Lele Pons Opens Up About Releasing the "Raw" & "Unfiltered" Series on Her OCD, Mental Health

The influencer spoke with E!'s Justin Sylvester about the response she's received to her YouTube docuseries The Secret Life of Lele Pons

By Allison Crist 24 Jun, 2020 10:32 PMTags
Watch: How Lele Pons Battles Her Severe OCD

Lele Pons doesn't want to keep any more secrets.

In honor of the recent release of the fifth and final episode of the world-famous influencer and singer's YouTube series The Secret Life of Lele Pons—which documented her experience with OCD, Tourette syndrome and additional personal struggles—E!'s Justin Sylvester dedicated this week's Just The Sip podcast to a lengthy conversation he and Lele had a few weeks ago.

At the time, the docuseries had just premiered, but the response was swift. Thankfully, much of what fans and even other YouTubers had to say was positive. 

"There's so many people that came out saying that they have OCD as well...Parents have come to me saying that their kid has OCD," Lele told Justin. "There are some people that are just like, 'This can't be real.' Because obviously some of them don't understand what OCD is, and some of them haven't seen me with OCD, of course. Like, I don't show that. I've never shown that. Everybody's, like, shocked."

Lele's Internet stardom dates back to 2013, when the now-defunct video platform Vine was in its heyday. Since then, she's continued to share comedy sketches and launched a music career, amassing tens of millions of followers along the way. 

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Years ago, Lele admittedly wouldn't have been willing to share her mental health struggles with neither her fans, or even her closest friends. 

"I kept it a secret for so long because I was really embarrassed," she explained on Just The Sip. "I didn't want people to see me differently...I don't know. I've had really bad experiences in the past, like when I was little with OCD, and people judging me. So I had that in my head for awhile."

She continued, "And then it got to a point where I couldn't function anymore and my managers and my friends kind of noticed, and I had to be completely honest with them. But they took it in such a good way; like, they were so supportive that it kind of made me realize that maybe there are people that are super supportive of this."

After opening up to her friends, Lele said she did the same with other people who have OCD. While grateful to hear about her experiences, some urged the importance of Lele using her platform to start a conversation.

She recalled being told, "You haven't used your platform for any causes; to do a big movement."

"And it's the truth," Lele added. "I am an influencer, but I haven't done anything like that and used my platform for something that helps a cause. I was like, this is so dear to my heart. I have to do this."

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Exclusive: Lele Pons Discusses Lifelong Struggle With Mental Health
YouTube

But telling the world about her OCD and other personal struggles wasn't something she wanted to do on a whim, or even with "just one video." The idea for a docuseries was eventually born, and The Secret Life of Lele Pons was filmed over the course of two years. 

Filming the series, as opposed to the types of videos she usually produces, was the easy part. What was much more difficult, as Lele told Justin, was putting it out into the world: "It's so raw. It's so unfiltered. You're literally letting people into your life."

Episode four—which focuses on the online hate Lele receives on a regular basis—was particularly hard for her to release.

"That's hard for me because I feel like I'm kind of giving the haters happiness—like letting them see they've affected me," Lele explained. "But I do wanna show that we all go through it."

She continued, "You being sad about something is okay. And I hope people will see that, that words do affect people, whether it's me or somebody else. I think it's important to show because I've never done it before. People probably think I don't care."

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What The Secret Life of Lele Pons doesn't really delve into, according to the 23-year-old, is her dating life. 

"Relationships, I suck. Because of OCD," Lele said. "That's why I don't really have boyfriends...When I like a guy, I become obsessed with them and do a lot of weird things. And they're like, 'Oookay, I can't do this.'"

Justin was happy to hear that Lele does want a boyfriend, and is even determined to set her up. 

"I'm sure going through this two-year process of making this documentary has honestly—I don't want to say 'relieved' you—but it's almost like you're being completely and openly authentic about who you are," he told Lele. "And now somebody's gonna be like, 'Okay, this is who she is and I can accept and deal and cater and love that.'"

Before closing out the conversation, Lele encouraged anyone who might be struggling with OCD to get help, whether that means reaching out to a loved one or by visiting resources like the International OCD Foundation.

Listen to the complete Just The Sip episode here.