City: Vancouver, Canada
Favourite thing about your city: Vancouver’s most beautiful beach, Wreck Beach! Bonus: it’s clothing optional
Tell us a fun fact about yourself: I am a college dropout turned into social entrepreneur!
What is your connection to mental illness?
When I was 15 years old, my best friend died by suicide. I have lived with depression and PTSD since then. In university, I burned-out and attempted suicide three times within a month. For the next two years, I struggled to stay in school despite anxiety attacks, more suicide attempts and visual hallucinations. I eventually dropped out of UBC due the incompatibility of the academic system with my mental health and started sharing my story. Since then, I have founded a mental health advocacy movement called The Tipping Point and it has turned into an opportunity to develop a career!
What does your everyday look like?
The self-employed life doesn’t have much of a routine, but I usually have 2-3 meetings per day, work 3-4 hours on my laptop, and commute 2-3 hours on the bus (books & podcasts help). I start the day with my morning meditation, smoothie breakfast, and cuddles with my dog. I maintain my physical health by lifting weights at the gym and getting 8-9 hours of sleep. In the evening, I plan the next day’s tasks, journal, stretch, dance, and meditate. Starting a business doesn’t leave much time for social gatherings, but I make sure to go to an event, grab coffee with a friend, or take an evening off once a week. Social media also takes up more of my time that I would like, but it’s something that I’m working on.
What advice would you give your younger self?
1 - Be honest with yourself. Possibly to that point that it hurts.
2 - You’ll get through the result of that discovery. Always ask yourself why. Why are you doing what you’re doing? Question your intentions. When you think you’ve got it, question yourself again.
And when you find out the real answer, and life not only turns upside down, but it cartwheels again and again, hold on tight. You will get through this. It will be a hell of a ride but it will be worth it and you will survive and thrive.
Who is a Role Model to you?
My good friend, Nicole and I met through Tumblr almost 5 years ago. At the time, she had a fitness blog with thousands of followers and I was one of them. Near the beginning of our friendship, Nicole struggled with an eating disorder that consumed many parts of her life, but through her blog, she courageously shared her struggles and insecurities, as well as her resilience and strength.
In the past 5 years, we have learned a lot from each others’ stories but I have learned two key things from Nicole’s journey which I have been applying to mine. 1) Fall six times, get up seven. Relapse will happen. Breakdowns will happen. Get back up every time. That is true strength. 2) Vulnerability is power. Sharing your story takes acceptance, courage and compassion. Your story will go a long way. I have attempted suicide 5 times and dropped out of university due to my depression and PTSD. The shame and trauma were overwhelming but I held onto these two beliefs and I’ve been making it through.
How do you spend your Self-Care Sunday?
I work on Sunday afternoons for my educational program but I take the evenings off. I usually go out for dinner and hang out with a friend. We’ll go hot-tubbing, eat ice cream and watch Netflix. Other times, I’ll spend a quiet night at home doing some self-reflection and cuddling with my dog!
Photos by Amber Leigh