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31 celebrities who smashed the stigma surrounding mental illness in 2016.

"Like a dandelion up through the pavement, I persist."

It may not seem like that big of a deal when a celebrity speaks up about their experiences with mental illness. But it is.

Throughout 2016, dozens of actors, authors, artists, and athletes — trailblazers we're used to seeing smiling on red carpets or snagging gold medals on TV — shared the personal battles they've faced behind closed doors. It was a groundbreaking year.

“It levels the playing field," Aaron Harvey says of the many public figures who chose to speak up. Harvey is the founder of Intrusive Thoughts, a group set on humanizing those living with mental illness. “Suddenly, you realize the same struggles that you have might be the same struggles that someone you really idolize have. And that [makes it] OK."


The stigma surrounding mental illness is taking lives. Many millions of people living with conditions like depression and anxiety are shamed into believing there's something inherently wrong with them — that they're weak, for instance, or even dangerous to others. They suffer in silence because of it.

When a person with a platform becomes a face others can relate to, it becomes a little bit easier for someone else to follow in their footsteps, talk to someone, and get the help they need. Speaking up can save a life.

Here are 31 celebrities who spoke out in 2016 — some of them for the first time — about their experiences living with a mental illness:

1. Actress Kristen Bell wrote about why you can't trust all of your thoughts when you're battling depression.

Photo by Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images.

"For me, depression is not sadness. It’s not having a bad day and needing a hug. It gave me a complete and utter sense of isolation and loneliness. Its debilitation was all-consuming, and it shut down my mental circuit board. I felt worthless, like I had nothing to offer, like I was a failure. Now, after seeking help, I can see that those thoughts, of course, couldn’t have been more wrong." — Kristen Bell, on living with depression

2. Singer Selena Gomez reminded us that you never really know what's going on in someone else's head.

Photo by Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images.

"I had to stop. 'Cause I had everything, and I was absolutely broken inside. And I kept it all together enough to where I would never let you down, but I kept it too much together, to where I let myself down. I don't want to see your bodies on Instagram, I want to see what's in here. [puts hand on heart] I'm not trying to get validation, nor do I need it anymore. ... If you are broken, you don’t have to stay broken." — Selena Gomez, on living with anxiety and depression

3. Musical artist Kid Cudi got candid about the limitations that living with a mental illness put on his own life.

Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images.

"My anxiety and depression have ruled my life for as long as I can remember and I never leave the house because of it. I can't make new friends because of it. I don't trust anyone because of it and Im tired of being held back in my life. I deserve to have peace. I deserve to be happy and smiling. Why not me?" — Kid Cudi, on living with anxiety and depression

4. Actor Wentworth Miller opened up about becoming the butt of a body-shaming joke amid his struggle to survive.

Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images.

"Now, when I see that image of me in my red t-shirt, a rare smile on my face, I am reminded of my struggle. My endurance and my perseverance in the face of all kinds of demons. Some within. Some without. Like a dandelion up through the pavement, I persist." — Wentworth Miller, on living with depression

5. Actress Hayden Panettiere shared with fans that they might be seeing less of her because, first and foremost, she needed to prioritize getting well.

Photo by Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images.

“The postpartum depression I have been experiencing has impacted every aspect of my life. Rather than stay stuck due to unhealthy coping mechanisms, I have chosen to take time to reflect holistically on my health and life. Wish me luck!" — Hayden Panettiere, on living with postpartum depression

6. Singer Zayn Malik penned an essay on why he had to cancel performances due to severe anxiety.

Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP.

"The thing is, I love performing. I love the buzz. I don’t want to do any other job. That’s why my anxiety is so upsetting and difficult to explain. It’s this thing that swells up and blocks out your rational thought processes. Even when you know you want to do something, know that it will be good for you, that you’ll enjoy it when you’re doing it, the anxiety is telling you a different story. It’s a constant battle within yourself." — Zayn Malik, on living with anxiety

7. Artist Lady Gaga revealed a secret about her own battles at an event benefitting young homeless teens in New York.

Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images.

"My own trauma in my life has helped me to understand the trauma of others. I told the kids today that I suffer from a mental illness. I suffer from PTSD. I've never told that to anyone before, so here we are." — Lady Gaga, on living with post-traumatic stress disorder

8. NFL wide receiver Brandon Marshall explained why organizing with one another — not hiding away — is crucial for those living with a mental illness.

Photo by Julio Cortez/AP.

“I thought, ‘How many others are out there suffering?’ I tell people all the time, you know, where we’re at in [the mental health] community is where the cancer and HIV community was 20, 25 years ago. So we have to galvanize this community.” — Brandon Marshall, on living with borderline personality disorder

9. Actress Rachel Bloom showed us why we shouldn't let stereotypes about medication dictate whether we should get the proper help we need.

Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for The Critics' Choice Awards.

"I had gone to therapists, but for the first time I sought out a psychiatrist. In his office I finally felt safe. I told him everything. Each session improved my life. He diagnosed me with low-grade depression and put me on a small amount of Prozac. There’s a stereotype (I had believed) that antidepressants numb you out; that didn’t happen to me." — Rachel Bloom, on living with depression

10. Musical artist Justin Vernon of Bon Iver got real about what a panic attack can actually feel like.

Photo by D Dipasupil/Getty Images.

“It was like: ‘Oh my god, my chest is caving in, what the f**k is going on?’ I don’t like talking about it, but I feel it’s important to talk about it, so that other people who experience it don’t feel it’s just happening to them.” — Justin Vernon, on living with panic attacks and depression

11. Singer Demi Lovato pointed out the importance of consistently staying on top of your health for the long haul.

Photo by Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images.

"It’s not something where you see a therapist once or you see your psychiatrist once, it’s something you maintain to make sure that you want to live with mental illness. You have to take care of yourself.” — Demi Lovato, on living with bipolar disorder

12. Actress Lena Dunham opened up about how anxiety affects her day-to-day routines.

Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images.

“I’ve always been anxious, but I haven’t been the kind of anxious that makes you run 10 miles a day and make a lot of calls on your BlackBerry. I’m the kind of anxious that makes you like, ‘I’m not going to be able to come out tonight, tomorrow night, or maybe for the next 67 nights.’” — Lena Dunham, on living with anxiety

13. NFL guard Brandon Brooks discussed the difference between game-day jitters and the type of anxiety he experiences.

Photo by Greg Trott/AP.

“I wanted to get to the bottom of what’s going on. Basically, I found out recently that I have an anxiety condition. What I mean by anxiety condition [is] not nervousness or fear of the game. ... I have, like, an obsession with the game. It’s an unhealthy obsession right now and I’m working with team doctors to get everything straightened out and getting the help that I need and things like that.” — Brandon Brooks, on living with anxiety

14. Actress Evan Rachel Wood spoke out about how our world's tendency to overlook or dismiss certain groups can complicate a person's mental health.

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.

"For so long, I was ashamed. You’re dealing with the shame that the world has imposed upon you, and then on top of that, the shame of identifying that way. You’re totally looked down upon in and out of the LGBT community. A good way to combat that and the stereotypes is to be vocal." — Evan Rachel Wood, on living with depression and coming out as bisexual

15. Actress Cara Delevingne got real about her early struggles living with a sense of hopelessness.

Photo by Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images.

"I'm very good at repressing emotion and seeming fine. As a kid I felt like I had to be good and I had to be strong because my mum wasn't. So, when it got to being a teenager and all the hormones and the pressure and wanting to do well at school — for my parents, not for me — I had a mental breakdown. I was suicidal. I couldn't deal with it any more. I realized how lucky and privileged I was, but all I wanted to do was die." — Cara Delevingne, on living with depression

16. Comedian Patton Oswalt laid out the difference between living with depression and surviving the devastation of losing a loved one.

Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP.

“Depression is more seductive. Its tool is: ‘Wouldn’t it be way more comfortable to stay inside and not deal with people?’ Grief is an attack on life. It’s not a seducer. It’s an ambush or worse. It stands right out there and says: ‘The minute you try something, I’m waiting for you.’” — Patton Oswalt, on living with depression and the grief brought on by his wife's death

17. Singer Kesha opened up about what led her to a rehab program focused on treating eating disorders.

Photo by Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images.

"I felt like part of my job was to be as skinny as possible and, to make that happen, I had been abusing my body. I just wasn't giving it the energy it needed to keep me healthy and strong." — Kesha, on living with an eating disorder

18. Author John Green wrote about the dangers of romanticizing mental illness.

Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images for Allied-THA.

"Mental illness is stigmatized, but it is also romanticized. If you google the phrase 'all artists are,' the first suggestion is 'mad.' We hear that genius is next to insanity. ... Of course, there are kernels of truth here: Many artists and storytellers do live with mental illness. But many don’t. And what I want to say today, I guess, is that you can be sane and be an artist, and also that if you are sick, getting help  —  although it is hard and exhausting and inexcusably difficult to access  —  will not make you less of an artist." — John Green, on living with depression

19. Musical artist Halsley discussed her attempt at suicide as a teenager.

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.

