Bismarck lawyer, UND grad pens book about rare brain disease – Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS — Ferguson Books will host Jackie Stebbins, author of “Unwillable: A Journey to Reclaim My Brain,” for a book signing from 4-6 p.m. on Monday, June 27 at the Grand Cities Mall.

The book, a memoir, chronicles Stebbins’ journey with autoimmune encephalitis, including his time in a psychiatric ward and his treatment at the Mayo Clinic.

“Unwillable,” published by Wisdom Editions, an imprint of Calumet Editions, “is a reflection on my life as a lawyer litigating a near-death experience with a rare brain disease.”

With autoimmune encephalitis, a person’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy brain cells and causes brain inflammation and leads to neurological and psychiatric symptoms, such as impaired memory and cognition, seizures, coordination problems, hallucinations, paranoia, anxiety, restlessness, fear and insomnia.

In 2018, Stebbins, a lawyer from Bismarck, had reached the pinnacle of success as a young litigator, but she was desperately trying to conceal her anxiety and depression. Her shaking hands, endless sleeplessness, and white noise in her ears told her she was exhausted.

After she pleaded to be committed to a psychiatric ward, her world went dark. She woke up a month later to find she had a rare and debilitating brain condition that robbed her of her career and nearly ended her life.

The twists and turns of her journey to diagnosis, recovery, and new life take readers on an emotional, psychedelic roller coaster ride marked by terror and devastation, according to the book’s description. Readers will be moved by his will and his hope.

Jackie Stebbins, author of “Unwillable: A Journey to Reclaim My Brain,” is due to sign her book from 4-6 p.m. Monday, June 27 at Ferguson Books at the Grand Cities Mall.


“‘Unwillable’ has you laughing, crying and cheering Jackie in this fast-paced story of a woman whose perseverance has overwhelmed her, but also equipped her to survive,” according to the publisher.

Former Senator Byron Dorgan, DN.D., said, “’Unwillable’ is a book you can’t put down. Susannah Cahalan, American journalist and author of a New York Times #1 bestselling book, “Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness,” called the book “as moving as it is important.”

Prior to his illness, Stebbins, who earned undergraduate and law degrees from UND, was a senior partner at the Stebbins Mulloy law firm in Bismarck. After her recovery, she never resumed practicing law. She raises awareness of autoimmune encephalitis through her writings and speeches. She writes the JM Stebbins blog and hosts the “Brain Fever” podcast.

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