This month, DiscoverHER Project was breathing and living through love – sending love to others, practicing self-love, and just radiating a loving and positive attitude. When we start practicing self-love and start finding that appreciation within ourselves, we become more compassionate towards others, which leads us to help those who are struggling. We were so blessed to chat this young lady with a heart of gold for this month’s spotlight. Her story has led her to who she is today and for that, she is forever grateful.
Emily Gill is the co-founder of YouAreMore, an organization helping those battling the most prominent invisible disease: mental illness. Growing up, Emily was just as normal as any human being could be. “I was involved in everything. I played sports, I did well in school, I was apart of the arts academy on weekends, I traveled around with my family, I was in school musicals and I had great friends.” However, she was unfortunately surrounded by many tragedies ranging from accidents to terminal illnesses and even death. She stayed strong and kept her feelings bottled up. To her, it didn’t make sense for her to feel weak when she had friends and family going through much worse. She kept telling herself that things will be fine until one day, her best friend suddenly passed away from leukemia. That day, she couldn’t keep it inside anymore. That day, everything in her life shattered.
7 years ago I was completely naive towards mental health. I hid it and I didn’t get help. I didn’t even know that I had it. I started disengaging with my friends and losing friendships; I turned into a completely different person. I went from Miss Popular to being someone that had something going on in their head and I had no idea how to make sense of it.
Deep down within her, Emily knew something was wrong so she tried seeking for help. However, much like many people, once that initial feeling of desperation passed, she assumed she was feeling much better and moved on. To prove to herself and others that she was the same person as she was before, she moved to another city for school and dived head first into a handful of extracurricular activities. As months went by, she slowly began losing her grip on reality. Similar to the first time, she didn’t believe her feelings were valid and knew they will pass eventually so she avoided dealing with them. Surely enough, her thoughts became darker. School became a dread. Life became meaningless. Until one night, Emily decided she wanted everything to stop.
That night, Emily surrendered and tried to take her own life. Fortunately, she was unlucky at doing so and was immediately admitted into the hospital for treatment.
My family and friends couldn’t understand why I tried doing what I did, some even thought that I was looking for attention. I am such a determined person and I just never understood why there wasn’t anything out there for what I was experiencing or feeling.
Her life changed after that night. With a determined mind and a beating heart, Emily admitted herself into therapy and her self-love journey began. Similar to seeing the world for the first time, she started seeing life differently – in fact, more beautifully. She engaged and met people all over the city suffering from the very same invisible disease. This time, she knew she would never be the same person as she was before, but instead, that person helped her grow into the person she is today. It was an eye-opening experience to see that so many people around her were battling inner demons everyday so courageously. One fateful day, she met Amy, her now co-founder of YouAreMore, and connected deeply over their struggles and passion to help end the stigma of mental health. With a single goal to unite those around the world to share their personal stories, they launched their platform in November 2015. Their hashtag #YouAreMore started to pick up momentum, and before they knew it, hundreds of courageous souls began to speak up to share their battles. All it took was three little words to bring a community together. Emily had no idea that her vulnerability and her toughest battle would create such an impact in the society she lived in and changed the lives of many.
Self-love is different for everyone. It may come easy to come and it may come difficult to others. However, it has a way of shifting your attitude and mindset in a positive way when we are encountered with difficult or conflicting situations. Since her life-changing experience, Emily has incorporated self-love and self-care as part of her daily ritual. She vowed to always share her thoughts and feelings no matter what other people think or how dark they get. We are all entitled to our own feelings, but by sharing them aloud or writing them down, we are taking that first step in validating them and accepting them.
Practicing self love isn’t easy. It’s unique to you. Take away all of the opinions and judgement. It takes time and strength and a whole team within your mind. Find people who will support you through this adventure and remember that your story will inspire others and it can help change the world.
If there was one piece of advice Emily could give to all the strong and beautiful women out there, it’s on the importance of having faith.
I myself, am still learning this concept but not everyone is going to believe in your mission but that doesn’t mean that it’s not valuable. Don’t ever let opinions change your mission. Believe in yourself, believe in what you want to accomplish and then put your whole heart into it.
We are thrilled to share that Emily has been nominated for the Canada’s Champion of Mental Health award this year! Our fingers are crossed for you, and we want to applaud you for sharing your battle wounds and for spreading the love. We cannot wait to see how YouAreMore will continue impact communities around the world and what life has in store for you. Keep on shining and we hope to see you in the nation’s capital in May!
If you believe in something, anything is possible. Practice self love and believe. – Emily Gill
Founded on an ambition of helping girls succeed in becoming their best selves, DiscoverHER Project advocates the right to education for girls and women around the world. We aim to educate, invest, and empower in young women globally by offering a platform with programs, tools, and resources to enable them to succeed.