The Rock smashes myths about depression in an emotional interview for Oprah.

"Hey, it's going to be OK. ... It'll be OK."

Before Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson began taking down opponents in the the ring as a wrestler, he fought a very different battle behind closed doors.

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.


Decades ago, after being dealt significant career setbacks as an athlete, Johnson found himself battling depression.

During an episode of "Oprah's Master Class," the 43-year-old wrestler-turned-Hollywood-heavyweight opened up about his own mental health history.

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.

When he was 23 years old, Johnson was living in his parents' small apartment. He'd just been cut from the Canadian Football League and passed over by the NFL.

At a crossroads and feeling like a failure, Johnson's mental health suffered.

The one thing he wish he understood about depression while he was struggling with it?

GIFs via "Oprah's Master Class."

"I found that, with depression, one of the most important things you can realize is that you're not alone," Johnson said.

"You're not the first to go through it, you're not going to be the last to go through it. And oftentimes — it happens — you feel like you're alone. And you feel like it's only you. And you're in your bubble. And I wish I'd had someone at that time who could just pull me aside and say, 'Hey, it's going to be OK. ... It'll be OK.'"

Known for his big muscles and even bigger personality, Johnson may not seem like the type of person who'd struggled with depression.

But that's because there are a lot of misconceptions about what the disease looks like.

See this girl, all sad and lonely in bed? Sure, depression can look like this. But it doesn't have to. Photo via iStock.

If you're depressed, you must appear depressed, right? You should be moping around, dressed in all black, with a moving patch of gray clouds above your head (isn't that in a commercial I saw?).

Not exactly.

Last year, psychologist Rita Labeaune wrote in Pyschology Today about "smiling depression" — the type of deceptive depression that isn't so obvious.

"Not everyone experiences depression in the same way," she wrote. "Some might not even realize that they are depressed, especially if they seem like they're managing their day-to-day life. It doesn't seem possible that someone can be smiling, chipper, functioning, and at the same time, depressed."

That's why we should never assume that someone — even someone with a larger-than-life persona, like Johnson — isn't dealing with mental health issues beneath the surface.

Fortunately for Johnson, with determination and support from loved ones, things turned around.

Johnson ended up passing on another opportunity to return to the Canadian Football League — "My gut tells me I'm done," he remembers feeling at the time — because he was ready for something new.

That's when he decided to pursue wrestling — a move that ultimately benefited his mental health.

At first, his father wasn't supportive, saying Johnson's decision to put his football career behind him was "throwing it all away."

"I said, 'Maybe I'll be no good,'" Johnson recalled. "'But I feel like, in my heart, I have to do this.'"

Johnson's father ended up wholeheartedly supporting his son's career change, and — as evidenced by Johnson's impressive wrestling resume (not to mention his acting one) — the rest is history.

But, as Johnson's emotional video for "Oprah's Master Class" shows, it's still a tough discussion topic for the actor.

Bravo to Johnson for sharing a personal and difficult part of his life with us (because he certainly didn't have to).

For the many people struggling with depression, who could use some reminding that, no, you are not alone, it makes a big difference.

Watch Johnson on "Oprah's Master Class" below:

Need help? Learn more about depression and the various resources available for anyone who needs them here.

Family

A new Harriet Tubman statue sculpted by Emmy and Academy award-winner Wesley Wofford has been revealed, and its symbolism is moving to say the least.

Harriet Tubman was the best known "conductor" on the Underground Railroad, a network of safe houses that helped thousands of enslaved black Americans make their way to freedom in the north in the early-to-mid 1800s. Tubman herself escaped slavery in 1849, then kept returning to the Underground Railroad, risking her life to help lead others to freedom. She worked as a spy for the Union Army during the Civil War, and after the war dedicated her life to helping formerly enslaved people try to escape poverty.

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Heroes

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

Culture
via Kenneth Goldsmith / Twitter

The Hillary Clinton email scandal was a major right-wing talking point during the 2016 election that aimed to create an air of suspicion around the candidate.

The media played right into it turning Clinton — one of the most qualified candidates to ever run for the office — appear just as unworthy of the presidency as Trump, a vulgar, politically-inexperienced pathological liar.

The controversy surrounded Clinton's use of a private email account in which over 30,000 emails were sent during her time as Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013. An FBI interrogation found there were 110 confidential emails sent from her private account.

Clinton was never criminally charged, however FBI director James Comey said she was "extremely careless."

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Democracy

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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