6 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Recovery from Depression and Anxiety

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Recovering from depression and anxiety call for the same kind of shrewdness and amount of perspiration as does running a 4,000-person company. I say that having never done the latter. But hear out my logic: great leaders must master impeccable governing skills, develop the discipline of a triathlete, and build enough stamina to manage multiple personalities. And so does anyone wanting to get outside of her head and live a little.

So I think it’s fitting to translate the insight of a book about business success, The Wisdom of Failure: How to Learn the Tough Leadership Lessons Without Paying the Price by Laurence Weinzimmer and Jim McConoughey, to victory over a mood disorder, or even mild but annoying anxiety and depression.

Weinzimmer and McConoughey describe their “taxonomy of leadership mistakes,” or nine common ways an executive falls flat on his face and is made fun of by his peers. The business world is replete with calculated risks. It’s a chess game, and a few too many wrong moves will have you packing up your stuff from the corner office.

As I read through them, I kept thinking about my main job — managing my depression as best I can — and the pitfalls that I so often run into. Many are the same listed in this book. Here are six mistakes business leaders make that are appropriate for our purposes:

Mistake one: Trying to be all things to all people.

The “just say no” problem that I have all the time. If you think of requests from friends, families, bosses, co-workers, and golden retrievers as customers asking you for all kinds of products that you can’t simultaneously produce, then you see the logic in your having to draw the line at some point. You must hang on to your resources to stay well.

Mistake two: Roaming outside the box.

Clarification: thinking outside the box is good. Hanging out there, strolling around in pursuit of some meaning that you keep finding in everything that passes by — that’s dangerous. When it comes to recovery, this is very important to remember. I like to try new things: yoga, new fish oil supplements, a new light lamp, different support groups.

What gets me in trouble is when I start to think that I don’t have bipolar disorder and can go off all meds, healing myself through meditation alone. I tried that once and landed in the hospital twice. Now I double check to make sure the box is still in my peripheral vision.

Mistake three: Efficiencies before effectiveness.

This has to do with seeing the forest behind the trees, and subscribing to a policy of making decisions based on the view of the forest, not the trees that are blocking everything from your sight. The authors cite the example of Circuit City’s CEO who cut 3,400 sales people to decrease costs despite the fact that their research said that customers want knowledgeable sales people to help them make decisions when buying electronics. His approach was efficient, but not all that effective.

When you are desperate to feel better, it’s so easy to reach for the Band-Aid — booze, cigarettes, toxic relationships — that might do an efficient job of killing the pain. Effective in the longterm? Not so much.

Mistake four: Dysfunctional harmony.

Like me! Like me! Please like me! Dysfunctional harmony involves abandoning your needs to please others, which jeopardizes your recovery efforts.

“Being an effective leader [or person in charge of one’s health] means that sometimes you will not make the most popular decisions,” the authors explain. “By doing what is necessary, you will sometimes make some people angry. That’s okay. It’s part of the job. If you are in a leadership role and you try to be liked by everyone all of the time, you will inevitably create drama and undercut your own authority and effectiveness.”

So think of yourself as the CEO of you and start making some authoritative decisions that are in the best interest of You, Inc.

Mistake five: Hoarding

I’m not talking about your sister’s stash of peanuts and Q-Tips. This is about hoarding responsibility. For those of us trying like hell to live a good and happy life, this means giving over the reins now and then to other people, persons, and things that can help us: doctors, husbands, sisters, even pets. It means relying on the people in your life who say they love you and letting them do the small things so that you can try your best to be the best boss of yourself again.

Mistake six: Disengagement

Burnout. It happens in all recovery. I have yet to meet someone who can continue a regiment of daily meditation, boot camp, and spinach and cucumber smoothies for more than three months without calling uncle and reaching for the pepperoni pizza. That’s why it is so critical to pace yourself in your recovery. What’s a realistic number of times to exercise during the week? Are you really going to do that at 4:30 am? Why not allow yourself one day of hotdogs and ice-cream in order to not throw out the whole healthy living initiative at once?

Imagine yourself a great leader of your mind, body, and spirit — managing a staff of personalities inside yourself that need direction. Take it from these two corporate leaders, and don’t make the same mistakes.

6 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Recovery from Depression and Anxiety

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6 Ways to Use Mindfulness to Ease Difficult Emotions

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Mindfulness has become quite the buzzword these days, with impressive studies popping up in the news with regularity.

