I always say I’m not one for YouTuber books. It would really have to speak to me. I’ve bought some YouTube vegan cookbooks and one other biography. Hannah Hart’s book was always on my radar but due to preconceived ideas I never picked it up. That was until I wanted to read about someone’s path with mental health. Living in the centre of off kilter mental health I was desperate to reach out to someone else’s story. I have watched Hannah for years now, not regularly but there has always been something enticing about her abundant happiness – it’s infectious. I had so many ill preconceived notions about Hannah’s life – I assumed she had no problems, I assumed everything worked for her and with the help of hard work and positivity she got to where she is. Wow, was Buffering eye-opening for me!
From the first chapter we were introduced to her family. We got to know Annette, her mother, Naomi and Maggie, her sisters and the other prominent figures in her life. Her mother struggles with schizophrenia and due to that they lived through hardship that no child should experience. What stood out to me the most was how Hannah stepped forward to take care of Maggie. The strongest story in my head is Hannah as a child rushing home to find toddler Maggie eating cigarettes off the ground. Every time Hannah recounted an experience like this or telling the cops about her situation hoping her younger sister could have a better life it showed the immense courage and foresight Hannah had as a child.
I related to Hannah in parts; mostly her struggle with guilt around religion and family as well as struggling with mental health. When Hannah spoke about flying on the plane and she was sure she was going to die because she enjoyed herself at Burning Man. I had this experience hugely through my teens. If I was able to enjoy myself without thinking of God then why shouldn’t I be punished for it? This is something I am coming to terms with but it has taken years. Hannah perfectly explained that overhanging guilt when it came to religion. Like Hannah, it took world experiences to question my thinking and realise something wasn’t adding up. It wasn’t comforting me and making me happy – it was terrifying me.
When Hannah spoke about her struggle with coming to terms with her sexual orientation due to her ideas about sexuality it really opened my eyes. As a straight woman I never thought about the fact it was celebrated when I had a date to prom or when I had a first kiss. Hannah was expected to supress and ignore any feelings she had. That internal struggle with “right” and “wrong” must have been immense. Although I can’t understand the struggle it takes to come to terms of being gay, I can understand the strength and bravery it takes to be true to yourself and not become overwhelmed by the opinions of others.
All in all this book is a gem. It is filled with knowledge and mistakes and love and hate and respect and emotions and self realisation. When I think of a biography I think of someone pouring their soul into it even if it is tough. Hannah did exactly that and more. Any ill preconceived notion I had about Hannah Hart was wiped away and now I see her as a hard working, determined, strong, caring individual. When she is struggling, she seems to struggle but not let it overwhelm her. That is something I am trying to learn.
If I could talk to Hannah I would ask her what it must feel like bearing your thoughts on paper for the world. How she came to terms with religion ruling her thoughts and how she gets on with life even when it seems overwhelming.