AFH Photo//My Vu
Do you know what it’s like to feel like a vegetable? To have no motivation to do things you once loved? Do you know what it feels like to not want to get up from bed, to eat, or even to talk? Depression and anxiety manifest differently among people, but the unifying factor is that they are all mentally damaging.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reported that in 2016, approximately 3.1 million adolescents ages 12 to 17 in the U.S. had at least one major depressive episode. This accounts for about 12.8 percent of the U.S. population between the ages of 12 to 17. The prevalence of any anxiety disorder among adolescents ages 13 to 18 is estimated to be 31.9 percent.  Among them, 8.3 percent had severe impairment from anxiety. 
According to the University of Washington School of Social Work, some of the major symptoms of depression include persistent sadness or “empty” mood, feelings of hopelessness, irritability, feelings of guilt, worthlessness, loss of interest in hobbies that you once enjoyed, decreased energy, difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions, difficulty sleeping or oversleeping, and lastly, thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts. Anxiety can result in some of these depressive symptoms as well, including restlessness or feeling on-edge, being easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating or having your mind go blank, muscle tension, difficulties controlling worries, and sleeping problems. 
Senior at Boston Community Leadership Academy Va'Shawn Hutcherson, who struggles with both anxiety and depression, said that “anxiety often clouds my judgment” and depression has kept him from “being happy... I try to shrug it off by hiding the pain with my exterior but deep inside I still suffer. I often feel like I have no person in the world who cares about me."
You may know someone who always seems sorrowful and lonely, and you might think they are suffering from depression. But maybe the girl who is always carrying around a smile is actually the one hurting. The truth is, people who suffer from depression vary. And not everyone projects the external symptoms in the same way. Whether they appear happy or depressed, they may both be facing the same monster.
Teens are particularly vulnerable to depression as it is associated with increases in stress, changes in one’s body’s chemistry, and major transitions in one’s life. This is pretty much the definition of being a teenager. 
The cost of anxiety and depression for teenagers is high. In addition to psychological suffering, it can be hard for them to focus on school work. “Depression and anxiety can affect one’s daily life by causing decreased motivation and energy to complete schoolwork, difficulty concentrating on assignments or lectures, feelings of guilt about not meeting expectations, and feelings of hopeless for the future,” said Michelle Privé, a clinical social worker at Boston Medical Center. That makes them more likely to receive poor grades, which is why it’s very important for school administrators, teachers and parents to be aware of students who are suffering from anxiety and depression.
It also becomes increasingly difficult for depressed and anxious teens to maintain relationships and keep open lines of communication. Privé stated that “Depression and anxiety can affect one’s daily lives socially by causing isolation from family and friends, feelings of worthless, and loss of interest in usual social activities.” 
But despite your differences and struggles, people from your community want you to know that you are not alone. While both of these mental disorders can make you feel lonely and hopeless, know that they are both treatable with medications, therapy and natural coping strategies. 
There are treatments available to help reduce the symptoms of these disorders and improve your mood. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can help, as well as taking initiative with “exercising, making healthy food choices, getting enough sunlight, practicing relaxation skills, using mindfulness skills, or finding ways to express feelings through writing, drawing, or talking,” said Privé. To find out more information about how these coping strategies work, or which prescription medication are most appropriate for you, consult with your doctor or counselor. 
For those who know someone with depression or anxiety, it’s not easy to know the most fitting thing to say or do to help your friend. But simply listening to them can help them understand that you care. “Once you’re listening to a friend, you’re already supporting them in an important way,” Privé said. Sometimes the smallest actions can mean the most to someone who is feeling lost, out of place or lonely.

To my best friend Va’Shawn, and all those who suffer from anxiety and/or depression: 
Know that this is not caused by anything you did wrong, and it’s not your fault that you are faced with this. There is a community out here that cares for your mental wellbeing, and they want to encourage you with the following...
“Sometimes when you’re feeling a tad sad, anxious, depressed, or hopeless, know that this is all a part of your growth and development. And to that, I would suggest that you reach out for support in a safe manner, but reaching out for support doesn’t mean that you’re weak; rather, it makes you stronger. Most importantly, know that you are the destiny of your well being.” -Carrie Bell Peace, RN at John D. O’Bryant
“To all who suffer from anxiety or depression, I want you to know that you are not alone and you should reach out to friends, family, counselors, doctors for help! I know it’s not easy, but I believe in you! You are still human, this is still your life, take control!” -Dahlia Elamin, John D. O’Bryant student
“Do not be afraid to call for help! I want you to be alive because you matter.” -Kiara Batista, John D. O’Bryant student
“Your mind is an entire planet. Let not what happens inside of other planets (minds), impact what goes on in yours.” -Va’Shawn Hutcherson, Boston Community Leadership Academy student

