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Depression: The Most Realistic and Underestimated Mental Illness

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When someone has depression, whether it is diagnosed or not, the reasoning behind it is not always simple. Even though depression can affect multiple people in so many ways, it still gets neglected as a real mental illness.

S. Makai Andrews, a rising sophomore at Ithaca College, has struggled with depression and understands it pretty well. Andrews explained that she was “diagnosed with depression, for the first time, at age fourteen and she has been on some sort of treatment plan ever since.”

“It’s stupid to consider depression as a minor illness just because it has become a commonly known illness. That doesn’t make it any less real. That’s like saying breast cancer isn’t real because so many people have it. The numbers should speak for themselves. This is a big deal, a big problem, and it only seems to get bigger.”

One of the biggest reasons why depression is not considered a real mental illness is because the media both tend to misinterpret it and fails to accurately portray it.

In the Netflix TV Show “Thirteen Reasons Why,” the reasoning behind Hannah Baker’s suicide is based upon solely the way she is treated by her surroundings, without any acknowledgment that she has become ill mentally as well.

“In the case of TRW, they make it seem like Hannah died by suicide simply because of the way other kids treated her. This isn’t the case, and the show does a disgrace to the strides that mental health groups have made towards advocacy and awareness over the years,” Andrews said.

This is just one of the ways, depression has been painted with a brush, far away from reality, that lacks accuracy.

Makai is far too familiar with that situation since she has experienced it growing up.

“I had a teacher once who totally dismissed any sort of mental illness or mental health concern as me being whiny and noncompliant. I was considered to be lesser because of an illness that I could not control, that I did not ask for.”

The story of Makai resonates with many who have struggled with depression for years. In my case, I battled with extreme depression from the age of 12 to 14, even though I was never diagnosed by a doctor.

When you are depressed, it is very hard to open up to people because you constantly feel you are going to be judged.

In fact, when I finally had the courage to open up and explained, to “what I thought” was, a close friend about my struggle with depression, she told me that I was “being too emotional” and that I needed to “get over it.” And not so oddly enough, I tried so hard to believe what she had told me was true, but I ended up feeling worse.”

And even though I may not be that person anymore, depression never really fully goes away. For some people, it comes and goes in intervals, and for others, it is constant. However, since a mental illness like this can be extremely complex, there isn’t always a why to a person’s feelings.

In the words of S. Makai Andrews, “Mental illness is both environment and genetics – there’s no one reason for anything.”

By: Amber Raiken

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How I Cope with My Eating Disorder Triggers and Behaviors in New Places with New Foods

Katherine Feinstein

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Now, living in Copenhagen, I can challenge that voice by trying new foods I can’t try anywhere else, while also knowing my recovery is safe.
Source: Westend61 | Getty Images

Eating Disorders are extremely complex and persist based on sets of rules, routines, and compulsive behaviors that make the all-consuming disease a top priority.

Because people with eating disorders (ED) are forced to operate through these food rituals in order to maintain control and feel safe, starting over in a new place with new foods can exacerbate ED thoughts and compulsions. For me, transitions like moving to college and going abroad forced me to find coping mechanisms to put my health, not my ED, first. 

I have had an eating disorder since I was 13 years old, and I am now 20. 

The most crippling thing about an eating disorder is that no matter how your weight fluctuates up and down, or how your emotions and relationships evolve, your disease will always be a part of you. 

In treatment, we gave our disorders names to try and conceptualize the intimacies and attachments of a relationship with an ED. My Anorexia, fondly referred to as Anna, is a part of me.

However the difference between my relationship with my ED when I was 13 versus now, is that I now have the tools in recovery to keep my thoughts and behaviors in check. 

When I was 13, I physically could not eat a bite of pasta no matter how much my non-ED brain wanted to. Now, if I want a bite of pasta and have those same self-deprecating, restrictive thoughts, I have the autonomy and upper hand to choose to raise my fork to my mouth against my ED’s wishes. I now make choices in spite of my old friend, Anna. 

