About

Prednisone Roller Coaster: My Weight Goes Up & Down Frequently
Prednisone Roller Coaster: My Weight Goes Up & Down Frequently

Why Fashionably ill: The Sick Woman’s Stylist?

You might be wondering why I’m doing a blog on style for ill women. Why can’t we just read other blogs on fashion?  Because changes wrought by illness and treatment go beyond the changes most healthy women experience.  I also help women deal with challenges like pain, chronic fatigue, and unexpected insults from people about our changed appearance.  I want this blog to be a place where people can vent and find solutions to everyday challenges.   Rich people and celebrities have stylists.  So why don’t sick women?  This blog will include links to products from makeup to clothes to disability tools.   I will also feature “best bang for your buck” buys because I know that style should be affordable.

This blog is for:

a) People balancing mental illnesses with chronic pain diseases

b) Brave women fighting illness

c) Survivors of illnesses (emotional, physical, invisible or visible)

d) Family, friends, and coworkers who want to better understand the sick women they love

e) Anyone who enjoys learning about makeup and fashion

All My Illnesses

All illnesses are trying.   If my life were a soap opera, it would be called “All My Illnesses.”  In fact, I affectionately call my cane Erica Kane.  I am 28-years old.  I have five illnesses—Bipolar II, Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), Myasthenia Gravis (MG, as fun as Multiple Sclerosis but harder to pronounce), asthma, and psoriasis.  I was diagnosed with these at the ages of 18, 19, 24, 26, and 30, respectively.

MG, a neuromuscular autoimmune disease, happens to 1 in 100,000 people.  It brings daily fatigue and pain all over my body.  It has exacerbated the painful PCOS.  Sleep apnea adds to respiratory problems caused by MG.  Basically, “wicked antibodies’” attack different parts of my body, which makes involuntary actions like breathing, swallowing, talking, and balancing hard.

Balancing Mental Health and Chronic Pain & Fatigue Diseases

I worked in mental health nonprofit for many years.  While it was great creating awareness for diseases like bipolar disorder, depression, OCD, and ADHD, among others, I saw a dearth of resources for people living with emotional pain and 24/7 physical pain.  Often times in living with both, we face limitations.  For instance, people with bipolar disorder should get eight hours of sleep but pain diseases lead to sleepless nights.  And of course, physical pain and fatigue, can trigger (or exacerbate) depressive episodes.  In doing Fashionably ill, I’ve heard from many readers with combinations of diseases (lupus/bipolar, RA/bipolar, fibromyalgia/depression, hypothyroid/depression, Parkinson’s/depression) who have said that they’ve found a home.  One reader said, “I’ve finally found a website that expresses what I’m feeling.  This is my life.  And I’ve found community through Fashionably ill‘s Facebook page.”

Future Topics of This Blog: Backfat, Cankles, Hairloss, Etc.

After my 2008 diagnosis and hospitalization for MG, I found a dearth of material on fashion for sick women.  Time and again, I encountered the same messages:  Beauty isn’t just for size zeroes.  Style isn’t just for twenty-year olds.  While I agree, I never found anything telling me that beauty isn’t just for healthy women.  I was on Prednisone (steroids) and eleven other medications (and I still am).  Between 2008 and 2010, I went from a size 0 to a size 10.  Even though the latter is not big, many people who knew I was sick insulted me.  I learned that women could be stylish at any size.  And I do believe in style in sickness and in health.  Every woman has been granted certain inalienable rights: the right to beautystyle, and the pursuit of confidence.  These are some issues we’ll address:

Your Turn?



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What topics would you like to discuss?

–Your Stylist, Jessica Gimeno

21 thoughts on “About

  • March 5, 2014 at 7:15 pm
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    Read almost everything here! Love it all! I have Lupus, Raynaud’s, Autonomic Dysfunction, PCOS and Factor IV. I hate listing them…but you obviously know where I’m coming from:)

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    • March 6, 2014 at 10:18 am
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      Thanks for the feedback, Heidi. A lot of my close friends have Lupus. In fact, it was only last year that I met people with MG. So much of what I’ve learned about surviving autoimmune disease I learned from brave people fighting Lupus. I’d like to learn more about Raynaud’s and Factor IV, however.

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  • March 6, 2014 at 8:20 am
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    Good for you! I admire your bravery, your insight and your sense of humor. I am not ill, thankfully, but I was a caregiver for eight years for my mother-in-law (in our home) I noticed a dramatic drop off of friends’ visits and phone calls once Graminator’s illness took her farther and farther away from us, away from reality. I think fear and their own mortality were to blame.

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    • March 6, 2014 at 10:21 am
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      Sounds like you have a sense of humor too! Graminator–I love it! I appreciate your encouraging comments. Just as love and empathy can be powerful forces, fear is also really powerful. And the thing is so many people don’t realize when they are acting out of fear. (I hosted an Online New Year’s Eve Party during SyFy’s 2-day Twilight Zone marathon so no one would be alone. Fifty guests showed up. One of the recurring themes of TZ was the consequences of acting out of fear, which I blogged about here: http://jessicagimeno.com/?p=1448) Glad to hear you’re enjoying Fashionably ill, RDee!