For example, research from the University of Oxford finds that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is just as effective as antidepressants for preventing a relapse of depression. In MBCT, a person learns to pay closer attention to the present moment and to let go of the negative thoughts and ruminations that can trigger depression. They also explore a greater awareness of their own body, identifying stress and signs of depression before a crisis hits.

Four years ago, I took an eight-week intensive Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program at Anne Arundel Community Hospital. The course was approved by and modeled from Jon Kabat-Zinn’s incredibly successful program at the University of Massachusetts. I often refer to the wise chapters of Kabat-Zinn’s book, Full Catastrophe Living (which we used as a text book). Here are a few of the strategies he offers:

Hold Your Feelings with Awareness

One of the key concepts of mindfulness is bringing awareness to whatever you are experiencing — not pushing it away, ignoring it, or trying to replace it with a more positive experience. This is extraordinarily difficult when you are in the midst of deep pain, but it can also cut the edge off of the suffering.

“Strange as it may sound,” explains Kabat-Zinn, “the intentional knowing of your feelings in times of emotional suffering contains in itself the seeds of healing.” This is because the awareness itself is independent of your suffering. It exists outside of your pain.

So just as the weather unfolds within the sky, painful emotions happen against the backdrop of our awareness. This means we are no longer a victim of a storm. We are affected by it, yes, but it no longer happens to us. By relating to our pain consciously, and bringing awareness to our emotions, we are engaging with our feelings instead of being a victim to them and the stories we tell ourselves.

Accept What Is

At the heart of much of our suffering is our desire for things to be different than they are.

“If you are mindful as emotional storms occur,” writes Kabat-Zinn, “perhaps you will see in yourself an unwillingness to accept things as they already are, whether you like them or not.”

You may not be ready to accept things as they are, but knowing that part of your pain stems from the desire for things to be different can help put some space between you and your emotions.

Ride the Wave

One of the most reassuring elements of mindfulness for me is the reminder that nothing is permanent. Even though pain feels as though it is constant or solid at times, it actually ebbs and flows much like the ocean. The intensity fluctuates, comes and goes, and therefore gives us pockets of peace.

“Even these recurring images, thoughts, and feelings have a beginning and an end,” explains Kabat-Zinn, “that they are like waves that rise up in the mind and then subside. You may also notice that they are never quite the same. Each time one comes back, it is slightly different, never exactly the same as any pervious wave.”

Apply Compassion

Kabat-Zinn compares mindfulness of emotions to that of a loving mother who would be a source of comfort and compassion for her child who was upset. A mother knows that the painful emotions will pass — she is separate to her child’s feelings — so she is that awareness that provides peace and perspective. “Sometimes we need to care for ourselves as if that part of us that is suffering is our own child,” Kabat-Zinn writes. “Why not show compassion, kindness, and sympathy toward our own being, even as we open fully to our pain?”

Separate Yourself from the Pain

People who have suffered years from chronic illness tend to define themselves by their illnesses. Sometimes their identity is wrapped up in their symptoms. Kabat-Zinn reminds us that the painful feelings, sensations, and thoughts are separate to who we are. “Your awarenessof sensations, thoughts, and emotions is different from the sensations, the thoughts, and the emotions themselves,” he writes. “That aspect of your being that is aware is not itself in pain or ruled by these thoughts and feelings at all. It knows them, but it itself is free of them.”

He cautions us about the tendency to define ourselves as a “chronic pain patient.” “Instead,” he says, “remind yourself on a regular basis that you are a whole person who happens to have to face and work with a chronic pain condition as intelligently as possible — for the sake of your quality of life and well-being.”

Uncouple Your Thoughts, Emotions, and Sensations

Just as the sensations, thoughts, and emotions are separate from my identity, they are separate from each other. We tend to lump them all in together: “I feel anxious” or “I am depressed.” However, if we tease them apart, we might realize that a sensation (such as heart palpitations or nausea) we are experiencing is made worse by certain thoughts, and those thoughts feed other emotions.

By holding all three in awareness, we could find that the thoughts are nothing more than untrue narratives that are feeding emotions of fear and panic, and that by associating the thoughts and emotions with the sensation, we are creating more pain for ourselves.

“This phenomenon of uncoupling can give us new degrees of freedom in resting in awareness and holding whatever arises in any or all of these three domains in an entirely different way, and dramatically reduce the suffering experienced,” explains Kabat-Zinn.

6 Ways to Use Mindfulness to Ease Difficult Emotions

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Getting Back to Work When You’ve Been Depressed

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“I’m still too depressed to find a job,” says one young man. “I lost my car when I was so depressed so how can I even look?”

From a young woman: “I don’t have the energy for a full-time job and I don’t feel ready to be around people.”

And from a middle-aged guy: “Who wants a 50 year old who’s been in the hospital?”

After months of treatment for acute depression, these people are feeling better. They are taking better care of themselves. Their sleep is good. Their medications are working. Therapy has helped them be more successful at using their coping skills.

Treatment now needs to shift from stabilization to getting back into the world and back to work. Easier said than done. They are finding the move from having good intentions to actually getting back out there so daunting they are stuck.

Yes, these people genuinely want to get back to work, but their self-esteem has taken such a hit, they are convinced they will fail. To avoid failure, they find reasons not to try, all of which have a kernel of truth. But not trying – not doing the personal work to manage their fears and overcome practical obstacles – guarantees not getting anywhere.

If you have ever been there, you can relate.

Sadly, acute distress often sets in motion a habit of discouragement and passivity. Being genuinely unable for a time can convince people that there’s something so fundamentally wrong with them that they are, at their core, deficient. The habit of negative self-talk that is a common symptom of depression hangs on — and on.

How can someone shake the feeling that he or she is fundamentally flawed? How can a person push back at depressive thinking and reclaim the self-confidence required to be a working adult? If you are in recovery and feeling stuck, here are a few thoughts drawn from the field of motivational psychology:

It’s up to you: Step one is to accept that, once out of the acute stage of depression, you need to make a renewed commitment to break the habit of inactivity that came with it. Resist the very understandable pull to go back under the covers with the shades drawn. Your therapist can help you figure out how to set reasonable goals and pace yourself for success.

Use your supports: Feeling better doesn’t mean you don’t need your medication. Talk to your prescriber if you want to reduce or discontinue it. Keep going to therapy. Your therapist can continue to provide encouragement and practical guidance while you figure out how to get back to work. Ask friends and family to lend support. Those who care about you do want to help but they may need guidance about what exactly you would find helpful. Set reasonable expectations together: You aren’t completely well but you are getting there.

Do something: The point is to make a start. You may not be ready for a full-on press for employment but you can certainly start to do more to contribute. Do more around the house. Volunteer for a few hours a week. Take a part-time job. Positive actions do build on each other.

Be willing to start small – even at the bottom: It can be really tough to start over. It can feel like a devaluing of your skills and be a blow to your self-esteem. But after being out of the workforce for a time, it may reduce your anxiety to take a job with less status or salary than you once had. Alternatively, think about going back half time if you can as a way to begin. Starting is exactly that — starting. It can give you a needed chance to prove yourself to yourself. If you are returning to a former job, going part-time or taking a step back may be what’s needed if your employer has doubts about whether you can handle it. Even if you don’t stay or advance in that company, you’ll be honing your skills and rebooting your resume.

Attitude matters: In the 1950s, there was an animated cartoon that featured a salesman at someone’s door saying, “You wouldn’t want to buy this gizmo would you?” It’s funny in a cartoon. It’s not funny in life. Getting out of the habit of assuming inadequacy requires at least pretending that you have the energy and ambition to sell yourself. In a blog on Huffington Post, motivational speaker Mike Robbins wrote about the importance of pretending as a route to accomplishment: “…if we act ‘as if’ something is already occurring in our lives (even if it’s not), or act ‘as if’ we know how to do something (even if we don’t) we create the conditions for it to manifest in our life . . .”

Open yourself to learning. Difficult times, including mental illness, even set-backs and failures, can help us go in a new direction, develop more compassion, or better assess what we want and can do. It’s often useful to take a step back to consider what positive knowledge has come out of a challenging experience.

Get ready for luck: Business consultant Idowu Koyenikan has been quoted as saying, “Opportunity does not waste time with those who are unprepared.” Being prepared means working at your talents and skills every day, regardless of whether you feel like it. Practicing what we want to do for work may not seem like it is paying off. It may seem like no one is paying attention. But when opportunity knocks, and it usually does at some point, you’ll be ready to respond.

Don’t wait until you feel better to look for work: Psychologists and motivational speakers will tell you that waiting to feel better before getting back to work isn’t helpful. It works the other way. Getting back into life is what will help you feel good again.

