Entertainment

‘Jane The Virgin’ Actress Opens Up About How Anxiety Kept Her From Showing Up To Set

Even though depression, anxiety, and mental health are becoming more publicly discussed, there is a stigma attached to it. It’s still seen as a weakness instead of a disease. Mental wellness is not regarded in the same way physical wellness is. It isn’t discussed at home or at schools — making the important topic all but taboo. That’s why it is so important that we talk publicly about our struggles with mental health.

It’s with that in mind that “Jane the Virgin” star Gina Rodriguez opened up about her own experiences.

Rodriguez has been open about her personal experience with her mental health in the past.

Twitter / @HuffPost

In 2017, in fact, she posted about her journey with anxiety in a very candid Instagram post.

She has now opened up even further in an emotional sitdown with NBC’s Kate Snow during the recent Kennedy Forum.

The actress explained:

“I think I started dealing with depression around sixteen. I started dealing with the idea of…everything is going to be better when I’m gone. Life will be easier. All the woes will be away, all the problems. Then I wouldn’t have to fail or succeed, right? Then all this surmounting pressure would go away.”

The pressure Rodriguez refers to includes the difficult time she had while filming the final season of “Jane the Virgin.”

Twitter / @enews

According to the star, she began suffering from panic-induced, debilitating anxiety attacks while on set.

“There was a point where I couldn’t, I couldn’t push through every single time anymore,” Rodriguez shared with Snow. “And I’m one of those human beings…I’m just like, ‘I’ll handle it later. I’ll deal with it later. I’ll figure it out later. I just have to do this now.’ All the while dealing with this, you know, your silent little dragon in your head.”

Rodriguez went on to explain that this struggle caused her to stop production on the series for the first time ever.

Twitter / NFINorth

“I had a really tumultuous season, she confessed. “I was unafraid for the first time to be like, ‘I can’t.'”

That courage motivated Rodriguez to get the help she needed and to take the time to prioritize herself. It’s a milestone that anyone who fights against their mental illness would recognize. We can only imagine the pressure Rodriguez faced in the midst of a busy production schedule.

Her ability to speak openly about mental health is motivated by the girls and women who look up to her.

Twitter / @savannaha006

“I can’t just tell them to go out and make their dreams come true and then to ignore everything else,” Rodriguez explained.

The actress has long been a mentor in the fields of art, body positivity, immigration rights, and feminism. In 2016, Rodriguez launched the We Will Foundation to promote young artists through education and scholarships. In 2018, she worked with P&G to start the Always Campaign to benefit Feeding America.

This candid conversation is another example of her commitment to being the sort of mentor the world needs most.

Poor mental health is often a side effect of other illnesses; which is the case with Rodriguez.

Twitter / @CrisisTextLine

Anxiety and depression are complications of her Hashimoto’s Disease. Rodriguez shared in a 2017 SELF interview that the medicine she takes for her thyroid causes heart palpitations. This disrupted rhythm sometimes triggers panic attacks.

The illness has forced the actress to reassess herself and become more self-aware. After adjusting her medication, she noticed improvements.

Still, Rodriguez had to face the bigger issue of her underlined mental health. That self-awareness has helped her and hopefully, her experience can help others struggling with the same issues.

Four Guards At Rikers Island Have Been Suspended Because They Are Believed To Have Let An Teenager Commit Suicide

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Four Guards At Rikers Island Have Been Suspended Because They Are Believed To Have Let An Teenager Commit Suicide

mitchjackson / Instagram

Four New York City Rikers Island correction officers, including a captain, have been suspended for knowingly failing to intervene in a teen detainee’s suicide attempt for seven minutes. The night before Thanksgiving, Nicholas Feliciano, 18, was jumped by seven other inmates and left with a gash on his face. Instead of taking him to the infirmary, guards placed him in a holding cell where he hung himself from a pipe with his shirt. Whistleblowers from the prison have told The New York Times that one guard actually opened Feliciano’s cell door to find him hanging from the pipe, closed the door, and walked away. A witness told The New York Times that, after Feliciano stepped off the toilet partition, he changed his mind and tried to find the partition to free himself from the makeshift noose. Feliciano hung for seven minutes without any intervention, and it was more than a half-hour before paramedics were able to whisk him away from the prison complex. 

