Dixie D'Amelio experienced a meteoric rise to fame alongside her younger sister, Charli, as the two teens caught the attention of TikTok users and built a following that quickly catapulted them into careers. But with both the recognition and responsibility that has come with her platform, the 20-year-old has been forced to confront some issues with her mental health in order to deal with her relatively new fast-paced life.
While the 20-year-old singer and social media star has only recently opened up about the severity of her struggles with anxiety and depression in the family's Hulu reality show, The D'Amelio Show, Dixie tells Yahoo Life that her mental health has been a focus for many years.
"I've been dealing with things my whole life with mental health, living in the time where it's like, 'What is wrong with me? I'm the only person dealing with this.' That's how I was feeling for a very long part of my life. And it wasn't easy," she says. "It was even harder to try to explain to my parents who just didn't get it. They didn't understand mental health."
Within the first few episodes of the reality series, the role that Dixie's parents, Marc and Heidi D'Amelio, play in their daughter's mental health is evident. They even sit by her side during a panic attack that Dixie allowed to be filmed for the show. Admittedly, Marc and Heidi's approach is to let professionals help where they don't feel equipped.
"Explaining that this isn't anything I can control — like I can work out, I can do this, do that — but it is affecting me and I'm doing everything I can, but I can't help it on my own. That was a big struggle," Dixie explains. "But with my parents' help and them taking me to doctors and making sure I'm eating the right food and working out and just having them to talk to has been so helpful. It really helped to start my journey in a positive way of how I can get myself out of these times where I feel like I can't help myself at all."
Here she talks more about the impact of her decision to open up to followers about that journey.
Why did you decide to share your mental health journey publicly? What was that like?
I feel like it was just trial and error for me. When I first started talking about it online, the feedback was not positive. It was more like, you have this perfect life and perfect everything and you're miserable, like shut up. And that's when I kind of stepped back for myself and was like, wait, you're right. But even though I can see it from that perspective, it doesn't change the fact that other people are dealing with this too. How can I help them with the tools that I've learned by being a positive figure on the internet that can relate?
That's kind of the route I went with The D'Amelio Show. I was very open and showed literally what I felt was rock bottom at the time to share my emotions and show my path and how I've dealt with it and where I am now.
There are a lot of very vulnerable moments featured on the show. What has it been like to rewatch those once the show was released?
It's definitely a little embarrassing, I think. I feel like that always happens whenever you are in such a bad place or having such a bad time, you look back and you're like, 'Oh, well, what was wrong with me? Why was I like feeling that way? Like everything was fine.' So that was definitely something that I was a little embarrassed about when it came out, but I am happy that it did because of all the feedback and all the people saying I helped them or they can relate to those moments. That's what makes it all worth it. So a little embarrassment is OK because I just want to make other people happy.
What has the reaction to your openness been like?
I didn't really think that it was working until I started going out in public and people would come up to me and say how helpful it was. And that really is what made it feel like I was doing the right thing. And I'm very happy with how it all happened.
What is your approach to criticism that you've faced since being honest about your struggles?
I obviously have felt a lot of different ways about this. But where I am now, I have kind of been listening to and reflecting on the hate comments that say, 'I would go into your shoes for a day. This is something people dream for and you're complaining about it.' I've thought of my younger self and what I would have felt being in the position, and I just know that I would regret not enjoying every opportunity or just taking opportunities. Because Charli and I both were not doing things because we were scared that we might get hate about something. So at this point, we're both just like, let's enjoy this. Let's not let other people take away from the opportunities we have because we are making people happy. And at the same time, we would be so mad at ourselves if we didn't do this.
One of those opportunities, which caused a bit of controversy, landed you a music career. You just released your latest song "The Real Thing," seemingly about a romantic relationship. What is it like to put that out there?
I think it's fun. I feel like for a while I was very nervous about sharing art with the world because it's scary. And especially when you're putting so many feelings behind a song and people are judging it for the words you're saying and the story you're trying to tell. With "The Real Thing," I've sat with this song for a little while now. It's been a part of my Social Tourist line [a clothing collection that Dixie and Charli started with Hollister] and the fashion show, and it's also been a part of The D'Amelio Show and the whole process has been shown, so I was just excited for it to come out because it's represented so many different milestones of my life this past year that I think it's even kind of changed its meaning.
When I first heard the song, which was about a year ago, it is about a relationship, it is about a boy, but I don't see it that way anymore. I see it more as finding the real me, finding myself. And with the lyric video, we chose videos from throughout The D'Amelio Show and throughout my life. And that's why I really loved it. I also love how connected my followers and supporters were with it because they have heard the song for a while and have been asking for it. I actually sent it out to some fans, I'm going to be honest. It was like a week before it came out, but they were just dying for it.
It's so cool that you have that relationship with fans! Have you been able to set boundaries?
I feel like it's hard because you build such a close relationship with the people that support you, that I forget that they're not in my daily life. I forget that I won't see them every day. But I do try to keep them in my life and in my relationship, even if it's in group chats or privately. I know the concerns about it and I know it could not always be the safest, but I just enjoy talking to them. I enjoy hearing about their lives and helping them out and giving them advice because I needed that when I was their age and I still need it. I luckily have a lot of people around me who I can go to talk to you, but not everyone has that. So I try to be that person and anything I can do to make their lives a little simpler, I try to do.
What about boundaries in your professional life?
I just think of what my younger self would've wanted to do. I always wanted to make my own schedule, I wanted to be creative and I've built this life for myself where I can do that and I can help other people be creative. And I love it. It does get overwhelming sometimes, but I do enjoy working. I like always working because it keeps me busy and that kind of weirdly helps with my mental health. It might be a little bit of avoidance, but sometimes that's OK.
When the cameras are off and the phones are put away, what does "me" time look like for you?
I really try to do little things to just take care of myself because when I'm busy, I don't always have the time. So I'll file my nails down and make sure they're clean and perfect, or I'll do a hair mask and sit with that. I just try to do the little things that I love doing that I don't always have time for when I'm [working] nonstop. I'll organize little things that I'm always using and [it] gets messy really fast. Things like that. And that has really helped me just stay on top of my stuff and just stay focused throughout all this.
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