Hélène Boudreau's 152K Instagram followers are used to seeing her post about nights on the town, tattoos, art and OnlyFans. But earlier this week, the Quebec content creator used her platform to talk about something out of the ordinary: her mental health, including her borderline personality disorder diagnosis.
She said she wanted to raise awareness because "it's important to talk about mental illness, to support people who are suffering."
In a series of Instagram stories on September 21, Boudreau opened up about her mental health after posting a photo of a $24,000 cheque she wrote to Fondation Casse-Tête.
"A lot of people ask me what this foundation is, it's a foundation for mental illnesses that helps people who are suffering, and I've been diagnosed as [having] borderline [personality disorder] since 2017. I think it's important to talk about mental health openly and support those that are affected," Boudreau said.
"Unfortunately, even in 2021, it's not well recognized. People suffering from borderline, bipolar, anxiety and depression are still being judged, still being singled out."
According to Quebec.ca, people with borderline personality disorder "have an intense fear of losing loved ones" and "feel easily rejected or abandoned by others, which creates conflicts in their social relationships."
This disorder, therefore, affects the way a person acts, thinks and behaves as well as their emotions and self-image.
Boudreau, the new owner of two Montreal triplexes, finished by emphasizing that it's important for people to have a better understanding of this subject in order to support those who juggle mental health disorders on a daily basis, without judging them.
"I still remember when I was diagnosed in 2017 as if it was shameful to be borderline and have a mental illness. I swore to myself that I wouldn't talk about it to anyone as if it were a curse. You can never get over it but you can learn to live with it. Today I live in harmony with my borderline personality disorder and I am 0% ashamed to talk about it because it's normal," she said.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with depression or mental health concerns, please reach out to a trusted peer, parent or health care professional. You can also contact a helpline which is available 24 hours a day to talk. Or click here, for additional resources.
If you need immediate assistance please call 9-1-1 or go to your nearest hospital. Support is available.
Boudreau recently told Narcity Québec that sex work comes with getting "bashed" and "ridiculed," which is "hard on morale." But a new Instagram post throws shade at her haters, as she documents her journey from sleeping on a mattress on the floor to becoming a millionaire who owns two triplexes — all in the span of one year.
"First they laughed at me, but now they ask how i did this? " wrote Boudreau in the post. She also included photos of both versions of herself — one from a year ago and herself today.
"This one single picture I have in my hands changed my life drastically," Boudreau said, referencing her UQAM grad photo.
"Here's why: never in my existence I would've believed you if you had told me 1 year ago that I would be a millionaire before my 30th. [...] Exactly ONE YEAR AGO I was living in a colocation with my friend. I had just one mattress and a few boxes of clothes."
Boudreau went on to say she is now the "proud owner" of three triplexes — six units — valued at $3 million. She shared photos of the properties with the post.
"Believe me… in just one year your life can change for the very best. I believe in hard work but what's better than working hard, you may ask? Working smarter. That's the key to success," she said.
"Believe in yourself & you're halfway there. So cheesy but so goddamn true. Special thank you at my university and to all my clients you are the real mvp."
Last week, Boudreau told MTL Blog she was in a "very stressful situation" since her main source of income is OnlyFans. She also said she didn't put in an offer on a converted church she was considering buying in case she didn't have a job in a few months' time.
So how is Boudreau feeling about OnlyFans and the state of the sex work industry now?
Thank you to everyone for making your voices heard.
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While Boudreau no longer has to worry about losing 95% of her monthly income, she told Narcity Québec that sex workers are left with the lingering feeling of being "used" by OnlyFans.
"I was very shocked that they were banning porn because that's what made them famous and made them rich. They made a lot of money off of us and now they're telling us, 'Bye, we don't need you anymore,'" Boudreau said.
"After three days, they tell us 'No, we want you, come.' We feel really used. We feel like they are laughing at us. It's completely ridiculous because this is our job. [...] It is not done. We feel we are being manipulated and then we feel like going elsewhere."