      Reply
  • April 19, 2014 at 5:32 am
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    Jessica,
    I love your blog! I have Myasthenia Gravis, CVID (a primary immune deficiency), Lupus, Autoimmune Vestibular Dysfunction, Raynaud’s, Myofascitis, Migraines and Asthma. Obviously, having one or two of those illnesses is a life changing experience, but to have them all is exhausting and debilitating. I mean, who feels like putting on makeup when you need to go back to bed and rest after simply taking a shower, getting dressed, and brushing your teeth? And yet, having my hair shampooed and styled, a Mani/pedi, and a makeover recently after spending time in ICU due to a myasthenic crisis made all the difference in how I felt about ME. It would be so easy to allow my illnesses fo define who I am, to make them my identity. Your blog helps me by imparting wisdom from one who understands what I’m going through, and with tips on makeup and style. I often think, “If Jessica can do it, so can I”. Keep writing, my friend … you’re doing great!

    Reply
  • September 10, 2014 at 3:02 pm
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    Thank you for your blog! Just came across this by accident. ..never had I thought there was anyone who understood what it was like to have multiple “disorders” like me and still do other things instead of sit at home and mope. I’ve been diagnosed with many different things and I am still not sure if I have them all or if it’s only one thing. First diagnosed with pcos…ms…possible lupus because of fevers…then scoliosis. .then fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis… and to top it of just had surgery for a large mass in ovary.

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    • September 10, 2014 at 7:23 pm
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      Hello Lilliana, I’m so glad you found Fashionably ill. We are on Twitter and Facebook too–on the FB page, people vent and ask questions. It really is hard living with many illnesses. I am sorry to hear that you have so many conditions. Keep in touch. Your cyster, Jessica

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  • December 7, 2014 at 6:57 am
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    What a great idea.
    I am in my dressing gown and it’s 1pm. I have an acquired brain injury which is in my case, an invisible disability.

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    • December 8, 2014 at 7:13 am
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      Jessica, what a fab idea for a site.
      Sorry guys! I should have elaborated. Heidi, Kathie and Lilliana, I hope you are managing as well as can be expected today. I find it important to focus on the positives each day and am getting better at it, I’m a long-term survivor of a tbi (traumatic brain injury) but I have a BA Hons Degree in English Literature and Linguistics, live independently. I work as a volunteer PA for a very worthwhile charity. Of course I have ‘deficits’ but I have learnt how to manage them. Jessica, if you’d like me to write anything for your site just ask.

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  • May 13, 2015 at 11:17 am
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    I love this blog and what a great focus. I have a mix of health issues too (bp-I, Fibromyalgia, cfs) and it is hard to be movitvated to look good when you don’t feel good. Though is important as caring about our appearances can make us feel better.

    sorry all caps – my chromebook won’t let me post normally for some reason!

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  • May 31, 2016 at 3:08 pm
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    As a holistic practitioner for over 33 years, I know the answers are not with mainstream medicine. I have seen all of these diseases be cured or at least radically improve with radical diet and life style changes: no wheat, sugar, dairy, pop, processed food, fried, pork, soy or artificial anything. Daily exercise, probably under supervision to not over due or hurt the joints, along with healing massage, and water treatments, acupuncture and qi-gong would radically cure or improve almost all patients. Auto-immune diseases are caused by diet, stress and life style. Very few patients area motivated to do this paleo-type diet for the rest of their lives. I have seen terminal cancer, lupus, RA, osteoarthritis, depression and many other conditions disappear if treated early enough and others in late stage greatly improve. A very good Qi-Gong therapist along with a good Chinese acupuncturist every week, with clean diet, and deep breathing every day is necessary. Flax seed oil along with 5,000 units vitamin D3 and perhaps a good, natural mineral and trace mineral rich in magnesium is necessary also every day. Stay positive and turn to the Higher Power for guidance…

    Good Luck to all…

    Charles Nohava, Director
    Prisma Center

    Reply
  • October 21, 2016 at 5:06 am
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    Hello Jessica, I watched your Tedx conference and I find it very inspiring. I can relate so much with your challenges because I’m also diagnosed with Bipolar disorder II, arthritis, degenerative bone disease at my lower back (from a bad fall), asthma and a skin allergy on my palms. I quit my job six years ago because things had been overwhelming for me. However, I am now pursuing sustainable fashion and active on local and international support groups. I noticed you are a Filipino too! I am proud that you are successful despite those challenges. Kudos 🙂

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  • January 30, 2017 at 8:33 pm
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    Hi Jessica my name is Ashley Kendall and I live in Dallas Tx. I had the opportunity to watch your Ted Talk on how to get stuff done when you’re depressed and it was very encouraging. I not only suffer from major depression, I also suffer scoliosis, spinal stenosis and hydrocephalus and I walk on a cane. With all of these challenges I still managed live my life and get somethings accomplished. Your Ted talk was a true God send because have been telling me to get out there and tell my story and be a light for others. While I’m praying to see which direction God wants me to go, I’m glad there’s someone out there that I can relate to and look up to! Thank you for your courage

    Reply
  • February 20, 2017 at 12:19 pm
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    Dear Jessica,

    I recently came across your site and was very impressed with the quality of content on your site. I especially appreciate your attention to helping those that are troubled and in need of guidance.

