Podcast: Does Sleeping Alleviate Mental Illness Symptoms?

This is an interesting article I found on: www.psychcentral.com

See credits below.

Not getting enough sleep impacts every single person. It makes us irritable, slows our reflexes, and reduces our ability to think and reason. When a person is sick or suffering from an illness, getting more sleep is beneficial to the healing process.

Mental Illness is no different. You will benefit from regular sleep. In today’s episode, we talk about sleep hygiene – what it is and why it is important. Trust us, if anyone can make a discussion about sleep engaging, it’s Gabe and Michelle. Listen Now.


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“When you don’t get enough sleep, you’re a crabby ass. If you’re mentally ill and don’t get enough sleep, you’re a crazy crabby ass.”
– Gabe Howard

Highlights From ‘Sleeping Mental Illness’ Episode

[0:30] Let’s talk about sleep hygiene.

[3:00] Good sleep, bad sleep, and more sleep.

[9:15] Sleeping and waking up with psych meds.

[13:00] Kanye West makes an appearance. . .oy vey.

[17:00] Resetting your sleep cycle.

[19:00] Should you tell your doc if you are having trouble sleeping?

[21:00] The dangers of book lights.

Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Sleeping Mental Illness’ Show

Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you.

Announcer: For reasons that utterly escape everyone involved, you’re listening to A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. Here are your hosts, Gabe Howard and Michelle Hammer.

Gabe: Welcome to this episode of A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. My name is Gabe and I have bipolar.

Michelle: Hi, I’m Michelle and I’m schizophrenic.

Gabe: And today we are going to talk about.

Michelle: Sleep hygiene.

Gabe: You couldn’t even say it exciting.

Michelle: Well, I mean, I like sleeping. Hygiene is something I struggle with, but together they form a thing. What is it Gabe?

Gabe: The rituals, behaviors, and norms that you follow around sleep. And they are referred to as, hey shocker, “sleep hygiene.” Regularly pulling all nighters, or sleeping in on the weekends so that you can make up for lost sleep, are both examples of poor sleep hygiene. Conversely, following a regular sleep schedule and avoiding things like caffeine, staying up all night, and bingeing on Netflix are good sleep hygiene practices. Listen, don’t beat yourself oup if you don’t practice perfect sleep hygiene. Even I don’t practice perfect sleep hygiene.

Michelle: Damn right you don’t. Because we stay up all night watching “The People’s Court.”

Gabe: That is an example of poor sleep hygiene. You hate sleep hygiene. You and I have been doing this a while now and we get asked different things that lead to or where the answer is sleep hygiene, and every time I say, “Look, you’ve got to pay attention to your sleep,” you literally look at me and roll your eyes. Why is the concept of sleep hygiene bother you so much?

Michelle: I don’t know why it bothers me so much. It’s just the question of you should really get sleep, because sleep is important, and if you don’t get enough sleep you won’t feel good in the morning, and then you might have a bad day. So sleep hygiene really is important. Case closed.

Gabe: I wish it was called, like, if you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll be a crabby ass and if you’re mentally ill and you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll be a crazy crabby ass. Like wouldn’t that be cool? Now you’re getting into it. If the name explained how sleep makes you not a crazy crabby ass.

Michelle: Well then, you need more sleep, Gabe.

Gabe: Oh my God. I would call it get enough sleep so you’re not an asshole.

Michelle: Yeah? Get enough sleep because you’re not an asshole? That’s your next book Gabe.

Gabe: All of my books are just gonna have “asshole” in the title. And like when we get really big and famous you know my book is gonna be called?

Michelle: Asshole?

Gabe: I worked with an asshole.

Michelle: I worked with an asshole?

Gabe: We should get shirts that say I’m with asshole and it points to the left and yours points to the right and then we’ll just walk down the street together.

Michelle: No, we don’t want to do that. I’ll walk on one side and you walk on the other side of the avenue view so everybody can think that we’re talking about everybody else.

Gabe: That’s right because we are a unit, and we would never call each other assholes in public.

Michelle: That’s right. I would never insult you, Gabe. Never. I never ever insulted you. I’ve never said anything mean about you.

Gabe: You know it’s being recorded right?

Michelle: Oh? There’s proof of that?

Gabe: There’s so much proof now.

Michelle: Oh no. What’s going on? Are people catching me in my lies? Maybe I told in my sleep. Do I need more sleep? Maybe I didn’t get my sleep hygiene enough? Oh no.

Gabe: All sleep hygiene is, is paying attention to your sleep and doing the things that allow you to sleep well so that you wake up refreshed. Going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every morning. How we sleep is very important. Like for example, do you get in bed and toss and turn all night? That would be an example of poor sleep. Good sleep is if you stay relatively set and there’s things that you can do that contribute to good sleep hygiene. Like, only use your bed for sleep and sex. Other people use their beds for everything. Like for example, Michelle, your bed is basically the corporate offices of A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast.

Michelle: I live in New York City. Where am I supposed to put a desk?

Gabe: You have a living room.

Michelle: Where am I going to fit a desk in my living room?

Gabe: You could put the desk in your bedroom.

Michelle: Where the hell will a desk fit in my bedroom?

Gabe: There is enough room for a desk.

Michelle: No there is not. You obviously have never been to my apartment.

Gabe: That’s not true. We taped an episode there.

Michelle: I have three people in a two bedroom, Gabe.

Gabe: All right I’ll give you that. I’ll give you that.

Michelle: There is no room for it.

Gabe: These are the struggles that people have then, right? What you’re saying is, “Look, I need to do things in my bed. This is important to me because I just don’t have a lot of space so I have my laptop. I sit in bed and I do things like record my show, do my writing, run my business. You do an amazing number of things in your bed.

Michelle: You don’t even know my bed, Gabe. Not my bed. It has seen things you wouldn’t even believe.

Gabe: That is not a sex joke. I’ve seen you prepare orders on your bed. You know, your T-shirt business and your clothing line and your leggings and all of that stuff. You know you get big orders and you’ve got packaging material, labelling, and everything all on your bed. You got like tape.

Michelle: But that’s not usually on my bed. I don’t want people thinking that I’m like putting stuff on my bed like that. I make like you know layouts and stuff but I usually do it in my living room.

Gabe: The point I’m making is that your bed is a flat surface in a place where a flat surface is at a premium so you can see why. But can you see why doing all of those things in your bed can create this idea in your body that when you were in your bed it’s not time to sleep? When you climb into bed, your body doesn’t know if you’re working on the next great project. Or if you’re trying to sleep. It kind of confuses you on a subconscious level a little bit. And that’s why the idea of just using your bed for sleep is good for sleep hygiene. For me in my house when I get into bed there’s nothing else to do there.

Michelle: You have an office and a desk, Gabe.

Gabe: Listen, you’re coming up with a lot of reasons that you can’t do it. But the bottom line is if you are having trouble sleeping.

Michelle: I’m not having trouble sleeping.

Gabe: Ok. In this case you don’t need to practice some of these sleep hygiene levels but there’s many people who do.

Michelle: That’s true. What about? Do you remember that time I was like I’m going to get back out of bed at 10:00 every day? And you’re like lie!

Gabe: Yeah.

Michelle: Isn’t that kind of go sleep hygiene of sleeping far too late?

Gabe: So not getting enough sleep is poor sleep hygiene, and getting too much sleep is also poor sleep hygiene. It’s getting the right amount of sleep and the next thing that I want to talk about is this magical eight hours. No, this is bullshit. It’s bullshit. It’s an average. The average person needs eight hours of sleep. When was the last time people with mental illness were ever considered the average person? So people are beating themselves up if they need too much sleep or if they’re not sleeping enough based on some number that they read on the Internet.

Michelle: Yeah.

Gabe: You can see where this would be. It’s like I slept 10 hours and I woke up feeling refreshed but I’m so lazy I slept two hours too long. If that’s the amount of sleep that you need that’s the amount of sleep that you need. And the reverse is also true. Well I only slept six hours I’m not getting enough sleep. Well do you wake up refreshed? Do you get tired throughout the day? Do you have enough energy? Then six hours is enough. You need sleep to survive.

Michelle: Yes. Agreed. Yeah.

Gabe: Yeah. You need sleep.

Michelle: Right. We are not robots right. But if we were robots, maybe we’d need a plug?

Gabe: Yeah. We don’t have plugs we’re not Priuses.

Michelle: Oh we’re not?

Gabe: We’re not. We’re not a Nissan Volt. I’m not a car. We’re not a Tesla.

Gabe: Well, maybe if you run like jump on my back I can carry on and I’ll be a car.

Gabe: There are so many reasons you’re not a Tesla. You’re not high quality.

Michelle: Hey!

Gabe: Nobody wants you.

Michelle: Hey!

Gabe: And you don’t run right.

Michelle: I had a Hyundai.

Gabe: Yeah? I can see you as a Hyundai.

Michelle: Hey, shut up.

Gabe: Hyundai’s are pretty, but they’re not very reliable, are you?

Michelle: Not very reliable? Well, I had 2002 before they got pretty.

Gabe: Oh, so you’re an ugly Hyundai?

Michelle: I’m an ugly Hyundai, yes. One time it got hit by a preacher.

Gabe: What? You actually had your car hit by God?

Michelle: I’m pretty tired. Let’s hear from our sponsor.

Announcer: This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp.com. Secure, convenient, and affordable online counselling. All counselors are licensed, accredited professionals. Anything you share is confidential. Schedule secure video or phone sessions, plus chat and text with your therapist, whenever you feel it’s needed. A month of online therapy often costs less than a single traditional face to face session. Go to BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral and experience seven days of free therapy to see if online counselling is right for you.BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral.

Gabe: We’re back talking sleep hygiene. Michelle’s favorite subject. If you’re having sleeping problems, it can be a couple of different things. One, it can just be the makeup of who you are as a person and there’s things that you can do to sleep better. Again like the whole dreaded only use your bed for sleep and sex and yes I know you live in New York City but there’s other things that you can do as well. Like, I have a ritual surrounding my bedtime and I know that people think that they’re you know they’re boring and lame or whatever and they are boring and lame, but they pay big big dividends.

Michelle: What I was also going to say is that I do take a pill at night, and if I did not take that pill at night I would not sleep whatsoever.

Gabe: Now is that pill to help you sleep or is that pill to treat schizophrenia?

Michelle: No it was prescribed to help schizophrenia and.

Gabe: So an added benefit?

Michelle: Yes, it had the added benefit of knocking me out at night. If I did not take it.,I’d be up all night long.

Gabe: That’s an interesting thing too. I have the same thing. There is a pill that pretty much knocked me out as well but it’s not a sleeping pill. It just one of the side effects is that it makes me sleepy, so I moved it to nighttime and this is where it becomes very good to understand what your medication does, what the side effects are, and how you can benefit.

Michelle: Yeah, it’s one of those pills that always says on the bottle do not operate heavy machinery or drive a car when you take this medication.

Gabe: You know, talk to your doctor about taking that at night because if you took it in the morning you’d be sleepy all day. By moving it to night, you can use the side effect to your advantage.

Michelle: Absolutely.

Gabe: You can take that pill at the same time every day, which by definition will make you fall asleep at the same time every day.

Michelle: What usually happens is at night I get a little chatty with myself and I get told take your medicine. Have you taken your medicine yet? You need to take your medicine and I go Yeah OK I’ll take it because I start just talking to imaginary people going into the delusions and it’s kind of what happens.

Gabe: But the people that are telling you to do that they’re not saying that mean? Like I’m.

Michelle: No, not at all.

Gabe: Kind of in a mocking way. You’re just trying to be funny right now.

Michelle: Exactly. It’s not mocking it’s more like out of care. It’s like Are you OK. Did you take your medicine? Take it right now? Now you maybe you should go take your medicine now.

Gabe: Like because we see you not in reality at the moment, and then you take that pill, you go to bed and then you get up the next morning refreshed?

Michelle: Right.

Gabe: Now another part of your sleep hygiene is when you wake up in the morning. You also need to immediately take your morning pills. So even though that’s not technically sleep hygiene, because it’s more part of your morning routine it’s sort of tangentially based. It is it is a thing that you need to do when you awaken.

Michelle: Right. And if I get up and I don’t take my morning pills, I am just pacing around my apartment just just maybe for an hour just back and forth and I need somebody in the morning pretty much telling me go take your medicine. Otherwise I am just just going to dilly dally forever.

Gabe: So even though you hate sleep hygiene, you’re sort of admitting that you’re practicing it. You take pills at the end of the day at the same time. Those pills help you sleep. Once you take the pills you go to sleep. Then you wake up at the same time every day. You take those pills and that helps you and when you’re away from people who don’t keep you on this schedule you stay up all night. You sleep all day and it wrecks your productivity.

Michelle: Absolutely.

Gabe: So even though you hate sleep hygiene you acknowledge that you benefit from it wildly?

Michelle: Absolutely. But I just hate talking about sleep hygiene. Hate to talk about sleep hygiene and sleep. I think it’s just so annoying.

Gabe: One of the reasons that I love sleep hygiene so much is because as somebody who has experienced mania and stayed up for three, four, or five days at a time, that was very dangerous and it was very bad. It was very bad for my relationships, it was very bad for jobs. I could have died. I lost complete control of my senses and faculties and if I would have gotten in a car or jumped off a roof. These are things that really could have harmed me. So that’s really really important and I know when I don’t get enough sleep the next day is awful. Here’s an example from recent memory, I stayed up pretty much all night because I have insomnia and the next day all I did was walk around and tell everybody I know that if I was dead the world be a better place. I wasn’t suicidal but it was close because I felt so bad. I just felt so rundown and so awful and it fed the depression. You remember I texted you and I’m just like this is stupid we shouldn’t do it anymore and you’re like What are you talking about?

Michelle: I did not even know what to do at that point because I was just trying to comfort you I guess I was trying to be like What are you talking about, Gabe? I don’t know where this is coming from because that’s just not you. It’s not something you usually say. You’re usually very motivated.

Gabe: And this was an example of behavior that came directly from not getting enough sleep. So as boring as sleep hygiene is you can see why it’s so important to me because I don’t want to walk around telling people that I’d be better off dead.

Michelle: Yeah.

Gabe: And I imagine that you probably don’t want to hear that I think that I’m better off dead. That’s got to be scary.

Michelle: Yeah.

Gabe: I mean I’d like to think that you love me.

Michelle: I also want to bring up, do you not remember the little interview of Kanye West saying he’s not bipolar? He’s suffering from sleep deprivation? Do you know what a huge symptom of bipolar is?

Gabe: Sleep deprivation?

Michelle: Yes. As who is not practicing good sleep hygiene?

Gabe: I’m going to go to Kanye West.

Michelle: You’re right, Gabe. You’re right.

Gabe: Here’s some quick hints and tips for people that are having trouble sleeping to help fall asleep at night. One I really strongly suggest only using your bed for sleep and sex but I also I have a sleep machine.

Michelle: What if you have sex on your couch?

Gabe: Look you’re going to do what you want. Nobody is saying that you can only have sex in your bed.

Michelle: I’m just saying. Because then what if you’re having sex on your couch, you take a nap on your couch, and then you?

Gabe: Let me stop you there. You should not nap on your couch. You should not sleep anywhere but in a bed or your own bed. And this of course, for people like us who travel a lot, this is very difficult and I’ll get to that in a minute because I want to go back to the sleep machine. People are like What the hell is a sleep machine?

Michelle: What’s the sleep machine?

Gabe: Yeah it’s really a sound machine. It’s like a white noise machine. I call it a sleep machine because I only use it for sleeping. So I turn it on and it helps regulate the room. You know it sounds like this. Are you ready? [cooing noise] So when I lay in bed that’s all I can hear, so it blocks out a lot of the external noise. It keeps the noise from going high and low and high and low. Research tells us that it’s noises that are out of the ordinary that wake us up. So, for example, people that live next to train tracks, they can sleep through the train because after a couple of weeks their body is expecting that noise. So that noise doesn’t wake them up.

Michelle: That’s true.

Gabe: It’s the same thing behind those fire alarms. Those smoke alarms where instead of beeping, you can record your voice or you can record your spouse’s voice or your mother’s voice. So it yells like, “Wake up, Michelle, the house is on fire!” Instead of beep beep beep.

Michelle: I see what you’re saying.

Gabe: Now listen, I’m gonna wake up immediately when I hear beep, beep, beep. But that’s just me and this is also why some people have alarm clocks that play the radio because they get used to the beeping in the morning, whereas the radio is always going to be different songs different sounds different you know rhythms etc. So it kind of forces them up in the morning and then some people have so much trouble getting up that they have you know like a vibrating pillow case. Which I didn’t even know existed until doing research about sleep.

Michelle: I didn’t know that it existed until just this moment right now.

Gabe: Yeah. The way that it works is it’s got a cord. You put it inside your pillow and you sleep on it and then when it’s time to get up the pillow shakes.

Michelle: I would have never have guessed you sleep on your pillow.

Gabe: I do sleep on my pillow. I sleep with my head on my pillow. I don’t need a vibrating pillow case, but I found out about this through the research, and I found out about it because the deaf community uses it and that makes sense because they can’t set an alarm.

Michelle: Genius.

Gabe: Yes, they use a vibrating pillow case and they also have vibrating pillow cases that are so advanced that they can hook into things like smoke alarms. So if the smoke alarm goes off it automatically vibrates the pillow.

Michelle: You know I have an Alexa which connects to my partner’s cell phone and sometimes she’ll break into the Alexa going wake up wake up Are you awake? Wake up. But I’m like, oh my God, this bitch!

Gabe: Wait, wait. How do I do that next time?

Michelle: I’m not telling.

Gabe: The next time you miss a meeting.

Michelle: I’m not telling you how to get into my Alexa. Or it has like different alarms you can wake up to that whatever the hell his name is? Oh, I know what it was. That, that guy married to Gwen Stefani? What is his name?

Gabe: Who is Gwen Stefani?

Michelle: No, no.

Gabe: Don’t speak. Just tell me what you’re feeling.

Michelle: Shut up. His name is the guy that was voted sexiest man in America. What is his name?

Gabe: The Rock?

Michelle: No, Blake Shelton. Sometimes I wake up to just the alarm clock of Blake Shelton like Oh is it a morning? Can I get a beer or maybe I can get a coffee?

Gabe: So it’s actually his voice?

Michelle: It’s his voice waking me up. Yeah.

Gabe: Talking about beer and coffee and these things help you get up at the same time every day because one of the dangers of not getting up at the same time every day is that you sort of reset your cycle. So let’s say for example that you go to bed at 8:00 and you get up at 8:00. Now that’s twelve hours of sleep and that’s a lot but let’s say that that’s how much you need and it’s also easy math for me. So you go to bed at 8:00 and you get up at 8:00 and that’s your twelve hour sleep pattern. But let’s say that one of those days you go to bed at midnight. Now if you follow your same 12 hours sleep pattern you’re gonna get up at noon. Well if you go to bed at midnight and you get up at noon that day what are the chances you’re going to fall asleep at 8:00 that night? You’re not. You’re going to go to sleep at midnight again and then you’re gonna be on a midnight to noon, midnight to noon, and that’s really going to reset your sleep schedule. So the best thing to do is that even though you stayed up too late and went to bed at midnight, you’re actually pretty wise to get up at 8:00 anyway. Or maybe push it to 9:00, but don’t get the full twelve hours. You might drag a little bit that day. But then at eight o’clock that night you’ll go to bed again. Sleep just really really impacts. It just does. It just does.

Michelle: It does. I can’t tell you how many bosses have spoken to me about getting in on time and getting enough sleep.

Gabe: Yeah. Whether you have mental illness or not, sleep can really impact the kind of day that you have. Find the most mentally healthy person that you can find and keep them up all night and then see how they act the next day. And when you’re living with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and major depression, anxiety, OCD, etc. The way that the sleep interacts with those illnesses is huge. I know that sleep is boring but it really is important. And so often getting more sleep, just like getting more exercise or eating healthier or showering or doing self care or coping mechanisms or taking our meds on time, sleep plays a vital role in keeping us healthy. And I know it’s boring, Michelle.

Michelle: It’s just boring to talk about sleep hygiene. That’s what I think. But I understand sleep is important. I completely understand. I get it. Sleep yes sleep. I’ll go take a nap if you want me to take a nap.

Gabe: No, napping is bad.

Michelle: I’m sorry. Don’t take a nap. Don’t take a nap. Don’t ever take a nap. Naps are evil. Naps are evil.

Gabe: Another thing that I want people to understand is that sleep matters. Sleep is a medical thing. If you are having trouble sleeping, that is a symptom. Report that to your psychiatrist or to your general practitioner or to your family doctor. So many people don’t report issues sleeping and so many doctors don’t ask people if they’re having trouble sleeping. If you are not getting enough sleep, if you are having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, please talk to your doctor. I know it’s not sexy. But, for real, this could be why you’re having side effects from medication. This could be why you’re having issues managing your mental illness. It might have nothing to do with mental illness at all. It might be a sleep problem but because so many people aren’t asking about it they’re not getting help with it. You know sleep. It is boring but it’s real necessary.

Michelle: Gabe’s going to come out with a new shirt that says, “Sleep Matters.”.

Gabe: Sleep does matter.

Michelle: Sleep matters.

Gabe: Do you think people would buy it?

Michelle: I don’t see anyone who would buy that shirt.

Gabe: I’d be like, “Define Sleep.”

Michelle: Define sleep? What? No, sleep matters.

Gabe: Don’t be paranoid, you sleep fine.

Michelle: “Sleep matters if you don’t agree then stay awake.”.

Gabe: How many words are you going to put on this?

Michelle: This is going to be the longest shirt ever because when you’re done reading the shirt, you’re tired enough to sleep.

Gabe: Hey, maybe this is like it’s an all natural, vegan, gluten free sleep aid?

Michelle: Or by Gabe’s book. Mental illness is an asshole and it’ll put you to sleep.

Gabe: That’s just so mean, that’s so mean.

Michelle: No, you read enough, your eyes get tired you go to bed. Just get a little itty bitty book light.

Gabe: A little itty bitty book light to strain your eyes and get glasses? We’re going to do another show on make sure you have enough light to read.

Michelle: I didn’t know that that was a thing, that book lights were a bad thing. I’m so sorry I insulted book lights. Oh no I didn’t know.

Gabe: We’re gonna get letters for this one.

Michelle: I didn’t know. It’s a book light. Book light or bulb lights were bad. I thought book lights were good.

Gabe: Also, they’re not “book lights.” They’re “lights living for books.” Get it right.

Michelle: Oh my goodness. I can’t stop insulting the world about books and sleeping and and the world and Kanye West doesn’t get enough sleep. All sleep deprived and what’s going on? And setting alarms and Alexa wakes you up and there’s a dog sleeping on the floor right now. Who knows what’s going on in the world? Gabe, there’s a dog right there sleeping. Taking a nap. Peppy, no naps. Oh, you woke up. Good.

Gabe: You just yelled at my dog.

Michelle: He’s taking a nap and you said No naps. You said No naps. You said and he’s napping.

Gabe: You yelled his name and he jumped up like you fired a gun at him.

Michelle: You said No naps and I see him napping.

Gabe: He thinks he’s in trouble. What did you do?

Michelle: You’re not in trouble but your father doesn’t allow naps, Peppy. Behave.

Gabe: Now would be a good time to point out that the rules for animals and the rules for people often differ. For example, people should not see veterinarians. They should go to people doctors.

Michelle: People doctors?

Gabe: People doctors.

Michelle: People doctors? That’s what they’re called?

Gabe: Yeah.

Michelle: I agree.

Gabe: We need a closing. What do we got? What do we got?

Michelle: In conclusion. In conclusion, if you want to have a good prosperous life, practice good sleep hygiene and make Gabe happy because he really likes this topic. Everyone, if you like A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast, subscribe to us on iTunes. Listen to us everywhere, write us a review, give us five stars, tell us you love us, tell the world you love us, share everything. We love you and we hope you love us. Thank you everybody.

Announcer: You’ve been listening to A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. If you love this episode, don’t keep it to yourself head over to iTunes or your preferred podcast app to subscribe, rate, and review. To work with Gabe, go to GabeHoward.com. To work with Michelle, go to Schizophrenic.NYC. For free mental health resources and online support groups, head over to PsychCentral.com. This show’s official web site is PsychCentral.com/BSP. You can e-mail us at [email protected]. Thank you for listening, and share widely.

Meet Your Bipolar and Schizophrenic Hosts

GABE HOWARD was formally diagnosed with bipolar and anxiety disorders after being committed to a psychiatric hospital in 2003. Now in recovery, Gabe is a prominent mental health activist and host of the award-winning Psych Central Show podcast. He is also an award-winning writer and speaker, traveling nationally to share the humorous, yet educational, story of his bipolar life. To work with Gabe, visit gabehoward.com.MICHELLE HAMMER was officially diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 22, but incorrectly diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 18. Michelle is an award-winning mental health advocate who has been featured in press all over the world. In May 2015, Michelle founded the company Schizophrenic.NYC, a mental health clothing line, with the mission of reducing stigma by starting conversations about mental health. She is a firm believer that confidence can get you anywhere. To work with Michelle, visit Schizophrenic.NYC.Podcast: Does Sleeping Alleviate Mental Illness Symptoms?

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Podcast: Self-Care for Your Mental Health

This is an interesting article I found on: www.psychcentral.com

See credits below.

Self-care is important for everyone, but our hosts feel it is extra important for people managing mental illnesses and other mental health issues. It stands to reason that, if you don’t take care of yourself, then the symptoms of an illness will have an easier time making our lives miserable.

In this episode, our hosts discuss what self-care is, what self-care isn’t, and what they personally do to care for themselves. Listen now!


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“Would it be self-care for me to watch a bunch of guys getting hit in the privates?’”
– Gabe Howard

Highlights From ‘Self-Care for Your Mental Health’ Episode

[2:00] What do Gabe and Michelle do for self-care?

[6:30] Why did Gabe and Michelle start a podcast?

[11:30] Why does Michelle watch “fail” videos?

[13:30] Gabe loves fidget spinners and believes they help with his self-care.

[17:00] Watching Jeopardy is an example of self-care.

[19:00] Michelle + Gabe + The Peoples’ Court = group self-care.

[22:00] Who thinks watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the BEST self-care?

[23:00] Is personal hygiene an example of self-care?

Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Mental Health Self-Care’ Show

Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you.

Announcer: [00:00:06] For reasons that utterly escape everyone involved, you’re listening to A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. Here are your hosts, Gabe Howard and Michelle Hammer.

Gabe: [00:00:17] You’re listening to A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. My name is Gabe Howard. I live with bipolar disorder.

Michelle: [00:00:23] Hi, I’m Michelle. I’m schizophrenic.

Gabe: [00:00:27] And today we are going to discuss self care. But like low end self care, like easy self care, basic self care, the self care that nobody thinks about because everybody’s always thinking about like these grandiose self care ideas.

Michelle: [00:00:42] Well like going to a spa and getting a facial?

Gabe: [00:00:45] That would be one. Or going on vacation, or being able to stay home for a week. Quitting their jobs.

Michelle: [00:00:51] I mean yeah quitting your job. What else is As grandiose self care?

Gabe: [00:00:57] I think the biggest grandiose self care is like marrying a rich person and just eating bonbons while watching TV all day.

Michelle: [00:01:04] Wait there’s something wrong with that?

Gabe: [00:01:05] There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just the kind of self care that most of us can’t participate in.

Michelle: [00:01:10] I mean that seems kind of like a pretty good self care.

Gabe: [00:01:13] I think that is an excellent self care and we’re gonna do a companion episode called self care for the rich and famous and that will be on there.

Michelle: [00:01:20] If you’re a sugar daddy looking for a sugar baby and you’re not a total creep, email me.

Gabe: [00:01:24] Really? The creep thing, do you care? That’s kind of creepy behavior on your part. You’re literally looking for somebody to take care of you.

Michelle: [00:01:31] Okay fine I’ll change that. If you just are a really rich person and you want to give me a lot of money for no reason, hit me up.

Gabe: [00:01:36] Michelle, you and I both live with severe and persistent mental illness and we’ve managed to live successfully for a number of years. And we always talk on this show that there’s more than just medication. There’s more than just therapy. There’s more than just peer support or group therapy or having stable housing or having good friends and family and one of the things that we almost never talk about, and an alert reader pointed out, is we never talk about basic self care tips. And I’m really surprised because between us we have like so many. And I love it when we get together and our little self care ideas don’t quite mesh. A big one of mine is going to get Diet Coke and just chilling.

Michelle: [00:02:13] At seven thirty in the morning.

Gabe: [00:02:16] That’s why it doesn’t quite mesh. And one of your self care tips is going to get coffee but like closer to eleven and it’s very difficult to find a place that has Diet Coke and coffee that you find acceptable.

Michelle: [00:02:30] Like McDonalds?

Gabe: [00:02:30] I mean McDonalds. That was a good compromise on our part. But remember when you tried to take me to Starbucks?

Michelle: [00:02:37] Yeah, and you refused to go to Starbucks. You think you’re better than Starbucks.

Gabe: [00:02:41] I don’t like coffee.

Michelle: [00:02:43] Why not?

Gabe: [00:02:43] Why don’t you like Diet Coke?

Michelle: [00:02:45] I do like Diet Coke but I don’t want it. I’d rather have coffee in the morning than Diet Coke.

