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Behzinga: How I overcame drinking and depression

By Levi Jouavel
Newsbeat reporter

Published
image copyrightPatrick Dickens

On YouTube, he appears as a really fun and outgoing guy - but inside, he felt miserable.

Ethan Payne, who you might know as Behzinga, is one of the biggest YouTubers in the UK with over four million subscribers.

He's one of the Sidemen - arguably the UK's most popular YouTube collective.

He spoke to Radio 1 Newsbeat about overcoming his heavy drinking and depression - it's the first time he has opened up about his mental health.

When he joined the Sidemen, he was heavily trolled about his weight.

"When you're uploading videos that go out to millions of people and receiving these comments, your brain tends to pay attention to the negative ones more," he says.

"After a long time it makes you shell up and feel like you don't have any confidence."

That's when the heavy drinking started.

"I was living with a few YouTubers and I'd just sit in my office and drink away, just wasting away the evenings.

"The lifestyle didn't necessarily help at the time, we would stay up until silly hours in the morning and not get much sleep because we were just recording videos," he tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

Ethan says in the series he was "intoxicated seven days out of seven" and "didn't want to be here anymore".

The Sidemen have almost 10 million subscribers on their joint channel and 106 million on their individual channels combined.

In a new YouTube series called How to be: Behzinga, fellow Sidemen member Josh says: "I knew Ethan felt down, but not that down."

Ethan says he felt pressure to present the best version of himself so his friends and family wouldn't recognise his struggles.

"Being friends with six boys who are all doing the same thing, you don't want to burden your friends with your feelings, especially when they're trying to be productive.

"I ended up feeling like I was a let down to my friends and like I was the heavy baggage that everyone was pulling along."

image copyrightPatrick Dickens
image captionEthan has been training with famous athletes to prepare him for the marathon.

In England, about 1 in 8 men have a common mental health problem.

But men are often more reluctant to ask for help or speak to a friend or family member about it.

"The 'macho man' thing is very common amongst men growing up, there's the stereotype that you have to be as hard as nails and be there for everyone else.

"But I feel like nowadays, it is being spoken about more, especially in the last two years. It's being brought up in conversations more."

The series also documents his family life and his training routine to achieve his ultimate goal of running the London marathon.

Ethan says he wants his story to help young men who might be going through similar struggles as he did.

"When people say open up, you don't have to just pour yourself out there, but start having these conversations. Start saying, 'You know what, I don't feel too good today'.

"Try and make some small goals, you'll get a feeling of accomplishment and you might even come up with more goals.

"And finally, fall in love with processes - don't try and chase the end result and really enjoy everything you're experiencing."

The first two episodes of 'How to be: Behzinga' are on YouTube now.

If you've been affected by any issues in this story you can visit the BBC Action Line for help.

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Related Topics

  • Depression
  • YouTubers
  • YouTube
  • Mental health

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