California native and son of Palestinian immigrants, 26-year-old Yousef Erakat has had a life-long struggle with bipolar depression. During his time at San Jose State University, he channeled his emotions into a YouTube page called fouseyTUBE. "When I first started, I would re-enact what it was like to live in a Middle Eastern household. I would dress up as my mom, my dad, my brother, my grandmother, my sister. How I got my idea was basically from my childhood,” he said. From there, his internet popularity grew, but so did his depression. In 2015, he opened up a second YouTube channel to document his personal struggles. There, he focused on transforming himself both physically through fitness, and emotionally. "Just because you have a mental disorder, it doesn't mean that you are limited in your success in life. It doesn't mean that you are restricted in receiving the blessings of life. So don't sell yourself short. You can get through it," he said. "I am proof that nothing can stop you." Today, the star of fouseyTUBE has over 12 million YouTube subscribers and is set to star in his first movie opposite Tyler Perry.
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More Pop Culture Connection Inspiration:
Actor Devon Murray of Harry Potter recently opened up about his struggles with depression and suicidal thoughts. The 27-year-old tweeted: “I’ve been battling depression in silence for ten years and only recently spoke about it and has made a huge difference. Open up, talk to people. If you suspect a friend or family member is suffering in silence #ReachOut to them. Let them know you care.” After speaking out, Murray’s fans responded by sharing their own battles with mental illness and continuing the conversation. Murray later thanked his courageous fans by tweeting: “I’m so happy that from me opening up it helped so many of you find the strength to. We are all loved and cared about by those around us #talk.” Murray is best-known for playing playing Gryffindor Seamus Finnigan in the 8th installment of the Harry Potter movies. More...
Singer-songwriter, JoJo burst onto the music scene at age 13. While the musical success came easy, it didn’t last. After a long hiatus and a lengthy legal battle with her record label, JoJo was depressed and drinking heavily. Pressure from record executives to lose weight lead her to take weight-loss injections and start questioning if she was good enough. Now 25, the singer is opening up about her road to recovery and addressing her mental health concerns: “I wouldn’t say that I’ve moved past them; I’m just finding ways to deal with them more constructively than trying to suppress them. Calling them out, owning them and acknowledging that I feel this way — and talking to friends, talking to a therapist and in having outlets though my music — I’m able to cope,” she says. “It makes me feel not so alone.” JoJo has since signed with Atlantic Records and recently released her new album, Mad Love. “I’m really not sorry for being myself,” said JoJo. More...
The ACA Pop Culture Connection Blog is written by ACA Communications Coordinator, Shahab Shokouhi-Behnam, to recognize celebrities who use their platforms to speak out about mental health, and to connect readers with unique pop culture-inspired news and resources.