It is now important to recognize when access to those coping mechanisms and tools becomes threatened, as I have recently started a new chapter of my life studying abroad. When I was packing for my four month stay in Denmark, I couldn’t help but reflect on the challenges 

I faced making a similar complete overhaul of my life when I moved from home to the University of Michigan. Leaving for college felt different than leaving for abroad, as back then I had been chained to my recovery by my parents’ watchful eyes. 

When I left for college, I imagined a new world of opportunities to restrict and give in to Anna without my parents or childhood friends noticing.

When I got to school and all of my safe foods from home had been replaced with confusing dining halls and new foods, I immediately reacted by restricting once again. Everything I had learned in recovery flew out the window. 

Being in a completely new place meant that the triggers and behaviors I had kept at bay with safe foods and routines at home were now reopened wounds, raw, exposed, and I had no idea where a new set of bandages would be. 

Instead of being able to establish new guidelines and coping strategies at Michigan, my disease overpowered me once again.
Source: Tessa K | WeHeartIt

Instead of being able to establish new guidelines and coping mechanisms at Michigan, my disease overpowered me once again. 

Seven years later, I’ve more than found a routine, exercise regimen, and comfortable eating resources at Michigan and am the healthiest I’ve ever been. The coping strategies I re-found and the new tools I learned in my relapse are ones that I am taking with me abroad. 

Ways to Cope with Eating Disorders

Firstly, finding a non-triggering or ED behavior-based activity that would also give me a support network is essential. I realized that my long distance running had become Anna’s primary crutch, the perfect mechanism to control me once again through numbers.

So, I gave up the gym entirely and found yoga as a new outlet. I established a community at the studio that I knew would be looking out for me, and then did yoga teacher training to give myself a set exercise and study routine that would be supplemented by emotional support and plenty of self-reflection.

For me, finding this nurturing outlet full of people to help me grow has been instrumental in my recovery. Within my first couple weeks in Denmark, I tried four different yoga studios and found two that I know I can always go to. In taking this practice abroad, I’m able to find some normalcy to keep me grounded.

Another coping strategy that I’ve learned to bring with me wherever I go is knowing to research and plan ahead. As soon as I received my housing assignment in Copenhagen, I immediately looked up what kinds of foods and resources would be in my area.

I scouted just a few restaurants and eateries that would have food I’m comfortable with, packed a box of my favorite granola bars and snacks, and reached out to my assigned roommate to let her know I’d need support. 

And, though I’ve planned ahead, I’ve also learned that in the face of new foods I must at least try to take on the challenge of being uncomfortable and have safe food to fall back on instead of reverting to restrictive behaviors.

 I try to make choices in spite of what my eating disorder wants, but recognize how my day to day limitations will affect these choices.
Source: Cali Legitness | flickr

 A difficult part of navigating recovery is that it isn’t as easy as just telling yourself to eat.

 I knew I wouldn’t arrive in Denmark, go to a new restaurant with foreign foods, and immediately be able to pick up a fork and dig in. Instead of restricting like I did as a Freshman at UofM, I went into this new chapter prepared to at least try new foods.

If that meant triggering ED thoughts and feeling compulsions creeping back in, I knew that I had safe food at home, and a list of places to get safe food instead of just not eating altogether. 

Recovery is a give and take: sometimes I challenge myself and win, and other times it’s too much and I make sure I have a plan B to fall back on. 

Lastly, over time I’ve worked hard to weigh the pros and cons of these challenges and be honest with myself on where I’m at in my recovery. I try to make choices in spite of what my eating disorder wants, but recognize how my day to day limitations will affect these choices.

When I left for college, I could only listen to the voice in my head which gave me two options: eat the short list of safe foods I had established at home, or starve. Now, living in Copenhagen, I can challenge that voice and try all the new foods I can’t try anywhere else, while also knowing my recovery is safe.

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K-pop star Goo Hara has died at age 28 just months after suicide attempt

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Source: Pexels

Korean pop star, Goo Hara, was found dead in her apartment on Sunday at her home in Seoul, South Korea. 

The young artist was just 28 years old. 

This tragic event was not foreseen in the slightest and has left many fans devastated at the loss of such a talented musician who was part of the five-part girl group, KARA. 