Boudreau said she believes OnlyFans suspended the planned changes after seeing how many sex workers spoke out about leaving the platform or creating their own platforms. She said OnlyFans likely saw how much money they'd lose with creators closing their accounts due to the news.
"It's like if Lay's announces they're not selling chips anymore and everyone says, "Come on, what are you going to sell us?" Lay's announces they're just selling us the empty bag. Everyone is like, "But we're buying Lay's because we want the chips and not the bag," Boudreau said.
She said she's learned that you can't rely on platforms — OnlyFans or otherwise. That's why, she said, she has Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and more "as backups because you never know if OnlyFans is going to close overnight."
"It's hard enough being in sex work. We get bashed, ridiculed, judged and our own platform kicks us out. It's really hard on morale sometimes," Boudreau said.
"Even if OnlyFans bans us, even if we lose our Instagram or our Facebook, porn and sex are still going to exist. I don't see why every platform is fighting to erase us. [...] The world buys our content, so we're not the ones to blame. It's supply and demand."
It also has a basement, third-floor "bell tower," mezzanine with TV area, laundry room, recreation area with a game room (pool table, jukebox), wood-burning stove and an extra enclosed room that can be used as a bedroom or home office.
The space has been updated to accommodate people living there — for example, there's a geothermal heating and cooling system — but much of the church's character remains, and can be found in the stain-glass windows and other architectural details.
Though Boudreau, who has claimed to make 7 figures a year on Onlyfans, seemed smitten with the church in her post, she followed up with a story saying she didn't put in an offer after hearing the news that OnlyFans would ban "sexually explicit" content come October. She told MTL Blog she was planning to look around and "maybe" buy it.
Description: "Impressive church transformed into a residence, while preserving its architectural details that will charm you," reads the listing. And if you don't believe the listing, take Hélène Boudreau's word for it.
"Effective 1 October, 2021, OnlyFans will prohibit the posting of any content containing sexually-explicit conduct," said OnlyFans in an email shared with MTL Blog. "To ensure the long-term sustainability of the platform, and to continue to host an inclusive community of creators and fans, we must evolve our content guidelines."
Nude content will still be allowed, it said, as long it's in line with the company's Acceptable Use Policy.
While cooking, fitness, self-care and more exist on OnlyFans, the platform is best known for its sexual content, with fans paying sex workers a monthly fee to access their content.
OnlyFans has not yet specified what "sexually explicit conduct" entails, so it's still not entirely clear what these changes mean for content creators. The emailed statement said the company would be sharing more details in the coming days.
Meanwhile, sex workers like Boudreau are bracing themselves for what comes next.
How do you feel about the news that OnlyFans will no longer allow 'sexually explicit' content?
"When I heard the news, I was a bit confused and worried. But I knew I would find an alternative if OnlyFans closed down permanently or we couldn't post explicit images. I'm lucky enough to have saved a lot of money and have several other income streams, such as the MYM platform or webcamming with Jerkmate," Boudreau said.
"[But] it's for sure that OnlyFans is my main source of income so it's a very stressful situation."
How will this change impact your career?
Boudreau said if OnlyFans is no longer an option, she's considering creating her own website where people could pay to access videos and photos she's posted using a credit card and PayPal system.
"Otherwise, Brazzers contacted me yesterday and [asked if] I might have thought of going for 'traditional' porn. But I have to admit that with OnlyFans, I'm fine like this," she said.
What are your plans now? Do you think you will move to a different platform?
For the moment, Boudreau said she has no plans to change platforms "because they [haven't confirmed] clearly that they will remove nudity and porn videos/photos."
Whatever happens next, Boudreau said she'll be prepared.
"I am a woman who loves challenges and can cope with any change of situation that life brings me! I think my bachelor's degree prepared me very well for challenges. I don't think that after four years of university there is anything that scares me more than school," she said.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.