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Jessie Close  

Mental Health Advocate & Sister of Actress Glenn Close

Jessie Close, like so many other people who have bipolar disorder, didn't find out that she had the condition until she was in her mid-40s. Her sister, actress Glenn Close, says that for many years, she and other family members knew that something "wasn't right" with Jessie, but they chalked it up to Jessie's personality. "We would think, ‘Well, she's kind of the wild one, you know. She can't settle down, she can't go to school, she has millions of boyfriends, she changes cars on a regular basis. That's Jess.'"

There was a family history of depression and alcoholism, and at an early age, Jessie attempted suicide. At the time, the Close family didn't have the knowledge or insight to understand that the issue was related to a mental health condition.

One summer, Jessie was in a severe depression. The family was all together, and Jessie finally said, "I need help." That was the turning point in her recovery. She received the diagnosis of bipolar disorder and began treatment. Of the medications she takes, she says, "They changed me from being an easily confused, paranoid person, into being able, today, to finish up my second novel."

Jessie and her sister Glenn have made the brave choice to go public with their experience dealing with a mental health condition, in the hope that they will inspire others to find the strength to "come out" with their own stories as well. They are dedicated to educating the public about mental health conditions and encourage visitors to their Web site, BringChange2Mind.org, to access helpful information and resources and to view videos that demonstrate real-life success stories. Jessie also published a book in 2015 titled, "Resilience: Two Sisters and a Story of Mental Illness," detailing her journey.

Going public about living with bipolar disorder has changed Jessie's outlook on life. "It allowed me to face stigma straight on. I'm less likely to feel embarrassed or ashamed when I tell someone I have bipolar disorder." She also hopes that greater awareness will increase funding for research. "Because the medications are so imperative," she says, "research for new, more targeted medications is very, very important."

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