An investigation on the cause of Hara’s death is still underway. Taking into consideration Hara’s recent attempted suicide in March of this year, the possibility of her having killed herself seems to be a likely cause. 

March was a difficult time for Hara as her ex-boyfriend was attempting to blackmail her with threats of assault and the release of a sex video. Because of the terrible effect that this was having on Hara, her contract was soon terminated by her agency. 

Hara signed a new contract in June with a leading talent management agency in Japan. The agency, Production Ogi, helped Hara gain popularity and she appeared on TV shows and well-known fashion events in Japan. Hara soon released her solo Japanese single “Midnight Queen,” which was a hit. 

In October of this year, Hara lost her best friend, Choi Jin-ri, otherwise known as Sulli. The young singer and actress was also found dead in her home and the authorities have stated that it was most likely caused by suicide.

Sulli had been a member of the K-pop girl band, f(x). In recent years, there have been multiple deaths among young Korean pop artists and actors. Many were living with depression, dealing with abuse, and hiding all their pain under the elegant exterior of the entertainment industry. 


Major entertainment companies have resulted in celebrities being put on pedestals above the legions of fans. Celebrities are caught between their personal lives and the lives that fans prefer to see them living.

Fans obsess over every little thing that celebrities do. They are judged for what they wear, what they eat, what they say, and beyond.

Unfortunately, the lives that fans see, are covering the ugly truths that celebrities are constantly dealing with behind the scenes.

In Goo Hara’s case, she tried to live out a false persona for too long and therefore led to her to give up on not only the false life fans saw, but also her personal life.

By: Sydney Murphy

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Why Miley Cyrus’ Comments on How Queer Women “Don’t Have to Be Gay” is Problematic

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Source: IG: mileycyrus

Words matter to the queer community. While a certain f word is more commonly used in problematic rhetoric aimed at us, it goes beyond that. Especially in the case of us “choosing our lifestyle”. Queer celebrity, Miley Cyrus, is now guilty of using this rhetoric.

In a recent Instagram story, Cyrus, and non-binary pansexual, made the following comment:

“Don’t give up. You don’t have to be gay, there are good people with di*** out there, you just gotta find them. You just gotta find a di** that’s not a di**, you know what I mean?”

Naturally, it gets worse.

“I always thought I had to be gay because I just thought all guys are evil, but that’s not true. There are good people out there that just happen to have dicks. I’ve only ever met one, and he’s on this live.”

Cyrus is an extremely vocal queer celebrity, having been open about their pansexuality and gender queerness, an intersection that is often ignored and discriminated against in the LGBTQ+ community. This is why her comments come as a shock to her fans and queer folk alike.

From the view of a queer person, it appears that Cyrus, a once very open and proud queer person, who arguably marketed the latest chapter of their career on their queerness, is now making it seem like being queer is something those losing in love choose. This is disgusting.

I am a queer person. I’ve known since I was twelve. I came out to close friends at the age of fourteen. I was outed at the age of fifteen to most of the kids in my grade. I tried killing myself shortly after.

I knew if my family found out, I would without a doubt be pushed away. I knew that some of my peers would ostracize me. I knew I would struggle no matter where I went. So why would I choose that type of life? I wouldn’t.

I did not choose to feel unsafe holding my first girlfriend’s hand in high school. I did not choose to have to be worried about potential business prospects finding out about my identity.

I did not choose to have an identity that’s even ignored by other people in the LGBTQ+ community. I sure did not choose to even entertain Cyrus’ ignorant comments.

Myself and millions of others who have their safety, livelihood, and lives threatened want Cyrus’ ignorant statement to be a teaching moment for those both inside and outside the LGBTQ+ community.

First and foremost, it’s not a choice. It never has been and never will be. While there are plenty of cisgender heterosexual people that are awesome and make great partners for queer people, they’re also the largest perpetrators of hate crimes toward the LGBTQ+ community, as well as just not really some queer folks type.

The second lesson, and a very overlooked fact amongst queer people, is that just because you belong to a marginalized community, doesn’t mean you can’t be problematic, or use your marginalized identity to defend your ignorant behavior.

By: Madison Starr

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