Updated 12/19/2022

As the Megan Thee Stallion-Tory Lanez trial rages on, things have only gotten more...quizzical. Kelsey Harris took the stand only to plead the fifth...but tapes reveal that Harris explicitly said she saw Tory shoot Megan in the foot. And Megan's bodyguard is allegedly missing after being scheduled to take the stand on Megan's behalf the following day.

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Bad B*tches Have Bad Days Too

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Talia Jackson releases new single "Hidden"

Powerful dark pop singer Talia Jackson is a bold artist punching her stamp on today's music scene.

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Kevin Love and Other NBA Stars Paving the Way for Mental Health in Sports

Professional athletes fear being seen as weak if they speak up about mental health issues, but they're not superheroes.

Miami Heat

Photo by Andre Tan on Unsplash

The NBA is leading the way in a mental health movement within the sporting world. Athletes such as Kevin Love want to create a better environment around mental health

Exacerbating mental health concerns in the NBA is the fact that 22 teams have headed to Walt DisneyLand Resort to finish the season inside "the bubble": the 220-acre ESPN sports complex that will be the home to NBA crew and teams over the next few months in order to finish the season with minimal exposure to the public.

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Music Lists

In “Modern Love,” Anne Hathaway Shows Us Love Can’t Fix Bipolar Disorder

The show, based on Terri Cheney's column of the same title, provides a uniquely nuanced depiction of mental illness—and highlights the gaps that still exist in the ways we tell stories about it.

On the episode of Modern Love called "Take Me As I Am, Whoever I Am," Anne Hathaway's character Lexi spends half her time in bed.

She spends the other half of her life gallivanting around New York City, wearing sparkles and styling herself after famous actresses, asking out men in grocery stores and making up for the time and the lovers she lost while she was catatonically depressed.

At best, the episode is a uniquely nuanced depiction of real mental illness, emphasizing the fact that Hathaway's illness may not be easily curable, refusing the temptation to glamorize her symptoms or suffocate her with pity and pessimism. At worst, it still falls into some old traps and perhaps could've done a better job of explaining the specifics of Lexi's diagnosis and the actuality of what bipolar is and is not.

Like all the episodes of Amazon Prime's new series Modern Love, it's based on a real-life story published in The New York Times' column of the same name. Hathaway's character is based on an essay by a woman named Terri Cheney, who specifies in the first paragraph that she suffers from what she refers to as "ultrararidian rapid cycling."

There are many different forms of bipolar disorder, far more than the typical binary of Bipolar I and II imply. Bipolar I, the best-known type, involves periods of severe mania and severe depression, whereas with Bipolar II, the manic episodes are usually slightly less severe, though periods of depression can be extremely intense. With both of these types, lengths and symptoms of manic and depressive episodes can vary, though most people experience one or two cycles per year, with episodes lasting around 13 weeks, according to a 2010 study. Episodes can be triggered by events such as seasonal changes, trauma, or grief, but they can also happen naturally due to to the vicissitudes of brain chemistry and daily life. Sometimes symptoms of mania and depression can co-occur, and this is referred to as a mixed episode.

There are many other variants of bipolar disorder, including cyclothymic disorder, which describes brief periods of mania and depression that are slightly less severe than full-on Bipolar I or II. Then there's the kind of extremely rapid switching that Hathaway's character experienced. Affecting 10-15% of people diagnosed with bipolar disorder, rapid cycling is officially diagnosed when someone experiences four or more cycles in one year. Ultra-rapid cycling is when a person cycles through episodes in one month or less, and the sort that Cheney and Lexi have is called ultra-ultra-rapid cycling or ultradian cycling, which means that cycles can occur within a 24-hour period.

As with most mental illnesses, every person's diagnosis is different. For Cheney, ultradian cycling means that she'd often spend days or weeks in bed, only to awaken suddenly to the sound of birdsong and a feeling of euphoria. Like her TV adaption, Cheney tells us that she tried dozens of treatments, including dangerous electroshock therapy, while keeping her illness secret from friends and family and making up for her down periods by exceeding expectations when she was up. She was able to pull together a life, but all this didn't make dating easy. "When dating me, you might go to bed with Madame Bovary and wake up with Hester Prynne," she wrote in her Times column.

