EMILY GILL: EMPOWERED

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I haven’t blogged since the beginning of January. My lack of blogging can sometimes be because I am nervous to “offend” anyone with the truth, don’t have too much to blog about, or even just want to keep under the radar. However, that hasn't been the case these past few months. Since January, I have seized every single opportunity to make a difference for those living with a mental illness. This is something that at times has been hectic, nerve wracking, risky, but nothing short of empowering for YouAreMore, and myself. I have surrounded myself with an amazing group of people, who believe in my passion, and that I deserve everything that I strive towards and have conquered. This may have made my core a little bit smaller, but it has been worth it! The results of focussing on what my dream for YouAreMore is, and my attitude towards life has been altering. This blog is about the wildest, emotional, and inspiring past three months. Let me break them down for you guys...

JANUARY. January ended with an amazing trip to Mexico for All Star break and an encouraging #BellLetsTalk day. The weeks in between consisted of heartbreak, an idea coming to life, and lots of reflecting. Sadly, Colb’s hometown experienced three young suicides in the first two weeks of January. This news broke my heart because being a suicide survivor, I know what they were thinking and how they were feeling in that moment. My blood boils now and I cringe at the lack of understanding for those with a mental illness, and recognition to the severity of the stigma, which every 40 seconds someone loses their life to suicide and 25 people will be like myself and have attempted but failed. After hearing what happened in the Battlefords, I reached out to another mental health advocate and friend of mine Michael Landsberg. Michael, has personal connections to the Battlefords and we both agreed that we had to do an event to help the community. This was the beginning of what ended up to being an incredible, motivating, and life changing experience in the beginning of March. However, I will come back to that later in more detail! #BellLetsTalk Day 2018 was on January 31st, the last day of the month. For those of you that don’t know what #BellLetsTalk day is, it’s a day where Bell donates 5 cents for every hashtag, tweet, or text to mental health initiatives in Canada. It brings a great amount of awareness to mental health, and shows fighters that they are not alone in their struggles. This year, Bell raised over 7 million dollars! Although, #BellLetsTalk day is a Canadian thing, YouAreMore partnered with Dr. Grant Collins in Minnesota to help bring awareness not just the one day but the other 364 days of the year. Our #BellLetsTalk post reached over 75,000 people!! When Dr. Grant Collins told me the statistics, I was reminded that what we do is extremely important in today’s society. Mental health fighters are some of the bravest people in this cruel world and being an advocate to those who feel like they don’t have a voice is a difficult but an amazing thing. 

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FEBRUARY: Colb and I have always been very close with the Bruins fan club. We both believe that athletes wouldn’t have their jobs if it weren't for their fans. This is something that all athletes need to remember, and appreciate at the end of the day. In the beginning of February, Colb and I were asked to speak on the SomethingBruin in PVD podcast about YouAreMore. Our podcast interview consisted of talking about the stigma in the hockey lifestyle, what we can do to help one another, and served as a reminder to be kind to everyone as you never know what someone else is going through. I was extremely honoured at the end of the interview to hear that each selected player of the week would now be called “YouAreMore’s P-Bruins Player of the Week.” The hockey lifestyle has been a bittersweet journey for me so this meant the world to me to have YouAreMore recognized. This wasn’t the beginning though, shortly after I would get the “thumbs up” to do an event, and a big “gesture” with the team next season to help bring awareness to mental health. It feels great to have this all come into action with some amazing support and help over the next upcoming months. For now, this is all I can say but I look forward to sharing more exciting news in the future! YouAreMore and mental illness is slowly and finally being accepted and appreciated in this difficult life. So thank you to everyone who has helped this all happen! It’s about darn time!! 

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MARCH: This month has left me speechless. My little idea to help the Battlefords in January with Michael Landsberg became a reality. On Thursday, March 15th a group of incredible individuals along with Michael and myself, spoke to a high school during the day and then the whole community at night. These incredible individuals included Beverley Mahood, Chris Getzalf, Weston Dressler, Tessa Bonhomme, and the members of the One Bad Son band who shared personal stories, brought a glimpse of hope to this hurting community, and much more. We reminded them that mental health, and suicide is nothing to ashamed of, or joke about. I shared my story of living a double life growing up because the fear of the stigma, being obsessed with death and dying, and my suicide attempt to just under 3,000 people. I have never been so raw, nervous, proud, and humbled in my life. That moment on stage, reminded me that there was a reason I lived and this was it. I have always had my close friends and family but since founding YouAreMore it has given my life a whole new meaning and passion. It has given me motivation to keep going, to help others, and prove to everyone who didn’t believe in me that I am sick, I am not weak. This event, opened my eyes far greater to the magnitude of people that are struggling, who understand and support mental health, who have the same dreams, feelings, and thoughts as me. The definition of empowering doesn’t even come close to what March 15, 2018 has done and will continue to do the rest of my life. We ended up raising over $35,000 for the Battlefords that night. This event has grown the fire stronger in me to continue to make a difference through YouAreMore. THANK YOU to every single person I met during the event, or made it possible. Whether you were behind the scenes working to make my idea become a reality, shared your own personal struggles with me after the event, or even just came to listen, I wish I could personally hug all of you. Although, I was sharing my story on stage that doesn’t mean that I have my whole life together now. I am far from that but it reminded me how far I have come to be able to stand on that stage! It reminded me of my journey from the once young, confused, and hurt girl to the now brave, strong, and determined woman I am today. It reminded me that I am what I was preaching and that is worthy, wanted, loved, and most importantly MORE. I could go on about this day but will leave it at that. To end the month of March, I went to a Demi Lovato concert as she is huge mental health advocate and has designated her whole tour to raising awareness. There were two parts of the concert that really stuck out to me. The first was her taking a moment to share her struggles, story, and talk about her YouTube documentary that I encourage you guys to watch. She made the whole audience feel like you weren’t alone in their mental illnesses which was extremely powerful. The next part was when Demi showed all the mean tweets, and horrifying comments that people have said about her on her stage screen. This one hit very close home to me as it is something that I have and continue to go through from stigmatized and cruel individuals BUT in that moment, I looked at it from a different perspective. It isn’t just me who gets backlash for being “different”, and it became extremely motivating and comforting. I will continue to work on reminding myself that life is too short to let a small group of individuals drag you down, when you have an incredible and HUGE amount of individuals lifting you up!

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I will end my blog with this… I am excited to see what YouAreMore will accomplish the rest of the year. I am anxious for the future backlash that comes with being in the public eye that is inevitable. I am hopeful to help other people around the world that are daily mental health fighters just like myself. I am empowered by the other mental health advocates who have gone before me, and currently walk beside me. Above all, I am proud of myself.