Gee Nelly has been through many digital forms. She used to be the video editor for the world famous Sidemen, aka Europe’s largest Youtube collective including KSI, Miniminter, Zerkaa, TBJZL, Behzinga, Vikkstar123, and W2S. The group has amassed over 43.6 billion views. The boys found Gee before the world did, and not long after she started playing in their ranks - literally.

She’s a top Twitch streamer - front and centre creating her own content. But the road to online fandom doesn’t come without its challenges. At the peak of her streaming career, she suffered a psychotic break that led to her ultimate Borderline Personality Disorder diagnosis. She found solace in the UK platform Shout, a free 24/7 online chat service with trained volunteers to help people through their mental health struggles.

Now, she’s back and better than ever about to launch her own Twitch talk show.

We sat down with the content creator to discuss her quick come-up in the Youtube community, her time with the Sidemen and taking her first family vacation.

SquareMile: How did you get into the world of video editing?

Gee Nelly: I always watched Youtube from a very young age. I used to sit down and make vlogs before it was even a thing. I loved video, I always had the interest. When I was really little, I used to make movies with my cousins and grandparents. I’d direct them - I’d say you’re staring in this film and you two are in this one. I used to make my grandad act. And then we’d play the films for the whole family at Christmas. It’s so funny to look back on. I took it so seriously. This is what led me to the video editing world.

SM: How did you meet the Sidemen?

GN: I got a job in Dublin to work for a big media company to edit their content. Then one day I was at a house party, and the Sidemen were there. They were huge at the time. I knew who they were, and they were looking for a video editor. We just got to talking and they asked me to join them. I quit my job and started the next day. I always tell people - the only reason I’m here is because of that conversation. Those little talks can make your whole career.

SM: What did the job look like in the beginning?

GN: It started with gameplay footage. So I used to just cut down their playing. Tobi used to play a lot of tell tale games, the story based games like The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us and Life is Strange. It was like editing a really good story. But this is what really got me into gaming. I used to watch the boys play the game and then I’d go home and play the games myself.

SM: What’s your favourite memory working with them?

GN: I used to work at the old Sidemen house. JJ (KSI) was practising for this saxophone video. All day, he played this one chord of the saxophone. From literally 10 am in the morning till 10 pm while we worked. It was soul destroying but funny to look back on now and laugh. I have so many memories with them. That one is just stuck in my memory. Those boys have put on some of the best events and I’ve met the most amazing people through them.

SM: How did you make the transition from working with them to being one of the dominant players in their field?

GN: It’s weird because I never expected to do it. I was working full time for them, nine to five, Monday to Saturday most weeks. I used to just stream on the side. But I was very new to playing. I streamed from my laptop from my xbox. If you know anything about streaming, it was the lowest quality you can do. But because people saw me around the boys so much their fan base trickled into mine.

It’s extremely hard to get into this industry. There’s 40-50 thousand people streaming live every single day - so to get noticed in that is nearly impossible. It’s a needle in the haystack kind of thing. The boys were so supportive of me. When Simon was offline, he’d put my channel on his channel. I was so blessed with it.

Then I transitioned into working with Willne. I’d finish work at seven and stream at night into the early hours. Then COVID happened. Two weeks before we got the lockdown announcement, I stopped working for Will. There wasn’t anything more for me to learn with editing. His channel has skyrocketed. He needed someone to be fully dedicated but I loved streaming. So I quit. I was making under 300 quid a month from streaming. It was a huge risk. But I knew it was the time to do it. Lockdown happened, and everyone was at home. My stream went absolutely crazy. I feel like everything was just a blessing, the path just sort of cleared.

SM: For someone who has no idea about Twitch and the gaming industry: how would you describe it?

GN: I still can't even explain it to my grandparents. But - it’s like live sporting events, but gaming. You can watch any game you want being played live. A lot of times people say, ‘why wouldn’t you just play it by yourself?’ Well because a lot of the time people don’t have the time to play by themselves, or can’t afford the game. Or they love the personality of the player. Or enjoy someone who’s really good at playing - which isn’t me.

SM: Wait - you’re not good at the games?

GN: Whenever I tell people I play video games for a living, people assume you must be really good. But I’m not! I’m a better than average player. I play because I enjoy them. I don’t take it too seriously. But I’ve played professional Minecraft for the last three years now. There’s a big event where they get Minecraft streamers together and you play in teams against each other. I was put in to balance out the levels. So they would put me with really good players.

I got decent at it! They did their first ever live event in Vegas, which was really cool because we got to play in front of a live audience. And I came dead last, so. You know! And because I was dead last I kept being shown on the stream. And I was like why am I getting so much attention? And then I was like oh, I think I’m being made fun of. (She laughs)

SM: Okay so if you’re not being followed because you’re incredible at the games - what is it about you that’s made so many people tune in?