Feliciano was taken to Elmhurst Hospital, where he was put into an induced coma on Tuesday. He has yet to show signs of brain activity.

At first, the Department of Corrections wouldn’t allow Feliciano’s family to visit him in the hospital.

CREDIT: LEGAL AID SOCIETY

The Legal Aid Society, which has taken up Feliciano’s case, penned a letter to the DOC to request charges against the teen be dropped. “This is unacceptable. He poses no security risk and needs his family at his bedside at this critical time,” the letter reads. According to Legal Aid Society, the family had to wait to be cleared by DOC to visit him, were not allowed to bring anything inside his hospital room, or even photograph him. 

In response, the New York State Department of Correction and Community Supervision canceled Feliciano’s parole warrant.

CREDIT: @LEGALAIDNYC / TWITTER

That meant that Feliciano was no longer in the custody of the state, and his family was free to visit him at their leisure. “We are relieved that the New York State Department of Correction and Community Supervision canceled the parole warrant pending against Nicholas Feliciano, our client who is still battling for his life at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens,” reads a statement from The Legal Aid Society. The organization maintains that the act is too little too late for the much more serious “concerns over the New York City Department of Correction’s failure to properly screen and address Mr. Feliciano’s mental health issues, which were known to the City at the time of his remand,” the statement continues. 

Feliciano was charged with robbery, but because of his age, the court gave him a short sentence and kept his criminal record sealed. Within weeks of his release, Feliciano had violated his parole by testing positive for drugs, skipping mandated programs, attempting to purchase a gun, and traveling past state lines to visit a girlfriend. When Feliciano arrived at his parole meeting, he was taken into custody and scheduled to be arraigned more than a month later. The Legal Aid Society of New York is using Feliciano as a tragic example for “the need for Albany to enact comprehensive parole reform legislation immediately next session to address cases like Nicholas’, where the alleged violation of parole does not rise to the level of a new criminal charge.”

Feliciano has a history of mental illness, including suicide attempts, says the Legal Aid Society. 

CREDIT: @RENTALSINMIAMI / TWITTER

According to The New York Times’s report, Feliciano was taken out of the general population holding area after getting into a fight in order to get him medical attention. He waited for six hours in a holding cell without medical attention. An hour before he attempted suicide, he was taken out of a two-person cell and placed in a cell by himself. An hour and a half later, he was hanging off a pipe while correction officers stood by. An off-duty captain saw closed-circuit surveillance footage of Feliciano hanging and rushed to take him down. According to The New York Times, an official said Feliciano didn’t have a pulse for two minutes. 

In response, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted, “The people in our jails are human beings. Their well-being is our responsibility. These allegations are deeply troubling. The 3 officers and their supervisor have been suspended and an investigation is underway. We’re taking immediate action.” The New York City Council voted October 17 to close Rikers prison complex and the chapter on its disturbing human rights violations.

READ: NYC Determines Layleen Polanco’s Death Might Have Had To Do With Her State In Solitary Confinement

Google Awards Peruvian Scientist For Her Research That Could Change How People Are Diagnosed

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Google Awards Peruvian Scientist For Her Research That Could Change How People Are Diagnosed

autismspeaks / Instagram / Macarena Vittet / Facebook

As we near the end of a decade, Google has awarded $500,000 in funding to two Peruvian scientists to continue their quest to use artificial intelligence to diagnose autism, a method that would be affordable and accessible for underprivileged communities. The Google Research Awards for Latin America (LARA) aims to elevate world-class Latin American researchers in academia and their students by funding a selection of cutting-edge projects. This year, the Peruvian University Cayetano Heredia produced the seventh annual awards winners, esteemed researcher Mirko Zimic and his 27-year-old student Macarena Vittet. 

