Season of Resilience


Season of Resilience

Jessica talks resilience and mental health​

Join hosts Laura Batien and James Anderson as they take over for a special bonus episode of My Story Our Voices, an NIQ DEI podcast, to discuss suicide and mental health with Jessica Arledge.

Woman with flannel shirt holding coffee mug waving to laptop near bookshelf


​Jessica Arledge – Delaware, Ohio, USA

Production Operations Specialist, BASES 

Jessica has been with NielsenIQ for 20 years. Some of her interests include reading and embroidery…and prior to graduate school, fostering cats.​


Whether you have struggled with suicide yourself or have lost a loved one, know that you are not alone.

If you’re concerned about a friend or loved one:

  • Ask someone you are worried about if they’re thinking about suicide. (While people may be hesitant to ask, research shows this is helpful.)​
  • Keep them safe. Reduce access to lethal means for those at risk.​
  • Be there with them. Listen to what they need.​
  • Help them connect with ongoing support.​
  • Stay connected. Follow up to see how they’re doing​

If you are having thoughts of suicide, a mental health professional can help. Connection makes a difference, reach out to someone. ​

Here are a few suggested online resources around the world:​

Country Resources for Suicide Prevention & Aid​

Resources for how you can prevent suicide

Ask twice campaign

More Information on Bipolar Disorder

International Bipolar Foundation


The views and opinions expressed in this podcast belonged to the individuals who shared them and do not necessarily represent Nielsen IQ. Note that this podcast discusses sensitive topics that may be triggering for some. For more information specific to this episode, see the episode description. 

Laura Batien: Hi everyone and welcome to My _____ Story.  My name is Laura Batien and today we are doing things a little bit differently around here.  And the reason things are going to be a little different, in one word, is passion.  Passion drives us to reach for something bigger than ourselves.  Passion is the spark that started this podcast and it is the passion that the podcast team brings to this project that is the inspiration for this bonus episode. The team of editors and producers want to share their stories with you.  So every bonus episode will be about what makes this podcast important and personal to us and why we prioritize Diversity and Inclusion.  So as always, minimize that email tab, mute your chat and take a little break to hear one of our stories. 

Laura Batien: Welcome everybody to My Blank Story. My name is Laura Batien, and my pronouns are she, her, hers. And I’m going to be one of the co-hosts today on this bonus episode. I am a producer and I guess you would say project lead for the podcast crew. My day job is a product developer on CI and I’m excited to be here with James, who’s my co-host. 

James Anderson: Hello there, yes my name is James Anderson. I am also very excited to be here, switching things up a little bit today. My pronouns are he, him and his. I’m an editor on this podcast project and I currently work as an analyst for the Nielsen IQ client success CPG group here in Toronto, Canada, so branching it out, keeping it as international as we can. How are you doing today? 

Laura Batien: Yeah I’m good. I’m just kind of excited to chat with you, chat with our storyteller. Also, I’m kind of a little bit nervous about the topic today, you know. The topic is suicide. It’s a, It’s a delicate topic. And I’m a very empathetic and compassionate person so I always get just get a little bit anxious when talking about these big topics. Because I don’t want to misrepresent anything. I don’t wanna, you know, say the wrong thing or offend anybody so kind of like happy nerves I guess is how I would describe how I am feeling today. But I think it’s important to talk about these tough topics, like suicide because it’s so stigmatized, especially in the workplace. You know you come to work and you’re supposed to be just on, and sometimes that’s just not, just not possible. So I think it’s important that we open up the conversation about it. 

James Anderson: Well, I agree completely. I’m so glad that we’re actually touching on this topic of mental health because I know that just looking back, you know, even through my own family, this stigmatization that you were just mentioning. I think, you know I’m talking about a family member who went through some very serious mental issues like 30-40 years ago. I’m so glad that we now can have a podcast about this that we can talk about these issues that there is this awareness now of mental health out there in the world, but I think what we still need to work on is, and work on for our understanding is an awareness of the impact that mental health and wellness. The magnitude of that in just what you were saying, the way that it affects our everyday lives,  

Laura Batien: Yeah  

James Anderson: I know that my family member that went through this, it took her years to kind of really sort of figure out what was going on. And I think the reason I’m interested in the sort of magnitude and the impact of these things is because I know she ended up feeling, very, that whole thing of what’s wrong with me. She took on the shame and the guilt of you know I’m not like the other family members. They don’t take pills to deal with their issues. They don’t need to see their doctor all the time. They don’t need to check themselves into the psychiatric center when they have a quote, unquote bad spell. There not being support or understanding around – like no one in the family said, you know just you know, give your head a shake and pull yourself up and feel better kind of thing, right? I mean, we know that’s not, that’s not helpful, right? And of course, nobody said that no one, no one was that cruel. But the silence, there was the implied judgment was still kind of there, and I feel like that is something that I think a podcast like this can really help with. To me, that’s what a lot of this growth of awareness is about is really understanding the broader circle. We are all involved in this mental health journey in some kind of way, and if we could just find ways to help each other. I think it will be so great and I hope that’s what will come out of our chat today. 

Laura Batien: I hope so too. Well and the other thing too, as I was like prepping for this podcast, I was thinking about, you know, at NIQ we always say, well, bring your full self to work and I think for me I bring my full self to work, You know it’s about like the good days that you have and you know I think it’s important to let people know that we want everybody on their good days, on the productive days, but will also take you on the bad days or the anxious days. You know, what I mean? And that really is being your full self. Or you know sometimes, you’re just not feeling great. You’re not doing well and to get up at 8:00 AM and turn on that zoom call or the Microsoft Teams call like it can be hard sometimes. And so I think this conversation today it’ll be important just to show people that you know we really, truly do mean we want the full you and all of you and… 

James Anderson: Liza Minelli once said an interview, “If you feel bad, you should just feel bad.” And I think the great thing about that is, you know, it’s kind of that old thing, you know what you resist, persists. So the worst thing we can do is ignore when things are off right? I mean, that’s, that’s also how things go undiagnosed for as long as they do, we sort of push things to the side instead of acknowledging. There’s something powerful in the acknowledgement of what’s going on. I mean, you and I looked into some of the statistics around, particularly suicide, mental health in general, and some of them are just kind of shocking in this day and age. 

Laura Batien: Exactly well, and the other thing is too, mental health in general. I was looking up statistics on mental health, just doing some some research and it was like we don’t really have a good global view of the statistics for mental health, because so much of it is undiagnosed and like in you know, wealthier countries, you probably have a better picture because there’s better support, but in the lower income countries, there is nothing. 

James Anderson: We also looked a little bit at, you know, things like vulnerable groups, you know, like refugees, indigenous people, the LGBTIQ, plus community. We know there are youth helplines in like every city because there has to be in this day and age. I just find it shocking that there are only 38 countries in the world, and there’s about 190 odd countries, only 38 countries report having a national suicide prevention strategy. And that in 20 countries suicide is actually a crime. We talked about stigma before, how does that help anyone’s mental health? 

Laura Batien: And then you layer on top the fact that 700,000 people die by suicide every year. One person dies every 40 seconds. So it’s not like it’s a little problem, like, it’s a big problem. And then only those 38 countries have some sort of support program in place. I mean it just it blows my mind. 

James Anderson: And those statistics are only the people that we know of who have taken their lives. For every one of those, there’s how many who are in that place thinking about it, considering or having unsuccessful attempts. I mean the fact that there aren’t more national prevention strategies, you know.,  it’s quite remarkable. 

Laura Batien: I agree. 

James Anderson: I‘m just thinking that it might be a good time to introduce our guest actually and the story that they’re presenting. So our guest today is Jessica Arledge. She currently lives in Delaware, OH. Her job here with Nielsen IQ is as a production operations specialist and she has been with Nielsen for 20 years. Some of her interests are reading, embroidery and prior to Graduate School, fostering cats. So let’s have a little listen to Jessica’s story. 