GN: I’m quite chatty. I’m not loud but I play quite enthusiastically. One thing I love about streaming is the community. There’s a lot of chat. I’m very interactive. I’ve been streaming since 2016. And I’ve got people in my chat that have grown up and had babies and they send me photos and it’s just crazy.

SM: Tell me about a day in the life of a streamer?

GN: It can change so much. I might have an event come up to cover games, or speak. I love all the gaming events and shows like comic-con. Right now, streaming is at the lowest point for me. There’s no games I enjoy. Lockdown was such a high. I’m focusing on my long term business. I’m nearly 30 and now it’s about investments and where I see my career going long term. I want to be Gee Nelly, not just a gaming streamer. I’m currently creating a talk show for Twitch chat. I’m really excited to launch it. That is my big next step.

I want to be more of a mental health advocate. I want to do a series on it because most of my life has been consumed by mental health. That’s something that my twitch chat is extremely aware of. I went through a psychotic breakdown during my streaming career. When you’re live streaming, you’re live. You can’t fake it or act. I think that’s one of the reasons my community is with me, because they feel safe in my chat.

SM: What caused that psychotic snap?

GN: It’s odd because when you go through an episode, you black out for weeks. I got diagnosed with BPD after this breakdown. I struggled with relationships and abandonment and I didn’t know how to deal with it all in my head. I had to do a lot of work. Such silly things could upset me - how someone reacted. My mind was corrupted and negative. It was instantly a dark place for me.

After my diagnosis, I worked on myself. When it got negative, I’d talk through it and write stuff down. I’d tell my friends and I’d slowly teach myself through it. I had to learn about myself. It’s so hard. My friends were a huge blessing because they learned with me.

When you are depressed, you are depressed. That’s it. You are sad. You can’t see an exit or light. You have to push yourself to improve. It does get so much better. I did not think I’d get to this day. With the work I’ve done, and the support I have. I’m so proud of myself for getting to this point.

SM: What were the resources that you used that helped you get better?

GN: I struggled to speak in the beginning. I was always worried I would scare people. My thoughts were dark, I never wanted to put it on anyone else - it didn’t feel right. So I tried to go through the NHS, but unfortunately that was a very long journey. I tried the crisis hotline, but didn’t feel it was very helpful for me personally.

I ended up finding a service called Shout. It’s a free 24/7 text service that you can use in the UK whenever you’re struggling. I can’t even remember how I found it. You can text them, there’s a real person, a qualified person on the other end. When I finally had the space to say what was in my head to someone it stopped feeling so scary. It snapped me back into reality. I used to really struggle a lot with not feeling real. I spoke to my followers about this.

That text service ended up DMing me to tell me how many people had found them because of me. That was a big eye opener for me in my career. It took me back. I realised what I could do with my platform. That platform made all the difference. It really, really helped.

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SM: What’s been the biggest accomplishment you’ve had because of your platform?

GN: During Covid, when everything was happening with BLM, I wanted to do something. I’m obviously not in a position to speak about these things. I wanted stories, and real information to come from the actual people that were suffering. I couldn’t figure out how to do that without overstepping my mark. I didn’t want to tell other people’s stories.

So I did a live stream fundraising in silence. We ended up going for eight to twelve hours. I sat there and played, and I put together a collection of videos of people speaking out and talking about what was happening to them and talking about resources. I had that play while I live streamed.

People would come in and be like, ‘What's going on?’ and because I wasn’t speaking, the chat would explain. It got people talking about it, spreading information. We raised 23,000 dollars altogether. I had Simon and Tobi and the boys there supporting me. They all donated. That was an incredible moment.

SM: You recently took your mom on vacation for the first time in your life - can you tell me about that?

GN: Yes, it was the first time we’d ever taken a trip together. I grew up with a single mom because I lost my dad to mental health. He passed when I was a kid. My mom ended up working three jobs to support us. She was incredibly hard working. She’s been through so much. She’s overcome everything. We’d never been on a family holiday before. So I saved up the money to surprise her. She thought we were going to Portugal and she came to the airport in jeans. When she got there I told her I was taking her to the Bahamas. It was the most amazing time ever.

I filmed it for us to remember, and then I asked if we could upload it and she said I could. People responded so positively. Everyone knows my mom cause she comes on my Twitch and she’s always with me at my meet and greets. They love her. That was a moment of real gratitude. To be able to give back to my mom, after she raised me by herself. We grew up in a council estate, and my mum made it so beautiful for us. I had the most beautiful room. She put so much work into it for me.

If I could give anything back, it would be for her.