9 photos that document 7 years of mental illness in a really powerful way.

Melissa Spitz's mother was institutionalized for the first time when Melissa was 6 years old.

Back then, Mrs. Spitz had just been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and as the years went by, her mental health continued to decline. She worked her way through a hysterectomy and cancer treatment, which led to alcohol abuse, a prescription pill problem, and, eventually, a divorce from Spitz's father.

"I was actually extremely fortunate and started seeing a therapist when I was 13. It was initially to deal with my mother’s recent cancer diagnosis, but naturally a lot came up," Spitz said. "As a kid it was chaos and nothing made sense. I empathize with her a lot more, but I really feel as if I am still putting all the pieces back together."


"The last time Dad remembers Mom being 'Normal,' Bumbershoot, Seattle, 1994." All photos by Melissa Spitz/You Have Nothing to Worry About, used with permission.

After her parents' divorce, Spitz turned to photography as a coping mechanism. But it wasn't until she got to art school that she turned the lens on her own mother.

One of Spitz's undergraduate photography projects at the University of Missouri involved documenting an element of her private life for class. There was no question that she'd be heading home to immortalize her mother's fragile state.

"By turning the camera toward my mother and my relationship with her, I capture her behavior as an echo of my own emotional response," she explained in her artist statement. "The images function like an ongoing conversation."

True to her mother's bipolar diagnosis, the resulting photo series, "You Have Nothing to Worry About," depicts a life of stark binary contrasts.

Spitz shoots candids as well as posed photos. Some images upset; others encourage. Some show the good parts of her relationship with her mother, and some show the bad.

Spitz passed the class, of course. But seven years later, she still hasn't finished the project. In fact, she plans to keep documenting her mother's struggle with mental illness as long as she's alive — for her mother's sake and for her own.

"Picture at home, 2015."

"It can be exhausting, but it is extremely cathartic," Spitz said.  "I really believe every image is just as much an image of me as it is of her."

"How can it not be?"

"We are both willing participants and both share the highs and lows of our relationship," she added.

"Mom doing her make-up, 2016."

Spitz eventually uploaded her photos to Instagram and found that the framed and fractured feel of the feed actually enhanced the experience of viewing the photos.

"I decided to try something new and started slicing my images and building these grids. It felt like the perfect opportunity to think about a social media platform in a different way," she explained.

The scattered chronology, varying photo sizes, and fragmented images that resulted made the photo series even more reflective of her mother's condition and their relationship.

A screengrab of Spitz's Instagram feed, showing a collage of the first portrait she took in 2009 (below) and shots from an exhibition where she displayed her photo "Quiet Please, 2016" in a similar fashion.

Instagram has also helped her vivid images to reach a wider audience — many of whom deal with similar problems.

Spitz's photographs don't just put the spotlight on her mother. They've also contributed to the larger conversation about mental health and helped to encourage people to share their own stories, often in the comments of her Instagram page.

"I have always wanted mental health to be treated the same way as physical ailments and that support for family members would be more readily available," Spitz said. "I hope my body of work and Instagram can be a small champion of this support system."

"Note from Adam to Mom, 2012," which inspired the name of the photo series.

Spitz has captured countless moments of bleak, honest beauty on camera. But she's seen her share of frights as well.

There are photos in the series of her mother's continued panic attacks, for example. Other photos show the huge regime of pills her mother relies on for stability and a B.B. gun, which her mother keeps "for protection."

"My brother and I have come to terms with the harsh reality that one day we will most likely be survivors of a suicide. It is our biggest fear," Spitz wrote in one particularly harrowing post, accompanying an image of her mother sprawled out on the carpet. She explained:

"When I used to live at home I hated unlocking the door, I constantly imagined her dead. As a kid I found my Mom laying on the kitchen floor, or bathroom floor multiple times. I remember her looking at me once and asking, 'Where’s Melissa?' She was so out if she couldn’t even recognize my face… I was 16."

Photography makes it easier for Spitz to cope and understand her mother. But it can't cure her mother's illness.

For all her struggles, her mother is moved by the power of her daughter's work — and she hopes that it can help other people, too.

"If I can help one person not feel alone, I am glad I’ve shared my story," her mother said.

When Spitz first embarked on her photographic journey, her mother was still living in the house that she had owned with her ex-husband and was still drinking heavily. But she was given a new voice just from seeing herself through her daughter's eyes. That empowerment helped lead her to quit drinking and to move into a new apartment.

Spitz's relationship with her mother is just one story of life with mental illness. But her willingness to share that hard story with the world is really important.

Not every case of bipolar disorder — or of difficult-but-loving mother-daughter relationships — looks the same. Even Spitz herself is careful to point out that her work is not intended as a blanket statement on mental health overall.

But at a time when mental illness is still constantly stigmatized, stories like these can open people's eyes and remind us that every family has their struggles and that everyone deserves compassion and support.

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A lot of people here are like family to me," Michelle says about Bread for the City — a community nonprofit located in Washington DC that provides local residents with food, clothing, health care, social advocacy, and legal services. And since the pandemic began, the need to support organizations like Bread for the City is greater than ever, which is why Amazon is Delivering Smiles to local charities across the country this holiday season.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is giving back by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, and donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Bread for the City provide to those disproportionately impacted this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your charity of choice.

There's a weird thing that happens when we talk about people dying, no matter what the cause. The 2,977 souls who lost their lives in the 9/11 attack felt overwhelming. The dozens of children who are killed in school shootings are mourned across the country each time one happens. The four Americans who perished in Benghazi prompted months of investigations and emotional video montages at national political conventions.