If you are feeling down and experiencing any changes to mood or behavior, and need someone to talk to, call or text the the Samaritans Boston hotline at 877-870-4673, available 24/7. Or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 anytime.
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The hometown heroes of Boston. The rivals of the L.A. Lakers. The team that challenges every single NBA team. The Boston Celtics are one of the most dominant teams in the NBA. They have the best record in the Eastern Conference, and they also held a 16 game win streak in October, the longest win streak in the 2017-18 NBA season.
The Celtics roster is still extremely stacked with talent even if they have been missing one of their key members, Gordon Hayward, from the opening minutes of their first regular season game. Their point guard, Kyrie Irving, is one of the most dominant guards in the league, and Marcus Smart is one of the top shooting guards in the league. They also drafted two top three rookies, one in 2016 and another in 2017—small forward and shooting guard Jaylen Brown and power forward and small forward Jayson Tatum. Lastly, there is top 10 power ranking center Al Horford, filling Hayward’s expected role by continuing to be a veteran presence in the locker room and on the court. 
The Celtics have been an extremely dominant team all 2017 and even going into 2018, but the real question is do they have what it takes to make it to the conference finals, or maybe the finals themselves?
 Well now let’s start to break things down. We know that the trade for Kyrie Irving for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, a 2018 first round pick, and a 2020 second round pick has a better look for the Celtics than the Cleveland Cavaliers. With Irving alone they bring a major boost to their offense, causing havoc on the interior and perimeter side of the court. The big man Horford is still crashing the boards and taking the best shots that he can as a big man. 
But don’t even think we’re counting out the rookies; Tatum and Brown are both some of the most helpful rookies on the team. These two average 62.6 minutes a game together and 28.1 points a game. Don’t even think we’re missing the bench players; there are so many talented players coming off the bench, like Terry Rozier and Smart. And on their defensive side, the Celtics have four players with some of the highest defensive rating in the league: Aron Baynes, Horford, Rozier and Tatum. 
The Celtics have players who can dominate on both ends of the court. If they can keep up what they have been doing all year, they could be a conference title contender or even a NBA champion contender. They are showing great promise and still have a quarter of the season to go!

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IBA Photo
Are you a high school student who’s failing? Or a high school teacher who can’t seem to help your students? As a junior in high school, I can relate because it’s hard to balance all the work I get from my classes. It sometimes feels like all the teachers conspire against us during their teacher meetings on who can give the most work.
My goal is to give students and teachers tips on how to succeed in high school—learning and teaching! High school is hard and many students are failing. But then again, it’s not always the students choosing to fail; some teachers are using methods students don’t understand. Students are then forced to practically teach themselves the work, and that is only if they know how. I had a teacher my sophomore year who spent the entire class just explaining the do-now and would leave in the middle of class to go to the bathroom. Now, I’m not saying all teachers are like this, but teachers should give students the help they deserve so hopefully they don’t fall behind.
A student at Boston Green Academy, Ilene Rodriguez, said teachers should “reach out to their students more.” Another student from BGA, Keyarie Mallory, added, “They should ask students how they learn best and try to incorporate them into his/her lessons. Or, they should try and make things more active and more engaging to push for more participation. Sitting down and writing all day makes us bored and tired.” 
There are some teachers who do go out of their way to support students in every way that they can. Megan Wollack, a teacher at BGA, gives students the opportunity to revise, retake or rewrite major assignments in order to improve their grades. “My philosophy is that if a student wants an A in my class, then I will give them every opportunity to earn it, but it will take a lot of work,” she said. 
It’s not just the teachers that have to put in the work; students do too. I know most teens have jobs after school and come home stressed, and that you just want to lay down, chill, sleep and watch some Netflix. It’s also really hard for some people to get up early because they go to bed late doing homework or procrastinating. I know, it was hard for me too, but it’s an easy thing to fix! 

