One Year Ago, Today

I woke up last week checking Snapchat with the Memories notification. “Memories last year” caught my interest. It was a video of my friends dying my hair purple. The bittersweet feeling of small anniversaries, either from happy experiences or a traumatic event, has moved me along my path of growth. Often, out of nostalgia, I’ll try to find something throughout the day that reminds me of that moment or listen to a playlist from that time. Our memories make us who we are, and when the one-year mark comes, we’ll notice the ways we’ve grown.

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The Abomination of Comparison

Last summer came one of the most challenging internal conflicts I’ve faced as a developing teenager — all derived from one issue: insecurities and comparisons surrounding my body image. I constantly questioned, “Will I ever have as nice of a body as she does?” or “Will the boys ever notice me or my body like they notice hers?” Struggling with body image was only one example of how comparison impacts us. At fourteen, I thought I was ready to tackle the revolting world of social media and the pressures that come from interacting with people around me. 

Of course, when we’re young, we have a lot of time to physically grow and change. Unfortunately, I was reluctant to listen to any of these reassurances and continued to try unrealistic diets and exercise to be like the other girls. 

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Hereditary Mental Illness

My mother says she knows me

That she knows why my eyes droop after a long day,

That my dreams buzz inside my brain,

Why my mouth opens unnaturally when I lie,

How I feel when things spiral out of my control,

What thoughts circle around in my head,

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Star Wars and Mental Health

Star Wars fans are using the film franchise to make connections to their mental health.

Written by Caleb Izaguirre

The Bad Batch from

With The Bad Batch releasing on Disney+ this Tuesday, many fans are eager to watch their favorite characters return for a follow-up to The Clone Wars. And while May 4th is Star Wars Day, there are more than a few avid members of the fandom who like to celebrate the month’s official designation as Mental Health Awareness Month.

Nearing the end of my chronological binge watch of the prequel trilogy and its affiliated media this summer, I recognize that I have always been a huge Star Wars fan. The films and T.V. series have always been meaningful to me. I realized this when I saw the theatrical release of The Clone Wars (2008), and the variety of content has shaped me ever since.

In the offset of my personal love for Star Wars, a question arises in my mind about some of the franchise’s titular Jedi philosophy: how can you stay one with the Force?

Now, I am not talking about traveling across the galaxy through hyperspace in order to become a Jedi (unfortunately), but I am suggesting that each of us use May 4th to check in on our own force: our personal wellbeing and for those we care for.

It is also critical that we be aware of so-called ”Dark Side” challenges, such as conflict, social isolation, and/or even disconnection, which can lead to behavioral addictions. The common theme shared between us is that we are “luminous beings” requiring connection and compassion. To be stronger, we need to know that someone cares about us.

So how can you stay connected to the living Force?

The following are the best tips and principles to live by:

  1. Care for your mental and physical health first. When you’re prioritizing your commitment to thinking clearly and feeling strong, you can better interact and set an example for others.
  1. Use humor to deter hate. Have fun and allow a little levity into your daily life. It’s healthy to see friends and family behaving comedically and enjoying their lives. It helps everyone learn to laugh at their own humor and cope with stress. Humor also promotes child-parent bonds alongside those for friends and peers.
  1. “Be mindful of your thoughts.” Obi-Wan’s advice throughout the Star Wars franchise is an important reminder to each of us to pay attention to how stress affects our physical and psychological health and responses. The mind is powerful, and if you’re dealing with high stress and anxiety, the world can seem cold. You might clench your teeth, or experience neck, back, or aching joint pains. You also may consume too much or too little. You might feel depressed enough to struggle getting out of bed. To tackle this, you need a plan. Try breathing deeply to reduce the “fight or flight” response that your body is experiencing under stress; relax your mind; exercise for twenty minutes every day; improve your attitude through positive people and activities; and finally, maintain a healthy diet.
  1. Request resources for the “Light Side.” In the films, Darth Vader made the mistake of thinking that he could control everyone and every event around him. He emotionally and physically isolated himself from others. Luckily, his son, Luke, sought out Yoda for guidance in combating the powers and temptations of evil and was able to overcome a lifelong challenge. Just as Luke searched for Yoda, you can seek help from trained professionals. Magnify Wellness offers a resource database of offering support for people who feel isolated or stuck in a challenging mental state, which can only lead to other medical issues. Our team monitors and maintains these resources to help individuals in healthy ways.

While applying the Star Wars franchise to serious mental issues may seem to make light note of such cases, I take this subject very seriously. 

To examine the films’ relationship with mental health, it is imperative to understand that the limited information drawn from their fictional universe is a means for safer mental health education, discussion, and some room for play, allowing fans to draw comparisons between their role models from “a galaxy far, far away…”

Examining Star Wars with this methodology adds the value of entertainment to the heavy task of mental health study, and it provides students, patients, and medical professional representation of disorders that are mainly cited through theory and discussion.

Part of what makes Star Wars so special is the abundance of positive mental health advice and philosophies.

The Star Wars franchise has touched the hearts of so many adults and children since it began almost half a century ago. The steeped battlefield of good versus evil alongside the characters and stories of George Lucas have continued to play a role in defining our culture and mental health.

Don’t forget to catch the extended 70-minute debut of The Bad Batch streaming this Tuesday on Disney+ at 12:01 AM PST!