Refreshingly, neither Cheney's essay nor the TV adaption equates the right treatment or the perfect person with a cure and a happy ending. Instead, after following their protagonist through a failed relationship that began during a manic episode and quickly tanked when her mood turned, the essay and show end with a bit of realistic hope. "I've finally accepted that there is no cure for the chemical imbalance in my brain, any more than there is a cure for love," Cheney writes, lines that Hathaway repeats in the episode's conclusion. "But there's a little yellow pill I'm very fond of, and a pale blue one, and some pretty pink capsules, and a handful of other colors that have turned my life around."

Battling the Stigma Onscreen: Violence, Love, and Bipolar Representation

While illnesses like depression and anxiety have become more socially acceptable and widely understood (although too often they're still not viewed as valid illnesses, instead treated like something that can be willfully overcome with a little yoga), bipolar and other personality disorders are still heavily stigmatized and misunderstood.

For example, people who suffer from personality disorders are far too frequently blamed for things like mass shootings, when actually only 3-5% of violent crimes are perpetrated by people with mental illnesses (and 97% of mass shooters are white males with histories of misogyny and domestic violence).

In reality, bipolar disorder has absolutely nothing to do with violence. It's also completely untrue that people with bipolar are unable to have relationships. Everyone is different, and people with bipolar disorder are just as capable (or incapable) of loving and being loved as anybody else.

While Hathaway/Cheney's illness appears to be unusually unpredictable, many people with mental illnesses can and do thrive in relationships. While unstable relationships can have particularly negative and triggering effects on people who suffer from mental illnesses, stable relationships of any kind can be incredibly beneficial. And while no one should use their mental illness as an excuse to use others as therapists or sole support systems, supportive friends, partners, and family members can be vital in terms of providing the kind of acceptance and structure that people with mental illness may have trouble giving themselves.

Still, it's a blessing that "Take Me As I Am, Whoever I Am" doesn't over-glamorize the effects or importance of relationships. Anne Hathaway's Lexi finds relief in confessing to a coworker about her illness, but there is no implication that the coworker will be able to heal her or support her in any way. Confession and interpersonal love are perhaps over-emphasized in some forms of modern mental health discourse, but premature or forced confessions can have negative consequences, and confession by no means make up for actual treatment, large systemic changes, or genuine external and acceptance. Sometimes, acceptance means accepting the reality of illness and treatment in all their ugly and unpalatable forms, a reality that is too often forgotten in exchange for the more palatable narrative that tells us that love can heal all wounds.

The Future of Bipolar on TV: Hopefully More Diverse, and Created by People Who Really Suffer from Mental Illness

For her part, Terri Cheney, a prolific writer who has written several memoirs about her experience with mental illness, is apparently very satisfied with Hathaway's nuanced portrayal. "When you think of the illness in terms of a familiar face, it's less frightening and easier to understand," she told Glamour. "That's why having someone as famous as Anne portray a woman with bipolar disorder is so terrific: It's an antidote to shame."

As in her essay, Cheney is quick to emphasize the fact that sometimes there is no cure to mental illness; it's not like you can just confess that you have it and expunge it from your brain chemistry. "After a lifetime of living with a mental illness, I've discovered that the most helpful thing someone can say to me when I'm suffering is, 'Tell me where it hurts,'" she added. "I don't want advice. I don't want to be cheered up. I just want to be listened to and truly heard."

Hathaway also seems to understand the importance of her role. "I have people in my life who I love so deeply who have received various mental health diagnoses, and that's not the whole story of who they are," she said. "But in many cases, because of an intolerant society, that's the space of fear they're kept in."

As there's more mental illness representation on TV, hopefully we'll see more nuanced portrayals of people with mental illness. Many Hollywood shows and movies have heavily exaggerated the symptoms of bipolar disorder, giving characters who suffer from the disorder violent narratives or dramatic breakdowns (Empire, Silver Linings Playbook), painting them as anti-medication (Law and Order: SVU) and using episodes as plot devices (Homeland), despite gaining praise for featuring characters who suffer from it.

Perhaps in the future, shows will also begin discussing the disorder in more precise terms and becoming as open and explicit about treatments, medication, therapy, and the messy vicissitudes of daily life as they are with dramatizing mental breakdowns and choreographing manic episodes.

Maybe they could also try to focus on people of different race and class backgrounds, as mental illness is frequently whitewashed, though it cannot be separated from things like race and class, and certainly not everyone with bipolar has a swanky entertainment law job or lives in an apartment like Anne Hathaway's utterly absurd one. Perhaps Modern Love itself shouldn't be expected to get real about mental illness, for even this episode does feel lost in the show's saccharine, wealth-buoyed rom-com vibe, caught up in the "permanent delusion that New York makes people fall into a special kind of love, unattainable anyplace else (unless on a brief trip abroad)," as The Washington Post writes, a delusion that anyone who actually lives in New York knows is utterly untrue (but that always makes for a hit TV show).

Still, when all is said and done, there will never be a singular or perfect depiction of bipolar disorder, and a depiction of mental illness on a show like this one will certainly expose lots of people to a sympathetic narrative they otherwise might not have encountered.

Like all illnesses, bipolar disorder is an ongoing process that affects everyone in a completely unique way, and there is no quick fix for it. But with medication and support, it's something that's possible to live and thrive with—and yes, to love with.

Though Lexi never finds true love, she finds something else. She finds self-acceptance, openness, a growth mindset, and the belief that she isn't in need of fixing. And in this life, perhaps that's the best kind of fairy-tale ending we can ask for.


ROZES Opens Up About New Musical Identity And Mental Health in New Single "Call Me"

Pop singer-songwriter takes action for mental health awareness in latest single.

Adam Contiello

Singer-songwriter Elizabeth Mencel, better known by her musical moniker ROZES, continues to take a stand in her latest single "Call Me," which thematically tackles the hardships of mental health and promotes mental health awareness.

This past year the Philadelphia native has been a part of numerous movements and initiatives, including Alicia Keys' She Is The Music camp and The Women's March, which featured her single "Halfway There" as this year's anthem.

PopDust was able to talk with the singer about taking a stand for inclusivity, female empowerment, and what she hopes her latest single "Call Me" will inspire for her fans.

Since last summer, you've been a part of many incredible projects and campaigns. What has been the highlight of your year so far?

Oh gosh that's so hard to pick!

I'll make it easier then! What are the top three highlights?

I would definitely say working at the She is The Music camp with Alicia Keys was a career highlight. Then I would for sure say the Women's March, which was an amazing event. My song "Halfway There" was written for a fight so its connected to the cause and people picked up on the message. I think for the last highlight, I've been seeing my songs lately on shows like World of Dance and American Idol and that's been really cool for me! These are all shows that are so obviously music heavy and for however many millions of songs that these people could've picked they chose mine and I think that was something very validating.

What was it like working with an all-female team during the Alicia Keys camp? How did you get pulled into the project?

I was asked by Universal Music Group because they were the ones that helped Alicia put the camp together. They were recruiting women who were in New York at the time and I was home and it was the perfect storm. Being able to work there with Alicia Keys—I mean she's always been one of my biggest idols, and since being in the industry I've had to numb myself to meeting people. You don't ever want to be starstruck, you gotta always be cool. So I think being invited to something that my idol was putting on in and of itself was a dream come true. Being able to chat with her and talk to her about music and to be able to sit down and share her struggles and how they relate to us as women was just so crazy. When I was working with the team that I worked with for my song "Call Me," Alex Hope and Sophie [Frances], it was so educating for me because I was realizing that as far as inequality in the industry, we have to be the ones to set the example. We have to be the ones putting women in the room. Every session that I'm in is mostly men and I'm the artist, so it should be my say to say "I need more women in this room." I think the process of that camp was very eye-opening as a female empowerment supporter, as a feminist, as a human, it was very eye-opening. I've always been in situations where it's hard being a woman in the industry and then I also saw how I was the problem by not having enough women in the room. I think the camp was amazing. Being able to sit down with other female writers and being able to connect on a level that you don't get too often with male writers was awesome. That's what opened up the vulnerability for the track "Call Me."

Adam C.

"Call Me" obviously grew out of a vulnerable place and has a clear message for listeners to pick up on about mental health, but what does the song mean to you?

As a person who has always struggled with mental health—I mean I've struggled with it my entire life and I still don't know how to exactly cope with in all the right ways—but what I think one of the things that have definitely helped me has been knowing that people are there for me and get what I'm going through. They are the people who make me understand that I'm not isolated and I'm not so alone. I wanted to portray someone saying, "You know you can call me," because it's such a huge sentiment. It means so much. Whether it's me saying it to someone else or someone saying it to me, to have that on the table is such a huge, healthy pathway for people struggling and having a tough time.

