Morgan Skinner is 22 years old and has a handful of accomplishments under her belt. She played for Team BC on a few accounts, played on a national platform, and played collegiate hockey for Lindenwood University. Almost any hockey player would love to have the opportunities she has, but she describes the mental health struggles that came with her lifestyle. Constant stress, constant anxiety, and an endless number of standards that had to be met. Being a high level athlete is not always as glamorous as it may seem and Morgan shares how that was also the case for her. Concussions eventually ended her hockey career, but as the cliche saying goes, “When one door closes, another door opens,” and she opened an amazing door. Morgan is now caretaking for disabled children/teens and the benefits she has gained are astonishing. She has found happiness away from hockey and defines strength in an entirely new way. Every hockey player, woman, and person can learn from Morgan’s story.
“You will be okay.”
Morgan knows the struggles that life can present, but she also acknowledges that it gets better. She knows that she is going to be okay and she wants everyone to know that you will be okay.
Rachel Gareau is a strong and admirable 20 year old, but she admits that making it 20 took her by surprise. After being sexually assaulted at age 14, her life changed forever. Rachel attempted to take her own life and has continued to have her struggles with depression. Rachel’s constant battle with depression has not been easy and she talks about how she’s found ways to manage pain. Most recently Rachel put her mental health in the hands of a professional and was diagnosed with bipolar 2 disorder. She learned a lot about bipolar 2 disorder from Episode 3 featuring Karlee Appel and she said it helped her self diagnose herself before seeking a professionals opinion. One of the most admirable things about Rachel is her ability to take light out of the little things and possess pride in herself. She acknowledges the struggles she’s encountered by taking pride in making it to 20 years old, attending university, and more so, having the capability to complete the little tasks. Sometimes, for a person struggling with depression, completing daily tasks can feel like an Olympic competition. In the podcast Rachel claimed the importance of applauding ourselves for any step taken forward because a look in the right direction can potentially move us in the right direction. You never know what someone may be hiding beneath their smile, so treat everyone with the utmost respect and acknowledge the fact that nobody is perfect.
“It’s about the small goals”
Rachel talks a lot in the podcasts about how she has set small goals for herself in order to keep herself moving forward. Everyone’s goals are different and what some may seem as an easy task will be someone’s largest goal of their life
Josh McLoughlin is only 17 years-old, but has the wisdom of someone far beyond his years. His mental health struggles began at age 11 when his step brother took his life. As years passed he started to find himself battling within his own mental health struggles. Anxiety and depression started to consume his life and ultimately take over. His family experienced another great loss when his other step brother other took his life as well. For all Okanagan locals these two suicides shook up several lives and the father of the two teens, Josh’s step-dad, Tom Budd became a massive name in the mental health community. Despite his step-dad’s role in the mental health community, Josh still found himself feeling alone and keeping his struggles to himself. Josh has found himself on the other end of a knife on different occasions, he has contemplated suicide countless times, and he has hidden his struggles from the majority of people. Courage and strength are two characteristics that cannot even begin to describe Josh because his story takes those terms to a completely different level. You truly never know what someone is going through and Josh McLoughlin is a prime example of this.
“The amount of time you spend overthinking, will result in missing everything worth living for”
Josh acknowledges how overthinking consumed him for a long time but discovered and stated in the podcast, “Don’t spend 5 hours stressing about something if it’s not going to matter in 5 years.” It’s hard to push things aside and let bygones be bygones, but the second we do is the second we start living for ourselves.
Sadie Twidale, 19 years-old, has a unique story and one that she ultimately can’t escape nor change on her lonesome. Her situation began when she was born into a household with a firefighter for a father. A rare topic of discussion when speaking on firefighters is the PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) that comes from being in the first responder field. Firefighters are first responders to the majority of scenes, but most tend to forget that. Sadie understands the traumatic experiences that firefighters encounter and she unfortunately has seen how it can effect their families as well. She has to live with the fact that she is a main trigger point for her fathers PTSD and it has not been easy on her. She talks about the toll it takes on her and how it effects her every day life. Sadie expresses the struggles of “walking on eggshells” when she is around her dad, but she utilizes a councillor to help her overcome this stressor. She possess great strength and gives us all an insight on what it is truly like living with firefighter who has PTSD. Go listen and remember that you never know what’s someone may be going through.
"Find that one person who listens to you to listen and doesn’t just listen to respond."
Sadie stresses the importance of having that one person who you can fully confide in to share your struggles and know that they will truly listen. Often times people tend to listen just to respond rather than truly acknowledging what you’re saying or how it’s effecting your mental health.
Michaela Jacobsen is 20 years old and has chosen the brave and vulnerable choice to share her story. Michaela has always been seen with a smile on her face and a life that rather perceived pure happiness. She is the first one to say and admit that what you see on the outside is not always the case on the inside. Michaela has several things to be proud of and be happy about in her life, but in her story she explains the hardships she also encountered. She found herself in a deep depressive state contemplating and creating a plan to take her own life. Every night for two months she talked about her constant thoughts and desires to take her own life. On top of all of her suicidal thoughts, she was also trying to manage her ADHD and severe anxiety. It’s never easy being someone who struggles with mental health and Michaela also describes the role that University has played in some of her struggles. Sharing her story was not an easy task for her but she has proven that she is brave, strong, and beyond inspiring with aspirations of helping others. Thank you Michaela and I encourage everyone to take a page out her book and speak up about your mental health struggles because you are not alone!
"Remember that pain is temporary, so don’t choose a permanent solution to something that will resolve itself"
Michaela stresses the importance of acknowledging that things will get better. She understands that pain is temporary so why make a drastic decision that will ultimately change everyone’s life forever.
Luke Shields, 18 years-old, has seen and encountered things that nobody should every have to, but he acknowledges the fact that he couldn’t have changed the outcome of what he’s encountered. At a very young age he was introduced to the effects that PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) can have on a person and a family because of having a father that served in the army. Luke also encountered the loss of his sister due to suicide, witnessed and was first on the scene to a double fatality car accident, and helped pull a young kid out of the lake who drowned. He’s seen what it is like to have life leave someone’s body and he is sharing his story to help prevent the loss of someone struggling. He knows how difficult life can be, but he willingly opens up with tips of advice to manage mental health struggles and ultimately what he did to change his overall outlook on life. He possessed great strength and courage by talking about unspoken struggles all in the hopes of helping someone else. You truly never know what someone has encountered in their life and Like Shields fully exemplifies that EVERYONE has a story.
"Write your emotions down and let your burdens be on paper rather than in your head."
Luke has used several different coping mechanisms to help him overcome his mental health struggles, but one that constantly resonates with him is writing things down. Whether it’s a meaningless message or a page of emotions, he utilizes the tool of writing things down to clear his head.
Aiden Taylor, 21 years-old, is currently playing Varsity soccer at the University of Victoria. From a very young age he was dedicated to the sport and his family and himself sacrificed a lot to allow him to get to the level he is at now. Aiden speaks on how his struggles associated with being the best soccer player he could be did not compare to the struggles he encountered away from the field. He comes from a hardworking blue-collar family where men are taught to be tough and essentially disregard their emotional side. As any athlete knows, sometimes parents can get the best of your mental health by being harder on you than your coaches. Parents will coach from home or solely focus on the flaws within your play rather than acknowledging the good things. Aiden experienced several mental warfare’s through a constant standard he was expected to meet, but he also experienced excessive loneliness, anxiety, and for a lack of better words, fear. He has learnt from his past and channeled it into great courage by sharing his story. Aiden’s story is one that is worth hearing and it truly goes to show that EVERYONE has a story.
"You are enough."
Aiden signed a lifelong commitment to this quote when he got it tattooed on his wrist. He uses this quote as a constant reminder that not only is he enough, but that he has the ability to overcome any struggle. Aiden encourages you to do the same and know your self worth.
Tyler Smith is a 22 year-old man who has figuratively been put through hell, but has taken his struggles and used them to make the world a better place. Tyler is 1 of 13 people who lives to tell the gruesome story of April 6, 2018. He was on the Humboldt Broncos hockey team when their bus struck a semi-truck head on. The crash stopped everyone in their tracks and formed an indescribable support system for the players and families effected by the crash. To this day we constantly hear the phrase, “Humboldt Strong” and Tyler Smith exemplifies this by sharing his story. Tyler suffered several physical injuries during the crash and has almost fully recovered from them over time, but one thing that will never heal is the loss of 16 members of his Humboldt family. He possesses courage, vulnerability, and endless strength proven by sharing his story. Tyler continues to share his story with the world to ultimately help others realize that it’s okay to speak up and it’s okay to not be okay. He has created sweaters, hoodies, and shirts reading “Not Alone” and “It’s okay to not be okay.” His brand strikes vulnerable conversations and allows people to wear two powerful messages on their chest proving strength and acceptance. Tyler’s strength to be able to share his story exemplifies that there’s always a way find light in the life you’re living.
"One day at a time."
After the crash he has taken life one day at a time. He embraces the good days and as well as the bad days. He takes life for what it is and has realized that life is not a given. Focus on living in the present rather than focussing on how great the future could be. Nobody's future is guaranteed, so strive to make today the best it can possibly be.
Katherine Pineda is only 17 years old, but she has persevered through more struggles than most could comprehend. From being caught in the middle of her parents divorce at a young age, life continued to throw her more obstacles than she anticipated. Katherine encountered several family feuds, homelessness at age 15, and multiple abusive relationships. She encountered depression, severe anxiety and excessive troubles to focus. Her schooling started to get away from her, but as anyone’s would in her situation. During her high school years not only did she battle homelessness, but she also discovered one of her sisters was living on the streets and addicted to hard drugs. Katherine is constantly desired to fixing people and their problems, so despite how she’s been treated or how big someone’s problems are, she tries to fix them. She tried to fix her sister and she’s tried to fix people who are broken, but she realized she needs to fix herself up first. She has now self-funded moving to Victoria, she has started a business that will embrace women and their body confidence, and now she continues to pursue her studies. She courageously shares her story and proves that you never know what someone’s story may be. Katherine defines that EVERYONE has a story.
"People come into your life for a reason, a season, or forever."
She takes value from the bad and the good because ultimately she has learnt that people come into your life for a reason, a season, or forever. Whether it’s family or friends, you need to realize the value that they bring to your life. Know your value, know who brings value.
Billy Cawthorn is a 22 year-old from Vernon, BC. Billy did not have a typical upbringing, and by no means was it an easy one. At age 15 Billy was forced move out because of his moms abuse of alcohol and live with multiple different families in Vernon. In his teenage years he found himself falling into a similar lifestyle by abusing his use of alcohol and other recreational drugs, but he hit a turning point when he chose to play college hockey and pursue Christianity. He realized some of the mistakes he made in the past, but even more so he learnt from them. Billy has reflected on his past and instead of resenting his mom for some of the mistakes she made, he realized the sacrifices she made to allow him to pursue his passion of hockey and put a roof over his head. In the past 7 years, he has rebuilt a strong relationship with his mom and now possesses a sense of maturity and wisdom that very few people have. He continues to expand his beliefs in Christianity and live out his dream as a hockey player. Billy transparently shared his story in hopes of helping someone who has gone through or is going through something similar to his past. He acknowledges the importance of being vulnerable about your mental health struggles, but not letting them define who you are.
"No matter who you are, just know that you have people who love you."
No matter who you are or where you come from, realize that you have people in your life who love you and will always support you. Billy wants to assure everyone that there is love and support around us whether we choose to believe it or not, so never lose hope and remain positive.
Katie MacDonald, 24 years-old, is from Merritt, BC and has a story you need to hear. Her story stems from the age of 4 when she suffered her first of 18 concussions. Her extensive number of concussions forced her to quit the sport she had always and will always love; hockey. Being forced out of hockey kickstarted her mental health struggles, but it wasn’t the end of it. In school she was bullied to the point where her only option was to move to multiple schools in multiple towns. Her depression and anxiety kicked into overdrive, but it got the worst at age 19. Katie was sexually abused by someone who she considered her uncle and it forced her to shut down completely. She didn’t talk about it, didn’t seek help, and ultimately shut out out the world for over a year. When she finally spoke up and leaned on her support system it began her journey of strengthening her mental health. Now, she is here sharing her story and embracing vulnerability. She has the hopes of helping as many people as possible with her story, but she claims, "As long as I help one person, then I have done my job." She is a selfless and caring individual who is trying to help others with her story. It truly goes to show that EVERYONE has a story and you never know what someone may be going through.
"Ask for help.”
It's okay to ask for help and in most cases it is the best option to bettering our mental health. Find a support system you can lean on in times of distress and make sure you utilize their support. The strongest thing one can do is speak up about their mental health struggles.