Getting Back to Work When You’ve Been Depressed

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When Faith Alone Can’t Heal Depression

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There is no question that religion and spirituality can help pull us out of darkness and provide the hope and inspiration that is needed to persevere through despair. Several studies over the last decade have confirmed the positive role of faith in recovery from depression.

How Faith Helps Depression

A 2016 study from the University of Utah School of Medicine demonstrated how religious and spiritual experiences activate the brain reward circuits. In the study 19 young-adult Mormon church members performed four tasks in response to content meant to evoke spiritual feelings. Based on the brain imaging scans (fMRI), researchers found that when participants experienced spiritual emotions, there was activation in the nucleus accumbens, a region of the brain critical for processing reward, and in the medial prefrontal cortex, responsible for judgment, moral reasoning, and focused attention.

In a 2014, researchers at the Columbia University’s Teachers College documented other brain changes caused by religious experience that contribute to emotional resilience. Lisa Miller, professor of psychology, and colleagues found that the participants in the study who valued spirituality showed thicker portions of brain cortices that may protect against depression, especially in those at high risk. A previous study by Miller and her team published in The American Journal of Psychiatry showed a 76 percent decrease in major depression in adults who said they highly valued spirituality or religiosity, and whose parents suffered from the disease.

Religion not only provides hope, it assigns meaning to suffering. Stories of redemption encourage us to look at the bigger picture and find consolation in the wider, spiritual perspective of our hardships. In other words, they place our pain in the context of other faith heroes, which makes us feel less alone in our dark night.

Stigma and the Church

But what about when we spend hours on our knees and feel no respite or consolation at all? What about when our faith fails to heal us? Are we bad Christians? Bad Catholics? Do we not believe enough?

Just as religion and spirituality can lift us out of despair, a simplistic approach to faith can worsen symptoms of depression and interfere with treatment and recovery. When some believers don’t get better, they feel as though they have failed at one more thing – that they aren’t the disciples that Jesus called them to be. Unfortunately, this kind of stigma is reinforced in many congregations.

A while back, a reader left this comment on one of my blogs:

I am a Christian and I truly believe in Jesus Christ, the son of God, and He has helped me through many dark times, but just as the diabetic, the heart patient, the patient with high blood pressure I must have medicine to treat my illness. Unfortunately, many pastors and other Christians say that I am on happy pills, never thinking how sad that makes those of us who struggle with this illness.

Her experience is hardly unique. Consider the following statistics (which I edited for clarity) from several LifeWay research studies:

  • A third of Americans say mental illness could be overcome with Bible study and prayer alone.
  • Almost half of pastors say they rarely or never speak to their congregation about mental illness.
  • Less than 5 percent of churchgoers who lost a loved one to suicide say church leaders were aware of their loved one’s struggles.

When I was a sophomore in college, I attended a Mass in the chapel of one of the dorms. I was struggling with suicidal thoughts at the time and had just agreed to start taking an antidepressant after fighting about it for a year and a half with my therapist.

“Psychologists’ offices are starting to replace confessionals,” the priest said. “We need to bring sin and spiritual warfare back to church, where they belong.”

I stood up and walked out. With those two irresponsible sentences, he discounted the 18-month struggle I endured to arrive at a place where I was finally okay seeking treatment. That was the beginning of a recovery that last 15 years, the start of a new life for me. Had I listened to him, I may not be here today. I continue to hear variations of his words today in homilies today. Each time, I walk out.

Redefining Miracles

Let me be clear. I do believe in miracles, very much so. And I believe our faith can bring on miracles. I have witnessed the line of crutches hanging over the grotto in Lourdes, France, proof of hundreds or thousands of disabled persons whose faith somehow allowed them to walk away. A year ago, a friend of mine claimed that she was “healed” of her depression during a prayer service and has been able to reduce her meds.

Most of the time, though, I believe that God offers us certain tools for intervention — medication, psychotherapy, support networks. It is by employing them that we are healed. The work isn’t separate to our faith. We don’t just sit back and wait for Jesus to relieve our symptoms.

I suppose my God is more high maintenance, demanding a little action and cooperation from me, much like the joke about the guy who dies in a flood despite his prayers for God’s rescue:

As the floodwaters rise, a man named Sam calls for God’s help.

First a neighbor offers him a ladder.

“Nope, my God is coming,” Sam replies.

Then the police arrive with a rescue boat. “Hop on board!” they instruct him.

“Thanks, but no thanks,” Sam says, “God will save me.”

And finally, the national guard provide a helicopter, and he tells them to go away, too.

Sam dies, goes to heaven, and asks God, “Why didn’t you rescue me?”

“I sent a ladder, a lifeboat, and a helicopter…what more could I do?” says God.

When it comes to depression, don’t be Sam. Get on your knees. Derive a sense of hope and meaning from your religion or spirituality. However, if your faith doesn’t cure you immediately, don’t beat yourself or become idle in your recovery. Continue to do the hard work. Because most miracles demand a little sweat.

When Faith Alone Can’t Heal Depression

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Psychology Around the Net: March 9, 2019

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Happy Saturday (or whatever day you’re reading this) sweet readers!

This week’s Psychology Around the Net covers a personal account of how running helped one author’s anxiety and fear, how green spaces work to boost your well-being and social connections, why “hip” office settings aren’t benefiting employees the way employers would like them to, and more.

Enjoy!

Moving the Body, Boosting the Mind: Running Your Way to Better Mental Health: Bella Mackie, author of Jog On: How Running Saved My Life, weighs in on how physical activity (specifically, running) helped release her from a life of anxiety, fear, and intrusive thoughts.

Hyperhidrosis Associated with Higher Anxiety, Depression, ADD: New research shows patients who have primary hyperhidrosis — “a rare disorder characterized by excessive sweating on the palms of the hands, the soles of the feet, in the armpits (axillary), in the groin area, and/or under the breasts” — are significantly more likely to develop mental health conditions such as attention deficit disorder (ADD), anxiety, and depression.

Green Spaces Can Help You Trust Strangers: Last week I directed you to research about how growing up in an area lacking in green spaces can contribute to depression in adult years; now, we learn from a new case study about how green spaces and other colorful urban design elements can increase the well-being and social connections among the city’s residents.

Physician Mental Health: The Role of Self-Compassion and Detachment: Finding the professional balance between showing compassion to and engaging emotionally with their patients can leave medical providers suppressing their feelings, doing a disservice to their own mental health and well-being. Enter REVAMP.

Hip Offices Are Part of Our Mental Health Crisis. Here’s Why: Taking the occasional mental health day has become the corporate cure-all for employees experiencing burnout, but now offices are trying to create “hip,” “cool” workplace environments in an attempt to prevent burnout and even help employee mental health. According to one entrepreneur, these aren’t effective methods.

Motivation Through Appreciation: The Science Behind a Happy Workplace: On that note, here’s a look at how something as seemingly simple as employee appreciation can boost happiness and motivation. So, what are some super basic yet super effective ways employers can show appreciation to their employees?

Psychology Around the Net: March 9, 2019

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12 Ways to Keep Going with Depression

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About once a week I hear the same question from a reader, “What keeps you going?” The short answer is lots of things. I use a variety of tools to persevere through my struggle with depression because what works on one day doesn’t the next. I have to break some hours into 15-minute intervals and simply put one foot in front of another, doing the thing that is right in front of me and nothing else.

I write this post for the person who is experiencing debilitating symptoms of depression. The following are some things that help me fight for sanity and keep me going, when the gravity of my mood disorder threatens to stop all forward movement.

Find a good doctor and therapist.

I have tried to beat my depression without the help of mental health professionals and discovered just how life-threatening the illness can be. Not only do you need to get help, you need to get the RIGHT help.

A reporter once referred to me as the Depression Goldilocks of Annapolis because I have seen practically all of the psychiatrists in my town. Call me picky, but I am glad I didn’t stop my search after the third or fourth or fifth physician because I did not get better until I found the right one at Johns Hopkins Mood Disorders Center. If you have a severe, complicated mood disorder, it is worth going to a teaching hospital to get a consultation.

Be just as choosy with your therapist. I have sat on therapy couches on and off for 30 years, and while the cognitive behavioral exercises were helpful, I didn’t begin making real progress until I started working with my current therapist.

Rely on your faith — or some higher power.

When everything else has failed, my faith sustains me. In my hours of desperation, I will read from the Book of Psalms, listen to inspirational music, or simply yell at God. I look to the saints for courage and resolve since many of them have experienced dark nights of the soul — Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Mother Teresa. It is of great consolation to know that God knows each hair on my head and loves me unconditionally despite my imperfections, that He is with me in my anguish and confusion.