What line from "Call Me" speaks to you the most?

I think my favorite part of the song is the bridge. There's a line that goes, "you're wide awake and everybody else is sleeping," and I think that can mean so many things. It can be literal, meaning you are wide awake while the rest of the world is typically sleeping or it can mean that you are the only one who feels this emotion while everybody else has it turned off. For me, that's an important line because it shows how far the isolation can go.

Other than listening to songs like "Call Me" and using whatever platforms available to promote supporting mental health awareness, what else do you think fans can do to continue the discussion of mental health?

I'm not an expert but I think a big part of it is to be honest with yourself and how you're feeling and accepting your own emotions. I noticed a lot in myself and in others that we have a hard time admitting to ourselves when it's more than just a feeling and it is actually anxiety or depression. It's more than just sadness or a sad day. I think the biggest thing is to just admit it to yourself and allowing yourself to open up about it.

Speaking of starting important conversations and being more real, your song "Halfway There." Did you write the track with the intention that it would be used for the Women's March or was it picked up later? How did it end up being the anthem that it is now?

I was in Nashville working on my next album and I found out that my sister-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer. She's really young and for me, it created a lot of anger at whatever the universe had in store for that kind of fight. I was just so upset and couldn't understand my emotions. When I was going into the studio, I really wanted to write about this and I didn't know how I was going to do it and I didn't know it was going to be that day, but for some reason, I just knew we were going to do something. One of the co-writers on it is my brother, the one not married to my sister-in-law with cancer, and we were just in the same boat of dealing with this news and we just started writing and it became a song about a fight. It was inspiring the way it came about because my sister-in-law has a way of inspiring fight in others, so it was kinda ironic the way it got picked up by the Women's March. I was happy that this song that stemmed around the fight of a woman could be relatable and translate.

I know throughout your career you've had the opportunity to work and collaborate with many artists including The Chainsmokers and Galantis, for this next record and for the future in general, who would you love to work with?

I have a lot of songs lined up for the summer and I have a lot of collaborations ready to go. I'm still so open to collaborating with anybody. I don't think I have my eye set on anyone in particular. I'm just leaving all lanes open. I think it's an exciting time and I feel like I have an identity with my music right now. I feel like I'm accepting of whatever comes my way.

How would you describe the direction you're taking with your next album? How would you describe the identity that you've found in your music?

I think that right now I'm saying things that are important to me. I'm standing up for things that need to be stood up for. I think that right now with my music I'm really trying to send a message and I'm really trying to unite a lot of people and gain an understanding from other people. I think it's really important for my fans or really anyone that listens to my music to understand who I am and so I'm making sure that through my music it's very obvious. it's an exciting time because I used to write about a lot of love and, ya know, I was younger so I was going through a lot of breakups and whatever and ended up boxing myself in heartbreak. I think that now that I've opened my box, I'm becoming a more mature writer.

What are some of the things that you do want to be writing songs about now that you've developed into a more mature and self-aware songwriter?

I really believe in free love and that people can love who they want. I'm a huge ally for the LGBTQ+ community and I'm obviously a huge women's rights activist and believe in equality for all. I'm just overall a very inclusive person and believe that everybody deserves to be seen and heard equally regardless of who you love or what gender you identify as or what color your skin is, so I think with my music I just really want to be inclusive and kind of send that message. I also want to be very open with my mental health so that I can maybe help somebody else in their times of struggle and maybe they can use my music to share with others, to show how they're feeling. I guess I just want to be able to be a voice for people who are too afraid to speak.

Hypothetically, in this stage of your career if you could have the ultimate dream show with three other acts on the bill, who would you pick?

Oh man that's a good question, this is tough. Probably Lizzo, she would definitely be one. Ideally, I'd love to tour with all women but it'd be so awesome to tour with Twenty-One Pilots because they are electronic based but they bring in all these other genres that they kinda dip in to.

That would definitely be a cool show to see! Anyone else to fill out the last space on the bill?

It's so funny, but when I think of this question I think of the logistics of it. Like, if I tour with them would the fan base and the sounds match up? There's so much that goes into thinking about this question! I think my last space would go to Charlie XCX or Tove Lo.

Check out ROZES's latest single "Call Me" below!

Call Mewww.youtube.com