Jessica Arledge: When I was 16, I tried to commit suicide. My boyfriend stopped me and that was the first time I was hospitalized. I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder. I was medicated and that caused me to gain 50 pounds in one year. It increased the bullying in high school exponentially, and made it some of the worst times of my life. Fast forward 15 years to an even worse time in my life. My medications were no longer working and I wanted to commit suicide again. I was now diagnosed with bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, and PTSD. I was put on additional medications that caused me to have a complete break with reality. This was not the last time I was hospitalized. Between hospitalizations, I met some wonderful weirdos. They allowed me to really be myself. They were the most diverse group of people I had ever met. And after some really deep thinking I am now identifying as a loud and proud bi polar, bisexual. I was hospitalized again and after my 4th or 5th hospitalization I finally lost count. I found some medications that worked. I have been happier and healthier for the past five years than ever before in my life. I even completed Graduate School and got my MBA. My resilient story boils down to this one little tattoo I have on my wrist. It’s a semi colon and it reminds me daily that my story isn’t over yet. This one little symbol and the support of all the wonderful people in my life helped me to carry on to be the best me. I want to remind people that there is no shame in mental illness or asking for help. There is no shame in taking medications and last of all I want to remind everybody that your story isn’t over yet. 

James Anderson: Thanks so much for sharing your story with us Jessica. We appreciate you opening up about your experiences very much. I’d like to ask a question that kind of starts at the end of your story. I mean the journey is ongoing ’cause life is ongoing, but the end of this story that you’ve told us where you talked about how long it took you to get the proper diagnosis. That sort of changed things for you  and I’m wondering how did that, how did just knowing what was going on. How did that affect you in terms of you know, stigma that you’d felt, self worth, also, the understanding of those around you you know? Was there a sense of relief? I’m just curious to know how it felt in that moment to know? 

Jessica Arledge: It was amazing to be honest. To go so long without a diagnosis, you honestly think you are crazy. Especially as a bipolar person to be, you know, up in the clouds one minute and then just down in the dumps the next. And you’re going through so many mood swings and it just doesn’t make sense. And people look at you funny and address you funny when you’re like that. So, having a diagnosis really helped not only me, but my friends and family because suddenly they’re like, “oh, that explains that”. I did feel a sense of self-worth, but to be honest, when I was diagnosed as bipolar, I was also really scared because there is such a stigma around being bipolar. 

 Laura Batien: I feel like knowledge is power, especially when it comes to your own mental well-being. And it’s such a confusing place to be when you don’t know what’s going on with you and you know, like, you know that something is not right but you just don’t know what’s not right and like how to fix it. And that, that is just tough. One of the questions that I had was about how you were feeling before you attempted suicide. Like I know with my anxiety, I can tell when I’m starting to get anxious. There’s just like this feeling internally that I get and I’m like OK Laura, you need to get a good night’s sleep tonight, you need to like walk the dogs, you like need to take these steps. But this feeling, and I mean nobody else can tell on the outside, but I’m just curious like are there feelings that you get – where you know you’re kind of headed down a bad path? And did those feelings change from when you were 16 to when you were in your your 30s. Has it evolved at all? 

Jessica Arledge: Yeah, you feel out of control, that is how you feel. Well, I felt out of control, I felt hopeless and like nothing would ever be better. And the difference between when I was a teenager and when I was an adult is as a teenager I truly believed that ending it was the right choice to do. That not only would I be doing a favor for myself, but I’d be doing a favor for my family, which is just crazy.  As an adult, I was able to kind of look outside of myself and say “OK, you’re feeling out of control, you’re feeling hopeless – these feelings are not normal and you need to get help”. And two out of three or four times I’ve lost count that I was hospitalized, it was voluntary. Because I knew that if I didn’t get help, I would end up in a bad place. 

Laura Batien: Well, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I am so glad that your ex-boyfriend stopped you when you were 16 and that you recognized, your family recognized that you needed help later on. Very grateful for that, so thank them for me next time you see them. 

James Anderson: If you could go back Jessica and rewrite, you know, so much of this history. What would you, is there anything that you, well, you kind of touched on it just now, but you know with maturity came the ability to notice the flags, right? Is there anything you think you could have done when you were first going through it, or were you just so deeply in the cavern, so to speak, of that place of hopelessness, to know or to do anything about it? 

 Jessica Arledge: I actually knew that I was out of control. If I went back and talked to myself again, my out-of-control self, I think I would ask for help. And in some ways I did ask for help and at the time, the 80s and 90s, you know I asked for therapy when I was 12 years old. And my mother thought I was being melodramatic because that was the stigma at that time in history. And then you know, fast forward four years and it was kind of a slap in the face because suddenly it was like “oh she was asking for help.” That is what I would do. I would be more forceful in asking for help instead of letting go and losing hope. 

