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Bipolar fashionista opens up about the common challenge of her mental illness

Elise Solé
Ban.do founder Jen Gotch shared a very honest Instagram post about her mental health. (Photo: Getty Images)

Fashion blogger and Ban.do founder Jen Gotch made a super-honest announcement about her mental health, revealing to her followers that she’s feeling better, with the help of medication.

Gotch, 46, is the creator of LA-based fashion brand Ban.do (pronounced bandeau), a fashion and lifestyle brand that sells everything from rainbow doormats to sparkly earrings, and glitter-bomb phone cases. Despite her impressive boss lady gig, she’s humble and relatable on her massive Instagram platform of 170K followers.

On Friday, Gotch posted a photo of herself holding a tiny pill and penned a personal post. “23 years ago when I was 23 a doctor gave me Prozac,” Gotch wrote. “He was trying to help. I was in a very dark place in my mind and at that particular time if you were sad and didn’t hear voices you pretty much got Prozac. I felt better after I took it for quite a while and then I felt worse. A lot worse. I went into therapy and over many years met with 6 other doctors as they all tried a ton of different drug cocktails to get me to a place where I could actually function. No one got it right. It was a scary, uncertain, lonely time for me. I felt misunderstood by everyone around me including the doctors that I was paying to help me, and that was incredibly alienating. Then a lightbulb. What if I was actually Bipolar and not just Depressed?”


She continued,I saw a new Doctor, he confirmed the diagnosis that my therapist and I thought and prescribed a two drug combination that changed my life. CHANGED MY LIFE!!! I stayed on those drugs for about 10 years. I got myself together. I got married, I started a company and then I stopped taking the drugs. It was an accident – I went on a 5 day trip and forgot them- but I felt fine so. . . I stopped. I felt fine for years. I was convinced my brain chemistry had changed and I could manage, but this is a common trap for people with mental illness and I fell right in.”

Gotch says it was only recently that “I realized I wasn’t ok and I was just scared and prideful and ashamed that I hadn’t miraculously risen above it. That I hadn’t evolved beyond my physiology. I’m still suffering. So I’m starting to take medicine for it again. I wanted you to know because you have supported me and encouraged me and helped me realize what was going on and that it was ok.”


Over the summer, Instagram influencer Aimee Song made a related announcement in a YouTube video that rocked her fans. “The hardest thing about being a blogger or having my life out there is to always pretend like I’m happy — I actually don’t feel so happy,” she said in the footage, adding, “I fake [confidence] all the time,” she says. “Especially lately I feel even more sad when I’m around people because everyone’s life seems so perfect — but then again I realize that’s probably what you guys think about my life.”

In an interview with Yahoo Lifestyle, Song said, “I feel like I’m supposed to be that ‘happy person’ in the group, and from the outside, my life seems great, but I was broken inside and felt like I needed to share. I always put up a front and try to be positive and strong, but sometimes that makes it even more painful.”

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