Jessica Whitaker is a writer, photographer, and mother from Southern California. She has lived with mental health conditions and substance abuse since she was a child, and she finally found answers with a dual diagnosis of borderline personality disorder and bipolar II disorder. Through years of hard work; a communicative relationship with her psychiatrist; and many, many failures and successes, Jessica has learned how to monitor her behaviors and become self-aware not only to manage her symptoms but also to flourish in all areas of her life. She was able to achieve sobriety in 2017 and has persevered—continuing to run a successful photography and cinematography business.
Jessica offers workshops and speeches on how to manage bipolar and borderline disorders. Her wisdom is born of experience, and it involves a process and discipline that is unique and importantly very gentle for those who would be curious to try. Jessica’s ideas also show how the wisdom of lived experience can and should only be passed from one sufferer to another, from one victor to another person who seeks victory.
In other words, don’t learn this to implement this. Leave that to the professionals and to those who are managing symptoms daily!
Jessica’s success included work with a highly skilled therapist, as should anyone attempting to incorporate Jessica’s ideas into their own healing. However, for family and friends and pastoral ministers, Jessica’s article reinforces the creative and very smart abilities of anyone diagnosed with any mental illness–and offer inspiration for looking past a diagnosis to see someone brave and able to manage the symptoms and thrive!
Here’s a great introduction to how Jessica identified and challenged the core beliefs that exacerbated reactions that kicked off and fueled her unhealthy bouts with mental illness from her article Trust, Bipolar Disorder, and Self-Love. We recommend you read the whole article, but here’s an excerpt with practical wisdom:
I learned that I internalize almost everything, and that fueled my insecurities and resistance to trust others. Things that may seem small and insignificant to most people can cause a monstrous and catastrophic amount of hurt and pain to those suffering with any mood disorder…. It is perfectly okay for your partner to take a time out, or for your sister to tell you she can’t talk right at that moment. But, because I internalized these seeming-slights so deeply, they would go on to feed my mistaken core belief that I am not worthy of love.