Marshall Wittmann is an 18 year-old currently living Calgary, Alberta. Marshall courageously allowed us to take a look into his past and the traumatic experience he encountered. Stemming from age 14 depression and mental health struggles played a large factor in his life and he is the first to admit that his coping mechanisms took a turn for the worst. He began with an opioid prescription and transitioned into marijuana, magic mushrooms, LSD, and alcohol. His habits led to addictions and ultimately led him to a point where he didn’t live a second without chasing a high. He became reliant on psychedelics and admits that he felt more normal on the drugs than not. Marshall encountered the biggest wake up call of his life when found himself overdosing and having a heart attack at age 17. His incident forced him into a state of reflection and made him realize that change needed to happen. He transitioned his drug addiction into a golf addiction and now rather than spending his days chasing a high, he spends the chasing a low score. He is inspiring, motivating, and for a lot of people, he will he the wake up call they need. I hope everyone enjoys Marshall’s story and shows him the support he deserves for sharing his story.
"Realize and focus on what is right for YOU.”
It's important to recognize what is a positive asset in your life and what is a negative one. If something doesn't make you feel good, then stop letting it consume you and focus on something beneficial for yourself.
Michael Nolan and Rebecca Steinhubl are the founders of ‘You Are Collective’ and they have made their mark on the community. Their mental health advocacy began upon arriving in Kelowna, BC from Spruce Grove, AB back in 2016. Both have dealt with mental health struggles in their life, but they have courageously channeled their struggles and transformed them into creating a their mental health platform. They have created a campaign within You Are Collective called the ‘1 Million Campaign’ which provides one million counselling sessions to people struggling with with mental health. Both, Rebecca and Michael, have created such a successful platform die to being transparent with their mental health struggles and taking action on pursuing the crucial change to end the stigma surrounding mental health. In the podcast they speak up about their personal mental health struggles and they also give valued tips on ways to help your own mental health. They are both very wise and sustain hearts of purity. Thank you Rebecca and Michael for sharing your story and embracing vulnerability. Remember, EVERYONE has a story!!
"Smiles are free.”
Smiling at someone is such a simple gesture that can go further than we may anticipate. You never know what someone may be going through, but a simple smile can either enhance their happiness or help get them up off rock bottom.
Paige McLaren, 28 years-old, has not had an easy life in the slightest, but she is the first one to say that her past was the teacher which helped her get to where she is today. Paige courageously narrowed in on topics such as living with a mother addicted to drugs, sexual abuse, toxic relationships, suicidal thoughts, and self-confidence. Her mother’s addiction forced her family to move countless times and attend 13 different schools. On top of moving around all the time, her mothers boyfriend was also sexually abusing her. When she was 13 she brought the sexual abuse to her mother’s attention, but she shrugged it off and left Paige in a state of hopelessness. When she was just 17 she was forced to leave her house and find her way in the world. Unfortunately, she was stuck in another toxic relationship with the boyfriend she moved in with. Fortunately, at 19 her life changed forever and gave her a fighting chance to a better life, her daughter was born. Paige explains how her daughter has been her saving Grace and biggest motive to keep her mental health in check! I highly suggest that everyone goes and listens to her story, but even more so show her the support she deserves! It’s not easy to be vulnerable and speak up, but those that do are helping everyone around them. Just remember, EVERYONE has a story!!
"Find a hobby.”
Everyone has different coping mechanisms that they suggest, but the biggest one suggested by Paige was to find a hobby. Find something that truly makes you happy and do it on a regular basis. Use it as an outlet to escape reality and shut out any mental health struggles.
Brandon Bergado is not your average 22 year-old living in California. He has experienced unexpected struggles, but he is the first one to say that his struggles formed him into the man he is today. Brandon started his path of self-betterment two years ago when he was forced to isolate for 5 months due to severe concussions. No phone, no Netflix, no screens, but a dark room and an abundance of thoughts. Brandon is not like most, he knew that he could either look at the next 5 months as a blessing or a curse; he chose blessing. He devoted his days to reading books, light yoga, and studying himself. He built a routine and reprogrammed his brain and his life. After 5 long months of isolation he came out on top and continue to stress positive vibes and learning. Learning what works best for you, but also learning more about who YOU are. Brandon has implemented diversification in the way he connects with others and changed the “What’s up” talk to further thought provoking questions allowing himself to connect with others on a more personal level. He encourages everyone to change up their conversations and embrace digging deep and getting vulnerable with each other. EVERYONE HAS A STORY, so why not learn someone else’s rather than learning what they had for lunch!
