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.
Tomorrow, (if I have energy), I’ll be answering the next #HAWMC question.
–Your Stylist, Jessica Gimeno