“I had tried to kill myself. I was an adolescent; I didn’t know what I was doing. Because I was 17, I was still in a children’s ward. Which was terrifying. I was in there with 9-year-olds who had tried to kill themselves.” — Halsley, on living with bipolar disorder, and once staying in a psychiatric hospital

20. Prince Harry addressed the problem with assuming people who seemingly have their lives in order aren't struggling with an invisible issue.

Photo by Chris Jackson - Pool/Getty Images.

You know, I really regret not ever talking about it. ... A lot of people think if you’ve got a job, if you’ve got financial security, if you’ve got a family, you’ve got a house, all that sort of stuff — everyone seems to think that is all you need and you are absolutely fine to deal with stuff.” — Prince Harry, on living with grief after his mother's death

21. Actress Rowan Blanchard explained why living with a mental illness can be a learning opportunity.

Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for WE Day.

"I learned this year that happiness and sadness are not mutually exclusive. They can exist within me at the same time in the same moment. While also becoming more forgiving of myself and my emotions, I became more forgiving of others, specifically other teenagers." — Rowan Blanchard, on living with depression

22. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps spoke candidly about why even gold medals couldn't truly make him happy.

Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images.

“I went in with no self-confidence, no self-love. I think the biggest thing was, I thought of myself as just a swimmer, and nobody else. ... I was lost, pushing a lot people out of my life — people that I wanted and needed in my life. I was running and escaping from whatever it was I was running from.” — Michael Phelps, on living with mental illness

23. Actress Jenifer Lewis talked about how the AIDS epidemic led her to realize she needed help.

Photo by Jean Baptiste LaCroix/AFP/Getty Images.

"Sometimes I suspected that something was not quite right. Especially during the time when the AIDS epidemic was at its height and my grief was pretty much out of control. No one was talking about bipolar disorder and mental illness back then. I had lost so many friends and loved ones. My spiral into depression was overwhelming; I could not function. That’s when I couldn’t ignore the fact that something was wrong anymore.” — Jenifer Lewis, on living with bipolar disorder

24. Singer Adele highlighted why not each form of mental illness manifests the same way in every person.

Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP.

"My knowledge of postpartum [depression] — or post-natal, as we call it in England — is that you don’t want to be with your child; you’re worried you might hurt your child; you’re worried you weren’t doing a good job. But I was obsessed with my child. I felt very inadequate; I felt like I’d made the worst decision of my life. ... It can come in many different forms." — Adele, on living with postpartum depression

25. Actor Jared Padalecki launched a new "I Am Enough" campaign, selling shirts to support initiatives that fight depression and self-harm.

Photo by Chris Frawley/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. via Getty Images.

“I am enough. And you are enough. ... I know I can keep fighting and I know that I’m trying to love myself, but sometimes you feel like you’re not enough. So this message is helping me kind of understand that I am enough — just the way I was made.” — Jared Padalecki, on living with depression

26. Actress Amanda Seyfried nailed why we should be treating mental illness just as seriously as any other disease or condition.

Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images for cle de peau BEAUTE.

"I’m on [antidepressant] Lexapro, and I’ll never get off of it. I’ve been on it since I was 19, so 11 years. I’m on the lowest dose. I don’t see the point of getting off of it. Whether it’s placebo or not, I don’t want to risk it. And what are you fighting against? Just the stigma of using a tool? A mental illness is a thing that people cast in a different category [from other illnesses], but I don’t think it is. It should be taken as seriously as anything else." — Amanda Seyfried, on living with anxiety and depression

27. Musical artist Keke Palmer opened up about how her own mental illness postponed the release of a new album.

Photo by Kimberly White/Getty Images for Glamour.

“I stopped trying all together because I allowed people to make me believe that being an artist meant having big budget music videos and big record producers backing you. When in reality, all being an artist means is to be fearless in your creative pursuits. My anxiety, caused by the habit of unconsciously holding my breath, coupled with the stress of my personal life at that time created a lot of hard years of depression for me.” — Keke Palmer, on living with anxiety

28. Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones said she's in a good place right now, thanks to identifying her struggle and finding the help that was right for her.

Photo by Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images.

"Finding out that it was called something was the best thing that ever happened to me! The fact that there was a name for my emotions and that a professional could talk me through my symptoms was very liberating. There are amazing highs and very low lows. My goal is to be consistently in the middle. I’m in a very good place right now." — Catherine Zeta-Jones, on living with bipolar disorder

29. Actor Devon Murray used World Mental Health Day to share his own ups and downs with fans on Twitter.

Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images.