Artwork designed by Iris Ho

Contact me:

Listen to the audio version here

Thanks for reading!

A Message Not Delivered

Hey dad, how much do you love me? You have written countless letters reciting the words, but have you felt them? I see you lay the words out on paper, but I cannot measure them. Should I have counted that time you forgot to pick me up after school? A lesson on patience, perhaps. Or should I have added in when you told me in fifth grade that I must go to Harvard or you’d be distressed? Maybe that was your way of inspiring me to dream big. Or was your love multiplied when you started a new family?

August 2015 

I once saw you write a paper on what it takes to be a father. You wrote, “Any fool can have a kid and call themselves a parent, but to be a father…” The sentence was completed on paper, but it remains a mystery in my mind. I thought to be a father was to love and be loved. Are you then not a father and indeed just another parent? 

September 2016

But then I think back to the times you dressed me in fairytales, kissed me goodnight, or celebrated my report card, wondering if maybe you did have it in you. Did these moments pass you by as you walked out of my life? Perhaps those cherished memories turned distant, near enough for a check-in call every once in a while but too far for a heartfelt apology. Maybe you could muster the courage for one if you saw how mom grieved. Words cannot encompass the running pain I saw her attempt to wipe away every night with a Book of Genesis tissue. They cannot comprehend the financial burden that piled itself on her as she took two jobs and a seven-day workweek, only to come home to a fridge stocked with food shelf groceries. I’d love to see words attempt to explain the betrayal and spite that conjured in my sister’s heart, leaving her with severe depression and anxiety disorder. Maybe some inspirational words could’ve helped my brother, confused about how to approach his teenage years without a father figure to emulate. 

And as for me, your confusing love forced me to be observant. It made me pick up on little comments said by peers in conversation or the faintest look on someone’s face when I walked into a room. A quality both enlightening and lonely. It left me entirely too concerned with other people, constantly inferring what they’re thinking then backing down when their actions said otherwise. Your confusing love showed me that people are complicated. It taught me that someone could be your biggest supporter while contributing to your suffering. I always asked myself how much you loved me, but I now know that love alone isn’t always enough. 

February 2021

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Mental Health & Parenting: A Reflection From the Author

Growing up, I didn’t understand why my father would say, or refrain from saying, certain things. As a kid I thought it was just some weird parenting tactic. I realize now that my upbringing was not a carefully crafted stringent of best-practice rules, rather it was a jumbled display of my father learning how to parent while balancing his own inner struggles. Though it seems like a parent’s life revolves around their child, a parent still has their own thoughts, emotions, and regrets. As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that the person who I thought my father was is only a sliver of what 50+ years can mold. 

In short, parents are human–see them beyond just being your mom/dad/guardian. It’ll put a lot into perspective. 

Here are some helpful resources regarding parenting and mental health.

Mental Health America – Be The Best Parent You Can Be

Three Ways to Change Your Parenting in the Teenage Years (

Parenting Your Teenager | UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals 

  By: 66 Positive Things to Say To Your Child – Adventures of Yoo

Listen to the Audio version here.

Contact Gretel Tassah at

Artwork created by: Gretel Tassah

Pursuing My True Self: A Review of Persona 4

The cast of Persona 4 in one picture. From left to right (top): Chie Satonaka, Kanji Tatsumi, Youske Hanamura, and Teddie. From left to right (bottom): Naoto Shirogane, Yukiko Amagi, Yu Narukami (the protagonist), and Rise Kujikawa. (ZetGaming)

The above picture shows a group of friends. This group happens to be made up of the main characters of a video game called Persona 4, and the picture does a great job of depicting each of the characters’ unique personalities: Rise looking at Yu with admiration, Naoto hiding half of her face with her hat (which reflects her tendency to hide who she is), and Chie’s cheerful look towards the camera. The image serves as a great way of communicating how these characters are during the game’s story. Even though these people have different personalities, the image beautifully shows how they all accept each other for who they are and love each other all the same.

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Innovating Intently: Ariela Safira & the Pathway to Real

TW: suicide

As we approach a year of mentally and physically breaking pandemic life, concrete statistics don’t yet exist to put numbers to what people have felt and absorbed. But numbers often miss the core of every story. In this case, they would reinforce a narrative which we already know and feel but don’t yet have words for: people struggle profoundly with their mental health. Now that hindsight truly is 2020, we must collectively think critically about the question: what should the mental healthcare field look like?

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Spotlight: Abigayle Peterson & The Stories Within Magnify’s Code

Magnify Wellness was coded using a JavaScript library called React, but there is another language embedded into the story that Magnify Wellness’s code portrays. It is a familiar language, which conveys the challenging story of learning how to best use our gifts through the experiences we gain. Abigayle’s story is one that reminds us that we share the language of pain, ache and loneliness, though we may experience it differently. Her story reminds us that we can grow, learn and make profound leaps in a plentiful direction while keeping our experiences in our back pocket. 

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Meet Adele!

Hi everyone! My name is Adele and I’m a Secondary 3 student from Hong Kong.

To most, ‘mental health’ is an overused buzzword that at best is a conversational currency; a status cemented by its ambiguity. Swarmed by the unbidden input of common skeptics and pseudo-intellectuals, the definition of well-being has become irretrievably convoluted. If you can read between the lines, you’ll find that I struggle to summarize without generalization; another irony that pains my psyche. 

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