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Here's a funny and heartwarming talk ... about depression.

Andrew Solomon's experience with depression allowed him to connect with strangers in ways he never anticipated.

When Andrew Solomon was so depressed he couldn't dial a phone, he would never have guessed that this experience would connect him to thousands of people.

Image (text added) by Public Domain Review/Flickr.


Depression and other forms of mental illness carry a stigma many other diseases lack. Even today, people are embarrassed and hide their depression, even from those they are closest to.

Solomon decided instead to go out and talk about it. And it changed his life. "Things are different because now I know that depression is the family secret that everyone has," he says, and it is true.

Every time he spoke publicly about his depression, complete strangers came up to him and told him about theirs.

He met a husband and wife who were secretly taking medication to deal with their symptoms. They kept it a secret, even from each other.

"I went a few years ago to a conference,and on Friday of the three-day conference,one of the participants took me aside, and she said, 'I suffer from depression, and I'm a little embarrassed about it, but I've been taking this medication,and I just wanted to ask you what you think?'And so I did my best to give her such advice as I could and then she said, 'You know, my husband would never understand this.He's really the kind of guy to whom this wouldn't make any sense,so, you know, it's just between us.' ...

On Sunday of the same conference,her husband took me aside,and he said, 'My wife wouldn't thinkthat I was really much of a guy if she knew this,but I've been dealing with this depression, and I'm taking some medication,and I wondered what you think?' They were hiding the same medicationin two different places in the same bedroom. ... I was ... struckby the burdensome nature of such mutual secrecy." — Andrew Solomon

Many people seem to regard medicating for depression as a sign of weakness. Solomon asks why.

The treatments we have available for depression are not panaceas, but they are better than nothing. Many people avoid medication, Solomon says, because there is a stigma around medication, that it's unnatural and makes you less yourself.

Image (text added) by Arek Olek/Flickr.

When he first considered taking medication, Solomon wondered, "If I have to take medication, is that medication making me more fully myself, or is it making me someone else?" In Solomon's experience, medication allowed him to experience sadness, an emotion that had been muffled and deadened during his depression. He points out that people tend to conflate grief, sadness, and depression because they look similar from the outside, but the inner experience is incredibly different — and so are the treatments.

People shared with him the many different ways they had found to treat their depression.

Some felt one medication or another had turned their life around. Others had hobbies or friends who could always pull them out of it. What works for one person or culture might not work for another. But whatever works, whether it's meditation or medication, should be valued and encouraged.

"I was in Rwanda ... and I happened to describe my experience to someone, and he said ... 'But we've had a lot of trouble with Western mental health workers, especially the ones who came right after the genocide.' And I said, 'What kind of trouble did you have?' And he said, 'Well, they would do this bizarre thing. They didn't take people out in the sunshine where you begin to feel better. They didn't include drumming or music to get people's blood going. They didn't involve the whole community. They didn't externalize the depression as an invasive spirit. Instead what they did was they took people one at a time into dingy little rooms and had them talk for an hour about bad things that had happened to them.'

He said, 'We had to ask them to leave the country.'" — Andrew Solomon

Now that he has pulled through his depression, Solomon goes around the world talking to people about their experiences. Watch his TED Talk for one of the funniest and most heartfelt examinations of mental illness you'll ever see.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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Girls are bombarded with messages from a very young age telling them that they can’t, that is too big, this is too heavy, those are too much.

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Pop Culture

14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Swings can turn 80-year-olds into 8-year-olds in less that two seconds.

When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.

Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

Luckily, we’ve come to realize that fun isn’t just a luxury of childhood, but really a vital aspect of living well—like reducing stress, balancing hormone levels and even improving relationships.

More and more people of all ages are letting their inner kids out to play, and the feelings are delightfully infectious.

You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

Here are 14 timeless pleasures to make you feel like a kid again:

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

Alien Ant Farm's "Smooth Criminal" cover still rocks.

When Micheal Jackson released "Smooth Criminal" in 1988, I was a 13-year-old named Annie. As you can imagine, the "Annie, are you okay?" jokes came fast and furious, and they haven't let up much in the three and a half decades since.

It's all good. Those jokes gave me a respite from the "Annie get your gun" and "little orphan Annie" ones, and besides, it's a great song. It wasn't Jackson's biggest hit, but it was always my favorite, and not just because it bore my name. The music video—a nine-minute, dance-heavy mini-movie set in the 1930s gangster era—made it even better.

But apparently, mentioning "Smooth Criminal" or "Annie, are you okay?" to the younger folks doesn't conjure up the zoot suits and dimly lit speakeasy images it does for me. For them, it brings up images of an alternative rock punk band playing in a … boxing ring?

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via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.

As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

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