Gabe: [00:02:51] You see the problem and this is why you shouldn’t have mentally ill friends ladies and gentlemen. We did an episode a few weeks ago where we talked about vices and Diet Coke was brought up as a vice because I drink so much of it and we’re not walking that back. But this is the flip side of that where it relaxes me. It helps me. It is a part of my self care especially when I get very stressed out at work or when I get overwhelmed on a project. I can step out, drive someplace, sit down, sip a Diet Coke, people watch, look around, and that really allows me to calm down. This is a self care option that cost me a couple of bucks and I know that you feel the same way about coffee.

Michelle: [00:03:31] Yes, coffee is readily available walking through New York City. Oh I want some coffee? I’ll be at a coffee shop in at least three minutes.

Gabe: [00:03:38] You once described that if you wanted coffee in New York, you just have to hold out your hand and say coffee and it just magically appears.

Michelle: [00:03:44] It’s ridiculous how much coffee you can get in New York City. Maybe that’s why everybody’s so amped up all the time? People just go go go go go. Maybe that’s what it is. That’s why everybody is just so fast and everything in New York City? Is it just the readily available list of coffee everywhere?

Gabe: [00:04:01] And espresso.

Michelle: [00:04:01] And espresso, is everywhere in New York.

Gabe: [00:04:04] Do you have people that call it ex-press-so? Where they don’t pronounce the s? They call it X-presso, instead of S-presso?

Michelle: [00:04:10] I thought it was X-presso for so long.

Gabe: [00:04:12] You pronounce the X? That doesn’t exist?

Michelle: [00:04:13] I didn’t know why. I didn’t know. I had to be educated, Gabe. I needed to be educated about coffee.

Gabe: [00:04:20] As longtime listeners of the show know, I also host the Psych Central Show with Vincent M. Wales and Vince is a master coffee person. Like he has all the equipment in his home. He knows everything about coffee; he knows everything about the beans. He has so much coffee knowledge and he tries to impart this on me all the time and I just give him this glazed over look like can I go now?

Michelle: [00:04:42] You never told me this about him. So I don’t know why me and Vin are not better friends now.

Gabe: [00:04:47] Oh, Vin loves coffee.

Michelle: [00:04:50] All the sudden I like Vince so much more than I ever did.

Gabe: [00:04:53] Well there’s another thing that I should tell you about Vin. He loves New York style pizza. It’s the only pizza that he will eat.

Michelle: [00:05:00] Why did you never tell me this about Vin?

Gabe: [00:05:04] I’m telling you now.

Michelle: [00:05:04] Ack!

Gabe: [00:05:05] Don’t assume that all the people around you are like old and god awful. Maybe ask them some questions? Maybe find some common ground?

Michelle: [00:05:14] All I know is that he likes comics.

Gabe: [00:05:16] Well I mean he does like comics. That’s true.

Michelle: [00:05:18] And I have nothing in common with Vin because I don’t like comics. But now that I know I have all this stuff in common with Vin, maybe maybe Vin and me can be BFFs?

Gabe: [00:05:23] I always thought you and Vin were BFFs.

Michelle: [00:05:27] No, you didn’t.

Gabe: [00:05:28] I know. Listen everybody, Michelle and Vin don’t have a rift. They get along just fine but they have a lot in common and they don’t realize it because you know Vin is well into his 50s and Michelle acts 12. It’s a big big gap. You know Vin lives in California, Michelle is from New York. We’ve got the whole male female thing going.

Michelle: [00:05:48] It’s going to be a long distance relationship.

Gabe: [00:05:49] It’s going to be a long distance?

Michelle: [00:05:50] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:05:50] Vin is very like muted. Like he’s nothing like me. He’s just very like, Yes, thank you.

Michelle: [00:05:55] Yes, hello, yes. My name is Vincent M. Wales.

Gabe: [00:05:59] He’s a novelist. He spends a lot of time alone with his words. I spend a lot of time alone with my words but I’m not writing them.

Michelle: [00:06:05] You’re just talking them.

Gabe: [00:06:06] I’m just talking. You know how you said early on that one of your coping mechanisms, not self care but coping mechanisms, was you put earbuds in? And that way when you walk down the street, people were like, “Oh, she’s not talking to herself she’s singing along to music. Or maybe she’s on a Bluetooth? Maybe she’s on the phone, etc?” It doesn’t look weird because you have the earbuds in.

Michelle: [00:06:25] Yes right.

Gabe: [00:06:27] I became a podcaster because originally when I was sitting upstairs just talking to myself, my wife thought it was weird. Now I’m like oh podcasting. She thinks I podcast 14 hours a day.

Michelle: [00:06:37] I know. I know my friends in college thought I was on the phone. Sometimes I’d be on the phone, but often they’d be like, “Who are you talking to?” And so I was, “I wasn’t.” I would try to say I was on the phone more times than I actually was, honestly.

Gabe: [00:06:51] One of your self care techniques was to educate the people that you lived with. I don’t think you’ve ever lived alone, have you? You’ve always either lived at home, lived in the dorms, or lived with a roommate?

Michelle: [00:07:01] Yes.

Gabe: [00:07:02] So you’ve had to do that. Part of your self care regimen is educating the people that you live with so that they give you the least amount of flack or shit or trouble as possible, right?

Michelle: [00:07:14] Yeah pretty much yeah. It’s never really been a big deal with anyone I lived with like outside of college. Since moving into Queens and Astoria and living in the apartment I live in now. The only thing that bothers anyone is that I don’t clean enough.

Gabe: [00:07:25] But that’s not schizophrenia.

Michelle: [00:07:26] No, that’s not schizophrenia. But like you know, being as schizophrenic, you always learn like they’re not the cleanliness of all the people blah blah blah.

Gabe: [00:07:35] We’re gonna get letters for that. Wait, did you just say people with schizophrenia aren’t clean?

Michelle: [00:07:38] We just watched that video that was like, “Schizophrenic people might not be dressed the best.” Or whatever that stupid video said. Like, okay, sure we don’t dress great. But what kind of ridiculous freakin’ fact was that?

Gabe: [00:07:49] You know it’s messed up. I know personally two people who live with schizophrenia. I have lots of, you know, co-workers and colleagues and fellow mental health advocates but two people who live with schizophrenia that I consider like like buddies. One of them is Michelle Hammer.

Michelle: [00:08:03] Mmm-hmm.

Gabe: [00:08:03] The great Michelle Hammer.

Michelle: [00:08:04] The great.

Gabe: [00:08:07] And the other one is Rachel Star. Rachel Star is like the best dressed person we know.

Michelle: [00:08:11] I know. And she knows how to walk in heels.

Gabe: [00:08:13] Yeah. She teaches it. She actually had a fashion blog for a while where she taught people how to be a girl and like how to walk in high heels, how to wear the belt, how to do the makeup. She’s like well put together and she has schizophrenia. So I’m starting to think that maybe these videos where they say things like, “people with schizophrenia don’t dress well, and they dress weird, and they act weird, and they’re they’re not clean, and they’re not organized, and they walk funny.”.

Michelle: [00:08:34] And they walk with an awkward gaunt.

Gabe: [00:08:38] Yeah I think maybe.

Michelle: [00:08:38] What is gaunt? The awkward gaunt?

Gabe: [00:08:40] I don’t know what any of that is either but this leads us into our next form of self care. Don’t watch that shit.

Michelle: [00:08:47] True.

Gabe: [00:08:51] So many people, they’re just constantly Googling stereotypes and offensive things on the Internet so that they can be mad at it.

Michelle: [00:08:58] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:08:59] Why?

Michelle: [00:08:59] It’s almost like they want to educate themselves as much as possible but then they find these online articles that really just are stereotypical and are wrong and they just start thinking bad things.

Gabe: [00:09:12] It pisses you off.

Michelle: [00:09:13] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:09:15] If you seek out things to be angry at, you’re gonna find it.

Michelle: [00:09:18] Yes.

Gabe: [00:09:20] But here’s the magical thing though. If you seek out things to provide you with joy on the Internet you will also find those.

Michelle: [00:09:26] What do you find for joy on the Internet? Porn?

Gabe: [00:09:28] Listen I’m not going to lie and tell people that I’ve never looked at pornography on the Internet today. Because that would just be a lie.

Michelle: [00:09:37] And nobody would believe you.

Gabe: [00:09:39] And nobody would believe me. But there are really cool things on the Internet that I do enjoy reading. One of the things that I’ve done and I think that this is vital to self care is I use a news curator. That eliminates a lot of news that I just don’t want to hear about, or sources that I consider to be offensive or dramatic or don’t follow journalistic standards.

Michelle: [00:10:02] Personally like just don’t.

Gabe: [00:10:03] Your personal beliefs are really irrelevant. It’s the part where you’re constantly being bombarded with you’re wrong you’re stupid you’re wrong you’re stupid you’re wrong you’re stupid. You realize once you put a slant on news it’s no longer news.

Michelle: [00:10:14] It’s just bias.

Gabe: [00:10:15] It’s just gossip.

Michelle: [00:10:15] It’s biased news.

Gabe: [00:10:17] It’s opinion.

Michelle: [00:10:18] It’s why I like E News.

Gabe: [00:10:20] Yeah I like I like to read my news. I also don’t like like live news, and by live news like I don’t turn on like the 24 hour news station on the TV because it always ends up like this. Like we’re getting word that something is happening. We have no facts or information so we’re just going to make shit up.

Michelle: [00:10:36] I personally love watching car chases.

Gabe: [00:10:38] Yeah, car chases are kind of fun.

Michelle: [00:10:39] I like when they watch the car chase and then the car goes under a bridge or something like that and then they start watching the wrong car.

Gabe: [00:10:47] They follow for a minute and then the helicopter goes back left?

Michelle: [00:10:48] Yeah. They watch the car and like oh the car seems to be pulling into a gas station. Oh the guy in the car seems to be wearing a different color shirt. They don’t seem to be really in a rush. Oh I’m sorry guys. I think you’ve been following the wrong car now.

Gabe: [00:11:01] Oh the police all left.

Michelle: [00:11:02] It seems like we’ve, uh, we’ve lost the car. Those are hilarious.

Gabe: [00:11:06] To answer your original question of what are some things that I like to read on the Internet that are fun? There’s all kinds of uplifting things. The biggest one for our community that we like to push out is The Mighty. TheMighty.com. We do ask us anything on the first and third Monday, we do it live. You can see our pretty faces. Just go to mental health on TheMighty.com.

Michelle: [00:11:25] You can see my pretty face and Gabe’s ginger face.

Gabe: [00:11:28] One of my self care things is to limit the amount of time I spend with Michelle.

Michelle: [00:11:31] No, but going on what I was saying about watching car chases. I look up on YouTube like fails.

Gabe: [00:11:37] There you go.

Michelle: [00:11:39] And it is just hilarious. But of course if anyone actually got hurt in the fails they wouldn’t be in the fails compilation but it’s just so funny to me watching these people get hurt. It’s hilarious. Rope swing fails are hilarious. Like any kind of like snowboarding fails. Those are pretty funny. Or just ridiculous like just kids doing something stupid. But I know it’s not good to watch this one but it’s hilarious. Baby fails. Baby fails are the funniest fails ever. They just fall over; they trip over things. Or like the babies cover themselves in peanut butter. Hilarious. And of course, the granddaddy of all them is when guys just get hit in the balls.

Gabe: [00:12:19] Just get hit in the balls?

Michelle: [00:12:19] Just getting hit in the balls. I cannot physically know the pain of getting hit in the balls but it looks painful and it’s hilarious to watch them. Have you ever been hit in the balls, Gabe?

Gabe: [00:12:28] Yes.

Michelle: [00:12:29] Sorry. I’m sorry.

Gabe: [00:12:31] It’s amazing to me because on one hand I’m like oh man, would it be self care for me to watch a bunch of guys getting hit in the balls because I know that suffering and that it always makes me cringe. But on the other hand I’d laugh hysterically.

Michelle: [00:12:43] Laugh hysterically. Hysterically, hysterically. Let’s take a break and hear from our sponsor.

Announcer: [00:12:49] This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp.com. Secure, convenient, and affordable online counselling. All counselors are licensed, accredited professionals. Anything you share is confidential. Schedule secure video or phone sessions, plus chat and text with your therapist, whenever you feel it’s needed. A month of online therapy often costs less than a single traditional face to face session. Go to BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral and experience seven days of free therapy to see if online counselling is right for you. BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral.

Michelle: [00:13:20] And we’re back talking about self care.

Gabe: [00:13:22] How do you feel about fidget spinners.

Michelle: [00:13:23] I like fridget spinners. Why not?

Gabe: [00:13:25] Have they helped you? They’re not new anymore. I mean they’re well over a year old and I think the fad has kind of gone as far as mainstream.

Michelle: [00:13:32] Oh they were all over Chinatown when I was popping up in near little Italy. They were everywhere. Every kid that came into the market had a fidget spinner a couple of years ago.

Gabe: [00:13:42] They were everywhere for ten dollars and then last year I went to the fair and they were a buck.

Michelle: [00:13:45] Five dollars. Chinatown five dollars. That’s how much they were.

Gabe: [00:13:47] Yeah, everywhere in Ohio ten bucks ten bucks ten bucks ten bucks and then at the fair this year a dollar.

Michelle: [00:13:51] Yeah, well whoever invented them they made a lot of money.

Gabe: [00:13:55] So the mainstream fad is over. I’ve kept mine. I still find it to be very very helpful. I keep a little, not a fidget spinner, but a little fidget toy in my pocket. And I still use what I consider like fidget spinners’ great great grandpa, like Koosh balls or squeezy balls. I find all of those things.

Michelle: [00:14:13] You how? You squeeze your balls?

Gabe: [00:14:14] No, I don’t squeeze my balls. I have a little foam ball that I can squeeze.

Michelle: [00:14:19] Oh, okay.

Gabe: [00:14:19] But it’s interesting that you’re over there thinking about my balls.

Michelle: [00:14:23] No I was just like you like squeezy balls. I mean you said squeezy balls, Gabe.

Gabe: [00:14:28] Stress balls.

Michelle: [00:14:29] You said you like squeezy balls.

Gabe: [00:14:30] Stess balls have been around for a long time.

Michelle: [00:14:31] You said you liked squeezy balls.

Gabe: [00:14:33] Do you ever think that we like bicker back and forth like siblings as part of our self care regimen? Is that like our thing? Because we laugh hysterically when we do it. So.

Michelle: [00:14:42] I guess we do.

Gabe: [00:14:43] So it’s clearly not an argument.

Michelle: [00:14:44] Talking about self care specifically, I always like to bring up the late great Whitney Houston who said learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.

Gabe: [00:14:59] But how is that a self care thing? I mean isn’t it like a high level concept? It’s kind of like telling somebody that is having financial problems to just make more money or if you’re distressed just love yourself.

Michelle: [00:15:08] Well she decided that to paraphrase I don’t know the exact words but Whitney Houston did say that she decided long ago not to wander in anyone’s shadow. You know what I’m saying?

Gabe: [00:15:19] Because that way if she succeeds it won’t be her destiny or something?

Michelle: [00:15:24] If I fail, if I succeed, at least I lived as I believe. Live as you believe, Gabe. Don’t wander in anyone’s shadow. Don’t be in anyone’s shadow. Be you. Don’t let anyone tell you what to do.

Gabe: [00:15:37] I think that that is excellent advice. You’ve also stumbled upon another thing that I think is amazing. Music.

Michelle: [00:15:42] Yes.

Gabe: [00:15:43] This music really speaks to you and I know that you have described when you’ve been depressed stressed worried or even a little manic, that you use music to like regulate your moods. You think that’s a common thing? I have that big like 12 speaker surround sound stereo in my car, bluetooth enabled and I use it to listen to our podcast. But whenever you’re here, we connect it, and we’re like doing carpool Karaoke and like screaming to music and people are staring at us.

Michelle: [00:16:08] Yeah like that time I made you play White Houses by Vanessa Carlton and I was singing my heart out.

Gabe: [00:16:14] You were and what I love is I don’t like it when people sing because it grates me. But I was able to turn up the music so loud I couldn’t hear you.

Michelle: [00:16:21] Listen, you don’t like my singing voice? I am a professional singer.

Gabe: [00:16:24] Who sang that song?

Michelle: [00:16:26] Vanessa Carlton.

Gabe: [00:16:27] Let’s keep it that way.

Michelle: [00:16:29] Yes yes yes. Everybody used to say that back in the day.

Gabe: [00:16:32] Wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait. Knock knock.

Michelle: [00:16:35] Who’s there?

Gabe: [00:16:35] Interrupting cow. MOOOOOO!

Michelle: [00:16:38] Yeah. Everybody knows that one too, Gabe.

Gabe: [00:16:39] Wait, wait, wait. Why did the chicken cross the road?

Michelle: [00:16:41] To get the other side.

Gabe: [00:16:43] Oh you’ve heard this one.

Michelle: [00:16:44] Who killed Alicia Keys?

Gabe: [00:16:46] Who?

Michelle: [00:16:46] No one no one no one.

Gabe: [00:16:52] Alicia Keys is alive, right?

Michelle: [00:16:53] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:16:54] Okay.

Michelle: [00:16:54] That’s her song.

Gabe: [00:16:55] I didn’t know that.

Michelle: [00:16:55] Oh, okay, well.

Gabe: [00:16:57] Who’s Alicia Keys?

Michelle: [00:16:57] You know, she plays piano.

Gabe: [00:17:00] I think she’s a no one. No one no one.

Michelle: [00:17:02] OK. That’s not funny.

Gabe: [00:17:04] It’s a little funny.

Michelle: [00:17:05] Fine, whatever you want.

Gabe: [00:17:06] I think we like different music. We have found music that we both like and I would say that you know that’s another self care tip. Maybe be willing to compromise with your friends. I don’t like to listen to music in the car. It’s not something that I really do. But you and I have had to take several road trips as part of our job and you were like look I talk to you for money so I’m not going to talk to you for free. So I compromised and agreed to listen to music and we had a lot of fun doing it. It really was fun. But when you’re not around I don’t do it by myself. So I think that sometimes self care is being open to new ideas and maybe finding the joy in things that maybe you wouldn’t do alone. Another example of that is Jeopardy. I don’t watch Jeopardy when you’re not around.

Michelle: [00:17:46] I love Jeopardy. I love it. I just love to see more of the competition type aspect because when I watch it maybe I get like five questions right.

Gabe: [00:17:56] I get none.

Michelle: [00:17:57] No you get some.

Gabe: [00:17:58] Never.

Michelle: [00:17:59] I mean I wish I could be on Jeopardy but those people they just they have facts that I don’t even I didn’t even know where actual things. How do they know this stuff? They’re amazing. They’re amazing people.

Gabe: [00:18:11] You find that very interesting, right?

Michelle: [00:18:11] I do. That these people are so smart and I find it so interesting that they know these facts and like where did they learn these? Like, I went to high school, I went to college. I didn’t go to an Ivy League or anything like that, but how do they know these facts? And even there’s the teachers tournament and when I ever thought of a teacher I was like yeah your teacher teaches this subject. I was that you know they know this subject. No no no. You watch teachers tournament they know everything. Every. Thing. And then the college tournament, they know everything. But I do very well on the high school tournament. Those are those questions I do pretty good and then they had like the juniors. I was so good at the juniors. You have no idea. Those 12 year old kids, I’m on their level.

Gabe: [00:18:56] You know that show Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?

Michelle: [00:18:59] I’m bad at that.

Gabe: [00:19:00] Well, I was not. I was not smarter than a fifth grader.

Michelle: [00:19:02] I was not Smarter Than A Fifth Grader either. Yeah that’s how it is. Well, Gabe, when you’re not around I like to watch The People’s Court. So when we’re together we always watch The People’s Court.

Gabe: [00:19:12] You watch The People’s Court when I’m not around?

Michelle: [00:19:13] I try to.

Gabe: [00:19:14] I never watch Jeopardy when you’re not around. Like that’s only something that I do with you because I only get joy when you’re around. And truthfully I think the only joy that I get is watching you watch it. Listen I think that sometimes people miss the idea that self care doesn’t necessarily mean getting your way. You know so many people are like self care is doing what you want to do and it is. There’s a part of that, but self care is also about finding joy in things maybe you wouldn’t find joy in. And I think of things like, let’s take marriage for example. When you’re married you have to go to places or eat at restaurants or experience things that you wouldn’t seek on your own. I did not want to see Hamilton.

Michelle: [00:19:57] Why not? It’s supposed to be amazing. I want to see it so badly but the tickets are expensive.

Gabe: [00:20:00] But my wife wanted to see it so I went.

Michelle: [00:20:03] I’ll go . I’ll go with your wife. You buy the tickets and I’ll go with your wife.

Gabe: [00:20:07] It’s too late we already went.

Michelle: [00:20:08] Well, you didn’t invite me!

Gabe: [00:20:09] Maybe, but there’s an example. Though I did not want to go but I agreed to go. I got dressed up, we went out to a nice dinner, and I enjoyed myself. I both enjoyed the play and I enjoyed sharing it with somebody, making my wife happy. It’s also about the pageantry of putting on a suit. My wife and I don’t wear nice clothes around each other very often and it doesn’t matter if it’s Hamilton in a nice restaurant or if it’s just going to the Taco Bell in the nice section of town around the corner. Make it special. There’s all kinds of ways to take the mundane and turn them into better, and that is an example of self care.

Michelle: [00:20:45] This self care really is classified under the problem solving.

Gabe: [00:20:50] Problem solving self care?

Michelle: [00:20:51] This is problem solving.

Gabe: [00:20:52] Dun dun dun.

Michelle: [00:20:53] Yeah. All of this is really is problem solving self care. This is what we’re really discussing right now.

Gabe: [00:20:59] I agree.

Michelle: [00:21:00] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:21:00] You read an article didn’t you?

Michelle: [00:21:03] Possibly.

Gabe: [00:21:03] I’m sorry.

Michelle: [00:21:04] I did some research. Yes, what can I say? What can I say? I know.

Gabe: [00:21:08] You know, nobody has ever called you illiterate, Michelle.

Michelle: [00:21:11] Nobody. Nobody’s ever called me a illiterate since I learned how to read. I learned how to read, Gabe, one day.

Gabe: [00:21:16] You know jokes are funny. You asked earlier about things that you can seek out on the internet. Jokes. There’s jokes everywhere.

Michelle: [00:21:23] There’s jokes everywhere.

Gabe: [00:21:24] And there’s there’s inspirational writing.

Michelle: [00:21:26] Yes.

Gabe: [00:21:27] That’s always fun.

Michelle: [00:21:28] Watching TV like TV can be self care. I’m a huge fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I’ve been a huge fan since I was eight years old. And you know with the beauty of you know online streaming services and stuff like that I now can just go on to any one of those. Know the episode that I’m looking for. Watch it. And I feel that feeling of just like comfort. And it makes me feel better because I know the feeling that I get when I watch that specific episode. Like the episode where Buffy has to kill Angel and the devastation.

Gabe: [00:22:02] No.

Michelle: [00:22:02] It’s just I it’s like when I’m depressed I watch that episode and I’m like at least I didn’t have to kill my love. You know?

Gabe: [00:22:10] Wow.

Michelle: [00:22:11] She leaves town and goes to L.A.

Gabe: [00:22:13] Does Buffy kill her podcast co-host?

Michelle: [00:22:15] She doesn’t have a podcast, that didn’t exist.

Gabe: [00:22:19] OK. So I’m safe. That’s what I’m hearing.

Michelle: [00:22:21] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:22:21] But your significant other? You might have to kill someday?

Michelle: [00:22:24] Only if she tries to end the world and takes the sword out of Acathla as he’s going to swallow the world. And the only way to save the world is to kill her and send her to hell.

Gabe: [00:22:37] I know your significant other and she’s not that motivated. We’ll be fine.

Michelle: [00:22:40] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:22:42] Here’s some other like just real quick self-help tips that people don’t think of. Brush your teeth.

Michelle: [00:22:46] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:22:47] Eat something healthy. Make a meal, like make pageantry out of, you know? Don’t just grab the chips or you know the bagel bites in the microwave, actually cook a meal. There take a shower, shave, take a walk around the block, go to the gym. I mean it ramps up from here.

Michelle: [00:23:03] Exercise is great self care.

Gabe: [00:23:05] I’m not going to do that. But you’re right it is great self care.

Michelle: [00:23:10] It is and also joining a sports team. Any kind of club team is also great self care too.

Gabe: [00:23:16] People don’t think about that a lot, especially adults. You know I talked to a lot of people over the age of 50 and over the age of 40 because I’m at that age, and like I don’t know what to do for self care and I say like have you ever considered joining like a book club or a bowling league? And they’re like well but isn’t that like for young people? No, and one of the things that you turned me onto a long time ago, which is in your Jeopardy theme, is a lot of sports bars and bars like during the week will have trivia nights.

Michelle: [00:23:41] Yes.

Gabe: [00:23:41] Trivia nights are a lot of fun and you don’t have to sign up, you just have to show up so you show up and you can have fun. And listen, what’s really cool about them that I found out is that most people just suck. They just suck at trivia night but it’s a lot of fun. There’s always like a couple of teams are taking it like really serious and.

Michelle: [00:23:58] People take it ridiculously seriously.

Gabe: [00:24:01] Yeah.

Michelle: [00:24:01] Like ridiculous.

Gabe: [00:24:01] But at least half the room is just like, “Huh, trivia is hard.” But they’re still having fun.

Michelle: [00:24:07] I’ve never placed in regular trivia above second to last place.

Gabe: [00:24:11] Second to last place? So you beat somebody?

Michelle: [00:24:13] One time only. Because one of the sections was Disney.

Gabe: [00:24:17] One of the sections was Disney?

Michelle: [00:24:18] Yeah. That’s how I got 2nd to last place.

Gabe: [00:24:20] Didn’t you participate in a Buffy the Vampire Slayer trivia?

Michelle: [00:24:20] Yes I have many times and I have placed and I’ve never placed below fourth. I’ve got to go first second third and fourth.

Gabe: [00:24:29] Oh wow so you did get first when it was very specific to an amount of knowledge that you had.

Michelle: [00:24:33] Yeah I only placed first the one time where I was alone.

Gabe: [00:24:37] So if I want to take first in a trivia contest I should find like bullshit trivia?

Michelle: [00:24:42] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:24:42] Because I would place first.

Michelle: [00:24:44] If it was mental health trivia you would.

Gabe: [00:24:46] Oh my God. Could you imagine? You and I we would dominate it.

Michelle: [00:24:49] We would dominate mental health trivia.

Gabe: [00:24:51] Not only would we dominate but like if any of the stereotypes were the answer we’d correct it.

Michelle: [00:24:54] Oh, my God. We should have mental health trivia night somewhere. We should start that.

Gabe: [00:25:00] This is an excellent idea.

Michelle: [00:25:02] We should have a little contest or something.

Gabe: [00:25:06] A contest?

Michelle: [00:25:06] A mental health contest. Mental health, we should do something. But how do we know?

Gabe: [00:25:08] Eh, people are going to Google.

Michelle: [00:25:10] They’re gonna google.

Gabe: [00:25:12] I’ve got the first question though and they won’t be able to Google. I figured it out, Michelle. All right everybody, using show@PsychCentral.com, send us an email with the nicest thing that somebody did for you to help you cope with your own mental illness. So a nice story about a friend, a caregiver, a stranger. All stories are welcome. Please send them to show@PsychCentral.com. And if we use it on the air we’ll send you stickers because we’re chill like that.

Michelle: [00:25:39] Or a talking mental health T-shirt, Gabe.

Gabe: [00:25:42] That is so mean. Why you gotta be mocking the talking mental t-shirts?

Michelle: [00:25:45] I’m not. I’m not mocking them. I’m saying we should send them more than stickers, Gabe.

Gabe: [00:25:50] All right, I will revise it. The winner, the best story, the most moving and meaningful story, will get A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast care package, including more than just stickers. But all of the other stories that we use on an upcoming show, will just get stickers. Fair?

Michelle: [00:26:07] But you have to actually write a good story.

Gabe: [00:26:12] Yeah, you got to read a good story.

Michelle: [00:26:13] You can’t just say, “My buddy gave me a Kit Kat and I was so happy about it.”

Gabe: [00:26:19] I mean you can, but you’re not going to win and we’re not going to use it on the show. And now I want to Kit Kat.

Michelle: [00:26:24] We have some downstairs.

Gabe: [00:26:24] Sweet. That’s where we’re off to. Thank you everybody for tuning into this week’s episode of A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and Podcast. If you are on iTunes we would love your five star review. Write a review, like use your words. Tell people why they should listen and please share us on social media. Email us to your friends, help us go world wide famous. And finally, if you work for BuzzFeed, or know anybody that works for BuzzFeed, where’s our love? Please write a story on us. We will see everybody next week on you’re supposed to yell out A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast.

Michelle: [00:27:04] A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast!

Gabe: [00:27:06] Thanks everybody for tuning in. And we will see you next week.

Narrator: [00:27:15] You’ve been listening to A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. If you love this episode, don’t keep it to yourself head over to iTunes or your preferred podcast app to subscribe, rate, and review. To work with Gabe go to GabeHoward.com. To work with Michelle, go to schizophrenic.NYC. For free mental health resources and online support groups, head over to PsychCentral.com. This show’s official web site is PsychCentral.com/BSP. You can e-mail us at show@PsychCentral.com. Thank you for listening, and share widely.

