[Warning: Potentially Triggering Content]
Influencer Lee MacMillan, who documented her van life adventures with ex Max Bidstrup on social media, has taken her own life after battling depression.
In case you didn’t know, Lee and Max traveled from Canada to different parts of the world with their dog Occy in an old 2006 Dodge sprinter that they revamped into a camper van. The couple ventured across 16 countries in two years and often posted updates on Instagram under the hashtag #vanlife. In January 2020, the pair announced their break up on social media.
Max went to live in Australia with their pup and took the van. In January 2021, Lee started reconstruction of a “new adventure mobile.”
Now, the IG account they once shared revealed the heartbreaking news to fans on Wednesday.
“After living an extraordinary life, and fighting a brave battle with depression, our hearts are shattered to share that Lee took her life on Friday. She was the brightest light, a magnetic force of nature and was loved by so so many.”
The post continued:
“If we can do one thing for Lee now, in the midst of this soul-crushing loss, it’s to spread the message that mental health is just as real as physical health, and that illness can strike anyone, no matter how unlikely they may seem. It’s ok to not be ok, it’s ok to ask for help, it’s absolutely necessary to ask for help.”
Before her death, Lee, who was a mental health advocate, sought help for her depression.
“She was candid and open about her own struggles. She was receiving help: from professionals, from family, from friends. She had support around her. She was not alone, she was not trying to fight this alone. And yet she still succumbed to this terrible illness. It is more nuanced than we can, or do, appreciate or understand.”
It went on to explain that despite the small look into a person’s seemingly happy content, Lee had actually been struggling for a while now.
“Life is more complex than a single social media post. Things are complicated. Don’t believe what you see online. Get out into the world and talk to your loved ones. Check in. Ask them genuinely how they’re doing. Be available to help. To listen. To offer help. Remove the stigma of asking for help.”
The post concluded by urging those who need help to ask for it no matter what.
“Let’s spread the awareness of this issue, for Lee and every one else who needs to hear this: #speakupforlee. And hold your loved ones tight. Tell them you love them. Because life can change in an instant. We will miss her with every fiber of our hearts.”
According to ABC and FOX news affiliate KEYT, Lee had been fatally struck by an Amtrak train near Santa Barbara on Friday. Authorities said the Canadian citizen had been reported missing earlier and had left her home without taking her car, wallet, keys, ID, and phone.
Since then, Lee’s new boyfriend and fellow van life traveler Jordan Chiu has posted a tribute to his girlfriend on Insta, writing:
“You were a dream beyond my wildest dreams.You filled my heart up full to bursting and stretched it further than what I ever imagined was possible. You were my person, my partner, my best friend. Every day with you was an adventure and I hope wherever you are you’ve found peace and snuggles. Rest easy puppy. I love you more than you will ever know.”
Lee’s ex also shared a touching post with some photos of the pair together. Max said:
“It was always you. You were the best thing to ever happen to me. You were the best person I have ever met. I fell in love with you the day we met yet you were still the stronger one that said ‘I love you’ first. I never stopped loving you Mountie, I hope you know that. I will always cherish my time with you in this world and hope beyond hope to see you in the next. Save some mini eggs for me.”
Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Lee during this difficult time.
If you or someone you know who’s struggling needs to talk to someone, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. Or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.