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My earliest memories of stifling depression go back to the age of 7.

By stifling, I mean the kind of clinical depression that courses through your veins, colors every thought, and places such a metaphorical weight on you that you feel unable to move in both literal and figurative ways.

Depression is a disease of inaction, of paralysis. At least, that's how it manifests for me.


It's a part of myself I have hated, a part of myself I've hidden and combatted — with drugs, with sex, with working too much, talking too much, taking on more and more … and I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm fine.

Because the more I do, the more I can hide the depression that's lurking beneath it all.

When it comes to other people who are struggling with mental health issues, I am empathetic; I am patient and compassionate.

But when it comes to my own depression, I am none of those things. I am the opposite — impatient, angry, intolerant.

Getting a handle on my depression took a long damn time. Today, I am on the proper medication; I have tools and knowledge that I didn't have even 10 years ago. Because of that, I have this unrealistic expectation that it's solved, and when my depression crops up despite all my armor, I feel confused, angry, and anxious — but most of all, disappointed in myself.

I recognize intellectually that it's unreasonable to hold myself accountable for brain chemistry that I hardly understand, let alone control. But I do. I feel responsible for it.

I also recognize that making yourself culpable for something you have no control over is cruel.

If I had survived cancer and the cancer came back, would I blame myself? If I'm honest, I might. Which is so messed up.

Part of my (admittedly dysfunctional) coping mechanism is control. If I control the situation, the emotion, or the circumstance, then I won't hurt. If I take drugs to mask the emotional pain, I'm in control. If I cheat to prevent the heartache of being left or cheated on (because, of course, I'm unlovable), I'm in control. If I work, work, work, and push and don't stop, I won't have time for the anxiety.

It's all a lie. Because my need to control puts me out of control.

One of my biggest life lessons that has come up time and again for me is compassion for self.

And it's a lesson that I am learning over and over. Because I am stubborn. Because my expectations for myself are ridiculous.

I have written and spoken a lot about the Reiki healing I have done for the past 18 months. My Reiki healer has repeated this message to me during nearly every visit or conversation we've had: "You don't have to be Superwoman. Show yourself some compassion."

What stops me?

In my work as an advice columnist and general advice giver to my friends, I have said so many times that the most significant form of self-care is to say "This is how I feel." And I'm pretty good at doing that — except when it comes to saying "I feel depressed." Why?

Because when I say this, I feel like I have failed. I know that's not a fact, but it is what I feel.

I still have moments and sometimes days that I think about suicide.

Even with all I have in my life. Even with all the love around me. Even with how very much I have to be grateful for. And when it crops up, I hate myself for it. Because you don't have a right to feel this way. Because you have so much. Because you are a mother. Because you beat this thing.

If I were speaking to someone else who felt this way, I would say, "It's OK. You can be 100% grateful for your life and still feel depressed. Depression is not a choice. Depression is a chronic mental illness, and it doesn't make you bad or broken or selfish."

And still, I struggle to believe that for myself.

But I am working on it.

With Reiki and with meditation, I am doing active work — cognitive behavioral stuff — to rewire those brain pathways. I am making decisions to consciously, continuously handle my depression, and I remind myself repeatedly that it's a marathon, not a sprint.

My default for so many years was to jump to one crystalized thought: I want to kill myself. Today, I am working on a new one: I want to have compassion for myself, even when I'm depressed.

And it's working.

This article originally appeared on Ravishly and is printed here with permission. More from Ravishly:

Joy

Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

After working six years as a labor and delivery nurse Holly, 30, has heard a lot of inappropriate remarks made by men while their partners are in labor. “Sometimes the moms think it’s funny—and if they think it’s funny, then I’ll laugh with them,” Holly told TODAY Parents. “But if they get upset, I’ll try to be the buffer. I’ll change the subject.”

Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

True

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.

The mesmerizing lost art of darning knit fabric.

For most of human history, people had to make their own clothing by hand, and sewing skills were subsequently passed down from generation to generation. Because clothing was so time-consuming and labor-intensive to make, people also had to know how to repair clothing items that got torn or damaged in some way.

The invention of sewing and knitting machines changed the way we acquire clothing, and the skills people used to possess have largely gone by the wayside. If we get a hole in a sock nowadays, we toss it and replace it. Most of us have no idea how to darn a sock or fix a hole in any knit fabric. It's far easier for us to replace than to repair.

But there are still some among us who do have the skills to repair clothing in a way that makes it look like the rip, tear or hole never happened, and to watch them do it is mesmerizing.

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Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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