Hannah Hart of 'My Drunk Kitchen' fame turned to meditation while helping mentally ill mother find care

YouTube star Hannah Hart is seen here during an interview with ABCs Dan Harris for his "10% Happier" podcast. PlayABC News
WATCH 'My Drunk Kitchen's' Hannah Hart on growing up with a mentally ill mother

YouTube star and comedian Hannah Hart, best known for her boozy cooking mishaps on her popular series, “My Drunk Kitchen,” said she turned to meditation while she was working to get her mentally ill mother proper care.

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Meditation "helps with my reactivity,” Hart told ABC News' Dan Harris during an interview for his podcast/livestream show, “10% Happier.” “On the outside, I’m always seemingly pretty calm unless I’m super happy, but on the inside, I can get really anxious really fast and meditation has kind of helped me control that.”

Her older sister, Naomi, introduced her to the guided meditation app Headspace, and it has “brought meditation into my daily life,” Hart said. “I’m not forcing myself to calm down. I just have more calm in me.”

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Hart’s bubbly, shiny personality online has earned her millions of fans, many of whom were surprised to learn about her life-long private struggle of dealing with mental health issues in her family, as detailed in her memoir, “Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded.”

In her memoir, Hart, 30, goes into great detail about her profound family issues growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Hart said her parents split up when she was a baby and she and her sister, Naomi, were mainly raised by their mother, Annette, who suffers from psychosis, in a home that Hart described as being in total squalor. She and her sister also spent time with their father, a devout Jehovah’s Witness -- something Hart also described as having issues with.

“I think my ability to feel compassion for another person has been a great blessing in my life and it’s something my mother has taught me. My ability to have great optimism is something my mother has taught me. But at the same time she hasn’t been the most reliable parent, through no fault of her own,” Hart said. “Everyone’s trauma is different, but it really took me a long time to realize, and I’m still kind of in denial, I guess, that it was more abnormal than normal.”

Hart’s book is told from her perspective of watching her mother’s condition worsen over time, eventually leading Hart to care for her. Last year, her mother was placed in an involuntary psychiatric hold, which eventually led Hart to become her conservator.

“The book really deals with kind of my mother’s decent, eventually culminating in homelessness, eventually culminating me trying to provide care for her and my journey from a child to an adult trying to provide care for this person that I love, love deeply, and coming against a system that literally told me, ‘There’s nothing you can do,’” Hart said.

Hart had become an established YouTube sensation when she won her case to be allowed to become her mother's conservator, meaning she can make decisions about her mother’s psychiatric wellbeing on her behalf -- something she said is almost never granted. She has become an outspoken advocate for mental health reform.

“I can say, with total sincerity, that the only reason I pursued entertainment was to spread this message,” Hart said. “I’m really lucky that I’m funny, because it gave me a platform to do this.”

Hart’s most-well known series, “My Drunk Kitchen,” was started by accident, Hart said. In 2011, she was living in New York City and wanted to cheer up a friend back in California, so she sent her a YouTube video of herself getting drunk while cooking. That video ended up going viral -- today it has over 4.1 million views -- and seeing an opportunity, she began to do more.

Since then, Hart has built an entire “Harto” YouTube brand that includes videos of candid confessions about coming out as gay, quirky dating and relationship advice, hilarious DIY mishaps and hanging out and drinking with friends.

Her main YouTube channel now has over 2.5 million subscribers. She has 1.3 million followers on Instagram and 1 million followers on Twitter. In addition, she has written two books, starred in two straight-to-VOD movies and hosted several live #NoFilterShows.

Her next project is to switch from the internet to television with a Food Network series, though she said it will not be a TV-version of “My Drunk Kitchen.”

“I want to be able to have that freedom to post and say and do whatever I want,” she said. “Television, in a lot of ways -- you have to work with a bigger partner, and ‘My Drunk Kitchen’ is just for me and my friends.”

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