Hannah Hart talks about her struggle with mental health in 'Buffering'

LOS ANGELES — Just because Hannah Hart rose to fame on YouTube doesn’t mean her new book is an extension of her vlog.

That was the case with her first book, My Drunk Kitchen, which landed on the New York Times bestseller list in 2014. Kind of a guide to eating, it was written in a similar tone to her hilarious, quirky drunk kitchen show on YouTube.

Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded, published Tuesday, offers Hart’s 2.5 million YouTube followers a more intimate look at her life. 

Hart says that many of her friends and peers in the digital entertainment space don’t even know about her past — including her struggles with mental health, drug use and self-harm.

“I’m nervous about the whole book,” Hart told Mashable. “It is vulnerable. The thing I do is entertainment, it’s shiny and pretty stuff. This is the real me. The process of writing it was incredibly cathartic.”  

The title for the book comes from Hart’s idea of “boundaries + process = buffering.”

“The book is filled with stuff that I was processing privately that I’m now ready to publicly share,” she says. “Buffering itself comes from that idea that it something hasn’t loaded yet, or not ready for you to see. 

“It’s how I feel about the content of this book. It’s stuff I kept close to my chest because it needed its own processing time.”

Hart, a bookworm, said she gravitated toward memoirs such as Jeanette Walls’ The Glass Castle as a child. 

“Reading books helped me feel less lonely growing up,” she said. “When you come from unorthodox, dysfunctional background, it’s nice to feel like you’re not alone.” 

Hart’s “dysfunctional” past is at the core of her book, with much of the text coming straight out of a decade’s worth of of journals, which Hart excerpts here. 

It starts and ends with stories about Hart’s mom Annette, who suffers from schizophrenia, and has been homeless.

“It’s hard to describe the book in one line because it deals with so much — our mental health system, the struggle my family has not only with my mom’s psychosis but also homelessness and poverty, and my experiences with the cops,  depression, sexuality and self harm. And ultimately all this culminating into me being a famous person. It’s really a journey.”

One of the biggest challenges for Hart in documenting this journey was being true to the characters aka the people in her life, especially her sister Naomi, who shared their childhood experience.

“Autobiography is really hard to write because every character is an actual living breathing person,” Hart said. “I was really really conscious of trying to do right. 

“I sent Naomi a copy of the book as soon as I had one in my hand and said ‘thank you so much for letting me share our story.’ She said ‘thanks for sharing mom’s journey,’ and that meant so much to me.”

Though Buffering is technically a memoir, Hart said she hopes it can provide people with some kind of self-help.

“Not everyone can go to therapy, so in the book I kind of lay out what I learned in therapy,” she says. “I hope those who don’t gravitate toward self help might inadvertently get self help through this, it’s a spoon full of sugar.”

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