But as the numbers of deaths we talk about get bigger, our sensitivity to them grows smaller. A singular story of loss often evokes more emotion than hearing that 10,000 or 100,000 people have died. Hearing a story of one individual feels personal and intimate, but if you try to listen to a thousand stories at once, it all blends together into white noise. It's just how our minds work. We simply can't hold that many individual stories—and the emotion that goes along with them—all at once.

But there are some ways we can help our brains out. An anonymous visual effects artist has created a visualization that can better help us see the massive number of Americans who have been lost to the coronavirus pandemic. The number alone is staggering, and seeing all of the individual lives at once is overwhelming.

In this video, each marble represents one American who has died of COVID-19, and each second represents six days. At the top, you can see the calendar fill in as time goes by. Unlike just seeing a grid of dots representing the visual, there's something about the movement and accumulation of the marbles that makes it easier to see the scope of the lives impacted.

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Courtesy of Macy's

Brantley and his snowman

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"Would you like to build a snowman?" If you asked five-year-old Brantley from Texas this question, the answer would be a resounding "Yes!" While it may sound like a simple dream, since Texas doesn't usually see much snow, it seemed like a lofty one for him, even more so because Brantley has a congenital heart disease.

On Dec. 11, 2019, however, the real Macy's Santa and his two elves teamed up with Make-A-Wish to surprise Brantley and his family on his way to Colorado where there was plenty of snow for him to build his very own snowman, fulfilling his wish as part of the Macy's Believe campaign. After a joy-filled plane ride where every passenger got gift bags from Macy's, the family arrived in Breckenridge, Colorado where Santa and his elves helped Brantley build a snowman.

Brantley, Brantley's mom, and Santa marveling at their snowmanAll photos courtesy of Macy's

Brantley, who according to his mom had never actually seen snow, was blown away by the experience.

"Well, I had to build a snowman because snowmen are my favorite," Brantley said in an interview with Summit Daily. "All of it was my favorite part."

This is just one example of the more than 330,000 wishes the nonprofit Make-A-Wish have fulfilled to bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses since its founding 40 years ago. Even though many of the children that Make-A-Wish grants wishes for manage or overcome their illnesses, they often face months, if not years of doctor's visits, hospital stays and uncomfortable treatments. The nonprofit helps these children and their families replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy and anxiety with hope.

It's hardly an outlandish notion — research shows that a wish come true can help increase these children's resiliency and improve their quality of life. Brantley is a prime example.

"This couldn't have come at a better time because we see all the hardships that we went through last year," Brantley's mom Brandi told Summit Daily.

Brantley playing with snowballs

Now more than ever, kids with critical illnesses need hope. Since they're particularly vulnerable to disease, they and their families have had to isolate even more during the pandemic and avoid the people they love most and many of the activities that recharge them. That's why Make-A-Wish is doing everything it can to fulfill wishes in spite of the unprecedented obstacles.

That's where you come in. Macy's has raised over $132 million for Make-A-Wish, and helped grant more than 15,500 wishes since their partnership began in 2003, but they couldn't have done that without the support of everyday people. The crux of that support comes from Macy's Believe Campaign — the longstanding holiday fundraising effort where for every letter to Santa that's written online at Macys.com or dropped off safely at the red Believe mailbox at their stores, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. New this year, National Believe Day will be expanded to National Believe Week and will provide customers the opportunity to double their donations ($2 per letter, up to an additional $1 million) for a full week from Sunday, Nov. 29 through Saturday, Dec. 5.

There are more ways to support Make-A-Wish besides letter-writing too. If you purchase a $4 Believe bracelet, $2 of each bracelet will be donated to Make-A-Wish through Dec. 31. And for families who are all about the holiday PJs, on Giving Tuesday (Dec. 1), 20 percent of the purchase price of select family pajamas will benefit Make-A-Wish.

Elizabeth living out her wish of being a fashion designer

Additionally, this year's campaign features 6-year-old Elizabeth, a Make-A-Wish child diagnosed with leukemia, whose wish to design a dress recently came true. Thanks to the style experts at Macy's Fashion Office and I.N.C. International Concepts, only at Macy's, Elizabeth had the opportunity to design a colorful floral maxi dress. Elizabeth's exclusive design is now available online at Macys.com and in select Macy's stores. In the spirit of giving back this holiday season, 20 percent of the purchase price of Elizabeth's dress (through Dec. 31) will benefit Make-A-Wish.You can also donate directly to Make-A-Wish via Macy's website.

This holiday season may be a tough one this year, but you can bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses by delivering hope for their wishes to come true.

via Twins Trust / Twitter

Twins born with separate fathers are rare in the human population. Although there isn't much known about heteropaternal superfecundation — as it's known in the scientific community — a study published in The Guardian, says about one in every 400 sets of fraternal twins has different fathers.

Simon and Graeme Berney-Edwards, a gay married couple, from London, England both wanted to be the biological father of their first child.

"We couldn't decide on who would be the biological father," Simon told The Daily Mail. "Graeme said it should be me, but I said that he had just as much right as I did."

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Usually when we share a story of a couple having been married for nearly five decades, it's a sweet story of lasting love. Usually when we share a story of a long-time married couple dying within minutes of each other, it's a touching story of not wanting to part from one another at the end of their lives.

The story of Patricia and Leslie "LD" McWaters dying together might have both of those elements, but it is also tragic because they died of a preventable disease in a pandemic that hasn't been handled well. The Michigan couple, who had been married for 47 years, both died of COVID-19 complications on November 24th. Since they died less than a minute apart, their deaths were recorded with the exact same time—4:23pm.

Patricia, who was 78 at her passing, had made her career as a nurse. LD, who would have turned 76 next month, had been a truck driver. Patricia was "no nonsense" while LD was "fun-loving," and the couple did almost everything together, according to their joint obituary.

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