 James Anderson: For anyone who might be listening, you mentioned this out of control state, this is something others may feel the same thing. Can you describe a little bit about what defines that for you? 

 Jessica Arledge: For me as bipolar, we do something called rapid cycling. When your medication isn’t right or even your medication can be right and just things happen. And for two hours you will be the most productive person in the world and then two hours you will be the biggest sloth in the world and then two hours you will be angry and two hours you will start the cycle all over again. And that’s when I feel out of control. When my moods are all over the place. You know, to get personal, I take a mood stabilizer so I don’t get out of control. I take an antidepressant so that my lows don’t go so low. I take a medication to help me sleep because sleep is probably the most important medicine in the world. And that’s something I want to stress to everybody, and James, you said this earlier. Medication is not a problem. Medication is not wrong. If medication will help you, take it. You would take medication if you were diabetic. You would take medication if you have psoriasis or eczema. You would take medication if you have heart disease. So why not take medication if you have mental health issues? 

 James Anderson: Do you think that that the notion that the brain is an organ like all of it, where you’re sort of touching on it now. The brain is an organ, and the organ controlling all the other organs. So why we seem to think that it would always fire perfectly, that it’s not allowed to have its own issues – I find that remarkable that we just cannot accept that for some reason. 

Jessica Arledge: Absolutely. 

 Laura Batien: I have another question for you. I know James asked about what you would do differently. Is there anything that you wish those around you had done differently? You know, either when you were 16 when you were in your 30s? 

 Jessica Arledge: When I was 16, I guess I don’t really -I didn’t really expect anything out of my friends and family when I was 16 because of the time and just how new it was. So not only was I learning about myself and my depression – at the time, that’s how I was diagnosed. Not only was I learning about that and I was in, you know, the early stages, but so was my mother. So were you know, some friends. I tried to open up to friends and they blew me off saying if you’d meant it, you would have done it. And that hurt tremendously. But looking back on it, I wouldn’t expect anything different to be honest because of the stigma. Today I would expect support. I would expect a person to not try to tell you that it’s all in your head or you know, try to otherwise rationalize what’s going on because you know something is going on. You don’t need somebody, especially somebody you don’t know trying to do that for you. Validate your concerns. If someone tells you “I need help,” validate those emotions. Don’t blow them off, Because don’t make assumptions. Someone could always be struggling and you’re working with them, and they’re having a horrible day and you just assume the worst. You assume, “Oh, they’re just a lousy worker,” when in truth they’re going through some of the worst times in their life. And then, I have a final note. There’s a campaign called Ask Twice. So we are so ingrained to say, “how are you” and people are ingrained to say “I’m fine.” So the ask twice campaign is encouraging you to like, really ask twice. Like, “how are you?”…”I’m fine”… “but are you really?” – you know? And just kind of dig a little deeper. Not only is it helpful to a person who’s struggling, but it just, it broadens your relationship with people. There are some materials on Degreed that talk about Ask Twice and other ways to talk to your coworkers about mental health. 

 Laura Batien: I have so much to say about what you just said, Jessica. So first, you said something about, “oh, it’s just all in your head.”  And that’s kind of used as like a derogatory saying like – yeah it is in my head and that’s still a problem. You know what I mean? It’s like, oh, it’s just in your head. Well, yeah, and that’s just fine. You know I still need help. 

 James Anderson: That’s the point. 

 Jessica Arledge: That’s the definition of mental health. It’s in my head, I get that. Let’s move on. 

 Laura Batien: Exactly, it’s not helpful. Thank you, I’ve identified the place where the problem is now let’s actually like figure this out. And then the other thing is the Ask Twice and I’ve been trying to like be more truthful when somebody asks me “How are you?” The other day I was on a call somebody asking how I was and I was like “honestly, I’m a little bit irritated because I’m dealing with this problem and it shouldn’t be a problem that I have to deal with.” And I think just being honest and open when you’re the one responding kind of helps others to open up too. 

 Jessica Arledge: No, I agree, totally. Honesty is the best policy – to be cliche. 

 James Anderson: I would just say on that particular note, honesty, that was, I think, having watched my family member, it was my mother actually who went through all of that stuff. And having watched her sort of quote unquote, suffer in silence. When I went through my own anxiety and OCD blow up I like to call it. Where I became a checker. I had a stressful moment in my life that sort of tipped over the edge and it took me 2 hours to leave the apartment. Because all I saw in my head was flames as all the building burning down and it was all my fault, other people in the building getting like, you know, all that stuff firing in your brain. That may not be rational, but that’s it misfiring. And I told people – I said I’m not, I’m not going to suffer like my mother did in silence. I’m going to let my, at least my close people know. Because I was showing up late for movies, I was showing up late for work. I mean, this is the thing, you know, these kinds of things, I mean, it might be happening upstairs, but it affects every aspect of your life. Your work life, your personal relationships, everything. So your freedom comes, I think in to some degree in in disclosure as well. If you are lucky enough to have those words to use. 

 Laura Batien: Well we were talking about that, I forget Jessica was on the prep session or James was our prep session. But on some prep session we were talking about, you know the burden that you carry. Trying to like you know, just deal with your mental health issue, whether it be anxiety, depression, whatever. But then you also have this extra burden of trying to hide it. Because it’s so stigmatized and you don’t want anybody to know, you want to like put your happy face on and pretend like everything is fine. And just being able to talk about it and disclose it and you know it lifts at least one of the burdens and it can just be, like you said James, really freeing. 

 Jessica Arledge: This is cathartic. As James said, my close friends and family – they know my history, they know my struggles. It’s not something that I’ve purposely hidden. But I’m sure that I have hidden some of my emotions and to talk about it so openly right now it is, it’s just cathartic to get rid of that burden – as you called it, Laura. 

 Laura Batien: Well, and to now I don’t think we mentioned, but Jessica is a producer on this podcast, but now we know like, OK, if Jessica is having a bad day like we know like what it could be, we know to check in. We know you know to do all of those things. If there’s other things you want us to do Jessica please let us know. But now we know you know, and I think that is that’s just helpful for everybody. Like a better understanding of who we are. Who each other are. 

 Jessica Arledge: One thing I would I want to talk about is my wonderful weirdos. They’re not…I guess they’re weird. I don’t know – I mean, to me they’re not. But at the time they were because they were so diverse and different from anything I had experienced to that time in my life. When, I guess I was in my early twenties. And they became family. You know you have the family that you are given and then you have the family that you choose. OR that chooses you. And they were some of the best supporters throughout those years when I was undiagnosed. And my wonderful weirdos meant so much. They were my support system. I was able to share with them all of my trials and tribulations and there was no judgment. That’s what support really needs to be about is no judgment.  

James Anderson: How are you today? 

 Jessica Arledge: I am doing great to be honest. I found a really good cocktail of pharmaceuticals that help me every day. And I am grateful for the doctors and the nurse practitioners and everybody and myself that has helped me find this combination It’s kept me healthier and happier than I’ve ever been in my life. I got through graduate school, I don’t think I could have done that 10 years ago. I’m just healthier and happier than I ever have been in my life. Hitting 40 really helped, because I never thought I would make it to 40 and when I did, I realized all that crap before didn’t matter. It was about the here and now that mattered. 

 Laura Batien: That’s beautiful, love it. All right, well I feel like this is a very productive conversation, discussion. And Jessica thank you for sharing, and know that this is such a sensitive topic and you’ve really opened yourself up. We truly appreciate it. Your story’s been super inspiring. And we just want to thank you for sharing. 

 James Anderson: Yes, thank you so much for sharing your story Jessica. We really appreciate it. 

 Jessica Arledge: Thank you, I really like I said it was cathartic and I appreciate everyone listening and I’m going to add one more note. I just hope that there’s one person out there that listens to this and knows that there’s hope. 

 James Anderson: And that their story is not over. 

 Jessica Arledge: Yes, Oh yes, their story is not over. 

 Jessica Arledge: So the ask twice campaign is encouraging you to like really ask twice.  Like – “How are you?” “I’m fine.” “But are you really?” 

James Anderson: We are all involved in this mental health journey in some kind of way. And if we could just find ways to help each other, I think it will be so great and I hope that’s what will come out of our chat today. 

 Jessica Arledge: I want to remind people that there is no shame in mental illness or asking for help. There is no shame in taking medications. 

 Laura Batien: Hey all, it’s Laura again. We hope you enjoyed this episode of My Blank Story. Tune in next month to hear more stories from the NielsenIQ community.