The research duo was awarded $500,000 to fund another two years of research and development of a portable, non-invasive system to diagnose autism at an early age for low-income children.

Over the next two years, Mirko Zimic and Macarena Vittet will now be able to produce a product that will diagnose autism in just two minutes.

CREDIT: MACARENA VITTET / FACEBOOK

According to Andina, the award-winning research will eventually produce a portable system that will record eye movements while the child watches two videos. The eye movements are presumed to signify where the child’s attention is grabbed. The system will also analyze facial gestures to measure emotions. Combined, these measurements are meant to detect neurological abnormality in the child in less than two minutes, and without any highly specialized training. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be difficult to diagnose since there is no one medical test. Diagnosing ASD is a lengthy two-step process in the United States. A doctor might rely on parents’ assessment of their child’s behavior along with their own developmental screening. During the screening, the doctor would talk and play with the child and observe how they learn, speak, behave, and move. The second step is a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation, which might include “a hearing and vision screening, genetic testing, neurological testing, and other medical testing,” according to the CDC. The evaluation is meant to be thorough and likely done by specialists like a Developmental Pediatrician, Child Neurologist or Child Psychologist.

Often, the kind of extensive, specialized screening processes to diagnose ASD is not available to low-income children.

CREDIT: @INVESTIGAUPCH / TWITTER

It is a universal truth that affordable and fair access to healthcare is highly correlated with wealth. Wealthy, urban areas are often where specialized doctors congregate. For low-income families, the burden of travel expenses and the ability to take time off to transport their children to meet with an ASD specialist may be impossible. While facial recognition technology has become a controversial topic as governments across the globe begin to rely on the technology to monitor its citizens, these Peruvian scientists are putting the technology to good use. 

The researchers’ next task is to standardize the algorithm that will be used to diagnose ASD. Treatment for any disease is almost always preceded with a diagnosis. Developing a tool that doesn’t require extensive education for the medical provider to use, or extensive time for the parent and child will allow for the most vulnerable populations to get the diagnoses they need to get help.

Google chose the autism diagnosis project as the winner out of 670 applications.

CREDIT: MACARENA VITTET / FACEBOOK

Vittet is currently working towards her Master’s degree in Public Health at University Cayetano Heredia but has been working in ASD diagnosis in children since 2017. Alongside research to aid in early diagnosis, Vittet wants to work to create public policy that supports parents of children with ASD.

“I also aim to work towards the development of measures and policies that can support both the parents of children with ASD and the children, themselves, leading them to have better performance and allowing them to integrate into society. I believe that research in this field is crucial especially in countries like Peru, where mental health, despite its drastic impact on society, is not yet a priority,” Vittet said on her LinkedIn page.

“Let’s hope that we can obtain a result that will fill a gap within a community that is not well-known in the country,” Vittet told Andina.

Nearly half of Google’s award recipients have focused their research on creating health tools.

CREDIT: @UCINOTICIAS_PE / TWITTER

Engineering Director of Google Latin America, Berthier Ribeiro-Nieto, told Andina that “Almost half of the projects awarded by Google use health technology tools. Alongside Zimic and Vittet’s award are 24 other winning projects of the Google LARA 2019. The country with the highest number of representative winners was Brazil, with 15 winning projects, followed by Colombia with five winning projects, Chile with two, and Peru with one winning project. “All these initiatives are aimed at solving various problems that affect people, such as skin cancer classification, automatic detection of Aedes aegypti breeding areas, pest detection, lung nodules detection and more,” Ribeiro-Neto told the outlet. Felicidades!

READ: For HBO’s Autism Fundraiser Lin-Manuel Called In To Curse Out Jon Stewart