12/23/2017 12:27 EST | Updated 12/23/2017 12:47 EST

How Jordan Axani's Viral Fame Revealed A 'Big Lie' And A Path To Better Mental Health

He travelled the world with a stranger. When he came home, depression was waiting.

Jordan Axani still remembers the years of childhood bullying.

"I never believed I was enough, and I hated myself because that's what I was taught to believe," says the former real-estate developer.

But in the fall of 2014, something big happened: He became internet-famous.

Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images
Jordan Axani caught fame after searching for a woman with the same name as his ex-girlfriend to make use of tickets for a trip around the world.

Axani had booked a month-long trip around the world with his then-girlfriend. But the two broke up before their adventure was set to begin. Not wanting the ticket to go to waste, he put out a call out on the internet for a travel partner with the same name as his ex.

The internet replied. Axani's search went viral, he found another Elizabeth Gallagher to travel with, and the two embarked on their trip. But once he came back to Toronto, Axani returned to darkness.

Toronto Star via Getty Images
Jordan Axani and Elizabeth Quinn Gallagher in Hong Kong, on their whirlwind trip together as strangers.

"I felt like that kid who was beat up would be proud, and then I realized it was all a lie. I realized it was all nonsense, and I fell apart," Axani told HuffPost Canada. "It wasn't until that viral story that I really started to understand the extent of how it impacted my sense of self, self-worth, self-love. And I realized that I hated myself."

Today, Axani's still travelling. Only this time around, it's within North America and with a different purpose. He's the creator of "What's Your Big Lie," an initiative focused on helping people reclaim ownership of their mental health.

I realized it was all nonsense, and I fell apart. And things got really dark for about a year.

The concept came after an impromptu talk Axani had with a friend. That conversation gave him the outlet he needed to speak out about his depression.

"We're all aware mental health challenges are a thing, and we're all aware that we don't want to be weak. I think, frankly, we're focused on the wrong things. I think instead we should be giving people a voice any way we can to share openly."

Axani stops by schools and workplaces and to do just that: share the anonymous platform he's developed to help people open up about whatever's burdening them. He says the results have been staggering.

"I've had students tell me one-on-one that they intend to commit mass murders at their school. And then intervening with police and child services because they acknowledge they don't want to do it, but they've been having dreams."

I think frankly we're focused on the wrong things. I think instead we should be giving people a voice anyway we can to share openly.

Axani doesn't see "What's Your Big Lie" as a replacement for therapy, but as a tool to get people to take those first steps toward taking care of their mental health.

"Maybe it's not about helping people reach that peak, optimized, best self, maybe it's about helping people not feel alone."

Are you in a crisis? If you need help, contact your local crisis centre. If you know someone who may be having thoughts of suicide, visit to learn how to talk about suicide with the person you're worried about.