Meet Your Bipolar and Schizophrenic Hosts

GABE HOWARD was formally diagnosed with bipolar and anxiety disorders after being committed to a psychiatric hospital in 2003. Now in recovery, Gabe is a prominent mental health activist and host of the award-winning Psych Central Show podcast. He is also an award-winning writer and speaker, traveling nationally to share the humorous, yet educational, story of his bipolar life. To work with Gabe, visit gabehoward.com.

MICHELLE HAMMER was officially diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 22, but incorrectly diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 18. Michelle is an award-winning mental health advocate who has been featured in press all over the world. In May 2015, Michelle founded the company Schizophrenic.NYC, a mental health clothing line, with the mission of reducing stigma by starting conversations about mental health. She is a firm believer that confidence can get you anywhere. To work with Michelle, visit Schizophrenic.NYC.

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Podcast: Helping a Friend with Mental Illness

This is an interesting article I found on: www.psychcentral.com

See credits below.

Even if we live with mental illness, ourselves, we can be frustrated when we don’t know how to help a friend or family member who’s dealing with it. We may find that coping skills that work for us may not work for someone else. Medications that work for us may not work for the other person. In this episode, Gabe and Michelle discuss how to help friends with mental illness, including the help available through caregivers, medication, and more.


Google PlaySpotify

“And I wonder to myself, ‘Why do you tolerate this s**t?’”
– Gabe Howard

Highlights From ‘Helping a friend with mental illness’’ Episode

[1:00] Fun with stereotypes.

[4:20] Gabe reads a letter from a listener.

[6:30] How can you help a friend who is struggling with mental illness?

[7:30] What’s up with caregivers?

[9:30] How can you help yourself during a manic phase?

[13:30] How can psychiatric medications help?

[22:00] When are we not okay?

Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Helping a Friend with Mental Illness’ Show

Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you.

Announcer: For reasons that utterly escape everyone involved, you’re listening to A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. Here are your hosts, Gabe Howard and Michelle Hammer.

Gabe: My name is Gabe Howard and I have bipolar disorder.

Michelle: Hi Michelle, schizophrenic.

Gabe: And together we’re hosting a podcast. That’s where we got the name.

Michelle: Whoooooo!

Gabe: I think we’ve made that joke like four times in the entirety of the show which is now well over a year.

Michelle: Wow, Gabe I’ve known you for so long.

Gabe: You couldn’t even fake enthusiasm.

Michelle: I’m enthusiastic, I’m so happy.

Gabe: Have you taken your meds?

Michelle: Yes.

Gabe: Isn’t that was still the number one question that makes our audience cringe?

Michelle: I can’t stand that question.

Gabe: Now you know that I’m just kidding like I watched you take your meds because I don’t want you to hurt my dog. Stereotypes are funny. They’re also very offensive and insulting. And this show really aims to both break down stereotypes and use them for humor. So we have sort of a schizophrenic goal. Oh shit. Did I do it again?

Michelle: Oh, no, you did. This weather is just so schizophrenic.

Gabe: No, no, it’s bipolar. See that doesn’t offend me. That’s actually a really interesting point. I’ve heard you say that the weather is schizophrenic offends you. When people say that the weather is bipolar that does not offend me.

Michelle: I think that makes a little more sense because they mean one day it’s sunny one day it’s raining or cold. And schizophrenic weather I don’t get it because I’m like, what is the weather hearing right now?

Gabe: So you’re saying that the reason that the weather is schizophrenic is offensive is because the weather is not hearing voices?

Michelle: I just don’t understand how it makes any sense. What are they thinking that schizophrenia is that the weather it could possibly be schizophrenic?

Gabe: That’s a good point there.

Michelle: Is the weather delusional? Is the weather thinking that it’s raining, so it’s raining? Or is the weather sunny because it’s believing a delusion of sunnyness? I don’t get it.

Gabe: That’s a good point. When somebody says the weather is schizophrenic they probably mean that it’s like erratic or maybe unwelcome or violent or uncomfortable. So therefore the weather is schizophrenic and I can see where that would be. You’re right that is a lot more insulting than the weather is bipolar which like you said it was rainy one minute and sunny the next.

Michelle: I think it’s just people that don’t know what schizophrenia is and they just want us say something like maybe they think they’re smart. Like that when people say the word “conversate” and say it like they think it’s an actual word.

Gabe: Yeah.

Michelle: When the real word is converse.

Gabe: Right.

Michelle: They think they’re smart like we were just “conversating” saying like no no you sound like an idiot when you try to sound smart like that. Not a word. Conversate is not a word conversating is not a word. Don’t say the word conversate in front of me. I will think you’re an idiot.

Gabe: You know the one that I hate the most? The word “irregardless.”

Michelle: Is that what?

Gabe: It’s not a word. Regardless it’s not a word it’s regardless just just regardless. You don’t need an “irr.”.

Michelle: I don’t think I’ve even heard somebody say that.

Gabe: You know what I also hate? This literally makes me die.

Michelle: That doesn’t make any sense.

Gabe: Right? It figuratively makes you die.

Michelle: Yes. Because then.

Gabe: You’re literally an idiot.

Michelle: Because then you’d be dead. It literally made you die. You’d be dead. But you know and then the British they say literally?

Gabe: Literally?

Michelle: Why do they say literally?

Gabe: How would you know, you’ve never left the country?

Michelle: Yes I have.

Gabe: When?

Michelle: And plus there’s always British people on TV and there’s British people in movies and they say literally and they say Tuesday and they say schedule.

Gabe: So we’ve got an e-mail. We actually just drop these things in to see if people from across the pond are listening. If somebody writes in, “We did not like Michelle Hammer making fun of our entire culture and country.” We’re like hey we’re breaking in the U.K. We do get a lot of e-mail and we are going to try to answer more and more e-mails in future episodes. So bop over to PsychCentral.com/BSP and you’ll be able to see the form to ask us your own questions.

Michelle: Ask us anything.

Gabe: Megan sent us a nice long e-mail and she asked a lot of questions. We decided, hey, we might as well address them because you know we ran out of show ideas. She wrote I just started listening to your podcast and I’m trying to understand bipolar disorder more. So this works because it’s going to be about me. I would love to hear an in-depth discussion about how the brain works with someone who has bipolar disorder. Let’s kind of stop there for a moment. Gabe Howard lives with bipolar disorder.

Michelle: And I’m schizophrenic.

Gabe: And neither one of us are doctors.

Michelle: I am not a doctor.

Gabe: We don’t even play one on TV.

Michelle: No.

Gabe: We don’t even have like Neil Patrick Harris Doogie Howser.

Michelle: Not even.

Gabe: Yeah.

Michelle: We’re not even a kid doctor that’s a genius.

Gabe: Nothing. We’re not even a therapist.

Michelle: But I like brains.

Gabe: So you do not want to get in depth information about how the brain works with bipolar disorder from Gabe and Michelle.

Michelle: Or we can just make something up.

Gabe: We could. We can make something up. The brain works by firing synapses. Aww, shit, that’s actually correct.

Michelle: Synapses. There’s a misfire in synapses. That’s why that’s. It’s a misfire. And there is serotonin.

Gabe: Serotonin, there’s a word. Dopamine.

Michelle: Dopamine.

Gabe: You’re a dope, I mean, sorry.

Michelle: You’re dope, I mean, you’re a dope, like I mean, yo.

Gabe: Like the brain for as much as we need it and as much as we talk about it and the fact that everybody has one is a really misunderstood organ. So you really just don’t want to get information from anybody because they just don’t know.

Michelle: You gotta donate your brain to science, Gabe. There you go.

Gabe: I did. Harvard gets my brain when I die.

Michelle: Oh, that’s so nice of you.

Gabe: It’s the only way I’m getting into Harvard.

Michelle: OK.

Gabe: Who’s getting your brain when you die?

Michelle: I haven’t thought about it yet but I’ve gotten a brain scan that I gave to Mount Sinai Hospital.

Gabe: That was really cool.

Michelle: Yeah. The next question we can answer, though. It’s what are ways to help someone with bipolar disorder?

Gabe: The best way to help people with mental illness is to do something. So many people ignore the symptoms of mental illness because they don’t know what to say. They don’t know what to do and therefore they do nothing. Doing something is so much better, and some ideas are: talk to the person directly, encourage the person to seek mental health help, if the person is a danger to themselves or others, take them to the doctor or call 911 and stay with them provide support. The bottom line is so many people watch people spiral out of control from a distance because they don’t want to get involved. They don’t understand it. They think that it’s a moral failing. Or they go over and they start yelling at the person and they’re mean to the person and they demand that they get better.

Michelle: And you really have to be there for the person. Don’t run away. Stay with them, and try to educate yourself like Megan is trying to do.

Gabe: Megan is an excellent example of somebody that’s trying to do something. Her whole letter, which we won’t have time to read, it asked many many questions. And I sincerely hope that Megan, upon hearing this episode, doesn’t think oh well I’ve got all the information that I need in 20 minutes. That’s not realistic. You need to get on PsychCentral.com and read a lot. And also people who are trying to take care of people with mental illness, see your own therapist.

Michelle: Yes.

Gabe: You know being a full time caregiver to somebody that is really really sick that’s a lot.

Michelle: Caregiving is not easy. And then there’s also support groups for caregivers.

Gabe: A lot of people don’t realize that when it comes to mental illness. For alcohol addiction they have like Al-Anon. It’s for people who love somebody who is an alcoholic.

Michelle: Or like PFLAG.

Gabe: Exactly, which is?

Michelle: I don’t know exactly what it stands for, but it’s the parents of gays and lesbians.

Gabe: Really? You can’t get Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays out of PFLAG?

Michelle: Right. That’s right. You know, it Gabe!

Gabe: Why do I know more about your culture than you do?

Michelle: Whatever whatever whatever.

Gabe: There’s all kinds of support groups that are set up for the ancillary characters. And that’s really how I like to say it. They’re not people that are suffering, or have the impairment, or the issue that, you know, is at the core of this. But they’re still impacted by it. They are still impacted by something that happened to somebody else and they need and deserve support as well.

Michelle: Yeah, you’re not alone. You’re not alone. There’s bazillions of caregivers for people with mental illness and they need people to talk to as well.

Gabe: Exactly.

Michelle: Pause on that. Let’s take a break and hear from our sponsor.

Announcer: This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp.com. Secure, convenient, and affordable online counselling. All counselors are licensed, accredited professionals. Anything you share is confidential. Schedule secure video or phone sessions, plus chat and text with your therapist, whenever you feel it’s needed. A month of online therapy often costs less than a single traditional face to face session. Go to BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral and experience seven days of free therapy to see if online counselling is right for you. BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral.

Gabe: And we’re back talking this e-mail.

Michelle: So Megan specifically asked this one question of how can they help themselves when they’re in a manic phase?

Gabe: That’s really tough. I mean, both Michelle and I have experienced mania and once you’re manic you’re it’s hard you’re kind of gone.

Michelle: Yeah, me specifically, let’s say last week I kind of had a manic phase. I even went to the doctor, just that my regular therapy psychiatrist doctor, and I was just in there and he’s kind of said to me you know you’re acting kind of manic right now are you OK? And I go Oh I’m fine I’m fine I’m fine everything is fine. And then I was kind of like hanging out with my friends and they were like Are you OK right now? You are acting a very very strange. What is going on? And that’s when I kind of self reflected and I was like I am totally manic right now. I need to do something about this. But I am an experienced with dealing with myself so I know what I need to do. So someone who’s newly into having a mental illness and finding it out for themselves, they need to learn what they need to do. So they kind of need to educate themselves. So, Gabe, what did you do when you didn’t know you were having manic episodes?

Gabe: I mean if you don’t know, you’re not going to do anything. Because mania, for as bad and as nasty and awful as it is, it feels good. It feels fantastic. I don’t think the average person who’s feeling fantastic would think to themselves hey what do I need to do to fix this? Especially with bipolar disorder, because there’s so much depression and suicidality and deep dark pits.

Michelle: Right? And you’re finally happy.

Gabe: Yeah. You’re finally happy. Why would you want anybody to fuck with that?

Michelle: I know. And then everyone’s telling you what are you doing why are you acting like this. You’re like What? I’m happy right now I’m having a great time Why are you trying to kill my jam? I’m doing great.

Gabe: Yeah. I would argue that one of the first things to getting better with bipolar disorder is this acknowledgment that all extreme emotions can be dangerous. People just have this belief that you can never be too happy. They’re like wait you can be too happy? What, can you be too rich? Look I don’t know if you can be too rich, but you’re can absolutely be too happy.

Michelle: I would love to be too rich.

Gabe: I can see that. Would you be like Scrooge McDuck?

Michelle: Like diving into my coins and stuff?

Gabe: I can see you getting rich and filling up like a giant bin full of money jumping into it and just immediately breaking your nose and smashing your face. That seems like the idiotic thing that you would do.

Michelle: I would not do that. But I might take a bath in money naked.

Gabe: Duck Tails. Woo hoo. I want to touch on another part of your story that you brought up, Michelle. Which is you were listening to the people around you when your doctor said it you were like OK and when your friends said it you were like OK. This takes some time to build. Obviously, Michelle, we’ve discussed that you have to really be in touch with your emotions to be able to know that you’re in a manic stage and know that you need to do something. That’s really the first thing that you have to learn. But once you’ve learned that so you realized you were manic. What did you do about it?

Michelle: Well when I noticed my friends were getting frustrated with me and bringing up that I was manic and you know they didn’t like it they weren’t enjoying it. They were kind of saying what’s going on? I was like you just took a seat on the couch took a couple of deep breaths, had some water, and just settled and self-reflected and just calmed myself down. Really just calmed myself down and realized how I was acting. I kind of got sad that it happened. I was upset that I got so manic. I was upset that I let myself get manic. So I just kind of got sad about it.

Gabe: Isn’t that kind of like one of the really shitty things about being mentally ill? You just described that you had a symptom of your mental illness and now you felt bad for it.

Michelle: Yeah.

Gabe: That would be like feeling sad that you have the symptom of the flu because you blew your nose.

Michelle: Yeah yeah.

Gabe: There’s a lot of regret when it comes to mental illness. Now I think you know Megan’s talking about her boyfriend a lot here and one of the things that she wants to know over and over again is you know how can he stop? How can he lessen things? And we’re trying not to make this episode about well just take your meds and you’ll be fine, because that’s not helpful.

Michelle: Yeah. Going on meds isn’t even easy, especially newly diagnosed. How do you know you’re going on the right med at the right time? How much meds do you need? What’s going to work what’s not going to work? That’s a whole new thing. That’s a whole process. So you can’t just say take your meds and you’ll be better. You don’t know what meds, what your meds are going to be?

Gabe: But it is helpful.

Michelle: It’s helpful of course. The journey of medication is it always leads to a better life. Well it did with me and you.

Gabe: Yeah.

Michelle: So I would say that is a good journey.

Gabe: But along that journey, to be fair, that journey does involve nasty ass things happening to you. From the time I started medication until the time I got to you know recovery was four years. Clearly that journey was worth it because now I can live well. But there was some issues along the way. It wasn’t like this nice beautiful country road. There were traffic jams. I wrecked my car a couple of times. Gas is incredibly expensive. I’m glad that I got from point A to point B, and I’m proud of myself for doing so. But I think so many people hear just take your meds. Just be med compliant. Meds have no downsides. Meds have incredible amounts of downside. She’s talking about her boyfriend who wants to manage bipolar disorder without the help of medication. I don’t think that’s possible.

Michelle: I don’t think that’s possible either.

Gabe: But I can understand why he’s scared. I mean her boyfriend wants to manage it without them and I really believe that he wants to manage a bipolar diagnosis without meds for two reasons. One, having to take medicine is shitty.

Michelle: Yes.

Gabe: I mean it’s a reminder every time you put those pills in your mouth that you are different from everybody else.

Michelle: Absolutely.

Gabe: It’s also seen as a sign of weakness.

Michelle: Yeah.

Gabe: Well you’re so weak. You need medication.

Michelle: Absolutely.

Gabe: And it’s not just that you’re weak, your brain is weak.

Michelle: Yeah.

Gabe: And your brain is where like your personality and your intelligence is stored. So your personality and your intellect, the core of who you are, is broken.

Michelle: That’s just one of the things that you think. It is.

Gabe: And it is hard to get over that because it sounds so sensible at the time but that’s just so incredibly stupid. It really is when you think about it. If you lacerated your arm right now and just a big old gash and just blood was pouring out and like your nerves in just a big old gash.

Michelle: Yeah, yeah, I get it.

Gabe: And a doctor comes in. The doctor comes in and says I’m going to stitch that up for you so that you can heal and you say no.

Michelle: I want to keep bleeding.

Gabe: I want to keep bleeding because I’m going to will the laceration closed on my own because I’m in control of my arm. It’s my arm. You will not do stuff to my arm. Or what if you broke your leg? I will fuse the bones together without medical intervention. We have people that live with diabetes and have to take insulin. They they don’t say no no no my chemistry is flawed. Or you know, I say chemistry, I actually have no idea how diabetes works, except that people take daily shots and those people live better. It’s the same way with mental illness. I’m really trying not to say stigma, but it’s got this stigma surrounding it that there is somehow a moral value in treating mental illness. I think there’s a moral value in not treating mental illness.

Michelle: You said there were two reasons why he didn’t want to take medication.

Gabe: I did give two reasons.

Michelle: You gave two reasons?

Gabe: Yes, you’re just not paying attention.

Michelle: OK fine.

Gabe: I’m not. Reason number one because taking pills reminds you that you’re different. Reason number two.

Michelle: Stigma?

Gabe: Number two, no not stigmas. Stop yelling stigma. What are you? Every single mental health advocate in the world?

Michelle: Person first language please.

Gabe: I apologize. You’re a person living with stupid ideas that you’re spewing out on our show. The first one was taking pills makes you feel different. The second one is that people feel there’s a moral value in taking their medication because they should be able to control their brains without help.

Michelle: Okay gotcha there. Gotcha. That’s one and two. Take notes people.

Gabe: Somebody who’s newly diagnosed with any mental illness, but especially bipolar disorder, they’re just reminded about how their brain is not working right and how they’re different and how they need to do better. And it’s a scary prospect but this is what I would want to say to this person if he were sitting in front of me. The medication will give you better control of your brain. It will allow you to use more of your faculties. You choose to take the medication so you are in charge. It’s no different than using a car to drive faster. It doesn’t make you weak. It’s just a shortcut. I don’t want to walk 20 miles to school. I want to drive 20 miles to school. It makes me intelligent that I’m smart enough to use a car to get there faster and safer. It makes you intelligent that you’re smart enough to use medication so that you can get there faster and safer. And then once you have better control of your brain you can start making decisions and doing what you want and controlling it just so much better.

Michelle: Yeah. I’m reading more of this letter and it seems like he’s so anti medication that he’s almost hurting. Really he’s like he’s distressing himself because he’s not going to doctors because he’s being told by doctors that he needs meds. So I mean if you’re going to go to a doctor for help and then refuse the help, why are you going to the doctor?

Gabe: Because he wants to hear something other than that. And you know he is right. There’s a line in here, “It sucks when everyone just tells him medication will work and they don’t give him any other options.” That’s irresponsible as well.

Michelle: It is. It is.

Gabe: We should point that out because medication while very helpful is not, I repeat not, the only thing.

Michelle: Group therapy for him as well. Why doesn’t he talk to other people who were told they are bipolar?

Gabe: Exactly.

Michelle: He can talk to other people and find out if they’re on meds. Then he can feel like oh if they’re bipolar and they’re on meds and they’re doing this maybe I’m not alone. You know maybe he feels alone with his disorder? But then will he go to group therapy is a whole different question, you know?

Gabe: I have no idea if he would or not. But the point that is being raised in the e-mail and that’s all we have we just have this e-mail. You know maybe they’re lying. I don’t know. But I’m going to take them at their word. What they’re saying is that he goes in and says to his doctor I have bipolar disorder what can I do to get well? And the doctor says your best option is A. And he’s saying look I want to be a health care consumer. And I don’t agree with A. I don’t want to do A. And his doctor is saying then forget it I’m not going to give you anything else. I’ll say that A is the best option. I agree that A is the best option. But he’s telling us, his patient is telling us, that he’s uncomfortable with A. Do you have a B? There is a B. Go to therapy. Go to group therapy. Use peer support. Talk to other people with mental illness. Discuss with a therapist why you’re so afraid of medication. Get more research on what exactly you think medication is going to do that you want to head off. He might have like a really really good reason to not want to take medication. Maybe he is a concert pianist and he has heard that medication causes tremors? That’s a very very common thing. And he is afraid that if he starts taking medication he will not be able to play the piano anymore. Now he’s not being ridiculous. Now he’s safeguarding something that is a passion of his. That is his whole life.

Michelle: Now I’m checking my hands.

Gabe: I know. We both lifted up our hands. We’re like hey there’s a look. Look.

Michelle: Do my hands tremor?

Gabe: Yeah, look.

Michelle: Your hands are trembling, am I?

Gabe: Yeah. You’ve got a little tremor there. Yeah. Look. Look at the pen.

Michelle: Oh, snap! I’ve got hand tremors.

Gabe: Yeah. But see, it doesn’t bother you because you don’t need fine motor skills for your job.

Michelle: I could never be a surgeon.

Gabe: You could never be a surgeon. You could never.

Michelle: There’s way more reasons why I could never be a surgeon.

Gabe: I could see you being a surgeon. You’d be like I’m here to operate, bitch.

Michelle: I’m here to operate. I’ll be a plastic surgeon. You want some big titties? I’ll give you some big titties. Oh yes.

Gabe: I also in this e-mail she says that she’s been dating this gentleman for six and a half years now, which is a long time. That’s like a solid relationship. That’s like all of my marriages wrapped into one. And she says that she can’t tell when he has a manic episode. She can tell when he’s depressed. And you know I kind of recognize how you can tell when somebody is depressed. It is very difficult sometimes to notice mania until it’s too late. Because sometimes you’re positive that mania is happening the minute they leap off the roof into the pool before then you just think through the life of the party they’re fun and they’re happy.

Michelle: One driving 105 miles per hour down the highway.

Gabe: Yeah. And you don’t want to tell somebody that’s like enjoying life. I mean I have driven a hundred miles an hour. I have. I’ve done it. And that’s probably maybe not the safest thing. I mean the speed limit was 70. I went 100. That’s 30 miles and over but it wasn’t because of mania. But you know what if it was? So how can somebody tell when Gabe’s driving 100 miles an hour because hey he drives a fucking Lexus and he wants to turn up the stereo really loud and race down the road? Or is he driving really fast because he’s manic? Remember the other day when we listened to I would Do Anything for Love at literally all the way to the top volume and drove 100 hundred miles and you like sang and recorded it and put it on Facebook.

Michelle: Yes.

Gabe: Yeah. The police came our court date is in like two weeks.

Michelle: Now shut up. No it’s not.

Gabe: You don’t know. It really was a bad idea to film it. You’re a moron.

Michelle: Filmed the speedometer.

Gabe: Michelle, we really get a lot of e-mails from caregivers, family members, significant others ,and they ask the same questions over and over: what can I do? How can I help them? And I really wish we had the answer, because we’d be rich.

Michelle: Scrooge McDuck rich.

Gabe: Right?

Michelle: Yeah.

Gabe: That’s the kind of thing that you could sell for tons of money. So I want people to know there are no easy answers because so many people are looking for that magic bullet. There isn’t one. And I think about like an email like this where she’s like You know I’ve been with this man for six and a half years and I love him and I want to help him but it sounds like for six and a half years he’s been symptomatic and just caused her problems. So it’s rough because there’s this little part of me that wants to say to people man why do you tolerate this shit? Maybe this isn’t the best relationship for you? Maybe you need to save yourself? I struggle with this in my own marriage. I’m not saying this to just her. I also think about this for my friends or my wife. Why does she want to put up with this? And I don’t know the answer, but I do know that if I want people to love me, I have to pull my own weight. And no matter how hard you try, you can’t make your loved one be better. They have to work on it on their own. They have to want it. The most that you can ever do is help them. But a lot of these emails they’re asking how to do it for them. And that can’t be done.

Michelle: A relationship is a partnership. And you can’t just help your partner if they won’t accept help themselves. You have to work together and you have to want to get better. To have a successful relationship that works well you’ve got to do what’s best for yourself.

Gabe: Truer words never spoken, my friend.

Michelle: I’m a true word genius. We’ve been conversating for awhile now. Thank you for writing in Megan. We hope that everything turns out OK. We hope we gave you some great advice. We hope we helped you and I hope that everything goes well in the future.

Gabe: And we believe that it can, because if for nothing else, we’re incredibly optimistic.

Michelle: You bet.

Gabe: Don’t people always say that about us, Michelle? That Gabe and Michelle, they’re so optimistic.

Michelle: I don’t know why people say that.

Gabe: I don’t know because everything sucks we’re all going to die. It is true. I mean everything does suck and we all are going to die someday. Maybe the optimism is that we don’t think we’re going to die today?

Michelle: Oh yeah, not today.

Gabe: Not today.

Michelle: Not tomorrow.

Gabe: Not tomorrow, either.

Michelle: One day.

Gabe: We’re fine for the weekend.

Michelle: We’re fine for this. Yeah. Yeah. We’re good. We’re good.

Gabe: We’re good for at least the end of the month.

Michelle: Yeah totally totally we got this. We got this. No accidents, no heart disease. You know the number one killer. None of that.

Gabe: Well that was depressing.

Michelle: Sorry.

Gabe: I probably do have heart disease. Oh now you gotta bring that up.

Michelle: Oh no. Heart disease and mental illness. The next episode.

Gabe: Please subscribe to our show on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you downloaded this podcast. Please share on social media. Tell all of your friends about it. We don’t have a huge advertising budget, but what we do have is your loyal support. Thank you so much. We’ll see everybody next week on A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast.

Announcer: You’ve been listening to A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. If you love this episode, don’t keep it to yourself head over to iTunes or your preferred podcast app to subscribe, rate, and review. To work with Gabe go to GabeHoward.com. To work with Michelle, go to Schizophrenic.NYC. For free mental health resources and online support groups, head over to PsychCentral.com. This show’s official web site is PsychCentral.com/BSP. You can e-mail us at [email protected]. Thank you for listening, and share widely.

Meet Your Bipolar and Schizophrenic Hosts

GABE HOWARD was formally diagnosed with bipolar and anxiety disorders after being committed to a psychiatric hospital in 2003. Now in recovery, Gabe is a prominent mental health activist and host of the award-winning Psych Central Show podcast. He is also an award-winning writer and speaker, traveling nationally to share the humorous, yet educational, story of his bipolar life. To work with Gabe, visit gabehoward.com.MICHELLE HAMMER was officially diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 22, but incorrectly diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 18. Michelle is an award-winning mental health advocate who has been featured in press all over the world. In May 2015, Michelle founded the company Schizophrenic.NYC, a mental health clothing line, with the mission of reducing stigma by starting conversations about mental health. She is a firm believer that confidence can get you anywhere. To work with Michelle, visit Schizophrenic.NYC.Podcast: Helping a Friend with Mental Illness

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Podcast: Hypersexuality with a Bipolar and Schizophrenic

This is an interesting article I found on: www.psychcentral.com

See credits below.

Hypersexuality is a very common symptom of bipolar mania and a potential symptom of schizophrenia, as well. Both Gabe and Michelle have experienced being hypersexual, but because of their ages and genders, it manifested itself in different ways.

However, their personal differences aside, there is one thing that both our hosts completely agree on. . . Listen now to find out.


Google PlaySpotify

“Hypersexuality is not a good thing. It was a need that I had to fill.”
– Gabe Howard

Highlights From ‘Hypersexuality’’ Episode

[1:40] What is the correct definition of hypersexuality?

[4:30] The history of sex as we understand it.

[6:45] Why hypersexuality is not a good thing.

[10:00] Being hypersexual in the digital age.

[12:30] Gabe & Michelle explain Sex Bingo.

[16:30] Is hypersexuality a compulsion, like addiction?

[22:00] It’s important to have sex safe, no matter what.

Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Hypersexuality with a Bipolar and Schizophrenic’ Show

Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you.

Announcer: [00:00:07] For reasons that utterly escape everyone involved, you’re listening to A Bipolar, A Schizophrenic, and A Podcast. Here are your hosts, Gabe Howard and Michelle Hammer.

Gabe: [00:00:18] You’re listening to A Bipolar, A Schizophrenic, and A Podcast. My name is Gabe Howard. I have bipolar.

Michelle: [00:00:23] Hi, I’m Michelle, I’m schizophrenic.

Gabe: [00:00:26] And today we’re going to talk about sex.

Michelle: [00:00:28] Sex? I don’t know if it is gay. What is that? Is this sex ed?

Gabe: [00:00:32] I think that it’s funny that you’re already uncomfortable. The great Michelle Hammer is not uncomfortable about anything, anything until two things happen. A microphone flips on and you think that your mom might be listening.

Michelle: [00:00:46] When I learned sex ed in fifth grade, that video showed me where I was going to grow hair.

Gabe: [00:00:51] Oh, my God. That I… You have left me speechless. You know,… this… it’s…We’re going to talk a lot about specifically hypersexuality, because it’s one of those things that a lot of people with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, it happens. It’s a part of mania. It’s a part of delusional thinking. It’s something that feels good and then gets twisted, which is mental illness’ is specialty.

Michelle: [00:01:14] I hope you don’t start twisting when you have sex. I hope nothing gets twisted when you start having sex. I don’t want anything twisting on you.

Gabe: [00:01:21] Listen, the way that I have sex is my personal business.

Michelle: [00:01:24] Fine, twist it up. You know, when it when it hangs low tie it in a knot and tie it in a bow. Hang it over your shoulder.

Gabe: [00:01:29] I wish people could see how uncomfortable Michelle is. She is she is as red as my hair right now. Before we talk about hypersexuality too much, we should define it using real words.

Michelle: [00:01:44] OK.

Gabe: [00:01:44] Hypersexuality is defined as a dysfunctional preoccupation with sexual fantasy, often in combination with the obsessive pursuit of casual or non intimate sex, pornography, compulsive masturbation, romantic intensity and objectified partner sex for a period of at least six months. Even its definition doesn’t sound sexy. Yet, people think that it does sound sexy because people think that hypersexuality simply means lots of sex. And it just doesn’t.

Michelle: [00:02:12] It doesn’t.

Gabe: [00:02:13] It doesn’t. But we should also cover what hypersexuality is not. It’s not looking at porn. That doesn’t make you hypersexual. It’s not engaging in fetishes or being aroused by things that maybe you consider to be atypical. It’s not homosexuality. It’s not being bisexual. That’s not hypersexuality, that’s not sexual addiction. That’s none of the things that we’re talking about. Hypersexuality is when you use sex to really regulate your emotions and your feelings. If you have a bad day, you have to have sex. And that’s not normal. Most people don’t consistently utilize sexual arousal as a means of feeling better when having a bad day. Healthy people reach out to friends and their family members for support when they’re upset. If you get upset and the first thing you want is sex, if you have a bad day and the first thing that you want is sex, if you have a good day and the first thing that you want is sex. If all of your high or low emotions, your extreme emotions, are driving you to have sex. That’s what hypersexuality is. We’re going to go off on the biggest tangent the show has ever had. We’re just gonna forget that we’re mentally ill.

Michelle: [00:03:17] Oh, God. Okay.

Gabe: [00:03:17] What is it about sex that makes our society just, I mean, we literally use scantily clad women to sell gum. But talking about sex makes almost everybody uncomfortable. Like, what’s up with that?

Michelle: [00:03:30] I don’t really know what’s up with that. It’s something you’re not supposed to talk about sex. But, we all know what was it? What was that? Salt-N-Pepa? Let’s talk about sex, baby. Let’s talk about you and me. I mean, it obviously has been a problem for a long time if a son had to talk about it.

Gabe: [00:03:45] That’s fair. And that song is like really like you’ve dated me. Like I was in high school when that song came out

Michelle: [00:03:50] I was like in elementary school, or younger, or a fetus. I don’t even know.

Gabe: [00:03:54] I’m picturing like a nine year old Michelle Hammer sing Salt-N_Pepa.

Michelle: [00:03:58] I don’t think I was probably allowed to listen to that song when it came out.

Gabe: [00:04:01] When have you ever only done what you’re allowed to do?

Michelle: [00:04:05] I know. Sneaking watching 90210. Yeah. R.I.P. Luke Perry, R.I.P.

Gabe: [00:04:09] Aww, R.I.P. Luke Perry

Michelle: [00:04:09] R.I.P.

Gabe: [00:04:09] Sadness

Michelle: [00:04:13] Dylan McKay, miss you forever.

Gabe: [00:04:13] You know, 90210 was another show about teenagers who had a lot of sex. You weren’t allowed to watch it because of all of the sex that was in it. And that show was geared toward high schoolers.

Michelle: [00:04:25] But I was much younger than that.

Gabe: [00:04:26] Well, yes, but my point is, is that sex is everywhere. But yet when it comes to talking about sex from a medical perspective, and that’s really where the show is going to end up eventually, I promise. Why do we have such a problem with it?

Michelle: [00:04:41] It’s been a problem throughout society. I know that the beginning of the women’s sexual anything. Back in the day, women would go to the doctor and they would pull out like the vibrator and vibrate on the women’s clit. And then they would have an orgasm. And that’s like a medical thing they used to do because they didn’t know that women actually were supposed to feel pleasure from sex.

Gabe: [00:05:00] It is interesting that you bring that up because that’s absolutely true. A lot of people don’t realize that the modern day vibrator used to be a medical device. It was created in asylums to calm down hysterical women. Hysterical. Hysterectomy. These are words because doctors believed women’s reproductive organs were tied to their mental health. The sex study was started by Kinsey and he started a whole foundation where they polled a whole bunch of people anonymously about their sexual proclivities. The things that they liked, the things that they didn’t like. Kinsey learned so much about sexuality that people just did not understand in the 50s.

Michelle: [00:05:39] Like what?

Gabe: [00:05:40] Like that people like to have sex. Or that women could orgasm or, and this was big, that women masturbated. There was this misunderstanding that women did not like, enjoy, or want sex, that it was a chore for them. It was a marital obligation. It was literally their marital duty.

Michelle: [00:05:57] The lie back and think of England?

Gabe: [00:06:00] Yeah, we believed as a society that this was true. And then we found out through a lot of, thank God for science, that it turns out that women like sex. But a lot of women…

Michelle: [00:06:10] Yeah, good thing for you, Gabe. Thank God. Hey, what would you do if women didn’t like sex?

Gabe: [00:06:14] Well, but see, that’s the thing, though. Our society was so messed up that even though women didn’t like sex, they were still expected to have it.

Michelle: [00:06:23] I see what you’re saying.

Gabe: [00:06:23] We believed as a society that women did not enjoy sex. Yet they were required to do it. And we had phrases like “wifely duties.” This all segues into hypersexuality because there is probably not a more misunderstood symptom. Because the number one thing that people think about hypersexuality is that it’s awesome. They think it’s fun. People think hypersexuality is somehow good. It’s not. We’re gonna talk about a lot of stuff, and some of it we’re not gonna have horrible memories of because, hey, this is our lives. We don’t want to regret everything. But the underlying message in this entire show is that hypersexuality takes from you. It doesn’t give. It just doesn’t. There is a world of difference between having a lot of sex, which is good, and hypersexuality, which is not good. And nobody seems to understand that. Everybody thinks that one hypersexuality is fun and two hypersexuality is not a symptom of a serious problem.

Michelle: [00:07:27] What do you think about that?

[00:07:29] I think that I thought the same thing. I think that I thought that hyper exuality was having a lot of sex. It kind of sounds like it, doesn’t it? Hypersexuality, lots of sex, having sex furiously.

Michelle: [00:07:41] You say you’re hypersexual, yes?

Gabe: [00:07:41] Before medication, before treatment, before everything? Yeah. Yeah.

Michelle: [00:07:47] So you did not enjoy it?

Gabe: [00:07:49] Did I enjoy having a lot of sex? Yes. Because here’s the thing that I want to explain, it was a compulsion. It was a need that I had to fill. So by filling it, I got relief from.

Michelle: [00:08:01] Was the need like you’re so horny or is the need that you want to be with somebody?

Gabe: [00:08:07] Oh, it had nothing to do with the other person. Hyper sexuality has nothing to do with your partner.

Michelle: [00:08:10] So you were just like horny, horny, horny, horny, horny, horny, horny.

Gabe: [00:08:14] I don’t know that I would say horny, horny, horny, horny. Well, I’d say that it’s almost like an alcoholic that has to drink. They’re not thirsty. They’re compelled to do it. Or, you ever take a pack of cigarettes away from a smoker?

Michelle: [00:08:25] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:08:26] They’re just so desperate for that cigarette that they’re not even enjoying it anymore. And they’re yelling at people and they’re screaming and they’re bumming cigarettes off people and they’re angry. And then when they finally get that cigarette, they feel better. But really? That does not look like a person who’s enjoying it. Or are they just compelled? It’s a compulsion. Michelle, you have also been hypersexual. Was it something that you enjoyed or was it something that was required?

Michelle: [00:08:51] It was almost like a fun game.

Gabe: [00:08:53] A fun game?

Michelle: [00:08:54] A fun game. Yeah.

Gabe: [00:08:55] Really? So in your mind, hypersexuality and monopoly are like equivalents.

Michelle: [00:09:01] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:09:02] Were you the hat?

Michelle: [00:09:03] I sure. I don’t know. I don’t know all the characters in Monopoly. I’ve only ever played Monopoly Junior.

Gabe: [00:09:08] I love how you said the “characters” in Monopoly rather than the tokens.

Michelle: [00:09:12] I don’t even know they’re called tokens, but whatever. I am not that familiar with Monopoly. I’m not attracted to the monopoly, man.

Gabe: [00:09:18] But you’re familiar with it?

Michelle: [00:09:19] Nobody ever paid me two hundred dollars for passing “Go.”

Gabe: [00:09:20] Oh, you knew a reference?

Michelle: [00:09:23] Yes. If I got paid two hundred dollars every time when I made a man pass go, I’d have a lot of money.

Gabe: [00:09:30] How much money, Michelle?

Michelle: [00:09:32] More than two hundred dollars.

Gabe: [00:09:34] More than 400 dollars?

Michelle: [00:09:35] Perhaps. Hold up. Here’s our sponsor.

Announcer: [00:09:39] This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp.com. Secure, convenient, and affordable online counselling. All counselors are licensed, accredited professionals. Anything you share is confidential. Schedule secure video or phone sessions, plus chat and text with your therapist, whenever you feel it’s needed. A month of online therapy often costs less than a single traditional face to face session. Go to BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral and experience seven days of free therapy to see if online counselling is right for you. BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral.

Gabe: [00:10:10] We’re back talking hypersexuality. We experienced hypersexuality n very different ways because male and female. But we also experienced hypersexuality differently because generationally, we’re over a decade apart. During my biggest hypersexual times, you know, there wasn’t Tinder. There wasn’t the Internet. There wasn’t online dating services. I had to go out to bars and find people. How was it different for you? Because you just hopped on Tinder and people came to your house?

Michelle: [00:10:37] It’s actually also living in New York City. Tinder can be very easy. You go on Tinder and you put it on one mile radius.

Gabe: [00:10:46] Really?

Michelle: [00:10:46] Yup, one mile radius. So you know who is in the neighborhood and you start getting messages that people you met you meet up with like, oh, you’re in Astoria? I’m in Astoria. Oh, you’re so close. We’re in Astoria over there. Oh, wow. We’re neighbors. Oh, we’re neighbors. That’s so cool. You’re so convenient. Well, I’m like, yeah, this guy doesn’t realize that I put it on one mile radius.

Gabe: [00:11:06] Did you regret it? Like when it was over, did you think, oh, I’m a bad person or did you not care?

Michelle: [00:11:11] Oh, I didn’t care.

Gabe: [00:11:12] That’s interesting. Do you think that is the typical experience of the average female? On one hand, you’re like, oh, I didn’t care. I was fine with it. But yet you are embarrassed by it.

Michelle: [00:11:20] It’s not that I’m embarrassed by it. It’s just there’s judgment about it. I mean, a lot of girls wouldn’t do stuff like that, but I don’t think anyone should judge anybody by what they choose to do as long as you’re being safe. I think what’s more judgmental is that you let a stranger into your home because you never know, you know? Like murders.

Gabe: [00:11:41] Did you learn hundreds upon hundreds of strangers in to your home?

Michelle: [00:11:43] Not hundreds upon hundreds. Are you nuts? I didn’t let hundreds. Come on.

Gabe: [00:11:45] So like dozens?

Michelle: [00:11:47] Possibly. I don’t know.

Gabe: [00:11:49] So you lost count?

Michelle: [00:11:51] Oh, I have no idea. The count. Do you know your count?

Gabe: [00:11:54] Yes.

Michelle: [00:11:55] You know your count?

Gabe: [00:11:55] I don’t know what exactly, but I know that it’s in the hundreds.

Michelle: [00:12:00] I’m not in the hundreds, Gabe, I’m nowhere near the hundreds.

Gabe: [00:12:02] Thanks. That was very judgy.

Michelle: [00:12:03] I wasn’t judging you.

Gabe: [00:12:05] Yes, you were.

Michelle: [00:12:06] Shut up. But I played a game, so I was with a therapist, but not my therapist. Don’t worry. I’ve been with a psychologist, not my psychologist. But I always wanted the trifecta and get a psychiatrist. I haven’t done that, and I don’t know if that’s going to happen. But wouldn’t that be awesome?

Gabe: [00:12:20] This is where you scare me sometimes. Because I had sex with a psychologist. I also had sex with a therapist.

Michelle: [00:12:28] Oh, no.

Gabe: [00:12:29] And I absolutely, unequivocally want to have sex with a psychiatrist.

Michelle: [00:12:33] Oh, my God, no, I’m Gabe.

Gabe: [00:12:35] You know, I call this game sex bingo.

Michelle: [00:12:39] Yes, it is such sex bingo.

Gabe: [00:12:41] Is it healthy, though?

Michelle: [00:12:42] Wait, can we make a game called sex bingo?

Gabe: [00:12:45] I already did. This is my game. I’ve been playing it since I was 19 years old.

Michelle: [00:12:51] And do you have races, different races and religions on your sex bingo?

Gabe: [00:12:55] I really go by like personality traits and or jobs.

Michelle: [00:12:58] Gingers? Brown hair?

Gabe: [00:12:58] I don’t really care about hair color.

Michelle: [00:13:00] Doctor, lawyer?

Gabe: [00:13:02] Lawyer.

Michelle: [00:13:03] I have lawyer.

Gabe: [00:13:05] You have lawyer?

Michelle: [00:13:05] I have lawyer.

Gabe: [00:13:06] I don’t have lawyer. What’s the free spot? Oh, yeah, masturbation. That was a freebie right there.

Michelle: [00:13:14] Your hand.

Gabe: [00:13:14] Your hand?

Michelle: [00:13:16] Or your vibrator.

Gabe: [00:13:18] What do you think of the fleshlight?

Michelle: [00:13:20] I have never used a fleshlight because I’m a woman.

Gabe: [00:13:22] Yeah, that was a stupid question.

Michelle: [00:13:24] Me and my friends were in a bar with a bunch of firefighters one time. And the firefighters, they were saying that one over there, he’s got a fleshlight. So we all started talking to him about his fleshlight. And he’s like, well, you know, with a fleshlight, you don’t have to talk to them before and after.

Gabe: [00:13:39] Wow.

Michelle: [00:13:39] Yeah, that’s what he said.

Gabe: [00:13:40] Did that make him more or less attractive to you?

Michelle: [00:13:43] Much less attractive.

Gabe: [00:13:43] Really?

Michelle: [00:13:45] He doesn’t want to talk to a girl before and after? He’d rather just bone his fleshlight?

Gabe: [00:13:50] This is the core difference, I think, between men and women. Not like across the board. But if a woman said that to me, I don’t want to talk before and after, I’d be like, excellent. This could work. Not any more, though. We have both grown tremendously as people because we do know people who listen to this show and they’re like, oh my God. For example, my wife listens. And if somebody is a first timer listening to the show, they’re like, wait, that guy’s married? Oh, my God. But this was.

Michelle: [00:14:17] Tell her to become a psychiatrist.

Gabe: [00:14:20] This is an excellent idea. You know, you should tell your significant other to become a psychiatrist.

Michelle: [00:14:25] Oh, that’s a good idea.

Gabe: [00:14:25] Oh, my God. Why didn’t we think of this? Oh, my God, what if, now that we are monogamous, our sex bingo should really be about getting our significant other as many jobs as possible.

Michelle: [00:14:37] [Laughter]

Gabe: [00:14:37] We’re gonna have the most successful spouses in the world.

Michelle: [00:14:42] Yes.

Gabe: [00:14:42] Hi. What do you do for a living? I’m a doctor, a lawyer, a psychiatrist, a brain surgeon.

Michelle: [00:14:46] A pilot?

Gabe: [00:14:47] I’m a pilot. I’m an engineer. What is your max number in a day?

Michelle: [00:14:53] Three.

Gabe: [00:14:54] Oh, only three?

Michelle: [00:14:55] Only three.

Gabe: [00:14:57] You only had sex with three people in one day.

Michelle: [00:14:59] I believe.

Gabe: [00:14:59] That’s …

Michelle: [00:15:01] Is that a lot?

Gabe: [00:15:01] No.

Michelle: [00:15:02] I really hope my mom listens to this.

Gabe: [00:15:04] I mean.

Michelle: [00:15:05] Well, let her know.

Gabe: [00:15:06] I’m worried, though, because one of the reasons that I enjoy doing this show with you is because at the end of the day, you’re just as fucked up as me.

Michelle: [00:15:12] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:15:12] But my max number in a day is significantly higher.

Michelle: [00:15:15] Well, I’m not surprised by that one.

Gabe: [00:15:18] Thanks. That’s terrible. You’ve never hired sex workers, though?

Michelle: [00:15:24] No, I have not.

Gabe: [00:15:25] Is that because women just don’t have to? Is it because you didn’t want to? Or is it just because you exist in the age of Tinder?

Michelle: [00:15:32] I exist in the age of Tinder, where it’s free for girls. I wouldn’t even know where to go to get a male sex worker, at all. No, I wouldn’t even know where to go. And why would I do that when Tinder is free?

Gabe: [00:15:44] When you reflect back on hypersexuality, you don’t have the same gut wrenching horror feeling that I do. Why do you think that is? Do you think that you’ve just rejected a lot of societal stereotypes, or the pressure that society gives young women? Do you think this is because you’re such a strong feminist?

Michelle: [00:16:02] I just…

Gabe: [00:16:03] Because I feel awful.

Michelle: [00:16:04] I think it’s just feminism. I need to just see you live your life. You do what you want to do. You don’t feel embarrassed by it. You shouldn’t feel ashamed. Other people, my friends, they’re like, what did you do? And I’m like, I did what I wanted to do. You can judge me. I really don’t care. I don’t care.

Gabe: [00:16:21] For me, one of the things that I dislike so much about hypersexuality is it wasn’t about having fun for me. It was about having sex and while having sex, I would be thinking about when I was gonna be able to have sex again. So I wasn’t even enjoying it in the moment. I had to. I think that’s the thing that maybe a lot of people don’t understand about hypersexuality. I had to. I didn’t want to. I didn’t enjoy it. I had to. I didn’t get any enjoyment from having sex. It was a chore that I had to do.

Michelle: [00:16:51] Mine was definitely not a chore. It was more of a like, kind of, almost a manic kind of a game, really.

Gabe: [00:16:57] So hypersexuality exists on a spectrum much like everything else.

Michelle: [00:17:00] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:17:02] You would say then that maybe you had like hypersexuality lite? And, I’m not judging it in any way. I just, there’s got to be a big difference between somebody who in a 24 hour period is like, hey, I’ll go have sex with three people and now I’m cool. And somebody that says I’ve had sex with 21 people and say, I need more. I need more.

Michelle: [00:17:18] Yeah. That’s a lot different. I wasn’t like craving and craving and craving and craving. It was more just like the thrill of the whole thing.

Gabe: [00:17:26] You know, in addition to the sex act, did you feel that the other person was validating you?

Michelle: [00:17:32] I don’t know. I think it’s kind of hot when somebody, like, wants you. You kind of feel hot when, you know, like I feel hot. I don’t know. You just feel wanted. You feel like, yea, they’re totally into me, you know?

Gabe: [00:17:43] I do. I do. And I think in addition to hypersexuality, I had like co-morbid disorders going on. Because not only did I have to have sex, not only was there this compulsion to have sex, but when somebody was willing to have sex with me, they were telling me I was worthwhile for something. They were saying, hey, you’re not terrible. I needed that reassurance that at least I wasn’t garbage.

Michelle: [00:18:07] And Gabe, can we bring up how you lost your virginity 18 times?

Gabe: [00:18:11] I did. I lost my virginity 18 times.

Michelle: [00:18:13] Tell that story, please. Why did you say it 18 times? And why did they believe you 18 times? Because that is so funny.

Gabe: [00:18:20] I was so desperate to have sex that I would just literally say whatever it took to have sex. And, you know, I was a 500 pound guy. And remember, I don’t have Tinder and none of this stuff existed. I didn’t have the Internet. I didn’t have smartphones. I had to go out to bars and find people to have sex with.

Michelle: [00:18:36] That sounds terrible.

Gabe: [00:18:37] And I still had my personality. I was still charismatic. I was still funny. I was still people were flocked to me. But that wasn’t sealing the deal because I weighed 500 pounds. I weighed, you know, anywhere from 450 to five hundred fifty pounds. And people were just like, yeah, I don’t know. He’s kind of fat. So I came up with, well, frankly, a ruse. I told people that I was a virgin. Then they thought, oh, my God, this guy is so nice. He’s so kind. He’s so funny. Oh, I’ll take his virginity for him. I mean, I’ve got to give him a shot in the world. And once I realized this worked, I did it 18 times.

Michelle: [00:19:10] That’s so funny that you did that.

Gabe: [00:19:13] Is it funny or is it sad or a combination of both?

Michelle: [00:19:16] It’s both.

Gabe: [00:19:17] Yeah, both.

Michelle: [00:19:17] I think it’s so funny that these women would feel like almost bad for you that they would have sex with you.

Gabe: [00:19:23] And that’s an interesting thing to think about as well. You know, women, we don’t think of them as in control of their own sexuality, but they were. And they thought to themselves, hey, you know, I don’t want to date this guy. I’m not even attracted to him. But, you know, he’s a good guy. And I want to give him a favor. We don’t think about it that way with men. You know, men, they have sex with people that they don’t want to date, that they’re not attracted to, etc. all the time because of convenience or desire or whatever. And people are like, oh, that’s perfectly normal. You know, we have these phrases like “men will stick it in anything.” But women? Women are discerning. They’re picky. And the reality is this has not been my experience. I can tell you with having sex with hundreds of people. Women are not picky. They are no pickier.

Michelle: [00:20:06] Some women are picky.

Gabe: [00:20:06] Of course, and some men are, too. I’m telling you, men and women think about sex much more alike. Again, in my experience, then people think.

Michelle: [00:20:18] Have you ever had sex in public?

Gabe: [00:20:20] Like with an audience watching?

Michelle: [00:20:21] No, not with an audience, but like maybe like in the woods, or by a lake, or just outdoors?

Gabe: [00:20:27] I don’t think that I’ve ever had sex outdoors like outside. But I’ve had sex in pretty much every bar bathroom in Ohio.

Michelle: [00:20:33] Eww, a bathroom? That’s disgusting.

Gabe: [00:20:36] But what are you going to do? You meet somebody. Where are you gonna go?

Michelle: [00:20:39] I’ve never had sex in a bathroom.

Gabe: [00:20:41] That is surprising.

Michelle: [00:20:42] Never.

Gabe: [00:20:43] Really?

Michelle: [00:20:44] Really.

Gabe: [00:20:45] I feel bad that I’m thinking you’re lying.

Michelle: [00:20:48] No, I’m really not lying. I’ve never had sex in a bathroom.

Gabe: [00:20:50] See, but again, you were meeting people like online so you could meet in like apartments or anything.

Michelle: [00:20:54] I didn’t. Yeah. Yeah, I see that. I see what you’re saying.

Gabe: [00:20:56] You know, you got to play this scenario.

Michelle: [00:20:58] Yeah?

Gabe: [00:20:58] So you’re horny. You’re out on the prowl. The local band is playing.

Michelle: [00:21:03] Bom bom bom bom.

Gabe: [00:21:05] It’s 1 a.m. and you’re into the person and you’re horny right now. That’s why you’re there. And they’re horny right now. That’s why they’re there. And they’re like, hey,.

Michelle: [00:21:14] I mean, I’ve done some on the dance floor make out. That’s what me and my friends in the city, we used to call it D, and no. D.F.M.O. Yeah, that’s it. DFMO. Dance floor make out.

Gabe: [00:21:21] So I did that except change dance floor make out to bathroom fuck session.

Michelle: [00:21:27] [Laughter]

Gabe: [00:21:29] Listen, on one hand, I’m not completely horrified by my past, but I want to make it clear these memories are largely showing how out of control I was and how desperate I was. And I am very lucky. I did practice safe sex. I always had condoms. I never had sex without protection. I was very, extraordinarily careful. But I know a lot of people that were very extraordinarily careful that still acquired a sexually transmitted disease or even worse, a baby.

Michelle: [00:21:59] Are you calling babies bad?

Gabe: [00:22:00] I’m not calling babies bad, but I’m saying that somebody that is so desperate and so out of control that they would have sex with a stranger in a bar at 1 a.m. and then those two have a baby?

Michelle: [00:22:11] Yeah, they shouldn’t be having a baby.

Gabe: [00:22:12] Yeah. What are the odds of good parenting there?

Michelle: [00:22:14] Yeah I see what you’re saying there.

Gabe: [00:22:15] And again, I was an untreated bipolar, hypersexual, desperate, and having sex with strangers in a bar. Does that sound like father material to you? Like when we think of our dads, is that what we’re thinking about?

Michelle: [00:22:27] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:22:27] We’re thinking about like stable, has a job, loving, caring.

Michelle: [00:22:31] You know, what’s funny about the whole thing? Is that my mom and my dad have been together since they were 14. My mom says she’s only ever been with my dad. And then I’d look at myself and I’m like, we are not the same person, at all. When I was first diagnosed at 18 with bipolar, I guess my mom looked up the symptoms and hypersexuality is a symptom of bipolar. I remember being on the phone with my mom and she was like, okay, Michelle, don’t be too promiscuous. Don’t be too high, too over sexual because I know that’s a symptom of bipolar. Okay. You know, don’t be too promiscuous. And I was like, don’t worry, mom, I’m not. That’s like what she said. She says, oh, you’re bipolar. Don’t be too promiscuous, Michelle. That was like her number one thing. Nothing else about the symptoms. Nothing else. But don’t be too promiscuous.

Gabe: [00:23:15] It shows you our misunderstanding of sex, sexuality and how we relate to it in the world. There are so many people that still believe that sex is only for marriage, and there are many people who believe that sex should not be enjoyable. That is just so sad because that’s the number one thing that I hate about hypersexuality. It made sex not enjoyable. I don’t know what the wrap up for this is because we’ve talked about it, about making sex a game. We’ve talked about, you know, having sex with strangers in bars. We have good memories of it. We have bad memories of it. We have different feelings of it based on our ages and our gender.

Michelle: [00:23:51] I have one question for you. That therapist and psychologist, did they know you are bipolar?

Gabe: [00:23:56] Yes.

Michelle: [00:23:56] Because the therapist and psychologist I boned did not know I was schizophrenic.

Gabe: [00:24:01] Well, they knew.

Michelle: [00:24:03] No, they didn’t.

Gabe: [00:24:03] Were you wearing your schizophrenic.NYC shirt?

Michelle: [00:24:07] No, I was not. No, I was not. No. One was before schizophrenic.NYC existed and one was after. And then after that, they found me on Facebook or Instagram. Me was like, okay. He’s like. And then he finds that I had some. He said that he thought he might have known, but he wasn’t really sure because he was like at one point he did seem he I was talking to myself and he goes. I don’t know who you’re talking to, but I’m over here. And I was like, oh, I’m sorry about that one.

Gabe: [00:24:34] And let’s be very, very clear. I feel the need to put up like a giant disclaimer. Gabe Howard and Michelle Hammer never, ever had sex with their own medical providers. They’ve always been perfectly appropriate. That said, it does happen. So don’t. It would be wholly irresponsible of any practitioner to have sex with a patient.

Michelle: [00:24:57] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:24:57] And if you’re the patient, report it immediately.

Michelle: [00:24:59] Yeah. That should not happen. Don’t do that. Don’t do that.

Gabe: [00:25:03] That’s the kind of thing that will set you back.

Michelle: [00:25:04] Yeah, that’s a bad idea. Don’t do that. Don’t.

Gabe: [00:25:07] Yeah, don’t do that.

Michelle: [00:25:08] Don’t do that.

Gabe: [00:25:08] And we are talking about people who held that job, but they certainly were not ours. We were not their patient.

Michelle: [00:25:14] Yes, I was not. Not their patients. Not their patients. But if I could find a psychiatrist.

Gabe: [00:25:21] Thank you, everybody, for tuning into this episode of A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. We hope that you learned some small thing about hypersexuality. And if there’s anything that you can relate to, if there’s any message that we want to send, it’s that you are not alone. Michelle and I went through it. We got help. We’re thankful that we don’t have to go through it again. And we are now monogamous and enjoying sex. Not with each other. We will see everybody next week.

Michelle: [00:25:44] Let’s talk about sex, baby, Let’s talk about you and me. Let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be. Let’s talk about sex. Let’s talk about sex.

Announcer: [00:25:54] Announcer: You’ve been listening to A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. If you love this episode, don’t keep it to yourself head over to iTunes or your preferred podcast app to subscribe, rate, and review. To work with Gabe go to GabeHoward.com. To work with Michelle, go to schizophrenic.NYC. For free mental health resources and online support groups, head over to PsychCentral.com. This show’s official web site is PsychCentral.com/BSP. You can e-mail us at [email protected]. Thank you for listening, and share widely.

