So last summer and early fall, an MSNBC documentarian followed me for a month and a half. Some people said I was brave for being filmed without makeup. I don’t know; I think Malala is brave. I think that woman in Sudan who was going to be stoned to death is brave. I’ve had surgery without anesthesia, and I’d much rather be filmed without makeup than repeat any of my surgeries. In this short documentary (~5 minutes), you’ll see the following:
- Symptoms of my recurrent bouts of depression and hypomania throughout my life
- My friend D’s suicide when I was 18–This was the catalyst for my bipolar diagnosis. When a mutual friend, Samantha, told me she died, I crumbled to the ground. It was one of only two days in my life when I literally had the wind knocked out of me. The other being last Thursday when I found out Jess died. Jess died of muscular dystrophy; D died of bipolar disorder. (I’m still sorting out my grief, and will probably write about it in my next post.)
- More about how I got a diagnosis of bipolar 2
- The tools I have used to fight bipolar disorder
- Interview with my parents
- Interview with Diane L.S. Lin, Ph.D., who is a Staff Psychologist, at Northwestern University
The documentary begins with my high school commencement address and ends with my college commencement address at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. There were definitely moments when the depression seemed insurmountable. But, thankfully, I graduated from cum laude with two majors. Over time, I developed many tools for dealing with bipolar disorder–I try to share them in this blog. (Note: The documentary does not discuss my other illnesses like the polycystic ovarian syndrome, Myasthenia Gravis, asthma, and psoriasis). In the unedited version, I discuss how these diseases interact with each other–sometimes exacerbating each others symptoms. But from fighting bipolar disorder I also I learned about the importance of faith, resilience, family and friends–all of which have helped me survive the other four illnesses.
What Inspires My Work
Living with this motley crew of illnesses is what inspired me to create this blog. Having worked in mental health nonprofit for years, I knew there were lots of resources addressing the needs of people with mental illness, which is obviously great. However, there was a dearth of resources for people who live with mental and physical pain, particularly 24/7 pain and fatigue. I’m tired all the time. But when I think about D’s suicide, it compels me to keep on going–to speak at mental health conventions when my body is so fatigued. Someone wrote to me last year saying she has five illnesses, similar to mine. She said she wanted to kill herself but this blog convinced her that there was hope. At the same time, I heard from a reader who said my article, The Church, Depression, & Mental Illness: 3 Myths That Need to Go, helped her realize she’d been depressed her whole life (she is in her forties). Because of that article, she decided to get help. These comments came around the twelfth anniversary of D’s death. I know there are a lot of people who think the greatest compliment a woman can receive is, “You’re beautiful.” But, these readers’ words are the nicest compliment any one has ever given me.
My Related Mental Health Articles
–Your Stylist, Jessica Gimeno
LINK TO MSNBC DOCUMENTARY: http://www.asamnews.com/2014/11/14/msnbc-asian-american-women-endure-high-rate-of-depression/
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