Health Activist, Writer, Speaker
Jessica is a warrior who fights five illnesses daily: bipolar II, polycystic ovarian syndrome, asthma, psoriasis, and the neuromuscular autoimmune disease Myasthenia Gravis (MG). This blog, Fashionably ill: The Sick Woman’s Stylist (http://jessicagimeno.com) helps people survive chronic illness with style and humor. Fashionably Ill is about helping sick women feel confident despite changes in their appearance. It is inspired by Jessica’s experience surviving MG at 24 (after being given a 50/50 chance of living) and gaining 10 dress sizes in two years. She is also inspired by the cancer survivors in her family. With tips on style, mental health, and advice for loved ones, Fashionably Ill is a community for people of ALL illnesses.
One of her goals is to give more makeovers–Jessica has given makeovers to women with illnesses like cancer, MS, fibromyalgia, and PCOS, among others. She is currently filming a pilot for a makeover TV show–if picked up, the show would allow Jessica to give more makeovers. Fashionably ill also helps people who live with both mental illness and chronic pain diseases. While working in mental health nonprofit, Jessica found a dearth of resources for people with mood disorders who also have physical pain.
Jessica has guest blogged for WEGO, led a WEGO Twitter Healthchat, and participated in WEGO’s National Health Blog Post Month. In 2016, Jessica won Health Activist Hero in the 5th Annual WEGO Health Awards. In 2015, Fashionably ill won a Liebster Award. Psych Central named Jessica a 2014 Mental Health Hero.
Jessica also writes for The Huffington Post and Ask a Bipolar. She has appeared on numerous HuffPost Live segments. Jessica has spoken at conventions for organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness and eXl Pharma. She won 2nd Prize in the National Council of Community Behavioral Healthcare’s Awards of Excellence. In her two years at The Balanced Mind Foundation, she wrote/hosted the mental health blog & podcast Flipswitch. Flipswitch saw a 397% increase in readers—netting 6,000 visits a month. She wrote and hosted over 100 articles and podcasts, which showcased tools for surviving depression and bipolar disorder. Jessica also interviewed dozens of people who successfully manage diseases like: Bipolar, Depression, ADHD, OCD, and Schizophrenia. Jessica’s article, “Three Words Everyone with Mental Illness Should Know,” was published on the White House’s mental health website. She was also selected to be part of the White House’s “Stories of Hope and Recovery” mental health campaign; other people in the campaign include Glenn Close and Demi Lovato. Last year, Jessica gave a TEDx talk at the National Museum of Mexican Art called, “How to Get Stuff Done When You’re Depressed.” Jessica has a book coming out on the same subject as her TEDx Talk, which recently surpassed 250,000 views. Since 2014, Jessica has been working with Rutgers University and the University of Massachusetts Medical School on developing a manual that will help young adults with severe mental illness find meaningful employment.
Jessica graduated cum laude from Northwestern University with two majors, and won 20 titles for their Speech Team. Motivated by a friend’s suicide, she spoke to hundreds of students about stigma and helped thirty students get psychiatric help. In addition to her health activist work, Jessica coaches high school debate. She has previously coached Extemporaneous Speaking and Mock Trial. Two of her former students won State and National Championship titles in Extemporaneous Speaking; six of her former students won ten top honors at the Illinois State Bar Association’s state championship. In her free time, Jessica is a diehard New Kids on the Block fan who enjoys Pilates, painting, and playing with her nieces and nephews.
NBC News did an extensive feature on Jessica’s life and advocacy work in May 2016. She has also been featured in Health Central, BuzzFeed, everydayHEALTH, and Health Stories. Jessica has also been published in The Mighty.
Join Jessica’s 4th Annual Online New Year’s Eve Party!
Every year, Jessica hosts online parties on New Year’s Eve and the 4th of July when Sci-Fi airs their legendary Twilight Zone marathons. The first party was on New Year’s Eve of 2013–after spending many holidays alone due to chronic pain, compromised immunity due to autoimmune diseases, and bedtimes dictated by bipolar disorder, Jessica wanted to do something so no one would have to be alone on New Year’s Eve. Since then, she has hosted six holiday parties on Facebook. At one New Year’s Eve party, 250 guests attended from around the world including Anne Serling, the daughter of TZ producer, Rod Serling. Even people without cable can attend–episodes are posted on Facebook on the party page. Interested in attending this year’s New Year’s Eve party? Stay up to date by joining the Twilight Zone Posse HERE on Facebook.
MSNBC also did a mini-documentary focused on Jessica’s life and mental health. You can watch below: