Jesse Katches is a mental health advocate, self-development enthusiast, and video content creator; where he talks about feelings, mental health, anxiety, and more with over 500k followers across TikTok and Instagram.
He sat down with me to talk about how he’s lived with anxiety, what he’s done to navigate through that, and how he’s using his experiences to help others going through something similar. Let’s take a deeper dive into my refreshing discussion with him.
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1AND1: How did you start making these videos that have gone viral on social media?
Jesse: I’ve been creating for a long, long time. It all started when my brothers, friends, and I would make short films or TikTok-esque content before that was such a thing. Growing up, we had just been messing around with a camcorder and liked to recreate these movies. As I got older, I got away from them and took a path I felt I should take to get a nice job. I was working a job in LA that was draining my soul, and I got to the point where I wanted to do something that allowed me to pursue my passions.
I left that job and pursued video creation as a career, working on commercial sets. Mental health has always been something that I’ve been passionate about, and that’s when it clicked for me. I wanted to make content that allowed me to share my personal experiences with mental health, my struggles, and more. That became my outlet, and I began sharing videos focusing on mental health-related messages on my Instagram and TikTok.
@jessekatches Day 22 #mentalhealthawarenessmonth and asking productive questions.. Todays Q: How can I apply something I’ve learned today? #mindsetshift #growthmindset #selfimprovement #personalgrowth #selfdevelopment #fyp #wecanlearn ♬ original sound – Jesse Katches
1AND1: When you create these videos, what approach do you keep in mind?
Jesse: I focus on the experiences I’ve gone through when it comes to mental health struggles in my life. The younger version of myself felt alone and hopeless, and I wanted to create messages and videos for others who may feel the same way as my younger self did. I know the pain they’re going through, so when people come across my content, I want to be helpful and provide a helpful word or reminder to support and encourage them through whatever is going on in their lives.
1AND1: Can you talk more about when you started to experience anxiety and when you started seeing OCD tendencies?
Jesse: Growing up, at times, my house felt a bit chaotic, and as the youngest of 6 kids, I think as a way to try to control it, I started exhibiting OCD tendencies. It’s funny because I don’t remember this, but my mom said when I was about 11 or 12, I came to her and started talking about these obsessions with having things clean and orderly – which were characteristics of OCD.
At the time, we didn’t know what OCD was. We didn’t have any reference to it, so my mom missed it, understandably. It wasn’t until later when she was watching Oprah and Oprah had a guest on her show, that she asked if anyone else’s child experienced or displayed these tendencies – and that was the ding-ding moment. She said, “Oh my gosh, this is Jesse!”
1AND1: After figuring out about your OCD and anxiety, was it hard living with it and navigating through your struggles?
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Jesse: I’ve dealt with anxiety and OCD in different ways throughout my life, but I will say I approach it much differently now than I ever did before. used to run away from anything that felt “bad,” and I would try to do anything to feel better immediately because I feared the pain of sitting in those feelings. But now I realize that allowing ourselves to feel and explore our various emotions is so important for healing and breaking through to the other side.”
1AND1: Would you say you’ve found ways to meet your anxiety head-on now? If so, how do you do it?
Jesse: Definitely, I used to believe anxiety was something I needed to get rid of to feel better, but now I recognize that’s not the case. Anxiety is simply a natural process in our body to help us survive threatening situations. It’s not something to get rid of but rather to recalibrate to use it as intended.
I often view it like a security system on your home – you don’t want to get rid of the whole system just because the alarm goes off when a squirrel runs by; instead, you want to turn down the sensitivity so that it works like its supposed to and keeps your home safe from true threats. I believe the best way to do this with our anxiety is to continually take small steps of action toward the things that scare us, and the more we do that, the more our bodies and anxiety will recalibrate themselves.
1AND1: Do you have other ways to process or explore your emotions and feelings?
@jessekatches Day 8 of asking more productive questions for #mentalhealthawarenessmonth Q: What’s something in my life that’s causing me to grow right now? #fypシ #growthmindset #struggleisreal #seasonsoflife #selflovejourney #selfcare #yourenotalone #mentalhealthmatters #mentalwellness ♬ original sound – Jesse Katches
Jesse: I stay very active, which has so many benefits for our mental health. More specifically, with anxiety, it’s kind of like a shot of adrenaline in your system, so using your body and releasing that energy in productive ways is something I try to do on a regular basis.
That’s one way I process things, but on the Off the Cuff Podcast with Danny LoPriore, I talked about a book called Dare by Barry McDonagh. It’s a really good book and walks you through an acronym for handling anxious feelings. The whole point of the book is to run towards your feelings and feel them to get through them. So I follow this acronym and practice exploring my emotions with that as a guide – whether I’m physically writing it out or it’s just in my head that I’m doing it.
It’s phenomenal and truly works wonders. I recommend everybody with anxiety to read that book.
1AND1: What piece of advice would you give someone who is afraid to explore their feelings?
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Jesse: For me personally, one of the most difficult things to grasp, especially when speaking about anxiety, was the counterintuitive nature of progress. I used to believe that feeling anxiety was bad and harmful. This makes sense because it often comes in the form of scary thoughts or sensations and can be really painful. But in my experience, I’ve learned that progress comes from allowing yourself to feel those sensations and actually running toward them rather than away from them.
When you build a habit of feeling anxiety and moving forward anyways and exposing yourself little by little to these fears, you eventually build up this track record of small victories that you can look back on and celebrate, which is huge.
Because in most cases, I don’t believe anxiety is this one big thing that needs to be “healed,” and when you do, you’ll feel better forever; rather, I believe you’ll start to feel better and build confidence when you consistently take action towards what scares you, and you begin to recognize that you’re way more courageous than you ever believed before.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity