Couture: My Resilience, Memory, & Creativity

Gosh I’m so tired today, the day after Thanksgiving.  To think, I spent half of it in bed watching AMC’s Godfather Marathon.  Continuing my daily blogging for WEGO’s National Health Blog Post Month, I’m answering the following question:

Toot that Horn!
  Want to hear a secret? You’re awesome. (It’s actually not even really a secret). This is going to be hard for you, O Modest One, but you gotta give yourself props today! Write three things you love about yourself – things you’re great at – or just want to share.  Don’t you dare signpost or undercut those self-compliments! 

1)    Resilience:  One thing I learned from graduating from Northwestern University with two majors despite fighting Bipolar II and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) was that I could do anything with faith, support, and hard work.  While I currently don’t struggle with bipolar mood swings often, the resilience I developed fighting the disease has prepared me for fighting Myasthenia Gravis, MG, a neuromuscular autoimmune disease.  When I was in college and I’d get depressed, I would pray to God for help.  If that didn’t work, I’d recite Bible verses.  If that didn’t get me out of bed, I would call a friend for help.  It can be hard to ask others for support because it makes us feel emotionally naked but I forced myself to do .  I learned that having a friend hearing me cry over the phone wasn’t anything to be ashamed of, and that having someone just listen to you can be powerful.  And finally, if that didn’t get me out of bed, I would watch different scenes from the Rocky franchise.  Whenever Rocky got down and prayed before every fight, I too would pray for strength to go on.  One of those steps would get me out of bed, and remind me that the depression was not greater than I am.   photo-9Today I rely on many of these tools for surviving the pain of PCOS and MG, a veritable “double whammy.”  Like Rocky, I get knocked down but I never stay down.  Many days when the pain and fatigue are overwhelming, I put on my Rocky gloves and pray for strength to endure.

2)    Great Memory:  One asset I’ve always had is the ability to memorize large amounts of information, which is basically what half of school is.   This has helped me in my public speaking, especially competing in Extemporaneous Speaking high school and college.  In one round, I would get asked a question about any one of 900 topics pertaining to domestic politics, foreign policy, and economics.  I won forty titles in high school and college.  The most important thing my memory has done for me is act as a buffer to medications that cause memory loss—I was on a med for MG, which is linked to memory loss, for five years.  Without my memory, I wouldn’t be able to keep track of my nine medications (twelve before Reliv).   It’s hard not to make the occasional mistake since half my pills are white and round.  I honestly don’t know the Duggars keep track of their twenty children; it’s hard enough to memorize the names of a dozen medications.  (Below you can see a montage of three speeches I gave in the past: 9-11 memorial, high school commencement address, Northwestern commencement address.)

3)    Creativity:   Between 2008 and 2010, my face and body changed.  I gained ten dress sizes; thank you Prednisone!  At first, it was discouraging.  No one had any answers for me.  For three years, I took meticulous notes on makeup and fashion—what works and what doesn’t work.  Through my sickness, my knowledge of style and makeup grew by leaps and bounds.  Then I started this blog last year as a means of helping other sick women.  I’ve learned to embrace changes in me—including surgery scars—that I once hated.  Last year, I gave my first head-to-toe makeover to a woman with Multiple Sclerosis, Fibromyalgia, PCOS, and Diabetes.  After twenty hears of chronic illness, she lost her self-esteem, an all too common story.  My dream is to give makeovers to other chronically ill women.   

nhbmp-logo-300x83Stay tuned tomorrow as I continue blogging for WEGO’s challenge.  Join the Fashionably Ill community at our new Facebook page here 

 –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.

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