Happiness Is Not A Choice

Happiness Is Not A Choice

We can't all choose to be happy.
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When I was a freshman in college I remember going to this panel about happiness with my roommates. I thought, you know maybe this could be beneficial to me - a young depressed college student. There stood this attractive and bubbly brunette preaching to us that despite every bad thing that has happened in her life, she is happy because she chooses to be. I would be lying if I didn't admit that her statement made me angry, furious even. My roommates thought that this lady was profound in her words and that happy is something that you can choose to be, my roommates also don't suffer from depression.

We discussed this panel in my Honors class the next day. Everyone was talking about how wonderful the speaker was and how powerful the message came across. I stewed in my anger as these people who didn't understand depression continued to preach. Finally it came my turn to speak. I told them exactly what I am writing in this article, happiness is not a choice. I'll repeat this for the people in the back: HAPPINESS IS NOT A CHOICE. I do wholeheartedly believe that this woman was trying to send a powerful message that she believed in, but she was wrong. This woman did not take into account those who have depression or other illnesses that prevent them from simply "choosing" to be happy. There are literally chemical reactions that are not taking place that influence whether or not the dopamine receptors in our brains and functioning properly, but yes lady, happiness is a choice for us as well. Let me just send a quick note to the chemical receptors in my brain that I'm choosing to be happy today, so they better work.

Anger aside, I want the message in this article to be that happiness is not a choice. We simply don't function like that, and to tell people who battle depression that they have to only choose to be happy for it to work is absurd. The anger that it brought me pales in comparison to the indifference that statement has made others feel. As depressed individuals, we already feel like there is something - or a lot of things - already wrong with us. Don't tell us to add another one by making us think that for some reason we can't choose to be happy.

I'll state it again to close this article, but HAPPINESS IS NOT A CHOICE. Battling your depression and other illnesses is a choice. Not giving up is a choice. Continuing on so that one day you can wake up and be okay, that is a choice. That is a choice that I am so proud that you continue to make.

Much love <3

Cover Image Credit: Pinterest

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5 Perks Of Having A Long-Distance Best Friend

The best kind of long-distance relationship.
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Sometimes, people get annoyed when girls refer to multiple people as their "best friend," but they don't understand. We have different types of best friends. There's the going out together best friend, the see each other everyday best friend and the constant, low maintenance best friend.

While I'm lucky enough to have two out of the three at the same school as me, my "low maintenance" best friend goes to college six hours from Baton Rouge.

This type of friend is special because no matter how long you go without talking or seeing each other, you're always insanely close. Even though I miss her daily, having a long-distance best friend has its perks. Here are just a few of them...

1. Getting to see each other is a special event.

Sometimes when you see someone all the time, you take that person and their friendship for granted. When you don't get to see one of your favorite people very often, the times when you're together are truly appreciated.

2. You always have someone to give unbiased advice.

This person knows you best, but they probably don't know the people you're telling them about, so they can give you better advice than anyone else.

3. You always have someone to text and FaceTime.

While there may be hundreds of miles between you, they're also just a phone call away. You know they'll always be there for you even when they can't physically be there.

4. You can plan fun trips to visit each other.

When you can visit each other, you get to meet the people you've heard so much about and experience all the places they love. You get to have your own college experience and, sometimes, theirs, too.

5. You know they will always be a part of your life.

If you can survive going to school in different states, you've both proven that your friendship will last forever. You both care enough to make time for the other in the midst of exams, social events, and homework.

The long-distance best friend is a forever friend. While I wish I could see mine more, I wouldn't trade her for anything.

Cover Image Credit: Just For Laughs-Chicago

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A Second Person Has Achieved Long-Term Remission Of The HIV Virus

A second man has had long term remission of the HIV virus.

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Over a decade after the first man, known as the Berlin Patient, was declared HIV-free, another patient may also be cured. Though it's too early for scientists to say for sure, the London Patient has been in a long term remission for around 18 months without the help of medication. Both men were treated with a bone marrow transplant. However, these stem cells carried a rare mutation in the genes that affect the production of the CCR5 protein, which HIV viruses latch onto to enter the cell. The virus cannot latch onto the mutated version of the protein, thus blocking its entry into the cells.

With the transplant of these HIV resistant genes, the body effectively builds a new immune system free of the virus.

After the Berlin Patient went into remission, scientists tried and failed to replicate the cure and were unable to until the London Patient, whose HIV count has reduced into undetectable numbers. While this is extremely helpful, bone marrow transplants are not a viable option to cure all HIV infected people, as it is an extremely risky process and comes with many side effects. Even so, scientists are developing ways to extract bone marrow from HIV infected people, genetically modifying them to produce the same mutations on the CCR5 gene or the inability to express that gene at all, and then replacing it back into the patient so they can still build resistance without the negative effects of a bone marrow transplant. There have also been babies whose genomes have been edited to remove the CCR5 gene, allowing them to grow up resistant to HIV.

This does not eliminate the threat of the HIV virus, however.

There is another strand of the virus, called X4, that uses the CXCR4 protein to enter the cell. Even if the editing of the CCR5 allows immunity against one strand, it is possible for a person to be infected with the X4 strand of the virus. Despite this, immunization against one strand could save a countless number of lives, as well as the vaccine that is currently in the stages of development for HIV. Along with the London Patient, there are 37 other patients who have received bone marrow transplants, six of which from donors without the mutation.

Of these patients, number 19, known as the Dusseldorf Patient, has been off anti-HIV drugs for 4 months. It may not be a complete cure, but it is definitely a step in the right direction.

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