Reflecting on the Past Month’s Challenge (#HAWMC)

imgres-3You did it! You’ve crossed the #HAWMC finish line. Recap the past month for us. What did you enjoy, what didn’t you enjoy? Favorite prompt?  WOW! I can’t believe it’s over but I enjoyed meeting other bloggers and new readers during WEGO’s Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge. I’ll recap the three most popular prompts and articles during April’s challenge and lessons learned.

#1: Every Woman Has Screamed in a Dressing Room/Jeans

This month I gave a makeover I was giving to a mom who has six illnesses. One of the major principles we discussed is how to find the right jeans. Many women I’ve made over in the past have told me it’s “impossible” to find a good pair of jeans—in all cases, I’ve found them flattering denim. BmGac8BIUAARDPYThe article, “6 Tips: How to Wear Jeans While You’re Gaining Weight”, was the most popular article during #HAWMC. The average person sees 200 ads per day—many of them are weight loss ads, which make weight loss appear easier than it is. I wanted to write something for people who face common obstacles like medication, treatment, being bedridden, and genetics.

#2: Suffering: Atheists and People of Faith Have Some Things in Common

I had two memorable conversations that inspired me to write, “Listening Speaks Volumes.” I wrote about the tendency of some people to preach at sick people—things like: you wouldn’t be sick if you prayed harder or had more faith. This article struck a chord with many people—half the readers being are self-described Atheists who thanked me for writing it. Interestingly, the other half of readers who gave positive feedback are self-described Christians. Despite our differences, we have two things in common: 1) Everyone wants to be heard and 2) We’re all capable of empathy.

#3: Three Tips for Dealing with Mental Health Discrimination When it Prevents Diagnosis and Treatment of Physical Pain

Many of my readers have similar stories like the one I shared—mental health discrimination almost killed me. As I blogged about in, “You’re Just Stressed Out; Dismissing Pain as Fake,” because of my bipolar diagnosis, my primary physician didn’t take me seriously.   Even though I developed all of the symptoms of Myasthenia Gravis (neuromuscular autoimmune disease), she kept telling me I was “stressed out.” The last straw was when I fell down a long flight of stairs at work because I couldn’t feel anything below my waist.

During this week’s talk on YouTube in WEGO’s Health Activist Roundtable #4 (recording here), I was asked for tips for dealing with bigoted healthcare professionals. My tips are this: 1) Be persistent: I insisted on seeing a neurologist despite my primary telling me my symptoms were all in my head. The neuro diagnosed me immediately.A few days after diagnosis, I was in critical condition. But I was treated. Despite being given a 50/50 shot of living, I’m still here…six years later. 2) It’s not your job to change your doctor: If you meet a physician who treats you like crap because you have a mental illness, find someone else. I have a great neurologist today that I’ve been seeing for four years. When people tell me about bigotry, I tell them: It’s your job to do whatever it takes to stay alive—not to change someone. I have never met an ignorant physician who changed his/her views on people with mental illnesses. 3) Be discriminating in sharing information: I recently started physical therapy. This is the most helpful I’ve felt about my autoimmune disease in years. Still, I have no idea what my PT’s views on mental illness are. He does not prescribe me medication. I have not shared my bipolar diagnosis because I run the risk of him dismissing my pain as imaginary. Been there.  Done that. Not a fan of reruns…at least, not in my life.

–Your Stylist, Jessica Gimeno

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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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