Lee MacMillan 1992 – 2021
Lee MacMillan was a popular travel vlogger who regularly shared her life experiences to her van-life YouTube channel called 'Max & Lee.' Lee's family have contributed this powerful article in Lee's memory, to help raise awareness of the true power that social media has when used for both positive and negative purposes. If you are affected by anything touched on within this article, follow the links to our various support services or click on the blue logo icon at the bottom right of the screen to start using Cybersmile Assistant, our smart AI support assistant.
Lee’s own words describe her best; “I am a friend, a daughter, a listener, an adventure seeker. I love to learn, to grow, to laugh and to experience life to the fullest. I appreciate the little things and try not to take anything for granted. I am brave, I am strong and I am open to the world around me. Travel has helped me learn who I am and it has empowered me to be true to myself. Achievements don’t need to be solely on a large scale. I think achieving small changes in your life can have a great impact.” Lee was a prolific writer who kept many journals. It is our goal to continue her loving spirit onward and every day try to live like Lee did.
Lee’s story is so much more than her Mental Health. A true connector who thrived on community, Lee had a special way of helping people be their true selves. Spreading kindness around the world, she gave the best hugs and could make anyone open up and share their deepest feelings with her. Lee wanted to know what people loved, dreamed about and inspired them. She wished to connect deeply with others and get to know everyone’s story. Lee cherished her interaction with everyone she came in contact with, making many friends over the years. Everyone who met her was drawn to her and could describe her in one word: vivacious. Lee cared about others and tried her best to help people, not shying away from the tough topics of depression and mental health. We hope to be able to continue to share Lee’s light with others by continuing her advocacy work and encouraging others to #speakupforlee.
Lee was born and raised in Barrie, ON where she blossomed into the amazing woman she became. Lee was one of the kindest and most tenacious people, achieving anything she put her mind to. Lee was a natural born athlete, participating in many team sports and playing competitive levels of soccer and hockey. Lee was also a top student with a love of learning. Lee and our family grew up traveling together, often visiting the Caribbean, skiing, road tripping across Canada and the US, camping and venturing into the great outdoors. Lee was also an animal and plant lover who enjoyed creating healthy recipes to bring together friends over food, great conversation and lots of laughs. Not one to forget that life is about balance, Lee always saved room for what makes life sweet, like popcorn and Cadbury mini eggs.
Lee graduated from Western University with a Bachelor in Sociology degree, a subject she loved as she learned more about people and connections. After her studies and growing up with a love of travel, she ventured abroad in 2014 to New Zealand and Australia to explore the world. She would soon return to Australia to live with her sister, Sasha, on a work holiday visa. Here she met many friends, created beautiful memories, travelled Australia and Southeast Asia. In Australia, she met her former partner, and dreamed of Van Life travel. They then returned to Canada to purchase and build their van to begin their travels across the Americas in 2016. Lee completed an epic journey that most people would only dream of. But that’s our Lee, not afraid of any challenge and always making her dreams a reality. So much more than her accomplishments, it was Lee herself that made her such a joy to be around.
Along this journey, they started a successful YouTube channel to vlog their adventures. While the van travel and online community brought many amazing opportunities, it was not without its challenges. Lee herself said the best part of her travels were people she met along the way. She struggled with parts of the van-life lifestyle over the years, missing her friends, family and community. Lee is a perfect reminder that Mental health knows no bounds and you never know who may be struggling. We are all dealing with our personal struggles but sadly society doesn’t recognize mental health in the same way as it does physical health. This is something we wish to help change with her legacy.
Lee used her platform to become an advocate for mental health awareness. Using her YouTube and Instagram platforms to share her story, she hoped to help others know that it is okay and human to struggle, and they are not alone. She participated in podcasts and openly shared her mental health struggles wishing that her honesty and vulnerability would help others. Many people viewed her to have the perfect life, which is why it is so important not to compare yourself to others. You yourself are perfect as you are, always treat yourself like someone you love. We all have mental health and it is important to nurture this as we do our physical health. As Lee said herself “I think the more we talk about these difficult feelings – especially on this platform, the more we normalize them”.
Sadly, the online world today has many faultfinders that find joy in negativity and do so recklessly and without any accountability. Words can hurt and for people that suffer from depression this can have devastating results. Words matter as there are real people on the other end of a social media screen. With the COVID-19 pandemic having people forced to isolate themselves from friends and family, this was especially difficult for anyone who thrived on community and struggled with depression. If you or someone you love is challenged with your mental health, please know that you are never a burden. It is okay to not be okay and we as a society are stronger together.
Lee would want nothing more than for people to be kind to one another. She believed we are all connected on this journey together. Lee’s family and friends are hopeful that Lee can continue to help raise funds and awareness through donations in her memory and help anyone who is struggling with mental health. We know this would bring her so much joy.
Lee further summarized in a journal entry what made her such a light in the world. She continues to shine on to this day:
“Humans are not meant to go through life alone, we have each other, and for that I’m eternally grateful”
With love and light,
Wil, Sharon & Sasha MacMillan
You can follow Lee’s continued advocacy work on her @lifewithlee Instagram page.
Cybersmile would like to thank the family of Lee Macmillan for their incredible bravery in contributing this article and to Lee’s social media followers who donated an amazing $25,000 to Cybersmile for our work around digital wellbeing.
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