"Wear your vulnerability on your sleeve.”
Brandon acknowledges the strength and courage it takes be vulnerable, and he encourages everyone to wear it on their sleeve. Being vulnerable does not mean being weak, but in fact, vulnerability is the new strength in discovering ourselves and underlines our diversity in this world.
Grace Graham is a 21 year-old with the mindset of a 40 year-old. Her wisdom and maturity came from a life filled with abuse, suicidal attempts and behaviours, absent parents, and severe bullying. Despite encountering these negative aspects of life, she persevered and continues to grow. Grace is currently working two jobs and has taken time off school, but she embraces it and recently moved into her dream place. Grace is a smart, kind, strong girl who does not let her past define her future. She is hopeful that people will listen to her story and discover that they are not alone! Grace is an inspiration to not only myself, but every individual she comes across, so I highly suggest messaging her and having a conversation with her or just showing her the support she deserves! I hope everyone enjoys her story, learns from her experiences, and build enough courage to be confident in YOUR story. Just remember that EVERYONE HAS A STORY!!
"It‘s okay to not be okay and it’s okay to seek help.”
Grace acknowledges the normality of not being okay 100% of the time and stresses that that is okay. Nobody can be happy all the time, but through experiences and help from others we can strengthen our minds substantially.
Josiah Brears’ mental health struggles began at the age of 13 when his parents kept their divorce a secret from him and his siblings. Life never got easier, but in fact it got exceptionally worse. Josiah resorted to taking a shot or two before bed for a total of a year by the time he was 15 years-old. He also experienced depersonalization, out of body experiences, because of his severe anxiety and panic attacks. His near future plans were uprooted because of Covid-19, but he has not let any of his past struggles define him. Josiah Brears is a strong individual who is embracing his vulnerability in pursuit of helping others who are struggling just like he once did. I promise you, you will be moved by his story and be sure to show him the support he deserves!! I hope you enjoy and remember EVERYONE HAS A STORY!
"Get yourself into a routine and stick to it."
Josiah stresses the importance of having a routine, but more so, he stresses the importance of sticking to it. He uses his routine as a way to keep himself on the right path. Josiah aspires to be happy and healthy and he sees the benefits in maintaining a healthy routine. He encourages you to find the routine that works for you, but pushes you to be better.
Tristen Nielsen is 20 years-old from Fort St. John, BC and currently plays hockey for the Vancouver Giants in the Western Hockey League. Tristen talks about the mental stressors that come along with playing at such a high level of hockey. He uprooted his life and left the majority of his family behind in Fort St John to pursue his passion of making hockey his career. Tristen knows better than most about what it takes to make it to the next level and the sacrifices that need to be made in order to achieve his goals. Despite his continued success, he is the first one to admit that he has hit a few bumps in the road along the way. He is currently finishing a cycle of serotonin boosters and utilizes professional help to make sure he can perform at his best and leave his mental health struggles behind. Tristen is one of the most down to earth teammates I’ve ever had and he believes that everyone in hockey struggles with mental health to some extent, but he’s making a change and speaking up! Tristen is a prime example that EVERYONE HAS A STORY!!
Tristen utilizes a skill that he gained from his mom. He emphasizes the importance of breathing in times of distress. He encourages everyone to breathe in order two calm your mind and reground yourself. Tristen acknowledges that dependent on the situation, it may take 5 breaths or it may take 100, but eventually you will get back to a state of rationalism .
Karlee Appel is a 21 year-old attending Queens University in Kingston, Ontario. She's wise, beautiful, kind, and ultimately seems to have live a life that most can only dream of. But, as Karlee explains in this episode, what you see on the outside is not always the same as what's on the inside. Karlee was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 disorder when she was in her first year of university. She experienced episodes of extreme hypomanic episodes and also suffered from severe depression. She encountered several months of ups and downs and a stage of utter euphoria prior to being diagnosed with Bipolar 2. Karlee spent nights in the hospital, she lived months without recollection, and ultimately hit rock bottom. But, Karlee is not defined by her past and she lives to tell the tale of Bipolar 2 and how it has and continues to effect her. I hope you enjoy her story and remember; EVERYONE HAS A STORY.
"Find a safe person/place to turn to that will always be there for you"
Karlee encourages everyone to have a safe person or place to go to at all times to avoid bottling anything inside. She suggests you have professional help options, but more so someone who is available to talk and support you at all times.