Breaking News! #HAWMC

Breaking News!
Breaking News!

It’s Day 5 of WEGO’s Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge.  And today’s question is:

Breaking News  The top story of today is…YOU. Share with your readers your proudest accomplishments in the last 5 years. Don’t be shy, tell us everything! #HAWMC

Fatigue: The Enemy of Productivity

I live with bipolar disorder, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), Myasthenia Gravis (MG), asthma, and psoriasis.  This is as fun as you think it would be.  Everyday, I fight constant fatigue (from the MG) and pain (from MG and PCOS) and occasionally, depressive episodes due to bipolar disorder.  MG almost killed me in 2008, the year I was diagnosed.  After a long detour in my life, I finally got back to mental health nonprofit work.

Between 2011 and 2013, I worked for a mental health nonprofit that helped families with children and young adults that have bipolar disorder and depression.  It was a 9 to 5 job.  I had an accommodation where I could rest for one hour a day with my CPAP machine.  Instead of having a lunch break, I’d eat at my desk.  (See “4 Tips for Working With Illness.”)  Still, everyday, I’d have a moment (usually around noon) where I went to the bathroom and said, “Jesus, help me.  I’m so tired.  I’m not sure if I can make it through the day…Okay, I can do this.”  Then, I’d look in the mirror and see that my makeup still looked great (yay, primer), and it would give me a psychological boost.  Apart from believing in the cause (I once lost a friend to suicide), I also worked because I was denied SSI disability three times.  Being productive whilst being sick is both a miracle and an accomplishment.

My Biggest Accomplishments In the Past 5 Years

  • When I took over the mental health podcast and blog for young adults, Flipswitch, ratings rose by 397%.  I was averaging 6,000 hits per month.
  • I won Second Prize in the National Council of Community Behavioral Healthcare’s Awards of Excellence in 2012.
  • I was a Finalist in the WEGO Health Activist Awards last year and this year.  (Thank you, readers, for nominating me and voting for me.)
  • Psych Central named me a Mental Health Hero in 2014.
  • I started writing for The Huffington Post last November.  I am currently working on my third article, which is about beauty and disability.
  • MSNBC did a short documentary on my life.
  • Most of my former students keep in touch with me.  I have coached high school mock trial and debate.  While many of my students have won top honors at State Championships, the greatest joy is the relationships formed.  Students will often send me text messages, emails, or Facebook messages updating me on their lives–what grades they’re getting in college, their activities, or just saying “thank you” for teaching them.
  • This blog.  I am tired when I write most of my articles.  I started this website from scratch in 2012 and I’m not the most technologically advanced person.  (Just ask my teenage nephews.)

My Greatest Accomplishment

One of my best friends, Brittany, and I went to Northwestern together.  She’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met.  With regards to my illness and the uncertainty of my future:

Brittany told me a few years ago, “I graduated summa cum laude.  You were cum laude. Your greatest accomplishment in life is being alive and surviving Myasthenia Gravis and all your illnesses.  There’s nothing else that you have done or could do that is greater than that.”

Oftentimes, fatigue and pain get in the way of my goals.   Indeed, sometimes it’s as if my schedule is held hostage by illnesses.   I only have two goals in life.  And sometimes, I worry if I will live long enough to accomplish them.  When the uncertainty of it all taunts me, I try to remember Brittany’s wise words.

Stay Tuned!

Tomorrow, (if I have energy), I’ll be answering the next #HAWMC question.

–Your Stylist, Jessica Gimeno

 

JessicaGimeno

Hi, I have five illnesses--bipolar disorder, myasthenia gravis (neuromuscular autoimmune disease), polycystic ovarian syndrome, asthma, and psoriasis. Most of the organs in my body are affected. I'm dedicated to being a stylist for sick women. As someone who has experienced changes in my appearance due to my 12 meds (including Prednisone), I know how hard it can be when your face and body change overnight. (In fact, because of treatment, between 2008 to 2010, I went from a size 0 to a size 10. While I lost the weight, there are permanent changes in my face and body, which I've grown to appreciate.) My blog will also help women deal with other issues like surviving chronic pain and fatigue. Healthy people can also use this blog as a window into what life with illness is like. Let this website be a place where we can draw strength from each other despite our illnesses and find solutions to our everyday challenges!

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