Demi Lovato has long been outspoken about what it’s like living with addiction, bulimia and bipolar disorder, particularly in the wake of her time in rehab. Now the singer/actress is doing even more to give others the resources to become healthy by becoming a co-owner of CAST Centers, the same group of rehabilitation centers she turned to for help.
Demi told CBS’s “Sunday Morning” correspondent Tracy Smith that, even though she wasn’t exactly the most receptive patient to ever walk through the facility’s doors (“Yeah, I was a nightmare,” she said.), she ultimately benefitted from the experience and now wants to now do her part to help others find that same peace:
“It sounds ridiculous but, like, I kind of made a pact with God. And I don’t even think you’re supposed to do that, but I was, like, I promised, ‘If you make me a singer one day, I’m going to use my voice for so much more than singing, and I’m going to help people with it.”
Since the report of its first case from China to the World Health Organization (WHO), the coronavirus has claimed more than 1.1 million lives across the globe. In the United States alone, there have been more than 219,000 deaths according to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering. So of course, scientists and doctors across the globe are on the hunt for a coronavirus treatment. Amongst them includes 14-year-old Anika Chebrolu.
The student from Frisco, Texas recently won the 2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge for a discovery that could prove helpful in giving potential therapy to Covid-19.
Chebrolu won the 2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge for a design that utilizes in-silico methodology “to discover a lead molecule that can selectively bind to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”
“The last two days, I saw that there is a lot of media hype about my project since it involves the SARS-CoV-2 virus and it reflects our collective hopes to end this pandemic as I, like everyone else, wish that we go back to our normal lives soon,” Chebrolu told CNN in an interveiw.
The Indian American teen submitted her project when she was in 8th grade, initially not intending at all for it to be centered on finding a cure for Covid-19. According to CNN, her initial goal had been to use in-silico methods to identify a lead compound that would attach to a protein of the influenza virus.
“After spending so much time researching about pandemics, viruses and drug discovery, it was crazy to think that I was actually living through something like this,” Anika explained.”Because of the immense severity of the Covid-19 pandemic and the drastic impact it had made on the world in such a short time, I, with the help of my mentor, changed directions to target the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”
Speaking to CNN, Chebrolu explained that she had been driven to find cures to viruses after learning about the 1918 flu pandemic and discovering that nearly 2 million people die from the flu despite annual vaccinations and anti-influenza drugs.
“Anika has an inquisitive mind and used her curiosity to ask questions about a vaccine for Covid-19,” Cindy Moss, a physician and judge for the 3M Young Scientist Challenge, told CNN. “Her work was comprehensive and examined numerous databases. She also developed an understanding of the innovation process and is a masterful communicator. Her willingness to use her time and talent to help make the world a better place gives us all hope.”
According to CNN, she enjoys dancing Bharatanatyam, which is an ancient Indian dance, and says her efforts have just begun.
“My effort to find a lead compound to bind to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus this summer may appear to be a drop in the ocean, but still adds to all these efforts,” she told CNN. “How I develop this molecule further with the help of virologists and drug development specialists will determine the success of these efforts.”
In an emotional “Red Table Talk: The Estefans” episode, Gloria Estefan opened up about a particularly dark time in her life.
In the special episode dedicated to mental health, Estefan revealed to her daughter, Emily and her niece, Lili, that she once contemplated suicide as a teenager.
“I’ve always felt very good in my own skin, except when I was fifteen, and my dad had already spent a year at home and I was taking care of him. And he was heading downhill fast,” she explained on RTT.
Estefan went on to describe how her mental health crisis was largely due to her father’s declining emotional state and physical health after he returned from fighting in the Vietnam War.
“Even though my father survived the Vietnam War, he still became a casualty of combat,” she said. “His exposure to ‘Agent Orange’–a poison used for warfare–resulted in his diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.”
According to Estefan, being a teenaged girl having to take care of her sick father took a deep emotional toll on her.
“He lost his ability to speak, he couldn’t walk, he would stand up to try to go to the bathroom and he would fall and he would soil himself,” she said. “I would have to bathe him. He would be crying, embarrassed. And trying to make me feel better. That’s what would kill me.”
She also explained that she didn’t want to burden her loved ones with her painful feelings. “I didn’t want to tell my mother that I was starting to feel cracks in my armor. I didn’t want to tell my grandmother because I didn’t want to worry her,” she said.
Estefan was visibly emotional as she told her daughter and niece that she even had specific fantasies about taking her own life–which is one of the major warning signs of a suicidal person.
“I knew where [my father’s] gun was and I started having desperation thoughts,” she said. “I remember going to the place thinking, okay the gun is there, but what if instead I hang myself because that might be bloody? I had even picked out the tree that I might do it on.” Her daughter Lili looked distressed as Estefan recounted this painful time in her life.
Estefan says what “got her through” her suicidal episode was “thinking of other people that she loved” and how they would react to living without her. “I took myself through the whole process [of what would happen afterward],” she said. “I think it helped, for me, to imagine what life was going to be like forever for the people that I loved.”
After she got through this dark emotional period, Estefan said she got her life back by “focusing on school” and eventually meeting her husband, Emilio, which also helped bring her out of her depression.
The powerful episode aired on Wednesday and includes special guests Karla Souza and Lele Pons who also talk about their mental health battles. You can watch it on Facebook Watch here.
If you or someone you love is depressed or contemplating suicide, please don’t hesitate to call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) at any time for support.