"I've been battling depression in silence for ten years and only recently spoke about it and [it] has made a huge difference. I had suicidal thoughts this year and that was the kick up the arse that I needed! Open up, talk to people. If you suspect a friend or family member is suffering in silence [reach out] to them. Let them know you care." — Devon Murray, on living with depression

30. Musical artist Jade Thirlwall discussed a dark time in her life that looked picture-perfect from afar.

Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images for Sony Pictures.

"My periods stopped and things were getting out of control, but I don't think I really cared about what was happening to me. I felt so depressed at the time that I just wanted to waste away and disappear. ... It should have been a really happy time — my career was successful, 'Black Magic' was doing well, and we were traveling and performing. On the surface I was happy, but inside I felt broken." — Jade Thirlwall, on battling anorexia

31. Musician Ellie Goulding explained how her panic attacks often came at the worst possible times.

Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images.

"I was skeptical [of going to therapy] at first, because I’d never had therapy, but not being able to leave the house was so debilitating. And this was when my career was really taking off. My surroundings would trigger a panic attack, so I couldn’t go to the studio unless I was lying down in the car with a pillow over my face. I used to beat myself up about it." — Ellie Goulding, on living with anxiety and facing panic attacks

Many celebrities have helped bring the conversation around mental health into the mainstream. But it's on us to make the real change happen.

“While it’s amazing to have celebrities out there blazing trails and introducing a radical new transparency," Harvey notes, "the most important thing is that individual sufferers communicate with their everyday connections. If we really want to make an impact on stigma, it can’t just be a headline."

If you need help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1‑800‑273‑TALK (8255). If you want to learn more about mental illness, visit the National Alliance on Mental Health.

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

Joy

Strangers rally to cry for help for 22-year-old mother given just four months to live

In 24 hours, people flooded the family with donations to hopefully buy Rachael Burns some time with her 1-year-old daughter, Raeya.

Rachael Burns was given a dire prognosis as her daughter turned one.




Being given just a few months to live is a daunting prognosis for anyone, but when you're a 22-year-old mother with a 1-year-old daughter, it's particularly tragic. Your adult life has just begun. You are the world to your young child. Your partner is suddenly looking at losing you and becoming a single parent, all in one fell swoop.

Rachael Burns of Belfast, Northern Ireland, is facing that exact reality. Eight months ago, she began experiencing headaches, dizzy spells and irritation in her eyes, according to Belfast Live. At first, doctors chalked it up to dehydrated eyes and she considered them migraines, but after an emergency trip to the hospital in early June 2024, Burns was diagnosed with diffuse midline glioma brain tumour—brain cancer with a rare, aggressive mutation that is spreading down her spine.


Because of its size and where it's located, doctors said there is no way to even attempt an operation on it. Consultants told her that anyone who came in with her symptoms and that diagnosis generally had 9 to 12 months to live.

"I’ve shown symptoms for the last eight," Burns told Belfast Live. “I was told to assume that that was the case and try to make the most of the next four months.

“I left that appointment with no real hope and I didn’t know how to tell my mum and the rest of the family, I didn’t want them to get upset. It felt like everything had just been taken away from me at that point."

Facing such a dire prediction, Burns began writing years' worth of birthday cards for her daughter, Raeya, who just had her first birthday. The only option appeared to be six weeks of radiotherapy, which would do little to help.

But research into experimental therapies unveiled a ray of hope to buy more time with her family.

"We've identified a potentially life-extending treatment in Germany, under the name of ONC201," the family shared on GoFundMe, "but it comes at a significant cost. Should Rachael qualify, we need funds to pay for travel costs, accommodation and the drugs themselves.

"We refuse to let financial worries hinder Rachael's fight for her life or deprive her and her daughter of precious time together. Our goal is to ensure their comfort should the worst come to pass. No one should go from celebrating their child's first birthday to facing a terminal illness so swiftly."

Not only did the local community of West Belfast turn out for this young family but people around the world did as well. In less than 24 hours, they'd raised £30,000 (approximately $38,000 U.S.).

mom and dad holding baby in front of a birthday cake

Donate to Support a young mother battling terminal cancer, organized by Rachael Burns.

www.gofundme.com

“I’m just totally overwhelmed by the response that we have got so far,” Rachael said. “Belfast is such a small place but you never think that people from all over would show as much kindness as they have done for me and my family. It is a scary time to be going through all of this but this has given me more hope that I can spend some more time with my family.”

Burns told The Irish News that the treatment she's seeking in Germany has extended the life of people with her diagnosis by as much as 22 months. That may not sound like much time, but in the life of a small child, it's hugely significant.

“My Raeya will always know just how much her mummy fought with everything in her power for even a quick glimpse of watching her grow into the beautiful, strong and kind girl I know she will be in this world," Burns said. “Situations are what you make of them and I refuse to just be another statistic.”

While the future is uncertain for the Burns family, the money that's been raised gives her the best chance for a miracle. Any funds that don't go to Rachael's treatment will go into a bank account for young Raeya "to support her in life for if the time comes when she loses her mother."

Find the GoFundMe here.

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Identity

A message to my fellow Christians: I hope you're having a super uncomfortable Pride month

I know from painful, hard-earned experience what discomfort can do to change minds.

Nobody should live in fear.

This post was originally published on Substack. You can find it here.

I was a small town, conservative girl when my husband and I relocated to Orlando, Florida. I spent my time going from work to the barn, work to the barn, crying as I brushed my horse's mane.

"I'll never make friends in this town,” I sobbed over the phone with my mom one night.

The next day at work, I met Matt.

He had a brilliant smile and a southern drawl and he sounded like home. He loved horses, too, having spent years doing rodeo. Our friendship was instant and easy.

He visited the barn and taught me how to lasso. I picked up his favorite latte on the way to work. And on our lunch breaks, he would gush all about the love of his life, Jesse. I assumed Jesse was a girl, but that assumption turned out to be wrong. When we all met for lunch one day, I couldn't conceal my shock.

"Oh my GOSH, Matt! You're gay?"


"Um, DUH." He laughed. “Did the cowboy hat throw you off?”

I then remembered he had recently pointed out a bar a few blocks from my house. He mentioned that it was a fun place to go, and I replied that one day we should….but I hadn’t noticed the rainbow details.

"MK, your gay-dar isn't malfunctioning. It's completely nonexistent."

Matt and Jesse told me funny stories about drag contests and bouncers who wore shorty shorts. They insisted I would love Thursday night karaokes, but I assured them it wasn't my scene.

I blushed and giggled a little at the idea. It sounded fun, if not a bit scandalous.

Two people smiling together wearing Pride gear

Pride is not just some party.

Mary Katherine Backstrom

A week or so after that hilarious lunch date, I was driving home from a friend’s house, when I witnessed a young lady get struck by a car. I swerved to the side of the road and jumped out of my vehicle, screaming.

In an instant, people poured out of the bar to assist in the emergency. I barely registered that they were dressed flamboyantly. Their make up didn't strike me as strange. In that moment, we were all scared human beings. Their hearts were racing just like mine.

A drag queen cradled the woman’s head in his hands as I called the police.

“Don’t move, baby girl,” he comforted the woman. “Don’t mess up these pretty braids.”

It was a fraction of a moment that felt like forever. I can still hear her crying for Momma. Thankfully, the club was a block from the hospital. The ambulance arrived in an instant.

When the lights and sirens finally faded, my adrenaline couldn’t handle silence. It was like every one of us had been shaken like soft drinks, and in that moment, we had all cracked open. There were hugs and prayers exchanged between strangers. I remember someone humming a hymn.

Then slowly, one by one, the crowd dispersed. We had to go back to our lives. But not before exchanging a couple of phone numbers, promising to disperse any updates.

I called my friends, Matt and Jesse. I knew the gay community was a close one and I wondered if they had heard any news.

Matt asked around, but didn’t hear much.

“Don’t worry,” he said. “We will know more tomorrow.”

I decided to stay up until then.

The next morning, we all went to breakfast with the drag queens who had started a text thread for updates. We bonded over hash browns and our collective trauma—and after coffee, just some regular life stories.

The woman, we learned, was in critical condition. Two broken legs and a fractured spine. James, who had cradled her head so gently, had probably saved her life. Turns out, he had done so with great intention because not only was he a drag queen, but once a month he returned to his rural hometown to serve as a medic for the volunteer fire department.

A hero. An absolute gem of a human.

Two years later, those same gentle heroes were working their jobs at Pulse when a hate-crazed terrorist made his way through the doors with a semi-automatic rifle. When he first started shooting, some patrons kept dancing.

They thought it was part of the music.

That detail never fails wreck my heart.

They kept dancing.

They just wanted to dance.

I’ll never forget the pit in my stomach as I stared at my phone through the night. Praying each name in that years-long text thread was sleeping at home in their beds. After four sleepless nights, we received confirmation—two of the group had been working. Both had escaped and survived the massacre.

But it wasn’t a happy ending.

An act of hate forever changed their lives, and they were deeply, irreversibly altered. One turned to drugs and the other disappeared. I pray he is still alive, somewhere.

But, yes. They survived. Thank God, I should say.

