It's time to stop ‘pill shaming’ people with anxiety and depression.

After almost three years of being diagnosed with anxiety and depression, I recently found out that I have bipolar disorder.

Taking six pills daily is what keeps me afloat. I'm writing this in the hope that it will help just one person feel confident enough to seek help. Or to speak out and break the stigma surrounding mental health.

Pill shaming is toxic, and it's time to break down the societal taboo. Having a mental illness is hard enough as it is without the pill shaming stigma that floats among those struggling. There is so much misinformation out there about antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs — that they're addictive or that you're weak for taking them.


That's not the case.

Exercise, eating healthy, and keeping busy are enough for some people, but others need that extra bit of help to enable them to live a "normal," happy life.

Don't we all deserve that? A life neither ruled by fear nor crushed by depression and anxiety? In the same way you'd wear glasses to help you see better, some people take a pill (or six) to give them the assistance they need to help their mind. And that's OK.

Just because it isn't physical, visible, or tangible doesn't mean that mental illness is less of a disease. And just like any other disease, there's no shame in accepting the assistance of medication. It doesn't make you any less human, it doesn't make you weak or any less capable of doing the job, writing the essay, or completing the degree — the same way a person without a mental illness would.

By acknowledging the issue and accepting the assistance of medication, personally, I think you're admirable. Because it is often the people who take meds that are the strong ones, the fighters.

Post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, bipolar, borderline personality disorder — none of these illnesses are flaws in character or flaws in self. You don't need to feel ashamed of them.

We can all work together to break this stigma pattern. For one, educate yourself. Find out more about these illnesses before jumping on the stigma stallion.

If you are a person with a mental illness, you don't need to feel ashamed or guilty for seeking help and taking medication. If you're the friend, the partner, the family member, the employer — it shows only naivety and ignorance when you pill-shame others. Instead, learn about mental illnesses, their treatments, and how the person is coping. Maybe even adopt a supportive, accepting attitude.

For anyone who's going through a dark patch right now, I'm here for you. Talk, take meds if you need to, go for jogs, walk the dog, go to therapy, drink some herbal tea. And if you need them, take the meds.

One glove doesn't fit all, but everything's worth a try. Don't be afraid — seek help. End the stigma.

It's one thing to see a little kid skateboarding. It's another to see a stereotype-defying little girl skateboarding. And it's entirely another to see Paige Tobin.

Paige is a 6-year-old skateboarding wonder from Australia. A recent video of her dropping into a 12-foot bowl on her has gone viral, both for the feat itself and for the style with which she does it. Decked out in a pink party dress, a leopard-print helmet, and rainbow socks, she looks nothing like you'd expect a skater dropping into a 12-foot bowl to look. And yet, here she is, blowing people's minds all over the place.

For those who may not fully appreciate the impressiveness of this feat, here's some perspective. My adrenaline junkie brother, who has been skateboarding since childhood and who races down rugged mountain faces on a bike for fun, shared this video and commented, "If I dropped in to a bowl twice as deep as my age it would be my first and last time doing so...this fearless kid has a bright future!"

It's scarier than it looks, and it looks pretty darn scary.

Paige doesn't always dress like a princess when she skates, not that it matters. Her talent and skill with the board are what gets people's attention. (The rainbow socks are kind of her signature, however.)

Her Instagram feed is filled with photos and videos of her skateboarding and surfing, and the body coordination she's gained at such a young age is truly something.

Here she was at three years old:

And here she is at age four:


So, if she dropped into a 6-foot bowl at age three and a 12-foot bowl at age six—is there such a thing as an 18-foot bowl for her to tackle when she's nine?

Paige clearly enjoys skating and has high ambitions in the skating world. "I want to go to the Olympics, and I want to be a pro skater," she told Power of Positivity when she was five. She already seems to be well on her way toward that goal.

How did she get so good? Well, Paige's mom gave her a skateboard when she wasn't even preschool age yet, and she loved it. Her mom got her lessons, and she's spent the past three years skating almost daily. She practices at local skate parks and competes in local competitions.

She also naturally has her fair share of spills, some of which you can see on her Instagram channel. Falling is part of the sport—you can't learn if you don't fall. Conquering the fear of falling is the key, and the thing that's hardest for most people to get over.

Perhaps Paige started too young to let fear override her desire to skate. Perhaps she's been taught to manage her fears, or maybe she's just naturally less afraid than other people. Or maybe there's something magical about the rainbow socks. Whatever it is, it's clear that this girl doesn't let fear get in the way of her doing what she wants to do. An admirable quality in anyone, but particularly striking to see in someone so young.

Way to go, Paige. Your perseverance and courage are inspiring, as is your unique fashion sense. Can't wait to see what you do next.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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