Meet Your Bipolar and Schizophrenic Hosts

GABE HOWARD was formally diagnosed with bipolar and anxiety disorders after being committed to a psychiatric hospital in 2003. Now in recovery, Gabe is a prominent mental health activist and host of the award-winning Psych Central Show podcast. He is also an award-winning writer and speaker, traveling nationally to share the humorous, yet educational, story of his bipolar life. To work with Gabe, visit gabehoward.com.MICHELLE HAMMER was officially diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 22, but incorrectly diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 18. Michelle is an award-winning mental health advocate who has been featured in press all over the world. In May 2015, Michelle founded the company Schizophrenic.NYC, a mental health clothing line, with the mission of reducing stigma by starting conversations about mental health. She is a firm believer that confidence can get you anywhere. To work with Michelle, visit Schizophrenic.NYC.Podcast: Hypersexuality with a Bipolar and Schizophrenic

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Podcast: Dwelling on the Past Mistakes Caused by Mental Illness

This is an interesting article I found on: www.psychcentral.com

See credits below.

Once we reach recovery from mental illness, we tend to dwell on the mistakes of our past. Thoughts of failures and people we’ve hurt ruminate inside our head and make it difficult to move forward.

Why do we think about these things? Does it protect us, make us feel better, or is it way to keep us from moving forward? In this episode, our hosts discuss their past failures in the hopes it allows our listeners to realize living in the past only really accomplishes one thing . . .


Google PlaySpotify

“It just creeps into the deep dark depths of my head and it just goes around, and around, and around.”
– Michelle Hammer

Highlights From ‘Ruminations’’ Episode

[2:00] We are talking about ruminations today

[4:30] Ruminations feed delusions

[6:00] Gabe dwells on his past wives

[8:20] Michelle ruminates about how her brother treated her in the past

[11:00] Gabe tried to set up his brother to get in trouble

[13:00] We want Michelle to make amends with her brother

[18:00] Why ruminating is detrimental to your health.

[19:30] Gabe dwells about his biological father

[21:00] Why can’t we just get over things and move on?

Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Dwelling on the Past Mistakes Caused by Mental Illness’ Show

Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you.

Announcer: [00:00:07] For reasons that utterly escape everyone involved, you’re listening to A Bipolar, A Schizophrenic, and A Podcast. Here are your hosts, Gabe Howard and Michelle Hammer.

Gabe: [00:00:19] You’re listening to a person living with bipolar, a person living with schizophrenia, and a digital portable media file. My name is Gabe Howard and I’m a person living with bipolar disorder.

Michelle: [00:00:28] Hi, I’m Michelle Hammer and I’m a person living with schizophrenia. Are you guys happy now?

Gabe: [00:00:33] Yeah. See we changed it for everybody.

Michelle: [00:00:36] My god, don’t write any more letters. Please stay off our social media. Person first language, okay?

Gabe: [00:00:43] I think we did it. I think, you know, by doing it this way, though we have now wiped out discrimination. We’ve wiped out stigma. There’s enough beds for everybody. Homelessness due to mental illness is gone. There’s nobody incarcerated in prisons. By using person first language we have solved all of those other problems, right?

Michelle: [00:01:04] We must of. That’s why person’s first language is always number one comment we get. Absolutely.

Gabe: [00:01:09] Hang on. I’m getting a weird text message.

Michelle: [00:01:11] Oh. Oh no, what happened?

Gabe: [00:01:13] Yeah. It turns out we didn’t do anything. We didn’t do anything. Like a person first language. It didn’t. It didn’t solve any problems. No. Now people are mad at us for mocking them.

Michelle: [00:01:22] Oh, no! We mocked people? We never make fun of anything on this show.

Gabe: [00:01:27] We were always so polite and professional and educational. We never say fuck.

Michelle: [00:01:32] We never say fuck, or suck my dick, or your –

Gabe: [00:01:37] [Laughter]

Michelle: [00:01:37] God, Gabe, what are you laughing at? I’m being really serious right now. I’m a person living with schizophrenia. I am a person living with my past.

Gabe: [00:01:45] You’re a person living with your past?

Michelle: [00:01:46] My past that I dwell on with my ruminations. Now I’m going to ruminate about this situation: that I couldn’t make the world better. I need to make the world better. Gabe, I need to make the world better.

Gabe: [00:01:58] This is the worst segue in the history of our show. And that, that’s saying something. Because we’ve had some mighty awful segues.

Michelle: [00:02:08] What are we doing?

Gabe: [00:02:11] In case you haven’t figured it out, ladies and gentlemen, we are talking about things that we have ruminated on both before we were diagnosed, during like the recovery period where we’re trying to get better, and things that still kind of haunt us today and we are going to desperately eke 20 minutes out of this.

Michelle: [00:02:26] Desperately.

Gabe: [00:02:28] So Michelle what are some ruminations that like today think the last six months as longtime listener of this show know we’re in recovery. You are doing quite well despite the fact that you’re a schizophrenic. I am doing quite well despite the fact that I’m living with bipolar disorder we’ve gotten over mania depression psychosis and everything in between. But we still ruminate on things because one everybody does. We should probably start there. Do you think that ruminating about things is the domain of only people with mental illness or do you think that everybody ruminates?

Michelle: [00:02:59] I think everybody ruminates to a certain extent. It’s fine ruminating, you just can’t stop it is when it really gets out of control.

Gabe: [00:03:07] I like that we’ve challenged ourselves to put the word “ruminating” in this show as many times as possible.

Michelle: [00:03:13] How do you spell this word?

Gabe: [00:03:15] I have no idea. I have no idea that that’s really a problem for the show

Michelle: [00:03:19] Should we define ruminating for people?

Gabe: [00:03:20] Do it.

Michelle: [00:03:21] Ruminating is when you can think of the same thing over and over and over again you just cannot get it out of your head. It just goes around and around and around. Usually it drives you nuts.

Gabe: [00:03:33] So, for example, Michelle’s mother, who has absolutely no mental illness to speak of, ruminates about why Michelle is a failure.

Michelle: [00:03:42] Hey.

Gabe: [00:03:42] It just she can’t get it out of her head.

Michelle: [00:03:44] I’m not a failure.

Gabe: [00:03:45] I didn’t say that you were. I said that your mother ruminates about it.

Michelle: [00:03:47] She does not.

Gabe: [00:03:48] I mean maybe a little bit?

Michelle: [00:03:49] She doesn’t.

Gabe: [00:03:50] Okay well my mother despite having no mental illness whatsoever ruminates on whether or not I’m going to throw her under the bus on a podcast.

Michelle: [00:03:58] Does she?

Gabe: [00:03:58] I mean, probably.

Michelle: [00:03:59] I don’t know.

Gabe: [00:04:01] Yeah, I don’t think she gives a shit.

Michelle: [00:04:02] I often ruminate why I was fired from any previous job.

Gabe: [00:04:05] Do you ruminate about being fired from the job as a symptom of schizophrenia? Or is it just something that you wish you could go back in time and figure out?

Michelle: [00:04:14] Well it’s more like different situations that happened and how I wish I could have handled them differently.

Gabe: [00:04:19] But doesn’t everybody do that? Like do you ever do this? And be honest, I mean sincerely be honest. Remember we value honesty. Do you ever get in a fight with your girlfriend, and like you’re fighting, you’re yelling, you’re screaming, and then you retreat to separate corners. All is quiet. It’s over, you’ve made up and you think, “God, I wish I would have said that?” Or like you run through it in your mind?

Michelle: [00:04:40] But that’s different than ruminating.

Gabe: [00:04:42] Well, how is it?

Michelle: [00:04:43] Different for me? Because ruminating just doesn’t stop it. I’ll go around and around and around and even when I’m walking through the street walking through anything I almost will turn delusional and think I’m with those other people having that conversation start getting angry just start making the whole situation 8 million times worse than it was because I keep thinking about it over and over and over and over and over and over again. It won’t go away and if they hate it so much.

Gabe: [00:05:08] In your mind ruminating and delusions they feed each other?

Michelle: [00:05:13] Yes absolutely.

Gabe: [00:05:14] First you’re thinking about the thing. I got fired. They fired me. H.R. called walk me down with the seventh time I got. By the time you’re done you’re back in that time and place. You’re feeling it again and it’s like it’s happening right now. Even though it was three years ago.

Michelle: [00:05:26] Yes.

Gabe: [00:05:27] Wow. Does that still happen to you like in 2019? Does this still happen to Michelle Hammer?

Michelle: [00:05:32] Yes.

Gabe: [00:05:33] What’s the coping skill to get around it? Because you’re right. You’re a well accomplished person. Why do we care?

Michelle: [00:05:38] Honestly, talking about the ruminating thoughts. Because when you talk about the ruminating thoughts usually the person you’re talking to is going, “Why do you care so much about this?” You maybe talk it out a little bit, and then you’re like, “Wow. You’re right. Who cares about this dumb stupid person or this story or anything about the situation. It’s so useless why am I thinking about it so much and you can’t change the past anyway. You’re right. I talked it out. Now I feel better.

Gabe: [00:06:03] But can’t you kinda change the past? Can’t you remember it differently? You can’t you edit it in your mind, can’t you fix the things that have gone wrong previously in the future just like with different people?

Michelle: [00:06:16] You mean like learning from your past?

Gabe: [00:06:17] No. Learning sounds mature and we don’t really like that here.

Michelle: [00:06:21] OK. So then I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Gabe: [00:06:23] Here’s a good example. I’m on my third marriage. My wife is wonderful and I love her and this marriage has stood many many years. And I have no complaints. I want to say that right now. But I’ve been divorced twice. Not nasty divorces, but, you know, things that didn’t feel good. And I’ve been through breakups etc.. So every now and again my wife will do something and it will remind me of something that my ex-wife did and I’ll think. “Wait a minute. You know I let that go when wife number two did it. So I have to fix it with wife number three.” Even though they’re a completely different person. It’s a completely different time and nothing is the same except for maybe like one little thing. Don’t you ever do that? Like don’t you ever try to set a boundary with your current friend that you didn’t set with your last friend that is now you’re like mortal enemy?

Michelle: [00:07:10] No.

Gabe: [00:07:11] No?

Michelle: [00:07:11] No. Something that I do I know I do with my anxiety but I put on other people, is that I’ll start asking them a million questions about things. And then they’re like, “Why are you asking me a million questions?” And I’m like, “Oh, it’s my anxiety. I just wondered at the time? I just wondered if you know the place? I just wanted to know what you’re going to do after? What you are going to do before? I’m like, I’m just anxious. I’m sorry. I wanted to know.” If that makes any sense.

Gabe: [00:07:33] I certainly do that, too. You know like that constant time checking thing? That you don’t wanna be late?

Michelle: [00:07:37] Yes.

Gabe: [00:07:38] So what time is it? It’s four o’clock. OK. We have to be there at four thirty. What time is it? It’s four or one. OK. We have to be there at four thirty. What time is it? Dude ,it’s still four or one. But you know some of the things that are trapped in my head that I just can’t get out are just what a bad friend I was, or what a awful son I was, or what a terrible family member I was.

Michelle: [00:07:58] Yeah, yeah.

Gabe: [00:07:58] And sometimes I get mad at the people around me because I assume that they’re still mad at me because I’m still mad at me. Does stuff like that ever happen to you?

Michelle: [00:08:09] I mean, I still hold a lot of vendettas against my brother, which I owe to him. Right? Everyone says that I just dwell on the past. Even he says that I just, like, stay on the past. About when we’re very young. Me and my brother, and how mean he was to me and everything. We would see each other in the hallway of high school, and he wouldn’t even say hello to me. Yet, when he went off to college, and we were still using AIM, and he would instant message me, I would not reply. So he wouldn’t speak to me when he saw me in high school in the hallway, yet I stopped replying to him when he went off to college. And that was not OK. Which makes no sense to me. Yet, now we haven’t seen each other in a long time because he lives in another country. And when he comes back, I now have to be nice to him. Because I guess he’s a different person now? Yet, I never got any kind of apologies or anything like that, but I’m supposed to see that he’s a different person now. I don’t know why. And we’re supposed to be good friends now or something like that. I guess, just out of curiosity, why? I’m just wondering.

Gabe: [00:09:12] Is your brother a different person now?

Michelle: [00:09:14] Apparently, he’s a different person now. I don’t know. But-.

Gabe: [00:09:18] He had to leave the country to really get away with you.

Michelle: [00:09:20] I don’t know where it changed, but I’m supposed to treat him differently now. I’m supposed to forget everything from the past, all of the abuse from the past, and I’m supposed to like him now. I don’t know why.

Gabe: [00:09:31] I haven’t heard described any abuse. What you described is a couple of adult siblings that do not talk to each other.

Michelle: [00:09:36] No. Well okay.

Gabe: [00:09:37] What’s he mean to you? Did he call you names? Wait, did he pull your pigtails?

Michelle: [00:09:39] Well, he went to karate, and he would practice all of his karate moves on me. Constant wrestling, slamming my head into the ground until my nose bleeds. Calling me Michael instead of Michelle. Calling me a boy. That kind of went with Michael. Slamming the door in my face. Not letting me play with him. Like when we’re very little. Try to use his toys, not allowed to use his toys. Actually, when my mom and dad came home with me from the hospital when I was born, and they said, “Oh, Seth, here’s your sister.” He threw a stuffed animal at me. Yeah. I don’t know why they told me that story.

Gabe: [00:10:11] So he’s your older brother?

Michelle: [00:10:12] Yes.

Gabe: [00:10:12] Because you said that he threw a stuffed animal at you when you came home from the hospital and they told you that story and you’re putting this together with all of the other issues that you had with your brother growing up when you were kids?

Michelle: [00:10:27] Yeah and my like broke my necklace too, and then blamed me for it because that I was being annoying. So he had to push me and my necklace got in the way and it broke.

Gabe: [00:10:36] This is fabulous that you bring this up and here’s why. Because in my brother and sister’s world, I’m your older brother. I was the oldest. I was incredibly jealous of my brother. One time to get him in trouble when we were kids, I took syrup out of the pantry and I dumped it on the floor so that I could frame him for doing it. Knowing that he’d get in trouble. My mother just happened to be moving faster than normal that morning and watched me do it. And even though she saw me do it, I still tried to blame him for it. Absolutely, unequivocally, just hated having him as a brother. I was a top dog. I was the oldest. I used to live with Grandma. Then my mother remarried and nine months later I got this bastard in my house and I treated him like absolute garbage. Absolute garbage.

Michelle: [00:11:22] My favorite was when he would say, “You’re stupid.” And I would say, “No, you are stupid.” And then he would say, “Well, I’m smarter than you. So if I’m stupid, how dumb are you?

Gabe: [00:11:30] You know you’re an adult now, right?

Michelle: [00:11:31] I know. But obviously I can not get over this because I don’t understand why I’m supposed to like him now when I never received any kind of apology.

Gabe: [00:11:38] What kind of apology do you want when you were growing up?

Michelle: [00:11:41] Maybe just, “I’m sorry I was a horrible asshole to you, and ignored you for years and everything like that.”

Gabe: [00:11:47] Listen I never ever ever told my brother and sister, “I’m sorry. I was a horrible asshole to you.” Ever.

Michelle: [00:11:55] So that I don’t understand, why do I have to accept him back in my life?

Gabe: [00:11:59] I mean you don’t. But do you feel good right now?

Michelle: [00:12:01] I’m being told by everybody in my family that I need to accept him back in my life.

Gabe: [00:12:06] Okay. Well fuck them. Don’t. Just sit around and think about how pissed off and angry 8, 12, and 15 year old Michelle was.

Michelle: [00:12:13] Hang on one second, we’ve got to hear from our sponsor.

Announcer: [00:12:16] This episode is sponsored by betterhelp.com secure convenient and affordable online counselling. All counselors are licensed accredited professionals. Anything you share is confidential. Schedule secure video or phone sessions plus chat and text with your therapist whenever you feel it’s needed. A month of online therapy often costs less than a single traditional face to face session. Go to betterhelp.com/PsychCentral and experience seven days of free therapy to see if online counselling is right for you. Betterhelp.com/PsychCentral.

Michelle: [00:12:44] Want us to answer your questions on the show? Head over to PsychCentral.com/BSPquestions and fill out the form.

Gabe: [00:12:54] We’re back, still trying to say the word rumination as many times as humanly possible. You’re 30 years old, you’ve moved on with your life. But you’re still thinking about shit that happened to you when you were literally eight years old.

Michelle: [00:13:06] Ok, I see where you’re going with this.

Gabe: [00:13:08] How is that working out for you?

Michelle: [00:13:08] I don’t know. I don’t see him. I don’t have to speak to him. And then my mom says, “Have you spoken to your brother? Have you texted him? Have you spoken to him?” Yeah. “I don’t like that you guys don’t have a relationship. Why do my children hate each other?”

Gabe: [00:13:23] Well, I mean you articulated why y’all hate each.

Michelle: [00:13:25] I know, I’m just saying, that’s what she says.

Gabe: [00:13:27] I mean, has he done anything to you as an adult? Let let’s establish that like right out. In the time that you both became adult grown people, has he? Or has he been fine?

Michelle: [00:13:36] Well, when I graduated college he was working at kind of in the design agency kind of area. His boss, the creative director, he wanted to give me some advice. So he brought me in and he looks at my portfolio and his boss said to me, “I like your stuff. I want to give you some help. I wanted to offer you like a part time internship here, but your brother said no”.

Gabe: [00:13:54] Well but you don’t know that’s true.

Michelle: [00:13:57] His boss said it to me.

Gabe: [00:13:58] Yeah, but so what? People lie all the time.

Michelle: [00:14:00] No that’s 100 percent something my brother would do. Why would he lie and say I would offer you an internship here, but your brother said no? Because why would he invite me to come there and look at my portfolio and see all of my work and give me advice? Why would he offer to do that?

Gabe: [00:14:16] If he was gonna tell you no, why did he do it at all?

Michelle: [00:14:17] He was just giving me advice. And he just said that he wanted to offer me an internship, and that he would totally do that for me, but my brother said no.

Gabe: [00:14:25] So your brother was the boss of his boss?

Michelle: [00:14:27] My brother said do not hire her as an intern.

Gabe: [00:14:31] Then why did he talk to you at all?

Michelle: [00:14:32] Because he wanted to give me advice.

Gabe: [00:14:34] Did you ask your brother about this?

Michelle: [00:14:36] No I wouldn’t want to start a fight.

Gabe: [00:14:39] But, I kinda smell a rat here.

Michelle: [00:14:41] No I don’t smell a rat here. Obviously, Gabe, you don’t know my brother if you don’t believe this story.

Gabe: [00:14:46] It just doesn’t have the ring of truth.

Michelle: [00:14:47] Actually, it does very much ring true.

Gabe: [00:14:50] Okay. Let’s say that that is completely true. It’s 100 percent.

Michelle: [00:14:52] Okay.

Gabe: [00:14:52] Let’s say it rings true?

Michelle: [00:14:54] Say it rings true? It’s 100 true.

Gabe: [00:14:55] Right, it’s 100 percent true. I agree. How long ago was that? How many years?

Michelle: [00:15:00] I believe I was 22. Okay so it was eight years ago.

Gabe: [00:15:04] Eight years? Everybody, Michelle Hammer is 30 years old.

Michelle: [00:15:04] You said adult life, Gabe. I was bringing up something in my adult life that’s it. So you know, it’s just so you know, you said something in my adult life.

Gabe: [00:15:14] I don’t know. I do not. You’re very upset about this.

Michelle: [00:15:17] He didn’t want me to work in the same place that he was working. You said adult life there you go or not.

Gabe: [00:15:25] But you keep repeating that.

Michelle: [00:15:26] Also, my brother lives in Colombia. Colombia the country, not the college. People have gotten that very mixed up before.

Gabe: [00:15:31] Did you throw your brother out of the country?

Michelle: [00:15:35] I’m glad he left.

Gabe: [00:15:35] Okay.

Michelle: [00:15:38] Meanwhile, you know who’s never been invited to Colombia to come see him?

Gabe: [00:15:40] I’m gonna go with you.

Michelle: [00:15:41] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:15:42] Do you think the reason you’ve never been invited is because you hate him?

Michelle: [00:15:48] He’s never invited me.

Gabe: [00:15:48] Because you hate him.

Michelle: [00:15:50] Well, he’s never invited me.

Gabe: [00:15:51] Because you hate him.

Michelle: [00:15:52] He’s never invited me.

Gabe: [00:15:53] Have you invited him to your house?

Michelle: [00:15:55] He’s been to my apartment. He’s been there.

Gabe: [00:15:58] You’re upset about this aren’t you?

Michelle: [00:15:58] Well, we’re dwelling on the past, Gabe.

Gabe: [00:16:00] You want to have a relationship with your brother, don’t you?

Michelle: [00:16:03] We do not get along.

Gabe: [00:16:05] I didn’t say do you get along. I said do you want to get along?

Michelle: [00:16:08] I want him to acknowledge what he’s done.

Gabe: [00:16:13] But why do you want him to acknowledge what he’s done?

Michelle: [00:16:16] Because he acts so innocent.

Gabe: [00:16:17] I’m being really serious.

Michelle: [00:16:19] Like look, he acts like he did nothing wrong. And then the past is of the past and I should ignore it.

Gabe: [00:16:24] Listen here’s what I’m saying, you think about the things that happened as a kid and as a young adult. A lot. And it brings it up. You are clearly unhappy about this and other members of your family know that you’re unhappy about this and try to fix it. Albeit apparently poorly. And I completely agree that all of these things are true. The question that I have for you this is the only question that I want you to answer. Do you want him to apologize because you want an apology? Or do you want him to apologize because you miss your brother and you want to mend the relationship?

Michelle: [00:16:56] Yes, I would like to mend the relationship.

Gabe: [00:16:58] Ok, well then say that. Say that the reason that you think about this so much is because you’re sad that you’re fighting with your brother.

Michelle: [00:17:05] And I’ve had friends who’ve met my brother on multiple occasions and have told me your brother’s a dick.

Gabe: [00:17:11] Yeah, he sounds like a real dick. Listen –

Michelle: [00:17:13] I’m just saying. I’m just saying.

Gabe: [00:17:14] I am not saying that he is not. Your brother’s a dick. I’m saying that you need to understand your own motivation because until you do I don’t think you’re gonna get over it. And I think a lot of our listeners have somebody in their life that they feel this way about. Whether it’s a friend, a family member, in some cases it’s like a parent or a guardian. It’s somebody who helped raised them or an authority figure and they’re all ruminating on this day in and day out. And if they don’t fix the relationship or get over the relationship it either a handcuffs them in the present like it’s handcuffed to you because you’re thinking about this right now and it is occupying way too much of your space for some dude who doesn’t even live in the country. And two, you just need to let it go and decide hey look this relationship isn’t for me and stop thinking about it. Frankly I don’t think any of this has anything to do with schizophrenia. I don’t think it does. It has everything to do with the fact that familiar relationships our family our friends, that’s the kind of stuff that fucks you up.

Michelle: [00:18:10] I think what it has to do with schizophrenia is the fact that I’ll think about it and I’ll just scrape into my head and it creeps in the deep dark depths of my head and I’ll just go around and around and around and around.

Gabe: [00:18:22] You want to know who my big brother is? You want to know who does that for me? You want to know who creeps into my head and just turns around and around and won’t let go ever? My biological father. The dude is dead. He is dead and I think about him the exact same way you think about your brother.

Michelle: [00:18:41] Really?

Gabe: [00:18:41] Yeah he’s dead. He can’t apologize. He can’t make up for it. It’s over. I won because I didn’t die of alcoholism.

Michelle: [00:18:49] I can get why.

Gabe: [00:18:50] Why did you hate me? That’s all I can think about, why did he hate me? And now you’re gonna do the exact same thing that I just did for you. You’re gonna be like, “Dude, he didn’t hate you he was a dick. He was an alcoholic. He abandoned his kid.” This is the level that we torture ourselves.

Michelle: [00:19:02] I get that though. When a parent chooses alcohol over a kid. I can understand why the kid feels very upset.

Gabe: [00:19:10] Oh, look I don’t think he chose alcohol over me. I think he chose literally anything. I think he would have chosen like a blowing leaf over me.

Michelle: [00:19:18] Sometimes, a father is just a sperm.

Gabe: [00:19:20] Yeah. You know I call on my sperm donor.

Michelle: [00:19:22] Yeah. That’s sometimes just what a father is.

Gabe: [00:19:25] But this is the biggest rumination that I have because I wonder how did he know? On the day that I was born, that I was broken and worthless? How come he knew what nobody else can figure out?

Michelle: [00:19:37] He didn’t know that.

Gabe: [00:19:37] But, I mean –

Michelle: [00:19:38] He knew he was broken.

Gabe: [00:19:41] He didn’t know that. He had a good life. He was happy. He died fine.

Michelle: [00:19:44] No, he wasn’t happy, he was an alcoholic.

Gabe: [00:19:46] Yeah, a happy one.

Michelle: [00:19:47] No, there’s no happy alcoholics.

Gabe: [00:19:50] You know that whole self medicating thing it doesn’t play sometimes. I don’t think he was self medicating at all. I think he was just a guy that did whatever he wanted and said whatever he wanted and behaved however. He was just immature.

Michelle: [00:20:00] Then he wasn’t ready to be a dad.

Gabe: [00:20:03] I mean he was very young. My mother got pregnant in high school and he was also in high school.

Michelle: [00:20:07] So ok, that makes a little bit better.

Gabe: [00:20:08] But he never made up for it. I saw him on his deathbed. He was in hospice. He had jaundice, his eyes were yellow. They told me had less than two weeks to live. And I’m like, “Do you have anything to say to me?” And he was like, “It’s your mom’s fault.”

Michelle: [00:20:23] That’s what he said?

Gabe: [00:20:23] That’s pretty much what he said.

Michelle: [00:20:25] He’s a dick.

Gabe: [00:20:26] Oh, yeah.

Michelle: [00:20:26] Like he’s a dick. Your biological dad, he’s a dick.

Gabe: [00:20:29] But why can’t I get over it?

Michelle: [00:20:31] Because he’s your dad.

Gabe: [00:20:33] Yeah I got a dad. He’s alive. He lives in Tennessee. He’s cool.

Michelle: [00:20:35] Because he’s a part of you.

Gabe: [00:20:37] And I’m not trying to be crass here, but he’s just a guy who had sex with my mom. I appreciate the DNA and all

Michelle: [00:20:45] But if you can say that, then why can’t you get over it?

Gabe: [00:20:48] Exactly. And that’s why it ruminates because the intellectual part of Gabe Howard thinks –

Michelle: [00:20:54] So are you mad at your mom for boning this dude?

Gabe: [00:20:57] No. Well, I mean, I’m mad at my mom for giving me life but that’s like a whole ‘nother episode. I don’t understand why I got to be born and why I have to be born broken and why I’m here.

Michelle: [00:21:08] There’s a reason why you’re here and there’s a purpose here and it’s.

Gabe: [00:21:12] I don’t I don’t believe that.

Michelle: [00:21:13] Purpose. I believe that there’s always a reason why you’re here.

Gabe: [00:21:17] You believe in vape pens.

Michelle: [00:21:20] You believe in Diet Coke. Maybe there’s a universe of no diet coke.

Gabe: [00:21:23] That’s mean.

Michelle: [00:21:24] You’re not there. That’s near here.

Gabe: [00:21:27] That’s mean.

Michelle: [00:21:28] You’re here to drink Diet Coke.

Gabe: [00:21:30] Michelle, seriously. Seriously, none of this is serving either one of us so why do we do it?

Michelle: [00:21:36] Because it doesn’t go away.

Gabe: [00:21:39] And why doesn’t it go away?

Michelle: [00:21:40] I don’t know why it doesn’t go away.

Gabe: [00:21:42] Exactly. Judging by our emails a lot of our listeners have this problem where they just have this thing that they just can’t get over. And if they have learned nothing by listening to this show it’s that they’re not alone. A lot of people have these things that they just can’t get over and I think that anybody listening to me and you for the last 20 minutes would think wow these two need to get over that because it’s not serving them in any way.

Michelle: [00:22:05] Just a little bit. Don’t you think?

Gabe: [00:22:06] But we’re not letting it go. I hope that maybe they listen to us and they realize how unhelpful this is to just not get over and they think wow I don’t want to be like them and they let go of their anger and the things that they’re just ruminating on and can’t get over. But I suspect that a lot of people are gonna hang on to that rumination and I hope that they find some way to minimize it because at the end of the day Michelle we have minimized it. It is not impacting us the same way at our current age. That it probably did 10 years ago. Do you think you think about this less now than you did five years ago?

Michelle: [00:22:44] Oh definitely much less.

Gabe: [00:22:45] So there really is some wisdom in time heals all wounds.

Michelle: [00:22:49] And you know living in another country.

Gabe: [00:22:52] So I had to kill my biological father. You had to send your brother to another country and now suddenly we’re getting better. That’s fantastic. That is definitely actionable advice. Everybody is excited that they listen to this episode of a bipolar schizophrenic podcast because now they can beat their own ruminations with death and deportation.

Michelle: [00:23:15] Yes.

Gabe: [00:23:16] Not every episode can be a winner ladies and gentlemen but we hope you got something out of it. Thank you for tuning into this episode of A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. Don’t forget to hop over to store.PsychCentra.com, there is a few shirts left. This is the last time. Literally the last time we will ever pitch the “Define Normal” shirts on this show. So if you have been hanging on wanting to buy one, now is the time. Thank you everybody. Please like us everywhere and we will see you next time.

Michelle: [00:23:45] He’s a dick!

Announcer: [00:23:50]You’ve been listening to a bipolar a schizophrenic kind of podcast. If you love this episode don’t keep it to yourself head over to iTunes or your preferred podcast app to subscribe rate and review to work with Gabe go to GabeHoward.com. To work with Michelle go to Schizophrenic.NYC. For free mental health resources and online support groups. Head over to PsychCentral.com Show’s official Web site PsychCentral.com/bsp you can e-mail us at [email protected]. Thank you for listening and share widely.

Meet Your Bipolar and Schizophrenic Hosts

GABE HOWARD was formally diagnosed with bipolar and anxiety disorders after being committed to a psychiatric hospital in 2003. Now in recovery, Gabe is a prominent mental health activist and host of the award-winning Psych Central Show podcast. He is also an award-winning writer and speaker, traveling nationally to share the humorous, yet educational, story of his bipolar life. To work with Gabe, visit gabehoward.com.MICHELLE HAMMER was officially diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 22, but incorrectly diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 18. Michelle is an award-winning mental health advocate who has been featured in press all over the world. In May 2015, Michelle founded the company Schizophrenic.NYC, a mental health clothing line, with the mission of reducing stigma by starting conversations about mental health. She is a firm believer that confidence can get you anywhere. To work with Michelle, visit Schizophrenic.NYC.Podcast: Dwelling on the Past Mistakes Caused by Mental Illness

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Podcast: The Warning Signs of Bipolar and Schizophrenia

This is an interesting article I found on: www.psychcentral.com

See credits below.

In general, people with mental illness aren’t perfectly fine one day and suddenly symptomatic the next. It often feels that way to people with bipolar, depression, and schizophrenia, but many of us in recovery realize that the warning signs were there all along.


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“If you think there might be something wrong – that is a red flag.”
– Gabe Howard

Highlights From ‘Warning Bipolar Schizophrenia’’ Episode

[1:00] March 30th is World Bipolar Day!

[2:30] What are some of the warning signs of mental illness?

[5:00] Will supplements and exercise fix everything?

[7:45] Michelle’s huge red flag that she had schizophrenia.

[12:15] The red flags that Gabe has bipolar disorder.

[14:00] Why our hosts didn’t get any help when they were younger.

[18:30] The obvious warning signs of schizophrenia that Michelle’s college roommates noticed.

[22:00] Common symptoms of bipolar and schizophrenia.

[24:00] Everybody goes to therapy.

Computer Generated Transcript for ‘ The Warning Signs of Bipolar and Schizophrenia ‘ Show

Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you.

Announcer: [00:00:07] For reasons that utterly escape everyone involved, you’re listening to A Bipolar, A Schizophrenic, and A Podcast. Here are your hosts, Gabe Howard and Michelle Hammer.

Gabe: [00:00:09] You’re listening to a bipolar schizophrenic podcast. My name is Gabe Howard and I have bipolar.

Michelle: [00:00:24] Hi, I’m Michelle. I’m schizophrenic.

Gabe: [00:00:27] And we’re going to talk about red flags. Basically-

Michelle: [00:00:30] Gabe, you forgot to say what this is.

Gabe: [00:00:32] This is a podcast. I said that.

Michelle: [00:00:34] When? You did?

Gabe: [00:00:35] I did. I said, “It’s A Bipolar, A schizophrenic, and a Podcast.”

Michelle: [00:00:37] I missed that.

Gabe: [00:00:39] But you know what I did forget to say? So I am glad that you brought it up? On March 30th, it is World Bipolar Day.

Michelle: [00:00:47] It is?

Gabe: [00:00:47] It is.

Michelle: [00:00:48] What a happy day. Or sad day. Or, I don’t know.

Gabe: [00:00:53] I kind of look at it as a both day. Like I wake up sad, but I go to bed happier, and kind of vacillate back and forth throughout the day.

Michelle: [00:01:00] Yeah. I know there must be so many people that are happy, or sad, or in the middle, or going up and down about how to feel on such a day.

Gabe: [00:01:07] So, World Bipolar Day. It takes place on Van Gogh’s birthday. And it really is kind of weird to think about, but it’s supposed to be like a celebration, or an acknowledgement of bipolar disorder and the contributions of people who live with bipolar disorder. It’s a day of awareness. It’s a day of acknowledgment. It’s a day of celebration. It can kind of be anything that you want. And it’s really caught on in the last few years.

Michelle: [00:01:28] Do you set off fireworks?

Gabe: [00:01:30] Not intentionally.

Michelle: [00:01:33] [Laughter]

Gabe: [00:01:34] It’s a really cool day, and I don’t know if our listeners are familiar with it. But you can find information on it by googling “world bipolar day.” You can also find more information on IBPF.org. That’s the International Bipolar Foundation. They sort of spearheaded this, but it’s been going on for a number of years. Michelle, is there a world schizophrenia day?

Michelle: [00:01:51] That’s a good question. I don’t really know.

Gabe: [00:01:54] If there’s not, like, I’m getting an idea.

Michelle: [00:01:56] You’re getting an idea?

Gabe: [00:01:57] We should spearhead world schizophrenia day.

Michelle: [00:02:01] OK, let’s do it.

Gabe: [00:02:01] We’re just gonna do it? Just do it?

Michelle: [00:02:03] Just right now.

Gabe: [00:02:03] Just right now?

Michelle: [00:02:04] How about today?

Gabe: [00:02:05] Let’s just cancel the podcast and just start our own holidays. It worked for Hallmark.

Michelle: [00:02:08] Let’s just make like different holidays every day. And then we never have to do anything, because it’s always a holiday.

Gabe: [00:02:15] This is genius.

Michelle: [00:02:17] Yeah. Holiday all day every day.

Gabe: [00:02:19] Holiday all day every day?

Michelle: [00:02:21] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:02:21] Excellent.

Michelle: [00:02:21] Excellent.

Gabe: [00:02:22] It sounds a little bit like our lives, though. If you think about.

Michelle: [00:02:25] A little.

Gabe: [00:02:25] Michelle, when we were going over the idea for the show, you said we should really talk about red flags of mental illness that we saw in ourselves before we were diagnosed. And we came up with really good ones that we’re gonna discuss. But, I think that we should maybe open it up a little later on in the show to talk about warning signs that we have personally seen in others. So, we’ve sort of got, like, the personal experience, the lived experience. But you know, maybe we should cover, like, some just straight up warning signs? Like, for example, if you are running naked down the street screaming that you’re being followed by Osama bin Laden, you might be schizophrenic.

Michelle: [00:03:04] Yeah. I would say there is something really big going on there. Or you could be doing a lot of drugs, honestly. If you’re really yelling that down the street.

Gabe: [00:03:11] It is interesting that you bring up the drug thing. Because we know many people who were diagnosed with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia because they were abusing drugs and alcohol, and when they got clean, they realized that they didn’t have a mental illness at all. But they were having the hallucinatory. . . “Hallucinatory?” Is that a word for real?

Michelle: [00:03:29] Sure, yeah.

Gabe: [00:03:30] Of the drugs. So it is kind of a messed up thing, isn’t it?

Michelle: [00:03:34] Drugs or schizophrenia? Let’s see. I guess so, sure.

Gabe: [00:03:38] And what if you genuinely have schizophrenia, but you are self medicating with drugs?

Michelle: [00:03:43] Well, that sounds like fun.

Gabe: [00:03:45] Does it?

Michelle: [00:03:46] No.

Gabe: [00:03:46] I mean we should probably put a little asterisk there. That Gabe and Michelle are not advocating treating schizophrenia with drugs.

Michelle: [00:03:55] I would not advocate that. I wouldn’t say to treat schizophrenia with drugs. Not a good idea. A guy on Instagram just told me that I should try CBD oils with exercise to help. And I said, “Well, you know, any kind of supplement or anything with exercise is always good. So thanks for the unsolicited advice asshole.”

Gabe: [00:04:15] Well now wait a minute. Come on, we can’t call our fans assholes.

Michelle: [00:04:18] No, I’m not saying he’s an asshole but I just don’t need like advice like oh how to schizophrenia. Have you tried CBD along with exercise? Okay, first of all exercise is always really a healthy thing to do. CBD? Sure, like all the other supplements could be beneficial or could do nothing. So, I don’t need somebody on Instagram telling me what to do to help my schizophrenia.

Gabe: [00:04:43] But isn’t this why social media was created? So that we could stalk other people and tell them they were wrong?

Michelle: [00:04:48] Sure. But listen, if I want your advice on Instagram I’ll ask for it.

Gabe: [00:04:55] I remember my father when I was growing up, he’s like, “If I want your opinion, I’ll give it to you.” That was his motto.

Michelle: [00:05:01] What do you need? Some CBD and an awesome exercise, Gabe?

Gabe: [00:05:04] Maybe I need some CBD oil?

Michelle: [00:05:05] Yeah, just take some CBD and do some exercise, you’ll feel so much better. I heard it on Instagram today.

Gabe: [00:05:11] It is interesting, and I want to talk about something for the younger generation while we’re on this vein. I’m over 40, but I remember the exercise craze of the 90s. The early 90s, and there was all these supplements that came out. All of these pills that you could buy at the gas station, exactly like CBD oil. It’s going to change your life, they’re better, they’re amazing, and if you take the pills exactly like they order you to do so, you will lose weight. That was the big thing, they were weight loss supplements. And I always laughed, because they would say things like, “OK, you have to take four pills a day. Morning, noon, evening, and night. You have to take it each with a gallon of water.” So you’re gonna drink four gallons of water a day.

Michelle: [00:05:52] That’s not healthy.

Gabe: [00:05:53] And yet, maybe it wasn’t a gallon, maybe it was half a gallon, but it was an extreme amount of water. You’re supposed to take it with a lot of water. You were supposed to take the pills in supplement of dinner. So you weren’t supposed to eat dinner at all. And they put on the package that the pills worked best if you took a brisk 15 minute walk after each dosage.

Michelle: [00:06:13] Take a pill. Don’t eat. Drink lots of water, and take a walk.

Gabe: [00:06:17] Yeah.

Michelle: [00:06:17] And you will lose weight.

Gabe: [00:06:18] Yeah, and it’s the pills. It’s the magic pills.

Michelle: [00:06:20] Oh my goodness! That’s… that’s…. God that’s wow. Wow. So, I personally love the pills at the gas station that say that you get a huge boner.

Gabe: [00:06:30] Yeah. Yeah. It does remind me of the boner pills.

Michelle: [00:06:33] Yeah. The boner pills. I love those. OK. Gabe we are like on a tangent right now. What were we talking about? Red flags.

Gabe: [00:06:38] It is a good tangent, because, I think that there are many people who live with mental illness, that think that they can take a magic pill that they bought at the gas station and they will live well. It’s really odd to me because, you know, “Big Pharma,” pills are bad unless you buy it at the gas station.

Michelle: [00:06:54] Just go take some St. John’s Wort.

Gabe: [00:06:55] Well you know, at least St. John’s Wort has some study behind it to show some efficacy for low grade depression. We, me and you, we do not have low grade anything.

Michelle: [00:07:04] I took St. John’s Wort. It did nothing for me. I’m not against St. John’s Wort. It’s just that personally, it was probably as helpful as CBD and exercise.

Gabe: [00:07:12] To tie this back together into something good, though. It is a red flag if you are constantly looking for sources outside of yourself to feel better.

Michelle: [00:07:20] Yes.

Gabe: [00:07:20] If your depression is so bad that you’re willing to try something that you bought on the Internet, or advice that you got on Instagram, or something at the gas station. If you are desperately looking for a cure, it is a pretty good indication that you’re acknowledging that you’re suffering from something. Because people who are healthy and happy don’t just buy random products and ingest them for no reason.

Michelle: [00:07:41] That’s a very good point.

Gabe: [00:07:42] I’m good at that. I do that.

Michelle: [00:07:43] You do that a lot, Gabe?

Gabe: [00:07:45] Michelle, what were some red flags that people saw in you before you noticed that anything was wrong?

Michelle: [00:07:50] Well, the huge red flag was that I was constantly talking to myself and I didn’t even realize I was talking myself or just laughing at myself. I remember my mother speaking to like high school teachers and/or middle school teachers, and she said your teachers are saying that you’re laughing at them. They’re saying that you’re laughing in class. And I’m like, I’m not laughing in class. I was going into delusions and hilariously laughing at my delusions and just laughing in class. Which had nothing to do with the class or anything I was learning about. I was just often off in like another land laughing hysterically. But I didn’t realize I was doing it, and I didn’t know what it was, and I didn’t know why. I didn’t have memories of myself laughing during class to even try to defend myself. And I would say, I wasn’t laughing during class. But there you go. Right there was a huge red flag. The only time I remember specifically doing that was like, 11th grade physics. I’m sitting in the back of class and I guess I was just laughing so hysterically over and over again and not noticing that a girl who is two seats ahead of me turned around and goes, “Hey, are you OK?” And that’s when I realized. I started to go, “Oh! Oh, sorry. I… I was just laughing at something.” She goes, “What were you laughing at.” I’m like, “Oh, I think I was just thinking of something funny. I don’t know.” And that’s like the first time I noticed that I actually was just completely bursting into laughter at nothing around me. Only what was in my head.

Gabe: [00:09:11] Well, it’s interesting that you brought up that you were laughing at things that were in your head. You weren’t aware of anything that was happening around you, and the teachers and fellow students thought that you were, like, mocking them.

Michelle: [00:09:22] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:09:22] So now you’ve got two problems. You’ve obviously got the delusions, the laughter, and the lack of self-awareness. And you’ve managed to piss off people that you weren’t even aware were in the room.

Michelle: [00:09:33] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:09:33] And this is one of the things that makes it really, really difficult to get treatment. Because nobody thought that you needed treatment, but they did think you needed punishment.

Michelle: [00:09:41] Right. Actually, this just reminds me of college. I would, for example, I had my computer with me, and I would sit in the back of the class on my computer. And in the room it would often be dark, but the computer lights up my face. And I guess I would laugh a lot while I was, you know, also being delusional in class. I would just look at my computer, I would laugh, I would kind of take notes. But one time I went up to the teacher after class, and I said something to him, and he goes, “Oh, by the way, I see you laughing a lot during class. Are you laughing at, like, what you’re looking at on the computer? Or, like, at what I’m saying?” And I go, “Oh, no. No, no, no. I just do that a lot.” So there I was doing it again in college. Just bursting into laughter, being delusional at nothing. My whole life, I’ve been doing it and I still didn’t know I had schizophrenia.

Gabe: [00:10:25] This is interesting because I think that people need to understand that the worst case scenario is that people think you’re a jerk, because you’re laughing at them. But what if the thing that you were doing was yelling and screaming? What if you were like posturing and like a defensive thing? And like raising your fist? You know you’re a tiny little girl, Michelle, you know? But I’m a 300 pound, six foot three, man. Imagine if I was completely unaware that I was in a room, and I would stand up and I would start yelling, “Get off me!” That’s the kind of thing that can get you tackled, hurt, beat up, shot, arrested. Because it’s scary. It’s scary, you know? You’re kind of telling the story like hey, it’s a big red flag, because you were laughing in class. But you know, nobody’s gonna tackle and have you arrested because you’re laughing. Worst case scenario is they’re going to ask you to leave. But, you know, a lot of people in our community, their delusions don’t revolve around things that make them laugh. Their delusions revolve around things that make them defensive, or appear angry, or scary. And I understand why it would be scary if I stood up and started screaming at you. I wouldn’t want you to wonder whether or not I’m having a delusion. I would want you to run. So I’m telling you that if I’m sick, run. But that means you’re not helping me. But you really can’t risk it. I’m one hundred and fifty pounds bigger than you.

Michelle: [00:11:38] One second, we’re going to commercial.

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Michelle: [00:12:10] And we’re back, talking about red flags. Did you have any huge red flags?

Gabe: [00:12:16] Oh man, I had so many red flags! The biggest one that I’ve talked about on this show before, is that I thought about suicide every day as far back as I can remember. I didn’t think it was odd at all.

Michelle: [00:12:27] Like how far back?

Gabe: [00:12:28] Like when I was 4? 3? I don’t know. I never remember not thinking about it, and I think that kind of blows people’s minds, too. Remember on another episode, that you said that you didn’t tell anybody that you were paranoid? Because, after all, you were paranoid.

Michelle: [00:12:39] Right.

Gabe: [00:12:40] And it’s the way that you always felt, and it felt normal to you. The paranoia seemed very protective, so you weren’t doing anything to try to fix it. You were steering right in to that curve of paranoia.

Michelle: [00:12:50] Right. I believed it. I thought it was right. Therefore, I didn’t tell anybody, because I didn’t want to go against it. Because I didn’t want it to get worse.

Gabe: [00:12:58] Yeah.

Michelle: [00:12:58] If you, like, don’t listen to your paranoia, it’s only going to get worse. Because you’re going to get more paranoid. Right?

Gabe: [00:13:05] And the reason that you believed it is because it was just always with you?

Michelle: [00:13:07] Right.

Gabe: [00:13:07] Right. That’s how suicidal thoughts were to me. They were just always with me, and I just assumed that everybody else was thinking about suicide as well. I’m not saying that I thought that everybody was going to die by suicide, because that would be nuts. I thought that everybody was considering it. Just like I know that everybody can eat pizza. I just do. I just do because, you know, pizza is something that’s readily available. It’s relatively inexpensive. So when I see people not eating pizza, I assume to myself that the reason they’re not eating pizza isn’t because it’s unavailable to them, but it’s because they don’t want it. So when I see people not committing suicide, not dying by suicide,, or not self harming themselves, I just assumed it was because they didn’t want to. Not because they weren’t thinking about it, or not because they were emotionally healthy. I just thought they were making a choice, that was different from mine. But I sure as hell thought they were contemplating it. I did. I thought my parents would go to bed at night and think, “Wonder if we should kill ourselves tonight? No, we’ll stick it out with the kids.” That’s just what I thought.

Michelle: [00:14:11] I get that. When I when I was in high school, and I knew I had those behavioral issues, every time I was brought to any kind of, like, guidance counselor, or any kind of therapist or anything, and they’d say, “You know, everything is between you and me. Unless you’re thinking of hurting yourself or somebody else.” So right at that moment, I wouldn’t say anything because I was thinking of hurting myself. I was suicidal, so therefore I never got any help, because I never opened my mouth. But yet I didn’t think of that as a red flag. Because it was that big a deal that they were going to tell my mom that I was thinking of hurting myself. That should have been like, “Oh, it’s such a big deal that they would tell my mom!” That is such a big red flag right there. I was thinking, “Oh no, don’t say a word. They’ll tell my mom! I should just be quiet because I don’t want her to know.” When really, that’s something she should have known about because that’s really important to get fixed.

Gabe: [00:15:02] Along that same line, it never occurred to me that anything was wrong with this because there was no mental health training. My parents, if my parents would have sat me down one day, and I hear this is kind of a messed up thing to say. But if they would have sat me down one day, and said, “Gabe, thinking about suicide is abnormal.” I would be like, “Really? That’s – really?” But they didn’t. We never had those conversations because my parents didn’t see any value in it. Which is, I love my mom and dad. I want to make that very, very clear. My mom and dad are not bad people. It never occurred to them that their child was thinking about killing himself, because if it would have occurred to them, they would have done something. We just believed all the bullshit about mental illness that most people believe. My parents were like, “You know, he’s smart. He gets average grades. He’s funny. He’s a good kid, and he comes from a good family, and we’re all good people. So clearly suicide isn’t an issue. He’s not mentally ill.” But my mother to this very day says that she always described me as her “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde kid.” And I always point out when she says that you’re describing bipolar disorder. So my mother recognized that I had this. That I had the symptoms of bipolar disorder as a teenager, but she never was able to put it together any further. And that scares me, because that’s a giant red flag that everybody I knew missed. Even though they were all sitting around talking about it.

Michelle: [00:16:28] I don’t know. For a while I was trying to tell everybody that I couldn’t sleep at night. I can’t sleep at night. I can’t sleep at night. And I was just told, “You’re not getting sleeping pills! Stop trying to get sleeping pills!” I don’t want sleeping pills. “What do you want?” I want to sleep at night.

Gabe: [00:16:45] That’s interesting, because I too had trouble sleeping, and my parents had a billion reasons that it was my fault. You drink too much Mountain Dew. You’re too hyper. You’re watching too much television. You don’t get enough exercise. Or my personal favorite one, try harder.

Michelle: [00:17:02] Right.

Gabe: [00:17:02] Yeah. I can’t sleep. Try harder.

Michelle: [00:17:04] And sleeping was, like, the hardest thing. Because going to try to fall asleep was when the paranoia was almost at its worst. Because it would go through my entire day and everything I did that day and it would tell me how everything I did that day was the most horrible thing I could have done. And then, I would get delusional and believe that things happened that day that never happened, making it even worse. So then it was then things that I didn’t believe are true happened and then paranoia. It was just all this crazy. Kind of, who knows, is making up all this nonsense in my head. And I would cry myself to sleep every night, and the only thing I would say was I just want to sleep. Please I just want to sleep. “You’re not getting sleeping pills!”

Gabe: [00:17:43] You know when I said that I couldn’t sleep, nobody told me that I couldn’t have sleeping pills. The advantage I guess of being 14 years older than you, is that apparently sleeping pills just weren’t a thing in my generation.

Michelle: [00:17:52] It’s not that I wanted sleeping pills.

Gabe: [00:17:53] I know that it’s not. But nobody even thought that when I said I couldn’t sleep. Nobody thought that I was trying to get sleeping pills.

Michelle: [00:17:59] Oh yeah. Everyone was like, “Yeah, you just want your drugs.” They thought I was drug seeking.

Gabe: [00:18:01] Yeah, that’s bizarre. Nobody ever accused me of drug seeking by saying that I couldn’t sleep, but they didn’t think it was a problem either. And everybody thought it was my own fault. You know, frankly, they blamed it on caffeine, or my poor eating habits, or I needed more exercise. There was always some reason that these things were my fault. We’ve talked a lot about being kids. We’ve talked a lot about, like, our teenage years, when we were under our parents’ control. And maybe you were diagnosed sooner than me. What were some warning signs for you as an adult? Like what was with adult Michelle? The warning signs?

Michelle: [00:18:35] Like adult Michelle? Is that considering college as well?

Gabe: [00:18:37] Yeah. I mean, I mean, well, when you were a grown ass woman.

Michelle: [00:18:41] Well, there would be times I’d be in my room in college. Then I would just hear my other roommate, Kate, just yelling, “Who are you talking to? Who are you talking to?” And I’d be like, “Why? What are you talking about?” She goes, “I hear you speaking to somebody.” I’m like, “Oh, I was just working something out of my head. I’m just working stuff out.” But then other times that happened I would actually be on the phone, and she’d yell. I yell back, “Give me a break! I’m on the phone okay. Leave me alone.” But this happened so often. And then other times, my other friends, would be like, “You’re schizophrenic.” And I’d be like, “No, I’m not schizophrenic. That’s voices outside your head, not inside your head.” And they’re like, “Are you sure about that?” And I’d be like, “Yeah, I’m definitely not schizophrenic, guys. Don’t worry about it. Don’t worry about it, I’m not schizophrenic.” So that’s why when I told them I was, they were like, “Yeah, no shit. We told you that.”

Gabe: [00:19:32] Yeah.

Michelle: [00:19:33] That’s why they knew. They knew way before me. So when I told them, it was like telling them that I have brown hair. They were like, “We know. We know. We already knew this about you. What? What are you even trying to tell us? Like, you’re telling us nothing.”

Gabe: [00:19:46] That’s always a fascinating part of your story to me. You know, every time it comes up, or we discuss it, this idea that a lot of people around you knew that something was wrong, yet they weren’t actively seeking help for you. They were telling you, which is a step in the right direction. And you were ignoring them. And the reason that you were ignoring was not like people think. You weren’t ignoring them because you were schizophrenic. You were ignoring them because you didn’t understand. You didn’t agree with them. You didn’t. You didn’t see it yourself. You had no self-awareness, which I suppose people can argue was because of schizophrenia, but I think it’s a mixture. I’m sure that being schizophrenic probably played a role, but I think having no understanding of how mental illness works, its symptoms, its causes, or what to do about it, made it easy for you to skip.

Michelle: [00:20:32] Yeah I think so. I mean, I was diagnosed as bipolar. So I thought I was just bipolar. But then, I was, I kind of knew that those symptoms didn’t fit. When I googled the symptoms, it was like, I really don’t have this. But I might have something worse. But I don’t want to look it up, whatever is worse. And I don’t want to believe other people, so I’m just gonna say that I’m bipolar and leave it at that.

Gabe: [00:20:54] It’s fascinating to me. You’ve said this before, and I never know, like, how to respond to it. Because you’re like –

Michelle: [00:20:59] Because it’s like is one really worse?

Gabe: [00:21:00] Well, yeah. You’re, like, just bipolar. It’s kind of a bit like saying, “Well, I just have testicular cancer. I mean, I don’t have lung cancer. Just testicular cancer.”

Michelle: [00:21:13] I know. I was like this. I just stigmatize myself in that. That was like-

Gabe: [00:21:18] No, it was me. Just a lot of that is that just I’m very sad that you would do this to me.

Michelle: [00:21:23] Oh, yeah.

Gabe: [00:21:24] Just, wow. Just –

Michelle: [00:21:25] Wow.

Gabe: [00:21:25] Make sure you use person first language the next time you stigmatize me. That will make it all go away.

Michelle: [00:21:31] Oh really? Oh really?

Gabe: [00:21:33] Michelle, you and I, we had a lot of signs. And anybody listening to this show should know that the warning signs for both Michelle and I were like spotlights. And nobody really picked up on them. Our parents didn’t do nothing, and they made attempts to get us help, here and there. But it wasn’t the concentrated effort that it needed to be, because they didn’t know what to do. Outside of the symptoms that we have and that we’ve kind of discussed on the show, let’s talk about some other really big symptoms that we’ve heard about other people having. Common ones that people hear about. Like, for example, not being able to go to work for several days in a row, but not being physically ill, and not understanding why you can’t get out of bed. That’s kind of happened to us in a way, but –

Michelle: [00:22:15] Just not being able to get out of bed because you’re so depressed?

Gabe: [00:22:18] Yeah, yeah.

Michelle: [00:22:19] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:22:20] We’ve certainly been there, but kind of gone back and forth and back and forth. But I think by the time we were there, we probably knew we were mentally ill. So, it’s not necessarily a red flag before diagnosis, but rather an ongoing problem that that we suffered from. But losing interest in things that you used to have interest in is a big red flag. You know, giving away prized possessions is a big red flag. Pulling away from friends and relatives that you were close to is a big red flag. And while some of those things happened us, and some of those things didn’t, any of those things alone are cause for concern. And you know, maybe you should get a mental health checkup. Whether you go to your general practitioner, whether you go to a social worker, or a psychologist, or whether you go straight for a psychiatrist. I’m really always bummed when people say, “You know, I thought maybe there was something wrong, but it didn’t seem serious enough.” You know, we live in a country that goes to the doctor for the sniffles, and I’m OK with that. Like, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. So if you think that you might have a mental health problem, why not go get it checked out?

Michelle: [00:23:24] I have a friend that I hadn’t seen in a while, and I saw her, like, last weekend. And I’m talking to her and she’s struggling and things. And she’s going, “I think maybe, I think I’m going to go get some therapy. I think it. I think I’ll get therapy.” And I just said to her, “You know you’re saying that like not everybody goes to therapy? Everyone goes to therapy. It is incredibly common to go to therapy.” And I’m trying to explain to her that her thinking that therapy is like, so taboo, and that she’s going to go. Because she’s, like, kind of, almost seemed ashamed of it. That she could possibly be going to therapy and it’s such a bad thing that she thinks she needs it. And I’m just telling her, everybody goes to therapy. Everybody does it. There’s no shame. You ask a bunch of or maybe 10 people and ask them who’s been to therapy, at least half the people are going to raise their hand. There’s no shame in going to therapy. If you think you have to go to therapy, don’t think and make a huge deal about it. Just go.

Gabe: [00:24:20] It’s fascinating to see how therapy has sort of evolved from the generations. Like, my grandfather is 88 years old. He’s like, “Therapy is bullshit. Nobody should go. Be a man.” You know my dad’s in his 60s, and he went to therapy. But he wouldn’t tell anybody. My mom knew, and none of us kids could know, and he’s gonna hear this episode and he’s gonna be like, “What? Why? Why are you telling people that?” And then there’s my generation. You know, I’m in my 40s. I’ll go and I’ll tell my friends and family, but that’s it. And then there’s all the 20 year-olds that are like live streaming therapy on Facebook. Checking in with their therapist, they’re just like, “What do you mean, you don’t have a therapist?” But that is good. That is good to see the evolution of it, because it’s a valuable thing. It matters in our society. And if you want to know the biggest red flag, that everybody should respond to, is if you think there might be something wrong, that’s a red flag. If your friends are coming to you and telling you there might be something wrong, that’s a red flag. Don’t look for the giant ones. Pay attention to the small ones. Because like all other illnesses, early treatment is key.

Gabe: [00:25:24] Thanks again for spending this week with A Bipolar, A Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. Remember to share, like, and subscribe. Make Michelle and I famous. And if you get a chance, hop over to GabeHoward.com and buy my book, Mental Illness Is an Asshole. And of course, I have to be fair, so head over to schizophrenic.NYC and buy a shirt. You can also go to store.PsychCentral.com and buy the Define Normal shirt. They are almost out of stock, and I’m not sure we’re gonna be ordering more. We will see everybody next week.

Michelle: [00:25:53] Red flag.

Announcer: [00:25:57] You’ve been listening to a bipolar a schizophrenic kind of podcast. If you love this episode don’t keep it to yourself head over to iTunes or your preferred podcast app to subscribe rate and review to work with Gabe go to GabeHoward.com. To work with Michelle go to Schizophrenic.NYC. For free mental health resources and online support groups. Head over to PsychCentral.com Show’s official Web site PsychCentral.com/bsp you can e-mail us at [email protected]. Thank you for listening and share widely.

Meet Your Bipolar and Schizophrenic Hosts

GABE HOWARD was formally diagnosed with bipolar and anxiety disorders after being committed to a psychiatric hospital in 2003. Now in recovery, Gabe is a prominent mental health activist and host of the award-winning Psych Central Show podcast. He is also an award-winning writer and speaker, traveling nationally to share the humorous, yet educational, story of his bipolar life. To work with Gabe, visit gabehoward.com.MICHELLE HAMMER was officially diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 22, but incorrectly diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 18. Michelle is an award-winning mental health advocate who has been featured in press all over the world. In May 2015, Michelle founded the company Schizophrenic.NYC, a mental health clothing line, with the mission of reducing stigma by starting conversations about mental health. She is a firm believer that confidence can get you anywhere. To work with Michelle, visit Schizophrenic.NYC.Podcast: The Warning Signs of Bipolar and Schizophrenia

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Podcast: Support Groups for Mental Illness – What are They?

This is an interesting article I found on: www.psychcentral.com

See credits below.

Most people understand how doctors and therapists work, but many people can’t quite wrap their minds around support groups – especially peer-led ones. In this episode, our hosts dissect different types of support groups to make them better understood and more accessible. Listen Now!


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“[Mental Illness] Support groups are like a buffet — take what you want and leave the rest.”
– Gabe Howard

Highlights From ‘Mental Illness Support Groups’ Episode

[1:00] Lets talk about support groups.

[3:00] Fountain House in NYC is awesome!

[6:00] Why it’s great to be around like-minded people.

[8:00] Support groups in hospitals.

[12:00] Peer-run support groups, hints and tips.

[18:00] Gabe became a support group facilitator — what does that mean?

[25:00] Sometimes people come to support groups just to listen.

[26:00] Gabe and Michelle recommend support groups to listen and share.

[28:00] Don’t like your support group? You can find another!

Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Support Groups for Mental Illness – What are They?’ Show

Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you.

Narrator: [00:00:09] For reasons that utterly escapes Everyone involved. You’re listening to A Bipolar, A Schizophrenic and A Podcast. Here are your hosts, Gabe Howard and Michelle Hammer. Thank you for tuning into A Bipolar, A Schizophrenic and A Podcast.

Gabe: [00:00:22] I’m Gabe, I have bipolar.

Michelle: [00:00:24] Hi I’m Michelle I’m schizophrenic.

Gabe: [00:00:26] And today we’re going to try to give some helpful information and maybe demystify things like support groups peer support groups support groups read by medical staff like social workers or doctors kind of talk about our experiences we’ve heard from others and just try to tie it up at a nice little bow. For those of you who are sitting there thinking Should I go to a group support group and what’s it going to be like and huh.

Michelle: [00:00:57] You’ve been to a a lot of support groups right Gabe?

Gabe: [00:00:59] I personally love support groups. I’ve been to all forms I’ve been to the ones led by a psychologist. I’ve been to ones led by social workers. I’ve been to ones led by peer supporters. Yeah, I am a I’m a big big believer and I go to a drop-in center which is run by people with mental illness and addiction for people with mental illness and addiction to drop in. So, it’s not exactly a support group but it’s still a group setting for people with mental illness and or addiction to kind of chill.

Michelle: [00:01:34] Yeah I do that too when I go to Fountain House in New York City. It’s kind of just like a clubhouse for people with mental illness and it’s not necessarily group therapy but you’re around like-minded people and you can have really good conversations and there’s really just no judgment there.

Michelle: [00:01:49] And it’s a really nice place to be around.

Gabe: [00:01:53] You sort of feel comfortable there because it’s set up for people like you and me.

Michelle: [00:01:59] It’s more like you’re not being judged. You feel no judgment in a support group. Everybody’s likeminded. Nobody’s thinking bad things about anything you say. You just have just a normal conversation and maybe you think somebody said something weird but then you’re like you know what I’m at this support group to what may maybe something I say somebody else thinks is weird but it’s okay cause we’re all talking to each other openly.

Gabe: [00:02:25] Let’s take this in sections so the section number one we’re going to talk about consumer operated services or peer run organizations drop in centers clubhouses like Fountain House where you go in New York City the Peer Center where I go in Columbus, Ohio and there’s there’s hundreds and hundreds of these models across the United States.

Gabe: [00:02:43] So let’s do that first. You go to probably one of the most famous drop in centers in the country. You’re really super lucky to live in New York City because fountain House has all kinds of services don’t you like a rooftop garden.

Michelle: [00:03:01] There might be a rooftop garden I don’t know if I’d been there but I am in the horticulture unit where they do all the planting and all that kind of stuff and sometimes I do help with the planting but a lot of times I just go there with my computer and I do my work there because I like to be surrounded by people that I can talk to as I’m doing my work. It’s just friendly. It’s nice it’s calming. I mean I could go to a Starbucks but that’s boring. Why not go to Fountain House chit chat with a bunch of fun people while I do my work.

Gabe: [00:03:32] You know the Peer Center where I go doesn’t have a garden. I mean we don’t we don’t have a garden and to call it a horticultural unit. That that that seriously really bad ass. But let’s talk about that for a moment because you know some people hearing this, they’re like wait a minute what does a garden have to do with mental health. And I’ll tell you this is probably my favorite thing to explain to people because at the Peer Center people come in and like oh you have mental illness and you have addiction issues and you’re playing cards. How does playing cards help? How does gardening help?

Gabe: [00:04:09] And here’s what I say. Are you ready for this?

Michelle: [00:04:11] I’m ready.

Gabe: [00:04:12] When you sit down with a group of likeminded people to play cards you talk and this whole game of spades or Uno or whatever game you choose to play that’s just kind of the distraction. Well you’re actually doing is talking about the things that are bothering you just like everybody else who plays cards you talk about your week. You talk about your grandkids you talk about your grandparents if you’re young you just you’re playing cards against humanity you feel bad. But in the best of ways. But these are very social activities. So, while you’re doing these social things you’re talking about the things that are that are eating you inside or you’re bragging about the things that you’re proud of to other likeminded people. Now nobody leaves a Fountain House or the Peer Center or any drop-in center and says Hey I said that I was 35 days sober and I was really proud of myself and everybody said they were proud of me too. No, they say I played cards but we know that you can play cards anywhere you went for that reassurance from. From people who are like you and understand. And that’s really the magic of these places.

Michelle: [00:05:18] It is the magic of these places. People find it interesting that I have friends that are so much older than me. I go to Fountain House. One of my best friends there she’s 56. Like people your friends a 56-year-old woman. No, she’s a really awesome person. She has great things to say. I love speaking to her. Why is it judgment. Is it stigma that she’s 56? What’s the big deal that she’s 56? We have likeminded mental capacity with mental illness and we just talk about regular things. Age doesn’t even make a difference there.

Gabe: [00:05:52] It is hard to find people. Probably because of the stigma that understand what we’re going through. You know I live with bipolar disorder and as you know people with bipolar disorder except for like my people we aren’t wearing shirts that say bipolar so people with schizophrenia people with depression we tend not to advertise it. So, it’s really easy to feel alone. But when you go to a drop-in center you go to a place like this you can sit around other people who also admit to living with mental illness and you can have real conversations about it. Listen Michelle and I we didn’t meet in a drop-in center but we could have you and I could have met in a drop-in center.

Michelle: [00:06:28] Oh definitely.

Gabe: [00:06:29] Yeah. We could’ve just been sitting there like Hey I take meds and it causes sexual side effects and my mouth is dry and you would’ve been like Oh my God.

Gabe: [00:06:36] Me too. And we could have just had this great conversation about how sometimes our medication pisses us off and when we left, we would’ve felt better because I would’ve been like oh my god I thought I was the only one. And you would have been like wow at least I’m not pitiful like that guy.

Gabe: [00:06:50] And the whole thing just drives forward that’s the magic of having a place where we belong and everybody has this. You want to play basketball you go to a gym. If you’re fat you join a gym.

Michelle: [00:07:03] Or you eat a bunch of Oreos.

Gabe: [00:07:05] I love Oreos.

Gabe: [00:07:07] All I’m saying is.

Michelle: [00:07:08] It’s a place of acceptance.

Gabe: [00:07:10] It is a place of acceptance and everybody has this in society. Everybody has this. There are all kinds of clubs and social events. There’s a whole website called meetup.

Gabe: [00:07:21] We’re likeminded people can.

Michelle: [00:07:22] Meetup. That’s how I found Mike post collegiate lacrosse team was meetup.com.

Gabe: [00:07:27] There you go. So, we like to be around people who understand us. We like to feel understood and that that’s not a mental illness thing. That’s not an addiction thing. That’s a human thing. And that’s why drop in centers consumer operated services peer run organizations the clubhouse model. That’s why all of these things are fantastic. But that sort of leads us into support groups because support groups are, they’re not the clubhouse model because you know clubhouse drop in centers et cetera.

Gabe: [00:07:54] They’re open like for periods of time you know they’re open for like you know morning to night etc. whereas a support group especially a Community Support Group is usually like an hour to an hour and a half maybe once or twice a week. So very different vibe.

Michelle: [00:08:10] I would agree with that. Yes.

Gabe: [00:08:12] And there’s two types of those groups. Well there’s probably more than two types but two types that we’re going to talk about here. There’s pure run support group which means a person with mental illness running a support group for other people with mental illness or in the case of like Alcoholics Anonymous recovered alcoholics running a support group for people who are trying to recover or in recovery from alcoholism. So that’s the peer run model.

Gabe: [00:08:35] And then there’s the more you know medical model it’s run by a social worker or psychologist or you know somebody with some sort of training and they both have their pluses and minuses. One is not better than the other. They both have their pluses minuses now Michelle you went to more than a few if I’m not mistaken.

Michelle: [00:08:53] A support group?

Gabe: [00:08:54] Yes support group that was led by a doctor or a social worker.

Michelle: [00:08:59] Well the first kind of support group I’ve really went to was when I was in a psych ward and it was just kind of run by a nurse and we would just go around talking and something that I got out of it that I didn’t even really follow was. Do you journal you should keep a journal and measure your mood in that way? And I was like Oh OK. Sure. The most reason why I even went to those little support groups that were having in the psych ward was because I was so bored. I just wanted to talk to people. But that actually was really helpful and it was nice talking to people. And of course, that wasn’t my last time in the psych ward because the next one I went to we didn’t do any of that. And I realized this is the worst hospital ever, because that other hospital was so much more helpful because they had a support group for us to all talk but this other hospital didn’t do anything for us. So, I realized that a support group in a hospital is actually very beneficial. It made me feel better. We were talking to everybody else that was in in the psych ward then and they were talking about things that got them there and things in the past learning about them. And it was very interesting to get everyone’s story.

Michelle: [00:10:13] And then when I was in the other hospital nobody really shared stories. And there was no support group. Everyone was just kind of talking to each other a little bit but nothing was really organized and it made me feel lonelier because I didn’t know why anyone else was in there.

Gabe: [00:10:33] I think it’s interesting that you were in this other hospital and you were like Oh my God I’m so bored I’m gonna go to this thing and please correct me if I’m wrong but you thought you’re gonna hate it. You thought it was stupid and dumb and you didn’t want to go. You were just so bored you were like oh I’m going to do this even this crap.

Michelle: [00:10:47] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:10:48] And then you missed it like you got so much out of it you wanted to do it again.

Michelle: [00:10:53] Yes.

Gabe: [00:10:54] I can see why you believed this.

Gabe: [00:10:56] I don’t I don’t judge you at all when somebody said hey I want you to sit in a room full of strangers and talk about your eating disorder or your bipolar disorder or your depression or suicidality I was like No. Why. Why do I want to know? No this is dumb. This is stupid. I felt the exact same way I got so much out of it. I first started like you with the you know the more I don’t wanna say traditional but the kind of everybody thinks about with the nurse or the doctor or the social worker sitting up front and the fun is organized in a specific way medically. You know they ask questions everybody shares that kind of thing. But then as that evolved it when I got back out in the community you know those were expensive and I didn’t have a lot of money. But what was free or very low costs like you know throw a couple dollars in a hat kind of thing we’re peer run support groups. And that was the same kind of idea.

Michelle: [00:11:50] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:11:50] People sharing stories etc. except the facilitator or moderator is another person living with mental illness. Again, the most famous peer run support group of all time is Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s exactly like that except for mental illness or depression or bipolar or you know just depending on how it’s structured. I loved these groups the one that I joined very first. Are you ready?

Michelle: [00:12:11] Yes.

Gabe: [00:12:12] Bipolar bears.

Michelle: [00:12:13] Bipolar bears. That sounds good because you are as big as a bear.

Gabe: [00:12:17] Oh man that’s so mean.

Michelle: [00:12:19] I want to see a fight between you and a bear and see who wins.

Gabe: [00:12:22] The bipolar bear.

Gabe: [00:12:24] I picked the support group though because I was scared and the name was so adorable.

Gabe: [00:12:30] No that’s kind of a messed up thing to say but I just I thought How can I be scared go into a group of bi polar bears. honestly that that’s just what I thought. Like how can I be scared?

Michelle: [00:12:41] Was there a stuffed animal bear that you had a hold every time you were speaking?

Gabe: [00:12:45] No but that would be a really good idea. I was very nervous to go and here some hints and tips for some people who are nervous to go. Go with a friend. Even if that friend doesn’t go into the room with you even if the friend has drops you off and waits in the hall. 1 – That’s a really good friend and 2 – you know sometimes that’s all it takes. You know somebody to like pick you up go to dinner first then go. I had somebody help me go to the group because I was scared she didn’t go in with me but she dropped me off and waited and I thought that was really super cool of her because I was scared to go but then you know I got to know people I made friends with the moderator facilitator you know just I became more comfortable just as we’re all you know as humans do.

Gabe: [00:13:30] And then I just became a person who went to this support group for a long time and then after a while I felt that I wasn’t getting anything out of it anymore like I had shared all of my stories I had heard a lot of stories and there’s a lot of power in that too. There’s a lot of power in hearing other people’s stories.

Michelle: [00:13:47] There really is there really is because you might think that you’ve done horrible things in your life and then you hear somebody else and you’re like oh we’re equal or you might hear somebody else Oh that’s way worse than what I did.

Gabe: [00:13:58] And it’s not about judgment. It’s about sort of sharing the burden.

Michelle: [00:14:02] It’s about understanding what your illness is and what could happen what could not happen and what you’ve done in your life and how you can accept it. Really.

Gabe: [00:14:13] Yeah. And when somebody tells you something that they did when they unload on you know they just. I didn’t mow the lawn and I was supposed to mow the lawn. And then you say to them you’re like look I didn’t mow the lawn either. There’s that connection. There’s that understanding. And that person feels better. And then you’re like Wait. Now I feel better because I helped you. And there’s just there’s a lot of power in that more so than people think and listen. Replace lawn with anything you want. Obviously when I walked into these groups for the first time, I thought I was the only person that never mowed the lawn. And then I learned that it was just so common. And then after I was there for a while new people walked in and they thought they were the only people that never mow the lawn. And I got to tell them that I mow the lawn. And I’m also thinking wow of all the analogies and examples to use. Why did I pick lawn mowing?

Michelle: [00:15:01] I don’t really know because I haven’t ever mowed on either.

Gabe: [00:15:05] Oh it’s OK though.

Gabe: [00:15:06] Neither have I.

Michelle: [00:15:07] The only as a peer support group if I ever went to. I went with my bipolar friend who took me to the bipolar support group at Columbia University where it’s just donation to get in.

Gabe: [00:15:17] Yeah.

Michelle: [00:15:18] And so I went there and I was talking I couldn’t relate fully to what everybody was saying but it was very interesting because this one guy was saying that his hyper sexuality was so big and he’s gay and he had you know unprotected sex and he got HIV.

Michelle: [00:15:36] So you know I’m schizophrenic and a bipolar group and people are talking about you know hyper sexuality and look what happened to this guy I’m a schizophrenic I go through all these troubles I do all these things but wow look what can happen. You know you would learn people’s stories and you know you kind of just understand that things could be so much worse even though you don’t think that your life is amazing.

Gabe: [00:16:02] We should probably touch for a moment because I don’t want people to get the idea that it’s like the suffering Olympics which we’ve talked about on this show before in a matter of somebody’s story being you know better worse. But at the same time, it is. I know exactly what you’re saying because sometimes I think Oh man, I thought that I hit rock bottom but I could have gone further and then other people they hear my story and they’re like oh wow this guy is way worse than me. It’s not about the judgment. It’s about the understanding the gravity of the situation and the breadth of the situation and just how just how bad it can get.

Michelle: [00:16:39] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:16:40] And then it’s also about finding those people and lifting them up and carrying them up and helping them and making it so that they’re rock bottom is way far below them because my rock bottom was way down there today. But you know when I sort of go into these support groups I was standing on rock bottom.

Michelle: [00:17:00] Hold up. We support from our sponsors. We’ll be right back.

Narrator: [00:17:04] This episode is sponsored by betterhelp.com secure convenient and affordable online counselling. All counselors are licensed accredited professionals. Anything you share is confidential. Schedule secure video or phone sessions plus chat and text with your therapist whenever you feel it’s needed. A month of online therapy often costs less than a single traditional face to face session. Go to betterhelp.com/PsychCentral and experience seven days of free therapy to see if online counselling is right for you. Betterhelp.com/PsychCentral.

Gabe: [00:17:35] We’re back talking about different types of support groups.

Michelle: [00:17:37] The support groups that you and you were so helpful for you that you became a facilitator. What was that like for you?

Gabe: [00:17:44] So one day I realized that I wasn’t getting anything out of the support groups anymore so I stopped going and that’s a great decision to make. Some people believe that you have to go to support groups for the rest of your life or you’re turning your back on people. That’s not true. You just keep going until you no longer get use out of it and then you step aside and let the next people sort of rise into their places. But I missed it and an organization that I was volunteering for put out a call for peer support facilitators for these groups you had to go through training.

Gabe: [00:18:15] I had to go through a three day training eight hours a day for three days. I had to learn a whole bunch of stuff I had to pass a test I had they had to make sure that I was good at it I guess. We learned things about like hot potatoes like what to do if somebody mess in certain words how to get people help how to have a resources how to structure the group how to you know the rules of engagement as it were how to de-escalate and on and on and on.

Gabe: [00:18:36] And I got through that. And then here here’s me and another person we get our own support group. Yeah. Like Gabe and Jane we’ll call her Jane because I want to protect her or her anonymity. Gabe and Jane now have the support group and people started coming and it’s different when you’re the facilitator. The biggest thing that you have to remember when you’re the facilitator is it’s not about you. It’s not about me at all. Like there’s no part of it that it’s about me. The only thing that I’m there to do is make sure that people are obeying the rules and keeping people safe and making sure that people have the resources that they need. That’s it. You know in a perfect world I wouldn’t speak at all.

Michelle: [00:19:22] Really?

Gabe: [00:19:23] Yeah I would come in. I would start the meeting. I would have everybody read the principles of support I would have everybody read the group guidelines. I would ask everybody by show of hands if they understood. I would ask who would like to go first. And then if everybody takes their turn one at a time and nobody gets upset or triggered and everybody shares information and has a nice reasonable conversation the next thing that I would need to say is all right well we have about five minutes left so we want to go ahead and wind down or they’re there anything that I can answer because we always like to end on time is very important we don’t want groups to go on and on and on and on and on. That would be perfect and you know believe it or not it worked that way a lot. Usually the most I had to do it would say something like. All right who wants to go next or. Hang on hang on hang on Jim. Michelle has been waiting to talk Michelle. You know stuff like that just like little things.

Michelle: [00:20:13] That’s funny because it has such an opposite experience that I had in the in that group that I went to maybe because I’m in New York City and people just can’t stop talking all the time. But it was just one after and another after another after another. A lot of people were talking about you know burning bridges self-sabotage all kinds of things like that with their partners that are cheating on their partners all the time is the hyper sexuality. Things like that. And at one point I had mentioned something about me being in the group but I’m schizophrenic and a girl goes, “Oh you don’t even know what people say to me. They said they say oh thank god you’re bipolar and not schizophrenic” and I’m like yeah I’m feeling this stigma in this group.

Gabe: [00:20:56] Well but wait though you even in your own description though you said that everybody talked one at a time.

Michelle: [00:21:02] Yeah but he was just flowing flowing flowing. It was never who wants to talk next everybody was chatting. Everybody just went on and on and on.

Gabe: [00:21:11] But it sounds like you had a really good facilitator because nobody talked over each other.

Gabe: [00:21:18] There were no side conversations and if there were did the facilitator shut it down.

Michelle: [00:21:22] It wasn’t the facilitator at the end was like this really went very well I also didn’t really have to moderate. You guys talk really great then.

Gabe: [00:21:34] And that’s what I mean by. If you if you do a good job, you’re just kind of like the cop sitting on the side of the road. You don’t have to do anything. People see you and they slow down if you’re a good facilitator you just kind of establish the rules and you enforce them. But you know you don’t have to enforce them unless people are breaking them. And for the most part groups went fine they went fine people learn from each other they share it. People talked and you know support groups are like a buffet take what you want and leave the rest just because something is put out there in a support group doesn’t mean that you have to take it accept it or agree with it. You are more than welcome to leave it right there. And I would encourage people to do this week after week after week and it went fine.

Michelle: [00:22:18] Were there ever any problems?

Gabe: [00:22:20] From time to time there would be a problem. I really want to stress that 90 percent of the time it was fantastic nothing more than you know just reminding people not to cross talk you know cause sometimes there’d be like a little cross talking where somebody is having a private conversation I remind them that you know they need to leave the room if they want to do that that kind of thing or you know I would notice that maybe a shyer person just wasn’t getting wasn’t jumping in.

Gabe: [00:22:43] So I’d quiet everybody down so that you know Michelle would have a chance to talk as she was maybe being a little shy.

Gabe: [00:22:49] You know stuff like that but. But every now and again of a fight would break out and be like No no. And that’s really poor wording on a podcast an argument a disagreement. Tensions would rise people would ramp up backs would be raised and I had de-escalation techniques that I use. I’d say all right stop everybody calms down please let’s all take a deep breath. Michelle, I understand that you’re upset that somebody said that lacrosse isn’t a real sport OK and Gabe. I understand that you think that lacrosse is not a real sport but that is that is not kind you. You should really apologize to Michelle for saying that and then the person usually apologizes and I would say and Michelle when somebody says something you disagree with yelling at them is not the best way.

Gabe: [00:23:42] So would you mind apologizing for yelling and then you would say I’m sorry I yelled at you and I say OK now let’s talk about what we were talking about before and I’d remember like what started the fight and get us back on that and almost I would say all but I honestly I think this worked 100 percent of the time I just really don’t like to say 100 percent of the time the two people they got in the argument would become like BFF’s. They almost always would because they would talk it out you know I would say look I didn’t mean it wasn’t a real sport I was just nervous and I don’t understand lacrosse and you would you would say Yeah look I you know I didn’t invent lacrosse. I don’t know why I got so mad and I’d be like but you’re a sports fan and you’d be like Yeah, I really like hockey. I like hockey and then the next thing you know we’re having a podcast.

Michelle: [00:24:25] How many people are you’re in these groups of you?

Gabe: [00:24:28] Anywhere from the smallest groups I ever had were probably six or seven the largest groups that I ever had were 15 to 16.

Michelle: [00:24:35] That’s huge.

Gabe: [00:24:36] Yeah. We weren’t allowed to have more than 15 people. Yeah, every now and again we would let the 16th person sneak in before we started turning people away but at 15 what was our maximum limit which is why I’m saying 15 or 16 because we really weren’t supposed to go over 15 because you’re right. That’s a huge group. And there were two of us. There were two facilitators and we would sit in a circle and we’d sit on either one and we’d make little notes at each other and we’d look at each other and we would just keep people on the right path.

Michelle: [00:25:04] I knew one person in the group that I went to. She was just there to listen. She just wanted to sit there and listen to people. She didn’t want to participate. Her method was just listening and I know that it was interesting there was a guy next to me. He said he was actually a preacher and he doesn’t really like to talk that much he likes to listen. But he was saying he’s a preacher and nobody that he works with knows that he’s bipolar because he’s a preacher and he asked to keep that that kind of like you know that he has strong you know successful man and he can’t tell anyone. You know in the church that he has bipolar because that would make him look bad. But he comes to these meetings and he listens. He doesn’t speak that much but it just helps him by being there.

Gabe: [00:25:50] By in the room. By being in the presence of other people. That’s enough for some people not me I’m a talker.

Michelle: [00:25:57] Yeah yeah.

Gabe: [00:25:58] I like to do a lot of talking a lot of sharing. I like to offer support but I also needed to remember when to listen and when to shut up and sometimes when I was a group member the facilitators would have to put their hand up and remind me to stop talking.

Gabe: [00:26:13] And that’s a good the thing for a facilitator to do.

Gabe: [00:26:17] And if the facilitator doesn’t write you’re not embarrassed you’re not a shame you’re understanding that they’re making space for everybody. I really like support groups and I encourage people to go to them if they are available in your community. Please go. Oftentimes they’re free. Maybe you got to throw a couple bucks in a hat. But even if you just sit there and listen you’ll learn so much and you’ll be in the presence of other people that have similar experiences.

Michelle: [00:26:43] It’s very it’s very helpful to note that you’re not alone.

Gabe: [00:26:47] Exactly. And some of those people listen. Some of those people will annoy you. There’s personality types that you will not get along.

Michelle: [00:26:54] Oh trust me yes.

Gabe: [00:26:55] And that’s okay too because it shows you that even people who are annoying have mental illness. That’s okay.

Gabe: [00:27:05] My mother annoys me. I still love her. Your mother annoys you Michelle.

Michelle: [00:27:11] Just the little.

Gabe: [00:27:12] Just a little.

Gabe: [00:27:14] And.

Michelle: [00:27:15] I still love her.

Gabe: [00:27:16] Yes.

Gabe: [00:27:17] So the people in a support group you will find that common ground and you don’t have to be best friends. In fact, I discourage going to a support group to make friends should go to a support group to get support. It doesn’t mean that a friendship won’t come out of it but that should not be your goal your goal should be to attentively listen. And your goal should be to truthfully share and if you do that, I think that you’ll get a lot out of it. So, if you are afraid to go find a buddy and go even if the body just sits outside or just go on your own. Talk to the facilitator let him know you’re scared show up early so that you’re there before the big group gets there and tell the facilitator that you’re nervous.

Michelle: [00:27:51] You can always change your name too.

Gabe: [00:27:53] There is most all the groups that I did. Everybody went by their first name and you’re right. We didn’t I didn’t I didn’t card anybody. So maybe everybody’s name was wrong.

Gabe: [00:28:02] I don’t know.

Michelle: [00:28:03] I mean you can change your name you cannot say what your job is.

Gabe: [00:28:07] Yes.

Michelle: [00:28:08] Just share only what you want to share. There’s one issue you want to talk about. You can only talk if you would make us only talk about that issue. That’s what you want to speak about you’re forced to say anything you don’t want to say.

Gabe: [00:28:19] Exactly. You can share as much as you want or as little as you want. All that’s required is honesty. It’s not full disclosure. And I think that people miss that sometimes they think that it’s some sort of an interrogation. It’s not. It’s participation at your speed at your rate. And if the support group isn’t working out for you don’t go back. There’s nothing wrong with that. If I am very lucky as are you Michelle because we live in big cities there’s dozens of support groups. So when I didn’t like one I just joined another one. If that’s the case for you know support group shop. If you only have the one you might have to work a little harder to make it work. But I really encourage support groups and finally the last thing that we want to say is PsychCentral.com has a ton on of online support groups. I like the in person one’s certainly better. The advantage of the online ones is they’re open 24 hours a day. They’re available when you need them. It’s kind of like a drop in center for online. So visit sites PsychCentral.com. Join the support groups and just have a blast. Those groups are really awesome and they don’t pelt you with advertising or ask you for a bunch of stuff either. So we really love Psych Central here at A Bipolar, A Schizophrenic And A Podcast.

Gabe: [00:29:31] Michelle Are we out?

Michelle: [00:29:33] I think we’re out.

Gabe: [00:29:34] Thank you everybody for tuning in. Remember you can head over to store.PsychCentral.com and pick up a Define Normal shirt when they’re gone their gone unless of course we order more or you can run over to PsychCentral.com. Join a support group read great articles everything over there is free and they are a very generous supporter.

Gabe: [00:29:51] Of this podcast. We’ll see everybody next week.

Narrator: [00:29:56] You’ve been listening to a bipolar a schizophrenic kind of podcast. If you love this episode don’t keep it to yourself head over to iTunes or your preferred podcast app to subscribe rate and review to work with Gabe go to GabeHoward.com. To work with Michelle go to Schizophrenic.NYC. For free mental health resources and online support groups. Head over to PsychCentral.com Show’s official Web site PsychCentrald.com/bsp you can e-mail us at [email protected]. Thank you for listening and share widely.

Meet Your Bipolar and Schizophrenic Hosts

GABE HOWARD was formally diagnosed with bipolar and anxiety disorders after being committed to a psychiatric hospital in 2003. Now in recovery, Gabe is a prominent mental health activist and host of the award-winning Psych Central Show podcast. He is also an award-winning writer and speaker, traveling nationally to share the humorous, yet educational, story of his bipolar life. To work with Gabe, visit gabehoward.com.MICHELLE HAMMER was officially diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 22, but incorrectly diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 18. Michelle is an award-winning mental health advocate who has been featured in press all over the world. In May 2015, Michelle founded the company Schizophrenic.NYC, a mental health clothing line, with the mission of reducing stigma by starting conversations about mental health. She is a firm believer that confidence can get you anywhere. To work with Michelle, visit Schizophrenic.NYC.Podcast: Support Groups for Mental Illness – What are They?

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Podcast: Talking Suicide with a Bipolar and a Schizophrenic

This is an interesting article I found on: www.psychcentral.com

See credits below.

Suicide is something that most people think they understand, but there are many misconceptions about it. We say it’s a serious problem, yet will mention it casually and insensitively in certain settings. In this episode, our hosts openly discuss suicide and their personal stories with trying to end their own lives.


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“I thought about suicide every day for as far back as I can remember.”
– Gabe Howard

Highlights From ‘Suicide’ Episode

[1:00] Frankly discussing suicide.

[3:00] Don’t belittle a person’s suicide attempt.

[7:00] Why did Michelle try to end her life?

[10:00] Discussing families and suicide.

[12:00] Why did Gabe try to end his life?

[16:30] Michelle shares her suicide story.

[23:00] Michelle can’t understand how her mom did not know she had a mental illness.

[27:00] Gabe and Michelle agree that things get better.

Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Talking Suicide with a Bipolar and a Schizophrenic’ Show

Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you.

Narrator: [00:00:05] For reasons that utterly escapes everyone involved. You’re listening to A Bipolar, A Schizophrenic and A Podcast. Here are your hosts, Gabe Howard and Michelle Hammer.

Gabe: [00:00:19] Welcome to a bipolar a schizophrenic and a podcast. My name is Gabe Howard and I am bipolar.

Michelle: [00:00:24] Hi I’m Michelle and I am schizophrenic.

Gabe: [00:00:27] And today we are going to talk about suicide specifically. How are we still alive after having been suicidal for so long. And this is kind of a tricky one for us to cover because Michelle and I you know we kind of like to be bombastic. We kind of like to be funny. We kind of like to be out there and well we like to yell at each other. And suicide is a much it’s a scary topic. It’s something that sort of lends itself not to humor but to I don’t know it’s scary.

Michelle: [00:01:00] It is a scary topic. It’s something that doesn’t really get spoken about. It’s kind of something that like is very hush hush. And if you’ve ever really attempted suicide you don’t talk about it because then people just really judge you very harshly and they would say why would you do that. Don’t you care about people around you? How is that going to affect people around you what you did was something selfish.

Gabe: [00:01:23] There’s 80 billion reasons that this show should avoid suicide. Given how we talk about living with mental illness our mental illness and mental illness advocacy. But there’s one very big reason that we should cover it and that’s that we’re not afraid and we talk about everything The Good the Bad and The Ugly. But it’s gonna be a challenge for us. The first thing that we want to say immediately right out of the gate is Trigger Warning suicide. We are going to be talking about suicide and I’m not going to tell you that an inappropriate joke may or may not come up because hey we’re Gabe and Michelle.

Michelle: [00:02:02] That’s right.

Gabe: [00:02:03] This is what we do. If you are in danger right now if you are feeling suicidal please ask for help.

Gabe: [00:02:12] Call 911 if you’re in America call the suicide hotline tell a trusted friend go to the emergency room. Most importantly Michelle and I are still alive because we got help because we talked about it openly.

Michelle: [00:02:25] And I’m really bad at suicide.

Gabe: [00:02:28] Oh and the first inappropriate joke is right out of the gate okay Michelle. We sort of we did some research we made a list of topics and stuff that we want to discuss. And the first question that I get asked a lot is it if you were suicidal why didn’t you just do it. So you must not have been suicidal because you didn’t die. So you’re a liar I have a million things I want to say to that. One of them is Fuck you. That’s not how mental illness works.

Michelle: [00:02:57] Yeah. Yeah that’s a big fuck you like don’t belittle somebody whose suicide attempt because if they want to do it again . . . If you belittle somebody suicide attempt they’re going to think oh I didn’t really try to kill myself. So maybe next time I’ll try even harder and succeed.

Gabe: [00:03:15] Well I love this whole idea of this. This if you try suicide or if you say you’re suicidal it’s just a dramatic cry for help.

Gabe: [00:03:24] You want to hear some other dramatic cries for help I’m drowning. Help. My house is on fire. How I’m falling out of a helicopter. But the difference is when people yell those things people come to help. People come to help them.

Michelle: [00:03:41] But when someone says they’re suicidal. Oh, you’re just being dramatic. What’s wrong. Did you have a bad conversation today? You’re not really suicidal. You know it’s just you’re so it’s really just stop being dramatic. You don’t actually feel that way like you don’t know what’s going on in my head. You don’t know my thoughts. You don’t know what I’m dealing with. Don’t tell me it’s all in my head. That’s not no.

Gabe: [00:04:07] It this is really little thing that we have where society acknowledges that it’s a cry for help but then also says that the best thing to do is not help. I just I cannot stress enough that if somebody says that they are suicidal. If somebody says that they want to die. That is not drama. It is not. It’s none of those things. That person needs help and you’re saying well what if the person is lying and faking then that person is a jackass.

Michelle: [00:04:37] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:04:37] But to literally ignore every single person that asks for help because they’re fighting with their own brain because they’re mentally ill because they’re having suicidal thoughts because they’re so depressed they can’t take it anymore because some dickhead out there is being dramatic. That’s literally nonsense.

Michelle: [00:04:57] Yeah after one suicide attempt my friend told me you weren’t really trying to kill yourself that time. You know what happened a month or two later. I then tried to kill myself again. Did that time count?

Gabe: [00:05:11] Michelle How many times did you attempt suicide.

Michelle: [00:05:14] Well I mean attempt. I mean like did I attempt but I attempted about attempted really it wrong. I didn’t know what I was doing but I would say maybe 7 times.

Gabe: [00:05:24] That’s a lot and you’re very lucky that you’re still alive. I do appreciate your joke. You must be really bad at suicide. I for one am glad this this statistically holds up for whatever reason women do tend to suck at suicide. There’s a lot of research into this one of these is the methods we’re not going to give methods because that just well we’re trying to be mature.

Michelle: [00:05:47] Something I did learn about women differently in women and men is that women like to be found looking like themselves.

Gabe: [00:05:54] Yeah men don’t care.

Michelle: [00:05:55] Yeah men are like you know find me find me all disgusting. I don’t care.

Gabe: [00:06:00] Aren’t you glad that vanity saved your life.

Michelle: [00:06:03] Yeah I guess so. I guess they saved my life.

Gabe: [00:06:05] Yeah the our society really messes with us but when you’re feeling suicidal at all this is an example of your brain not working properly. We as humans are our bodies our minds are. Our consciousness is set up to defend ourselves. If you walk up to a stranger and you throw a tennis ball at their face and they see it they’ll duck. They don’t have to think about it. They don’t have to consider it. They don’t have to wonder what all they know is that an object is coming at them and they immediately take evasive action. It’s biological. It’s built into our brains. And yet when we’re feeling suicidal or when we try suicide it’s we’re overriding that. And that’s the illness process. Our bodies have decided to steer into danger rather than away from it. And that’s an unnatural state of being. So that this the first way that you know that something is wrong.

Gabe: [00:07:01] Our bodies want to protect themselves. We just do.

Michelle: [00:07:05] Every time I tried to kill myself I thought I had to kill myself. I thought it was something that was better for the future. I thought everyone would be better without me and everyone would be happier if I was gone. I would be less of a burden on everybody’s life. But thinking back now that I can really do retrospective kind of thoughts it would have ruined people’s lives.

Gabe: [00:07:32] Oh yeah.

Michelle: [00:07:33] It would have really ruined people’s lives. So, the thoughts I have of oh I’m a burden. You know I should be gone.

Michelle: [00:07:39] I would have put horrible burdens on all of my friends and my family and they might still be thinking about me every day about what I did and how maybe they could have helped me and they couldn’t. And they might not be okay now because of what I did.

Gabe: [00:07:57] There’s a quote out there and I really like it and I don’t know who to credit it to it is not ours but it says that suicide does not end the pain, it just transfers it to somebody else. And I believe that that is so true.

Michelle: [00:08:09] Yes.

Gabe: [00:08:10] When I was suicidal I convinced myself that my granny didn’t love me. And as everybody knows I am granny’s favorite.

Michelle: [00:08:16] Yes.

Gabe: [00:08:16] I convinced myself that my friends my family just even strangers would be happy if I were dead. And this is nonsense because it looks like strangers don’t give a shit if I’m alive or dead. So, to have convinced myself that strangers would be happy that I was dead. It literally they don’t care. That’s why they’re strangers. I’m not. I’m not saying this to be mean to strangers I’m just they wouldn’t be happy or sad they’d be indifferent. That’s just how life works. We’re not emotionally invested with every single person that we’d see you live in New York City. If you were emotionally invested in every single person that you laid eyes on you won’t have time to podcast.

Michelle: [00:08:55] I wouldn’t I wouldn’t. I’m just kind of bringing at one thing this is about my mother that she is she of course she’s not going to like that I’m saying this but what I was in college you know her my grandparents were alive and my mom would call me and she would say “you know Michelle my mother’s sick my father’s crazy, can you just be OK, So I don’t have to worry about you.” What does that make me feel like? A huge burden.

Gabe: [00:09:21] Yeah it does. And let’s take this from your mother’s perspective because you know we want to be fair our parents. Mine too. I don’t know how my mom and dad and grandma and grandpa and brother and sister and friends and family escape my anger these days because they did all of those things too. They said that I was being dramatic. They didn’t get me the help that I needed as long-term listeners of the show know a complete stranger took me to the hospital my friends and family were not absent. My parents are good parents but they didn’t know they didn’t do anything. Your mother was just like hey get a grip and don’t cause me problems because I have other things to worry about. If your mom would have understood that you were sick, she never would have told you hey don’t be sick from cancer. she never would have told you. Like if you’ve gotten like a traumatic accident and you were like you know like learning to walk again, she never would have said hey can you just like walk today so this doesn’t cause a problem. Your mom’s not an idiot. She was just ignorant about what was going on and that’s an extra burden to people like us because now their ignorance becomes our problem and we’re already sick.

Michelle: [00:10:29] Yeah. How was I supposed to feel in that situation?

Gabe: [00:10:32] You were supposed to feel shitty.

Michelle: [00:10:34] What was her logic there like of her telling me. Can you just be better so I don’t have to worry about you?

Gabe: [00:10:41] Her logic is that you had control because she hadn’t yet understood that you didn’t have control as so many people. I did the same thing as your mother to myself. I thought that I was just an asshole and I can’t say it any other way. My parents would sit me down and say you can’t behave this way you can’t skip school you can’t stay up all night you can’t talk to people like that you can’t behave this way. And then when I became an adult and started well, we all know what I did as an adult. These were not the values that my parents taught me. I thought that I had control. I didn’t realize I was sick. I thought that I was just making really shitty decisions and I kept doing it over and over and over again.

Michelle: [00:11:22] Let’s pause and hear from our sponsor.

Narrator: [00:11:24] This episode is sponsored by betterhelp.com secure convenient and affordable online counselling. All counselors are licensed accredited professionals. Anything you share is confidential. Schedule secure video or phone sessions plus chat and text with your therapist whenever you feel it’s needed. A month of online therapy often costs less than a single traditional face to face session. Go to betterhelp.com/PsychCentral and experience seven days of free therapy to see if online counselling is right for you. Betterhelp.com/PsychCentral.

Gabe: [00:11:55] And we’re back.

Michelle: [00:11:56] Do you think that the world would have just been better off if you weren’t gone?

Gabe: [00:12:01] No. No. I thought it at the time I really did think it at the time. I thought that everybody would be relieved. I thought that they would be like oh we don’t have to worry about Gabe anymore. We don’t have to be concerned that Gabe is going to get fired or cause a problem or divorce his wife for cheat on his wife or yell at his wife or yell at us or we’ve all heard.

Michelle: [00:12:20] The wrath of Gabe.

Gabe: [00:12:22] Yeah. These things didn’t come out of nowhere. I kind of wish that I could escape that label because the wrath of Gabe hasn’t existed since you know treatment but I was a person with untreated bipolar disorder and you know bipolar rage is a thing as much as I hate the reminder that I used to be so out of control that I would just start screaming at people uncontrollably and non-stop like I was some sort of like Supreme Court justice candidate just bothers me.

Michelle: [00:12:50] Did you always believe that you were in there right when you were screaming?

Gabe: [00:12:55] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:12:56] Who starts screaming because they think they’re wrong. I had no ability to consider another point of view. None whatsoever. And the more they wanted me to consider their point of view the angrier I became and the angrier I became the more I would yell and the more that I would I just sort of built on itself so you can see where when you’ve got that kind of emotion just railing at somebody they’re going to look at you like you’re just insane they’re going to look at you like you’re an asshole and those would be the faces that I would think about when I would be contemplating whether or not I want to live or die.

Michelle: [00:13:33] So you 100% are glad you’re alive right now?

Gabe: [00:13:37] Unequipped I have achieved it more than I ever thought possible. I don’t know I mean for like a dude with bipolar disorder I mean like just for a dude.

Gabe: [00:13:48] I never thought I could get here. I had so many problems so many and I still have a lot of problems.

Michelle: [00:13:56] I have a question.

Michelle: [00:13:57] So how old were you when you first thought of suicide attempts and tried to almost make a suicide attempt.

Gabe: [00:14:07] Zero. I was 0 years old. I thought about suicide every single day as far back as I can remember. 4 years old 5 years old 6 years. I thought that everybody was thinking about suicide. I really did and nobody ever knew. Nobody dissuaded me of this.

Michelle: [00:14:26] Did you tell people?

Gabe: [00:14:28] No. Why would I. I thought it was normal. I did. And listen you know I have never seen my mother go to the bathroom.

Gabe: [00:14:37] I just I want to put that right out there for the general public. I have never seen my mother go to the bathroom but I do assume that she does.

Michelle: [00:14:45] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:14:45] It’s just an assumption. So, if my mother is the one person on the planet that never has to use the restroom she should tell me because there’s no way that I would know this. I thought about suicide every day but nobody walked up to me and said hey thinking about suicide is abnormal and I didn’t tell them because I thought they were all thinking about it too. This is just how it was. I just assumed that they were thinking about it and they just assumed that I wasn’t.

Michelle: [00:15:11] Was anyone berating me with insults?

Gabe: [00:15:14] I mean I wouldn’t say berating me with insults because that sounds like they were calling me like jerk face but there was a lot of negativity in my life that people didn’t realize was negative. Kind of like the example that you used of your mother like where she said look, I’ve just got way too much going on I need you to be okay because she’s going through the illness of her of her parents which is a real big deal to her.

Michelle: [00:15:36] It is.

Gabe: [00:15:37] But that put a lot of burden on you.

Gabe: [00:15:40] So nobody was berating me with insults but my family was not understanding of what I was going through and I really thought that I was an asshole. I thought I was a bad kid.

Gabe: [00:15:50] I thought that they didn’t love me and I carried this very day because I I cannot stress this enough. Michelle, my parents are good parents. They’re good parents.

Gabe: [00:16:03] They’re fantastic parents. I don’t have a story about how my parents were awful or beat me or called me names or treated me like shit.

Gabe: [00:16:12] They were good parents and they made all kinds of mistakes like tons of mistakes like every mistake they made just compounded and made my life even worse and worse and worse. But this isn’t because they were malicious or bad it’s because they were human and nobody taught them about mental illness either.

Michelle: [00:16:29] Well I have a story in 11th grade, I walked out of my physics class.

Gabe: [00:16:36] Your 11th grade was much different from my 11th grade.

Michelle: [00:16:39] Yeah I walked in our home. I took the keys to the car when I had a permit and I drove to a drugstore. I found some like you know it was sleeping pills but obviously they were not like prescriptions sleeping pills. Went home took all the pills went to bed didn’t die but my eyes were all dilated. Couldn’t read a book. I was sitting next to my mom. And the day just went on. I tried to kill myself that day. It didn’t work. And the day we just went on like a regular day.

Gabe: [00:17:16] And nobody noticed.

Michelle: [00:17:18] Well I got in trouble because I was the teacher said that I just walked out of my physics class. But that was it.

Gabe: [00:17:25] Yeah.

Michelle: [00:17:25] Nothing nobody said. What did you do. Did you do anything after. Nobody questioned anything after. Nobody said why did you walk out of your physics class? Where did you go? What did you do?

Michelle: [00:17:37] I remember I was home. My mom goes “Why are you home right now?”

Michelle: [00:17:41] Because she came home from work and I go “Oh I wasn’t feeling good so I came home,” but really maybe I should have been honest and what I did.

Gabe: [00:17:49] Right.

Michelle: [00:17:50] But I didn’t.

Michelle: [00:17:52] And there’s like so many things I would have wished I would have said to my younger self that like this. This is not the answer because just because you think you’re stupid and this physics class is so hard and you hate your life already this is not a reason to kill yourself.

Gabe: [00:18:09] You know it’s an interesting thing that you brought up there like what would you tell your younger self.

Gabe: [00:18:13] Like if today’s Michelle could call 20 year ago you know.

Michelle: [00:18:17] Like physics was like not a reason, but I mean things I would have told to my younger self was, why would killing yourself now, what would that do for anyone?

Michelle: [00:18:31] You’re in high school. Everyone’s going to like Oh that that’s the girl that killed herself. I don’t think anyone would have been like “Oh I’m so devastated.” I honestly didn’t wouldn’t even think that anyone would have even cared at that point in my life. I didn’t think anyone really liked me at that point in my life and I was definitely having schizophrenia symptoms. I remember sitting in the back of that physics class having a delusion cracking up laughing at nothing and a girl two seats ahead turns around and goes. “Are you okay.” And I’m like “Oh what.”

Michelle: [00:19:04] She goes “You’re laughing it’s something.” I go “oh sorry” I didn’t even know. So, I was having schizophrenia hallucinations delusions in that class and had no idea I was schizophrenic but I obviously was.

Gabe: [00:19:19] And nobody noticed.

Michelle: [00:19:19] And that girl who sees ahead notice something was wrong. But I didn’t know what it was.

Gabe: [00:19:27] It’s interesting to consider like what our families would have felt or what they would have done or how they would have reacted had we been successful at ending our lives. And as our listeners know we work as a speakers and writers and in addition to podcasting and we go to a lot of mental health conferences and I hear people’s stories all the time.

Gabe: [00:19:53] I interview people about their stories and I mean no disrespect when I say this but when you hear a story from a thousand different people you sort of build up a thick skin to it and they don’t really affect me like they did in the beginning and this is good. This is this is I’m not saying this in any bad way I love hearing stories and I want people to tell their stories and I’m glad that we play a role in getting stories out to the greater public. But myself you know I tend to remain kind of emotionless by them one time I got hired to give a speech and the keynote speaker was a gentleman running for judge. He was going to be a judge. So, I went on before him because he was the keynote. So, I was like I was like the opening act. And I just had low 15-minute thing and I came up and I gave my speech it’s you know it’s condensed and beautiful and I talked about it.

Michelle: [00:20:48] And I’m sure it was the greatest speech. The greatest speech Gabe Howard gives the greatest speeches.

Gabe: [00:20:55] Yes I did get a standing ovation while you’re mocking me.

Michelle: [00:20:58] Oh wow.

Gabe: [00:21:01] Yeah yeah.

Gabe: [00:21:02] I’ve only gotten 4 in my life but that’s not the point of the story. The point of the story is after I was done, I sat down.

Gabe: [00:21:09] I plopped my ass and my seat and the next person got introduced. This was this gentleman running for judge he was about my parent’s age and he was very very dapper African-American gentleman. He was wearing a suit and his wife. You know same age and beautiful and when they called him up, he walked up with his wife and you know I don’t really think anything of this like I said I’m kind of bored like I have to say the next hour you know whatever. It’s not even my town.

Gabe: [00:21:33] Like I can’t even vote for him for Judge if I wanted to. But he said we’re changing things up a little bit. And my wife wants to talk for a moment about why we’re mental health advocates and she talked for just like 5 minutes.

Gabe: [00:21:48] And she told the story of their perfect beautiful son who died by suicide in his first or second year of college.

Gabe: [00:22:00] And she said, “We did everything right. We lived in the best neighborhoods we sentence in the most expensive private school we could find. You know he went to Europe. He. He got into the finest college. We were so proud. You know my husband’s a judge were upper middle class. We both hold advanced degrees. We gave everything to our children.”

Michelle: [00:22:22] That means nothing.

Gabe: [00:22:23] Yeah. And that’s what she said. Except we did not understand mental illness. We did not understand that he was struggling we did not make a way for him to ask for help. He could not get out of whatever it was that made him do this. And now for the rest of our lives we don’t have a son. And I started to cry because as I was looking at them all I could think of as if I was successful would be my parents. These two, they did not set out to be mental health advocates. They didn’t want to be at a mental health conference. They didn’t know this guy was a lawyer that became a judge. I mean just they became mental health advocates because they missed it and because they were too late and because they don’t want this to happen to other people it could be my parents I’d be gone and my parents would just be standing there saying we don’t know what happened and we don’t want it to happen to other people. And that’s why we need to talk about this more. That’s why we need more mental health education.

Gabe: [00:23:24] That’s why we need to understand suicidality and mental illness because me and you Michelle we’re lucky it’s not our parents.

Michelle: [00:23:33] Yeah I believe in high school. My mom. Well when I was not doing my homework in high school it was more because I believed I would never graduate. I mean I believed I was going to die. But my thought. My mom. She believed it was a learning disability.

Gabe: [00:23:49] Sure.

Michelle: [00:23:49] Because she was really unaware of what mental mental health and mental illness was. So when she found out years later when I was in college that it was a mental illness.

Michelle: [00:23:59] She was like “Oh I never even thought of that.”

Michelle: [00:24:04] How could you not think of that?

Gabe: [00:24:05] Because we didn’t think about it either Michelle.

Michelle: [00:24:09] It’s just education and it’s just different because I think generations ago they didn’t do that. And even considering my mom never thought about mental illness when my mother’s grandmother lived in a psychiatric center from the moment my grandmother was born until she died and my mom has memories of going to visit her in the center where she spoke like a baby and was just just for lack of a better word she was looney tunes so to have that in our family and to not see anything like that in me.

Michelle: [00:24:50] How could it have been such a shock if it runs in our family?

Gabe: [00:24:54] Because nobody everybody thought that it was a one off that it was a one in a million that it was never going to happen. And just it’s like getting struck by lightning. You do. I have a family member that was struck by lightning. You know I don’t look up at the sky and try to avoid it right. I still go out in the rain. I just think here is a one in a million thing.

Michelle: [00:25:11] There’s my dad’s first cousin Lori. She’s schizophrenic as well.

Gabe: [00:25:15] Well there you go.

Michelle: [00:25:16] My mom’s sister takes anti-depressants. Was it denial?

Gabe: [00:25:22] Yeah probably. It was denial it was lack of understanding and it was ignorance and it was the ostrich.

Michelle: [00:25:28] I mean I don’t know I don’t hold it against her. I don’t hold it against her. That she didn’t see it.

Michelle: [00:25:35] I think maybe it was a denial thing. She didn’t look into it. She really thought it was a learning disability because she always said that I don’t read and if you don’t read, you’re not smart. Well I read some books but what was hard for me about reading is that I was so busy in my head all the time. It’s hard to read a book when your mind’s racing back and forth.

Gabe: [00:25:56] It’s all over the place.

Gabe: [00:25:57] Michelle what do we want to leave our listeners with. I mean because we’ve covered a lot. I mean this is this is you know this is not our normal. I hate Michelle, Michelle hates Gabe and then we start screaming at each other show and that’s for the best. But really is for the best.

Michelle: [00:26:11] I mean just to leave listeners with…suicide is not an answer. And like I said I tried that 7 times and I failed 7 times. It’s not even an easy thing to do. And most likely you’ll end up in a psych ward where that’s not fun to be in. So really weigh your options and then just don’t do it.

Michelle: [00:26:37] It’s not a good idea. You’re going to hurt more than just yourself. You’re going to hurt the people around you instead of the people that love you. And if you keep on going with your life things do get better. My life has just gone leaps and bounds better than I ever thought would ever happen in my life. I never thought I’d be recording a podcast with Mr. Gabe Howard and talking about mental health like I do now. I thought I’d be pathetic my entire life. I couldn’t I would never will.

Gabe: [00:27:10] Oh well the two are not mutually exclusive.

Gabe: [00:27:12] That’s going to be recording a podcast with me and still be pathetic.

Michelle: [00:27:17] I guess but I never really envisioned a future because I never thought I would get there. I mean at that point I’m still it’s still hard for me to envision a future but that’s almost my own insecurity thinking nothing will ever really work out.

Gabe: [00:27:29] Of course of course Michelle there’s. I want to leave our listeners with just a couple of quick things one.

Gabe: [00:27:36] As we said before suicide it doesn’t end the pain. It just transfers it to somebody else. There’s another quote that I really like that is suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Michelle: [00:27:48] Yes.

Gabe: [00:27:48] But the thing that I keep in my head probably fourth most of all after where I can find Diet Coke at 2:00 a.m. is at looking back now I realize that I didn’t want to die.

Gabe: [00:28:03] I never wanted to die. I wanted the pain to stop and I didn’t know how to make the pain stop. I just didn’t. And the only thing that my battered bewildered disease the brain could come up with was suicide. That is not a good option and it’s far from the only option. And once I got treatment, I found all of these better ways to make the pain stop. And that’s all I ever wanted. I never wanted to die. I just didn’t want to suffer anymore. And I would say to anybody who’s thinking about contemplating it has in the past or maybe in the future you don’t want to die. You want the pain to stop. There are much better ways to make the pain stop. Please invest in yourself and look into them. Ask everybody that you know for help. Go to the emergency room call the suicide hotline. Talk to your general practitioner.

Gabe: [00:28:58] Go to the local urgent care. I hear that you can go to the drugstore and Wal-Mart and see a doctor now do whatever it takes.

Michelle: [00:29:07] Your life is valuable and we want you in the world.

Gabe: [00:29:12] Completely agree. Thank you everybody for listening to this week’s episode of a bipolar, a schizophrenic and a podcast. Please review rank. Share us everywhere Facebook algorithm has gone I don’t know schizophrenic. Can we say that?

Michelle: [00:29:26] Sure.

Gabe: [00:29:26] Because it just it just pushes everything down. So at this point I think you’re gonna have to like share our Website via a smoke signal maybe like tattoo it on your arm and show people. I don’t know but whatever you do it for Michelle and I to maintain our high luxury standard of living. We’re just we’re gonna need you to be there.

Gabe: [00:29:47] We’ll see everybody next week.

Michelle: [00:29:49] We love you!

Narrator: [00:29:51] You’ve been listening to a bipolar a schizophrenic and a podcast. If you love this episode don’t keep it to yourself head over to iTunes or your preferred podcast app to subscribe rate and review to work with Gabe go to GabeHoward.com. To work with Michelle, go to Schizophrenic.NYC. For free mental health resources and online support groups. Head over to PsychCentral.com Show’s official Web site PsychCentrald.com/bsp you can e-mail us at [email protected]. Thank you for listening and share widely.

Meet Your Bipolar and Schizophrenic Hosts

GABE HOWARD was formally diagnosed with bipolar and anxiety disorders after being committed to a psychiatric hospital in 2003. Now in recovery, Gabe is a prominent mental health activist and host of the award-winning Psych Central Show podcast. He is also an award-winning writer and speaker, traveling nationally to share the humorous, yet educational, story of his bipolar life. To work with Gabe, visit gabehoward.com.MICHELLE HAMMER was officially diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 22, but incorrectly diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 18. Michelle is an award-winning mental health advocate who has been featured in press all over the world. In May 2015, Michelle founded the company Schizophrenic.NYC, a mental health clothing line, with the mission of reducing stigma by starting conversations about mental health. She is a firm believer that confidence can get you anywhere. To work with Michelle, visit Schizophrenic.NYC.Podcast: Talking Suicide with a Bipolar and a Schizophrenic

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