In an act of terror that killed 49 and hurt scores more, they were the lucky ones.

But when I think of that word...”lucky”.

God, it honestly pisses me off.

That’s how low the bar is, y’all. That’s where we are as a society.

Our gay friends are sometimes just lucky to survive.

How can this be who we are?

If you talk to the LGBTQ community, and I mean really get to know them, you will hear a whole lot of heart breaking versions of what they consider to be “lucky.”

Their parents didn’t disown them. They are lucky.

They haven’t been physically assaulted. Lucky.

They survived a terrorist attack.

Lucky.

I am so deeply over this shit.

Nobody, nobody should live in fear. Nobody should feel lucky that they’ve avoided physical abuse, or emotional abuse, or my Lord, mass murder.

Six short years after the Pulse shooting, what is it going to take?

Look how broken America is. Look what this hate has cost us.

And look at the religious mouthpieces for hate who are becoming more and more emboldened.

Just last week, I posted a meme celebrating the beginning of Pride. It said:

Wishing all the homophobes a SUPER uncomfortable month!

I post it every year and I usually laugh my butt off. It’s too easy to predict all the comments. It’s the same old crap, different mouths, every year.

“Well, that’s not very Christlike.”

“I don't hate anyone! I hate the sin, but I don’t hate the sinner.”

“Ohhhhhh, well who is intolerant now?”

This year, I am truly done laughing. I used to abide this shit, but to be honest, I really can’t do it, anymore. I’ve read and I’ve lived through enough horrible history to understand this terrible truth: Polite hate is the most dangerous kind of hate. It loads the gun, then just backs away quietly.

Christians, please, open your eyes. It’s two thousand and freaking twenty four. I know that you know exactly how this works. You don’t get a pass for good manners.

I won’t let you hide behind pat platitudes when your beliefs give motive to terrorists.

You don’t get to say “it’s the sin that I hate” when that mantra makes bullets for terrorists.

And yah, I guess you could call me intolerant. Smack that sticker on my forehead, I don’t care. For years, I have tolerated far too much from the bigoted backrow Baptists. But the paradox of tolerance states that if a society's practice of tolerance is inclusive of the intolerant…in the end, intolerance will win the day.

And that’s exactly how people die dancing.

So yah, not only do I wish the homophobes reading an incredibly uncomfortable month—I hope this discomfort convicts your soul, and makes you question EVERYTHING. I hope the itch in your spirit spreads to places you can’t bend over to scratch.

I hope enough people walk away from your screeching that you are left alone with your hate. And I hope that hate makes you sick to your stomach when you realize the harm it has caused.

Being gay is not a sin. And Pride is not some party.

It’s a courageous protest that weak minded fearful bigots just can’t comprehend.

It’s authenticity in the face of oppression. Vulnerability in the face of violence.

Pride is the spirit of millions of people who have chosen to dance in the crosshairs.

Growing up in the church, I was frequently told that there are evil forces at work. That these forces were fighting against God’s will, and causing harm to His people. Now, I can see that the threat was true, but it was coming from inside the house.

There are evil, hateful forces at work right now…against the LGBTQ community. Some of those forces look like Saints when they’re hiding behind stained glass.

It’s gonna take a force, equal and opposite in power and passion, to turn the church around. So, if you’re a Christian who has been fence-sitting this issue, it’s time to get off the damn fence.

This June, I beg you to look past the prejudice and the preaching you’ve had crammed down your throat your whole life. Look past your anger, and your pastor’s fear. Look at these beautiful humans. Trying with all their hearts to claim the dignity and love and safety that they, as humans, deserve.

This?

THIS is what you are scared of?

These are the forces of evil?

If that’s what you think then, my friend, you’ve been brainwashed.

I get it. I was brainwashed, too.

But all along, I deep down in my heart, I knew there was something amiss. I couldn’t quite rationalize what I knew of God’s love with the hate I saw coming from church.

For twenty years, I was too afraid to challenge my faith. I thought that it might fall apart.

But that is EXACTLY why I wish all the homophobes a SUPER uncomfortable month. Because I know from painful, hard-earned experience what discomfort can do to change minds.

So, instead of doubling down on your hateful theology…I ask you, non-affirming Christians, in the name of our faith. In the name of God’s love.

Will you please put your weapons down?

Will you consider the lesson that I learned on the street in front of Pulse so many years ago?

Will you feel the heartbeats of your fellow humans, and for once SEE YOURSELF IN THEM?

I beg you to try.

I beg you to grow.

It’s already been far too late.

You can follow Mary Katherine Backstrom on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.

Family

I told a kid a riddle my dad told me when I was 7. His answer proves how far we've come.

