Cole, left, and Elle Mills both say they've experienced anxiety associated with a pressure to constantly create. (Robert Krbavac/CBC)

When Ottawa’s Elle Mills was growing up, there was one thing she wanted to be: A YouTuber.

With a strong personality and cheeky editing style, Mills and her videos soon gained a fan following.

And today, Mills is a bona fide ​YouTube star; she’ll be competing against some of the biggest names on the platform at the Streamy Awards on Monday.

Last year, Mills’s “Coming Out” video went viral. After years of posting, her subscriber count exploded, climbing to 1.5 million.

But as Mills’s audience grew, so did her anxiety.

“Physically, I remember feeling always stressed. There was never a time I felt relaxed,” she said. “I remember walking outside and thinking, ‘What’s the point?'”

In May, Mills shared a different kind of video. “Burnt Out at 19” showed her crying and cursing, frustrated her dream job had turned into a nightmare.

Physically, I remember feeling always stressed. There was never a time I felt relaxed. I remember walking outside and thinking, ‘What’s the point?– Elle  Mills, YouTuber

Mills is just one of a growing number of YouTube stars going public about their anxieties. Alisha MarieEl Rubius and the Dolan Twins all have spoken out about burnout and taken breaks from posting.

In announcing her break earlier this year — in an update titled “This isn’t Goodbye” — Marie said “mental health is so much more important than anything else.” The Dolan Twins, meanwhile, talked about needing to take care of life beyond YouTube.