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AFH Photo//Aijanah Sanford
The one thing she remembers most was the pressure. At first, it seemed he really enjoyed her presence. But then, in one instant, it all changed. All she said to herself was, “Everything will be alright. Don’t worry about a thing.” But as each second went by she felt him closer and closer until eventually the room felt like a cage from which she couldn't escape.
Now she's forever trapped in this “perfect world,” and there's still that room, that couch, that cage where she lost the fight and her thoughts blanked out. Now she’s sitting down in bed, confused with tears running down her face, unable to believe. Is it true? Did it really happen? How could I let this happen?
In the meantime, she works hard to act normal. She manages to put a smile on her face everyday from ear to ear just so nobody will notice her pain. But on the inside, every day is harsh without any escape. She feels lost in this world, with no one to talk to. She feels responsible. Because she invited trouble and then failed to defend herself.
Three years went by. She was insecure; she couldn’t walk late at night and hated to fall asleep because the only thing that came to her head was that scene, that couch, that cage.
Now she is here, in a small room with only the lamp turned on; it is cold and she feels desperate—shame and distrust are holding her back. But then, that wonderful woman tells her, “I know what you're going through. I've been hurt also, and we're going to get through this. But you have show that you're strong. There's a wall, you know, that you have to break through so you can let all the good things happen to you.”
All of a sudden, in that moment, she feels safe. Safe to explode. She can't keep everything in anymore. She is feeling the woman that she could become pushing out from the inside.
So, she finally talks. Words spill from her mouth, tears spring from her eyes; a grip is loosening, a chain is breaking. With each tear and with each breath, she feels relief. And so she tries and breaks that wall between her past and what awaits her in the future. The woman hugs her, and little by little she starts realizing that in this world there are people who love her and who will support her through it all.   
A few months from now I'll be in college. I am prepared. I want to become a pediatrician so kids never feel like they're alone in this world with no one to talk to. I know that in every life, including my own, there will be challenges and suffering, but I have learned that I can be strong—as long as I find the people to hold me while I find that strength.

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IBA Photo
Ahhhh, Soda! We all love it!  But do you know what might happen to your body the more you drink it? 
Soda is one of the worst beverages you can consume, beating out other drinks like juice and coffee.  An English chemist named Dr. Joseph Priestley invented soda or “carbonated water” in 1767 (251 years ago!). Do you know what it’s made out of? Diabetes! Just joking. Actually, soda contains water, caramel coloring, high fructose corn syrup and caffeine. All of these ingredients are bad for your body, except for H2O of course.
But anyway, Joseph Priestley invented soda because he thought it tasted better than plain water.  I mean he ain’t lying, soda is bomb, but what he didn’t know was all the harm it would bring to our bodies. Over time, soda can cause you to lose your teeth to cavities and erosion.  It can increase your chances of having a heart attack by 20 percent. The caramel coloring in soda also contains a possible carcinogen, and it’s estimated that 44-58 percent of people are increasing their cancer risk by drinking a soda each day.  On top of all that, you can develop poorer memory, damage your kidneys, or become obese. Now if this isn’t enough to get you to stop, don’t say I didn’t warn you, sis!
But if you love soda like I do, try drinking some of the healthier ones like: Sprite, Ginger Ale, Sierra Mist, or 7-UP. These drinks all have a lower amount of sugar and do not contain as much of the unhealthy ingredients that the worst sodas do. Coca-Cola, A&W Cream Soda, Mountain Dew (that includes all of the different flavors), All Crush/Fanta sodas, root beer, and all energy drinks (yes, that's a soda because it’s carbonated!) should be avoided at all costs.   
 Ready to give up soda for good? Let me introduce you to the answer/the cure/the truth/the fact/the holy grail of bevs…
Drumroll please (you better make some noise, don’t leave me hanging...)
WATER! Yup, you know it, that’s right, plain old agua!
There are so many benefits to drinking water. You will have clear skin, healthy hair, and more energy, plus it helps you lose weight.  Water is one of our basic necessities as human beings; we need it to survive.  More than 1 billion people in the world do not have access to clean drinking water, so be grateful that here in the United States we have what so many people wish they had: access to clean water at any given moment in our daily lives. 
 Did you know that nearly 1 out of every 5 deaths in the U.S. is caused by obesity?  Save your body and fight that craving for soda. It’s 2018, and for a whopping free 99 you can get... tap water, sis, go fill up a bottle!

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