5 Things I Learned In The Dark

crying wallpaper (8)This week, I was diagnosed with allergic conjunctivitis, which has exacerbated my eyes’ sensitivity to light.   I have spent many hours in the dark this week; I even wore shades to work.  Before my cousin Erika (a doctor who was Chief Resident) examined me Thursday, my mom said she just wanted to remind me that my Lola (grandmother) lost her tear ducts.  She also reminded me about an accident that happened to my aunt fifty years ago.   Like me, my aunt was prescribed artificial tear drops.  However, the pharmacist gave her medication for a horse!  Her eyeballs turned upside down.   It was like something out of The Exorcist.

As soon as my left eye started to change, my mom asked me if I had had an accident again.  Nine years ago, I was walking down the street on a sunny day when a gust of wind came and blew a piece of glass into my eye, which scratched my cornea three times.  Just in case I have forgotten one of the most painful things I’ve ever experienced, my mom wanted to remind me.  I assured her that if I had such an accident,  I would be curled into a ball crying like Nancy Kerrigan after Tonya Harding’s boyfriend (or whoever it was) struck Nancy’s knee.

Blessed To Have Doctors in the Family

This reminds of a time five years ago before I had a thymectomy and my best friend Ron asked me if I had heard of stories of patients who were wide awake during surgery.  I told him I was aware of those stories but hadn’t thought of it happening to me until he reminded me.  My mom and Ron should not be motivational speakers.  I was relieved after  Erika examined me; she has helped me through so many emergencies related to my neuromuscular autoimmune disease, Myasthenia Gravis.  Having a top doctor examine me is better than waiting six hours in the ER only to be treated by someone who cannot spell Myasthenia or treats me like I’m a liar.  You know, because I have bipolar disorder and obviously, bipolar = dishonest/crazy/incompetent.

5 Lessons I Learned in the Dark:

Music is important–There’s power in music.  Listening to music has been critical through surviving these moments, which were literally and emotionally dark.

Laughter is critical–Laughter is vital in surviving pain.  I listened to a lot of Chris Rock and it brought me back to those days when I was bedridden for over a year and I watched Chris Rock, Katt Williams, and I Love Lucy.  The physical act of laughter produces endorphins, “the feel good hormones,” which help us fight stress and depression.

You can live without constant social media–I learned to turn off the TV and not check my phone and email fifty times a day.

We need to remember how to talk–Social media is a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, it brings people together from all over the world like Fashionably ill’s Facebook page and Twitter account.  This is so important for people with illnesses and disabilities.  However, many friends texted and emailed me.  I didn’t have any phone conversations because our interpersonal and verbal communications as a society have been stunted.

Always triple-check the pharmacist’s medication–Make sure it’s not for a horse.  (Okay, that last lesson is specifically for me and the women in my family.)

I’m off to return to the dark.  The prognosis is good; my eyes should return to normal in two weeks.

–Your Stylist, Jessica Gimeno 


Hi there! I am a patient advocate, writer, and public speaker most well known for my TEDx Talk, “How to Get Stuff Done When You Are Depressed.” As someone who is juggling 5 illnesses: bipolar 2, myasthenia gravis, endometriosis, psoriasis, and asthma, I’m passionate about helping people who navigate life with both chronic physical & emotional pain. If you’re interested in hiring me to speak at your event, check out the CONTACT tab.

4 thoughts on “5 Things I Learned In The Dark

  • November 8, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    Great insight Jessica! (no pun intended!) A sense of humor is very important…I was at an eye specialist a couple of years back and he was so rude and arrogant. He asked me what meds I was on, so I told him…he said that there were no such medications and said that I was an idiot. So I pulled the pill bottles out of my purse and handed them to him. He asked me what I had, I replied, ‘enough of you and your attitude’. The medication was for MS…anyway, I went to my family dr. who said I had iritis, got drops, and was on my way 🙂

    • November 8, 2014 at 9:48 pm

      Ann, thanks for sharing! Love your response–it’s hard to think of the right words at the right time especially when you’re insulted. My faith has sustained my family through all of our health problems (my aunt got stage 3 cancer the year I got MG and then the next year she got breast cancer) but a sense of humor has anchored us. So nice to meet you.

  • August 28, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    Happy to hear the prognosis is good. Katt williams is hilarious. I love him. Why is my comment in all caps!?

    • August 28, 2015 at 1:40 pm

      Hi Jason! Don’t worry; your comment isn’t in all caps. 🙂 Glad to find another Katt fan.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *