Welcome to another post on Celebrities with Bipolar Disorder. These stories are motivational because it shows you how bipolar doesn’t have to slow you down. It doesn’t have to stop you from conquering your goals. The celebrities I write about in these posts have either been recently diagnosed or been living with bipolar for several years. But, they have found ways to use their diagnosis to help others and push harder to conquer their dreams. I want you to do the same by using these stories as inspiration.
Today, we’ll be exploring AJ Mendez, or better known as AJ Lee. She is an American author and retired professional wrestler. She was diagnosed with bipolar in her early twenties. She had previously experienced adverse effects from a misdiagnosis of depression and overdosed on antidepressants and painkillers.
She is now an advocate for mental health working on increasing awareness.
AJ Mendez – Professional Wrestler, and American Author
AJ Mendez was born on March 19th, 1987, in Union City, NJ. She has three older brothers who loved professional wrestling so stated they influenced her decision to become a professional wrestler. Mendez said that her family was very poor and often struggled to make ends meet. They struggled with poverty, mental illness, and drug addiction.
In 2005, Mendez graduated from Memorial High School, then enrolled in New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in New York City. She wanted to major in film and television production, but couldn’t complete her education because of financial issues so dropped out after 6 months. Afterward, Mendez decided to work full-time so she would be able to afford wrestling training.
Mendez enrolled in wrestling school near her home, and in September 2009, she started to wrestle in an independent circuit. Around this same time, she joined the New Jersey promotion company Women Superstars Uncensored. After two years of wrestling with this promotion company, Mendez set her sights on joining the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) company so left the New Jersey-based company. At this point, she was free to move around and find other opportunities. Her next stop was Florida Championship Wrestling which is WWE’s development territory where you spend time perfecting your skills.
In February 2010, AJ won the Queen of FCW title. A few months later, AJ was eliminated from a tournament which determined the inaugural FCW Divas Champion.
AJ Mendez made her main WWE debut in 2011 on an episode of SmackDown. She wrestled using the name AJ Lee, and was part of a tag team known as “The Chickbusters”. Mendez continued to hone her skills and won her first professional singles match in June of the same year. In late July, Mendez began a brief storyline on NXT Redemption as the girlfriend of fellow wrestler Hornswoggle. After several losses when fighting in tag-team matches, Mendez left the team to become a single wrestler full-time.
AJ Mendez became the General Manager of WWE Raw towards the end of 2011. She was the General Manager for only a few months stepping down on October 22, 2012. Throughout the next few years, Mendez was part of several other WWE storylines with fellow wrestlers John Cena, Danial Bryan, Vickie Guerrero, and Dolph Ziggler. Mendez became the Diva’s Women Champion in 2013 after beating fellow wrestler Kaitlyn.
In February 2015, Mendez used Twitter to speak out towards widespread criticism from fans towards WWE’s treatment of its female wrestlers. McMahon thanked Mendez for her public statement and her father, WWE chairman, and CEO Vince McMahon also acknowledged the issue.
On April 3, 2015, WWE announced that Mendez has decided to retire from in-ring competition. In 2017, she published her memoirs and stated how the discovery of permanent damage to her cervical spine was the reason she decided to leave wrestling.
AJ Mendez was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in her twenties. She has gone on to talk about the stigma surrounding bipolar and why she considers it a superpower –
“I see bipolar disorder as the gift of extraordinary emotions. It makes me bold, brave, loud, and capable of withstanding whatever obstacles the world throws at me. It has made me empathetic. It has given me a lofty imagination, a belief in the impossible, and has made me confident beyond reason. I was 90 pounds and 5 feet tall and believed I could succeed in the world of giants. I believed I could go from beating on people for a living to writing a best-seller because I didn’t have that voice of doubt holding me back.” – bphope.com
Mendez talks about her diagnosis and how bipolar is her strength to keep pushing forward on her official website. Mendez stated the following –
“I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder when I was barely out of my teens. Like our olive skin tone and caterpillar eyebrows, I guess it just runs in the family.”
“When I was diagnosed I believed my illness would be my great, lifelong weakness. Bipolar Disorder was to be my impenetrable prison, and I would be locked up with it in a castle Princess Toadstool style. Thinking there was no way out, I let it consume me.”
“When I harnessed its seemingly uncontrollable might, I realized Bipolar disorder’s powers could be used for good. My diagnosis didn’t have to be an affliction. It could simply be the gift of extraordinary emotions. When a loved one hurt, I could feel their pain with every inch of my skin through my super human ability of empathy.” – ajmendezbrooks.com
I agree with AJ Mendez when she says how bipolar disorder can be a superpower. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I believe that bipolar can be a blessing in disguise. I believe if you can find a way to conquer bipolar, then nothing will stop you at all.
AJ Mendez now spends a lot of time being an advocate for bipolar disorder. She has served as an ambassador for organizations such as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals(ASPCA) and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). I do my part by writing on my blog and helping those living with a mental illness by sharing my experience and what I’ve learned over the last 17+ years living with bipolar.
If you have a mental illness, you need to find a way to keep pushing forward and know that it can be a blessing in disguise. Your mental illness will force you to work harder at getting things done, in turn, making you very successful helping you conquer your dreams :).
other photo credit: https://hiddenremote.com/2014/06/23/wwe-insider-aj-lee-reportedly-pregnant/