Jessica Lynn Gimeno Mental Health Hero #mhmonth2014
I am a mental health blogger, speaker, and advocate. My passion for helping people with mental illnesses (especially young adults) was born out of tragedy. When I was 18-years old, my friend “Dina,” who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, completed suicide. She was the only person who “got” me. After her death, I researched bipolar disorder and realized I had half the symptoms: crying spells, sleepless nights, and inexplicable depression and hypomania. On my own, I saw the campus psychiatrist who diagnosed me with Bipolar II. I also got a second opinion, which confirmed the diagnosis. The diagnosis was a relief after years of fighting a nameless, faceless enemy. It was the beginning of hope.
Tools I Used to Fight Bipolar Disorder
I found many tools for fighting bipolar disorder: prescribed medication, therapy, faith, and a great support network of family and friends. I graduated cum laude from Northwestern University with two majors. I also won twenty titles for Northwestern University’s renowned Speech Team. During college, I co-founded a depression support network. I talked to hundreds of students about mental illness and personally helped thirty of them get psychiatric help for themselves or friends.
My Life Today
Fighting bipolar disorder taught me how to fight other trials. When I was 19, I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome. At 24, I was diagnosed and hospitalized for Myasthenia Gravis, a neuromuscular autoimmune disease. At the time, doctors gave me a 50/50 shot of beating MG years ago. Everyday I wake up in pain. But I put on my Rocky boxing gloves, play Eye of the Tiger, and pray for strength.
For two years, I hosted Flipswitch (a mental health podcast and blog for young adults) when I worked at The Balanced Mind Foundation (now a program of DBSA). When I took over, Flipswitch saw a 397% increase in readers and I won Second Prize in the National Council of Community Behavioral Healthcare’s 2012 Awards of Excellence. I have spoken at national conventions for the National Council and NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness). I’ve participated in the White House’s National Dialogue on Mental Health. My blog, Fashionably ill: The Sick Woman’s Stylist, is about surviving pain with style and humor. I also write for Ask a Bipolar; readers anonymously submit questions on bipolar disorder. I was a Finalist in the 2013 WEGO Awards for Best in Show Blog and Health Activist Hero.
Helping Students with Mental Illness
In addition to my nonprofit work, I have worked as an education consultant helping high school students get into college. Today, I coach high school debate. I am also working with Rutgers and University of Massachusetts’ Medical School’s as we develop a program to help young adults with severe mental illness finish school and find meaningful employment. I am searching for a publisher for the book I wrote to help students with depression and bipolar disorder finish school.
Stewart, C. (2014). Jessica Lynn Gimeno Mental Health Hero #mhmonth2014. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 20, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/humor/2014/05/jessica-lynn-gimeno-mental-health-hero-mhmonth2014/