This classic riddle takes on new meaning as our world changes for the better.




When I was 7, my dad told me a riddle.

"A man and his son are driving in their car when they are hit by a tractor-trailer.

Photo via iStock.

(We were driving at the time, so of course this was the riddle he decided to tell.)

The father dies instantly.

The son is badly injured. Paramedics rush him to the hospital.

Photo via iStock.

As he is being wheeled into the operating room, the surgeon takes one look the boy and says:

'I can't operate on him. He's my son.'

How is that possible?!"

Without missing a beat, I answered:


"The doctor is his mom!"

Photo via iStock.

My dad first heard the riddle when he was a child in the '60s.

Back then, most women didn't work outside of the home.

Few of those who did had college degrees, much less professional degrees.

Female doctors were few and far between.

Back then, it was a hard riddle. A very hard riddle.

By 1993, when I first heard it, the notion that women could be highly skilled, highly trained professionals wasn't so absurd.

To me, it was normal.

I knew women who were lawyers. Bankers. Politicians. My own doctor was a woman.

To be sure, women still faced challenges and discrimination in the workplace. And even 20 years later, they still do.

But at its core, the riddle is about how a family can work. And that had changed. Long-overdue progress had rendered the big, sexist assumption that underpinned the whole thing moot.

A very hard riddle was suddenly not a riddle at all.

I never forgot it.

Now, I'm 30 — almost as old as my dad was he first told me that riddle.

My dad at 30 (left) and me at 30. Photos by Eric March/Upworthy and Mary March, used with permission.

I don't have kids, but I mentor a child through a volunteer program.

Once a week, we get together and hang out for an hour. We play ping pong, do science experiments, and write songs. Neither of us like to go outside.

It's a good match.

One day, we decided to try to stump each other with riddles.

He rattled off about five or six.

I could only remember one: The one about the man, his son, and the surgeon.

Photo via iStock.

I thought it would be silly to tell it.

I was sure that, if it was easy in 1993, it would be even easier in 2014. Kind of ridiculous, even.

But a part of me was curious.

It had been 21 years — almost as long as it had been between when my dad first heard the riddle and when he shared it with me.

Maybe it wouldn't be so easy.

Maybe I was missing something obvious, making my own flawed assumptions about how a family could work.

Maybe the world had changed in ways that would be second nature to a 13-year-old but not to me.

So I began:

"A man and his son are driving in their car, when they are hit by a tractor-trailer. The father dies instantly. The son is badly injured and is rushed to the hospital by paramedics. As he is being wheeled into the operating room, the surgeon takes one look at the boy and says:

'I can't operate on him. He's my son.'

How is that possible?!"

Without missing a beat, he answered: "it's his other dad"

Photo via iStock.

Times change. Progress isn't perfect. But no matter what shape a family takes, at the end of the day, #LoveWins.


This article was written by Eric March and originally appeared on 06.21.16

Pop Culture

Alan Tudyk creates Reddit account just to connect with fan who missed out on talking to him

The 'Resident Alien' star sent the sweetest message to a fan who lamented not telling him how important the show was to her.

This is how you treat a fan.

Even if you don’t typically get star struck, odds are there’s one celebrity that would send you into a nervous fit should you ever come face-to-face. Especially if that celebrity was part of a project that meant a great deal to you.

Like, how do you tell them that a movie or TV show they starred in changed your entire outlook on life in the 30 seconds that you’re probably allowed to interact with them? You can’t. So instead you say something lame alá “Gee, I’m your biggest fan,” as they politely sign some memorabilia, and then your time is up. Opportunity for connection with someone who greatly impacted your life: gone.

This is what happened when a fan of the sci-fi comedy “Resident Alien” got a chance to meet the show’s star, Alan Tudyk, at a convention.


Unfortunately, nerves got the best of her, and she “blew” her chance to share how meaningful the show has been during a particularly dark period of her life. Filled with anguish and embarrassment, she created a throwaway Reddit account just to vent about the experience.

“I went to Fan Fest Boston and met Alan on Saturday,” her post began. “I wanted to tell him that ‘Resident Alien’ was the first show that made me laugh after my husband died this winter, that it helped me to feel human again, and I wanted to thank him for that.”

via GIPHY

However, the OP was very aware of how “exhausted” Tudyk appeared, and the long lines of people still waiting to see him. Plus she knew they couldn’t say their piece “without crying.”

So instead, she “stood there awkward and stupid,” and made a joke about “Firefly,” the show that launched Tudyk’s career.

The entire debacle left the OP regretting that she never got a chance to let Tudyk know “that his work really affected someone and helped them through a hard time.”

“I know he probably wouldn’t care and he would forget by the end of the day so I’m not sure why it’s bothering me so much, but I just really wanted to say thank you.” the post concluded.

Well, through the almighty power of the internet, Tudyk found out about this post. And he responded in such a thoughtful way.

resident alien, alan tudyk

A photo of Tudyk's response

preview.redd.it

Here’s what he wrote:

“My friend sent me this. Sorry you feel like you missed your opportunity. I have read your message. I love that you have such a beautiful connection with the show. I’m so sorry to hear about your husband. I’m glad you’re finding your laugh again and honored that I’m a part of that. Your story and similar stories I’ve heard are so touching. It makes me feel like my work, which I appreciate getting to do, has worth beyond the Hollywood hustle of it all and the BS business of show business.”

Tudyk even gave the OP another opportunity to meet, inviting her to come by the following day before he hopped on a plane so that he could also say “thank you in person.”

Though the OP wasn’t able to meet Tudyk that day (she explained in a follow-up post that it would be her kids’ first Father’s Day without dad, and they had to “come first”), she noted that she would return to the same convection next year, and tell it to him again—this time in person.

She also ended her heartwarming post with a very appropo “Resident Alien” quote, in which Tudyk’s non-human character Harry reflects:

“Everyone needs to belong to something bigger than themselves. Yes, there is strength in numbers, but maybe it's simpler. Maybe humans just feel better when they know they are not alone on this earth.”

Family

Mom seeks support after son gets upsetting note from another kid's parents at camp

“I am trying to handle properly so I don't let my anger get the best of me and I go off on a parent.”

What do you do when the adults behave like children?




Even when parents do their best to teach kids the importance of kindness and mutual respect, tiffs will happen. Navigating those circumstances is tricky enough, but when the adults also participate in immature behavior, well…that’s a whole ‘nother can of interrelational worms.

This was the dilemma that a mom named Victoria found herself in, and it caused her so much uncertainty that she reached out to her TikTok followers for advice.

Here’s what happened: her 7-year-old son had gotten into a few arguments with another child while at summer camp.


“Camp counselors have noticed it. They said something to my son, said something to this other kid, also talked to me about it and also to the other parent. They did not tell me who this other child is for safety, privacy, that’s fine, I don’t care,” she said in her video.

Victoria went on to explain that after the camp reached out, she and her husband talked to her son “at length” about how these altercations were not okay.

“We treat people the way we want to be treated and that we are nice and we don’t do those things. We are at camp to make friends, not to make enemies. Be nice and stop your garbage,” she told him.

@wickatoria89 Would you be mad if you’re seven-year-old received a letter like this from an adult?#bulling #parents #advice #parentingtips #parenting #madmomma #fyp ♬ original sound - Victoria

Unfortunately, that wouldn’t be the end of the issue.

The next day, her husband watched as their son walked up to the camp grounds, where the other little boy was, along with his grandmother. The grandmother apparently “stared” at Victoria’s son, asked her grandson, “Is that the little boy?” and when she got a “yes,” she handed her grandson a note to give to Victoria’s son.

Victoria’s husband quickly stepped in to take the note and notify the camp, because it was written by the boy’s parents, and wasn’t very kind.

Here’s what it said:

“Ethan, Please STAY AWAY from [name of boy]! Do not talk to him! Do not touch him! Do not even look at him! You guys do not get along! I do not want to hear another incident that involves you! Keep your hands + your mouth to yourself!!!”

This “infuriated” Victoria, and even the camp counselor who was shown the note was pretty flabbergasted, saying in their 32 of teaching, they had “never seen” something like that.

Still, in an effort to not let anger get the best of her and “handle the situation properly,” Victoria sought out the advice of other parents to see how they might respond.

Across the board, folks agreed that the note was inappropriate, and that Victoria should reach out to the camp directly.

“That note should be grounds to remove that family from camp. Period,” one person wrote.

Another added, “The other parents are unhinged. Escalate to the director ASAP. If they don’t dismiss the other family, I’d switch camps. They are not safe people.”

Another person wondered if there was “more to the story” since the notes mentioned that the boy should keep his hand to himself, which implied hitting might be involved. Victoria clarified that “The counselors simply told me they were playing and then at one point they started arguing and calling one another names. This has happened a few times when they played together.”

Whether there’s “more to the story” or not, people are in agreement that the other adults unfortunately aren't offering much in the way of setting a good example of mature problem-solving. But hopefully Victoria can feel a little more at ease with the support she got from online viewers, and have more confidence in going to the camp director about this situation.