She was hiding an invisible illness. When she revealed it, it changed everything.
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Maybelline New York Beauty & Beyond

From an outsider's perspective, Bethany Schrock's life looked pretty perfect.

Like many other photographers, she uses social media as her primary marketing tool, and thus fastidiously curates her work and image for these visual platforms.

Photo via Upworthy.


However, on the inside, Bethany was dealing with a lot of pain.

She had a brain tumor that was sitting on her spinal chord and optic nerve. It caused her to have seizures and even affected her ability to move the left side of her body. So while she appeared fine to most people, her invisible illness was taking an enormous toll on her.

If she didn't have surgery to remove the tumor soon, her doctors told her things would only get worse.

“If I didn’t get the surgery I would lose vision and a lot of other scary things," she says.

So Bethany went through intensive surgery to have her tumor removed, and suddenly her illness was no longer invisible.

Photo via Bethany Schrock.

However, while the experience was certainly difficult, she wasn't upset about people getting to see her pain. In fact, she embraced it.

“Having a scar was almost kind of like a badge of, ‘hey I’ve been through stuff. I am sick,'" explains Bethany.

So she started posting close up, bold photos of her scar on her social media platforms for all to see. Bethany wanted to be transparent with her audience and finally show them that beauty doesn't have to mean looking "perfect." Along with the photos, she wrote open and honest messages about health and being sick.

Photo via Bethany Schrock.

Nothing could have prepared her for the responses she received in return.

“I was overwhelmed by the amount of people who were saying, ‘hey, me too.'"

What's more, as Bethany began to recover and get back to her life, she noticed that small things, like putting on Maybelline mascara and brow gel, helped her truly embrace who she is now.

"It was the first time I finally felt like, okay, it can get better."

The whole experience inspired her to start a photography project where she photographs people who are also living with invisible illnesses.

But she doesn't just take and post their pictures — she distresses them in a way that shows the world what they're dealing inside. So for example, when Bethany photographed a woman with nerve pain, she burned parts of the photo to show what that pain might look like.

Photo via Upworthy.

“I really think pain is the number one thing that connects people," says Bethany.

Everyone deals with pain in some form or another throughout their life, but that doesn't mean they're any less beautiful for it. In fact, Bethany believes that living with pain can make you even more beautiful.

"It’s like, you’ve been through stuff," she says. "I think the people who are able to admit that are really beautiful."

Learn more about Bethany's story and work the video below:

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

via @Todd_Spence / Twitter

Seven years ago, Bill Murray shared a powerful story about the importance of art. The revelation came during a discussion at the National Gallery in London for the release of 2014's "The Monuments Men." The film is about a troop of soldiers on a mission to recover art stolen by the Nazis.

After his first time performing on stage in Chicago, Murray was so upset with himself that he contemplated taking his own life.

"I wasn't very good, and I remember my first experience, I was so bad I just walked out — out onto the street and just started walking," he said.

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