A woman from North Dakota released a memoir  yesterday, and if you haven't heard her story, it's quite inspiring.

Her name is Jackie Stebbins; she's been living in Bismarck for quite a while, but she's originally from Bowman, North Dakota. She's attended college and law school at UND in Grand Forks. After graduating, she went on to practice law as a trial attorney.

Jackie decided to write a memoir after experiencing something many of us could never imagine.

"I was a trial lawyer at my own law firm when I was diagnosed in 2018 and it turned my world upside down," said Stebbins.


Jackie Stebbins
Jackie Stebbins


The Diagnosis

"My family lived in terror for May-June of 2018 until the Mayo Clinic confirmed that I indeed suffered from AE," said Stebbins.

In 2018 Jackie was diagnosed with a rare and horrifying brain illness, called autoimmune encephalitis. This is where your body's immune system attacks your brain cells. Stebbins tells me the disease causes a variety of issues, but most notably, amnesia.

"Overall, once I truly "woke up" from AE, I knew I had an interesting story to write about and I believed it was important to share. And as I recovered, I found writing to be powerful and therapeutic," said Stebbins.

Stebbins says the disease took a lot from her, and her life completely changed. She told me she had to step away from being the senior partner at Stebbins-Mulloy Law Firm. To get through the bad, she told herself to "Just kept swimming."

Jackie Stebbins
Jackie Stebbins

A Growing Family

At the time of Stebbins diagnosis she had two small children, which, as you can imagine, must have been challenging for the family to juggle the responsibilities.

Stebbins says two years after her diagnosis she and her husband welcomed a healthy baby girl.

"My outlook on life has drastically changed after having a near death experience... I do my best to embrace all the uncertainty life has brought me and I live for the day," said Stebbins.


Stebbins isn't just a survivor; she's a lawyer, mother, wife, and now, motivational speaker. She wrote the book "Unwillable" so she could share her journey with others.

"It represents the strength and resilience I mustered to survive autoimmune encephalitis, but it also begs the question of whether I truly believed I had the will to survive and recover," said Stebbins.

If you're wondering where she got the name of the book, Stebbins says she wanted to play in two different aspects of her life.

"Because I was a lawyer in my past life, I like the pun on 'will,'" said Stebbins.



Inspiring Others

Look through the comments of some of Stebbin's Facebook posts about her book, I see an outpouring of support. Not only that, but she's inspiring others to tell their stories. It a great thing to see.

If you're wondering, her book is available for purchase at Bismarck's Ferguson's Book Store and on Amazon.

Jackie Stebbins
Jackie Stebbins


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