    I work on behalf of Paradigm Treatment Centers, a treatment center that is committed to assisting young people with the deep issues that impact their lives such as, trauma, grief, teen bipolar disorder, teen depression, eating disorders and addiction. We have locations in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The reason for my e-mail is, we have a staff of writers who constantly produce very high quality content for our website and blog. You can review a sample of our content here:

    http://paradigmsanfrancisco.com/blog/

    We would love the opportunity to do a guest post on your blog/site and further develop a collaborative relationship If you are open to it, we would like to send you a very well written and edited article which you could post onto your website. We will never re-use or re-purpose this content. It will be 100% original and unique content produced exclusively for you and your website. We would include a link back to the location that fits best with your location within the article.

    Please let me know if this is something you might be interested in.

    Sincerely,

    Brian Lacy

    you can reach me at:

    brian@sachsmarketinggroup.com

    Reply
  • March 1, 2017 at 9:57 pm
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    Hi Jessica! I just watched your Ted talk on getting things done when you’re depressed. Wow!!! Thank you so much, that was truly inspiring and I can’t wait to forward to a few friends- really great info you shared! ❤️ I also have chronic illness, bi-polar, and an autoimmune disease similar to MS. Question: you mention you use daily goal sheets that you mark with stars, and you also rate tasks 1-3. Do you happen to have a link to those anywhere? Or a way I can see a copy/pic of them? I have been trying to come up with a system or daily goal sheets (and a system to help me remember to take all the supplements I should be taking) and would love to hear more on what kind of sheets/organizing system you use to help get things done. (if you have links or pdf’s.). Thanks so much!

    Reply
  • April 19, 2017 at 8:14 pm
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    Hello! I just watched your video. I felt like we had so much in common when you discussed your diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Then I cried like a baby when I discovered you have MG. I do as well!

    As a doctoral student who had almost the exact same track record (salutatorian, cum laude at a small private university, falling in the middle of the street on the way to class and no one helping me stand up), I just wanted to let you know you are not alone! We are more than this!

    Reply
    • April 19, 2017 at 8:25 pm
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      Wow- Carrie, super encouraging to hear your story. Nice to know I’m not alone although I hate that you have suffered a lot. I was going to go to law school when I got sick at 24 after getting my book published. (that’s a long story but anyway, I recently signed on with a literary agent for my book, which is exciting.) maybe some day, I’ll revisit the idea of grad school – thanks for sharing; keep in touch, Jessica

      Reply
  • April 25, 2017 at 1:08 pm
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    Hey Jessica,

    I just watched your Ted talk and I want to thank you. It was very inspiring. I never thought about how to get things done WHILE I was depressed. I figured I had to get rid of the depression first! You really gave me a new, fresh perspective on life and I look forward to developing my own tools.

    Thanks a lot for your work. You’re awesome.

    Sincerely,
    Todd

    Reply
    • April 25, 2017 at 1:11 pm
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      Hi Todd! Thank you for the thoughtful comments. I have a book coming out on this subject that goes into more depth than I could in a speech. In the meantime, in addition to discovering your own tools (which is wonderful by the way), you can download my free Depression Tool Kit by signing up for my author newsletter at http://www.fashionablyillgift.com. Blessings, Jessica

      Reply
  • May 20, 2017 at 2:29 pm
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    Your story is very powerful and I feel God as blessed me through your efforts , my wife also has major issues of depression and etc and I have wanted her to get tested for Bipolar or whatever to help her find what is wrong etc but she does not want to. Also I have looked into what are the facts that are available to verify what someone does have this or that via the blood work testing, the science and how to know for sure what the problems are. She is also beautiful Filipino who has been published with her research in micro-biology and is pre doctorate. I would like to know how the treatment has been working for you especially after I found the following words from many Doctors and psychologist who clearly say what they do. Just as you will see for yourself if you watch the linked youtube video to here what they say about the treatment of their own patience, It has really caused me to think more about the chemicals and side affects of my wife ever getting treatment for this or that disease if she would be diagnosed with something like bipolar. I believe most all of the Doctors etc treating people are meaning well and are caring loving people and are doing the best they can or know how. I also believe many of the best Doctors and scientist do not believe in a loving Savior and or redeemer of their soul that was sent to this earth 2000+ years ago and was killed and rose from the dead so we can be forgiven and be loved and love each other as we have been shown by his love for us without his help we can not do the will of our creator father, for his will is for us to forgive and to be respectful always to others even in our and through our pain as you I am sure know so well. I would love to know what you think about this 4+ minute video i just found it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4SFyWilyV0

    Reply

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