A substantial amount of research points to the benefits of faith to mitigate symptoms of depression. In a 2013 study, for example, researchers at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, found that belief in God was associated with better treatment outcomes.

Be kind and gentle with yourself.

The stigma attached to depression is still, unfortunately, very thick. Maybe you have one or two people in your life who can offer you the kind of compassion that you deserve. However, until the general public offers persons with mood disorders the same compassion that is conferred on people with breast cancer or any other socially acceptable illness, it is your job to be kind and gentle with yourself. Instead of pushing yourself harder and telling yourself it’s all in your head, you need to speak to yourself as a sensitive, fragile child with a painful wound that is invisible to the world. You need to put your arms around her and love her. Most importantly, you need to believe her suffering and give it validation. In her book Self-Compassion, Kristin Neff, Ph.D., documents some of the research that demonstrates that self-compassion is a powerful way to achieve emotional well-being.

Reduce your stress.

You don’t want to give into your depression, I get that. You want to do everything on your to-do list and part of tomorrow’s. But pushing yourself is going to worsen your condition. Saying no to responsibilities because your symptoms are flaring up isn’t a defeat. It is act of empowerment.

Stress mucks up all your biological systems, from your thyroid to your digestive tract, making you more vulnerable to mood swings. Rat studies show that stress reduces the brain’s ability to keep itself healthy. In particular, the hippocampus shrinks, impacting short-term memory and learning abilities. Try your best to minimize stress with deep-breathing exercises, muscle-relaxation meditations, and simply saying no to anything you don’t absolutely have to do.

Get regular sleep.

Businessman and author E. Joseph Cossman once said, “The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night’s sleep.” It is one of the most critical pieces to emotional resiliency. Practicing good sleep hygiene — going to bed at the same time at night and waking up at a regular hour — can be challenging for persons with depression because, according to J. Raymond DePaulo, Jr., M.D., co-director of the Johns Hopkins Mood Disorders Center, that’s when people often feel better. They want to stay up and write or listen to music or work. Do that too many nights, and your lack of sleep becomes the Brussels sprout on the floor of the produce aisle that you trip over. Before you know it, you’re on your back, incapable of doing much of anything.

Although pleasing our circadian rhythm — our body’s internal clock — can feel really boring, remember that consistent, regular sleep is one of the strongest allies in the fight against depression.

Serve others.

Five years ago, I read Man’s Search for Meaning by Holocaust survivor and Austrian psychiatrist Viktor Frankl and was profoundly moved by his message that suffering has meaning, especially when we can turn our pain into service of others.

Frankl’s “logotherapy” is based on the belief that human nature is motivated by the search for a life purpose. If we devote our time and energy toward finding and pursuing the ultimate meaning of our life, we are able to transcend some of our suffering. It doesn’t mean that we don’t feel it. However, the meaning holds our hurt in a context that gives us peace. His chapters expound on Friedrich Nietzsche’s words, “He who has a why can bear almost any how.” I have found this to be true in my life. When I turn my gaze outward, I see that suffering is universal, and that relieves some of the sting. The seeds of hope and healing are found in the shared experience of pain.

Look backwards.

Our perspective is, without doubt, skewed during a depressive episode. We view the world from a dark basement of human emotions, interpreting events through the lens of that experience. We are certain that we have always been depressed and are convinced that our future will be chock full of more misery. By looking backwards, I am reminded that my track record for getting through depressive episodes is 100 percent. Sometimes the symptoms didn’t wane for 18 months or more, but I did eventually make my way into the light. I call to mind all those times I persevered through difficulty and emerged to the other side. Sometimes I’ll take out old photos as proof that I wasn’t always sad and panicked.

Take a moment to recall the moments that you are most proud of, where you triumphed over obstacles. Because you will do it again. And then again.

Plan something fun.

Filling my calendar with meaningful events forces me to move forward when I’m stuck in a negative groove. It can be as simple as having coffee with a friend or calling my sister. Maybe it’s signing up for a pottery or cooking class.

If you’re feeling ambitious, plan an adventure that takes you out of your comfort zone. In May, I’m walking Camino de Santiago, or The Way of Saint James, a famous pilgrimage that stretches 778 kilometers from St. Jean Port de Pied in France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. The anticipation of the trip has fueled me with energy and excitement during a hard stretch of my life.

You need not backpack through Europe, of course, to keep moving forward. Organizing a day trip to a museum or some local art exhibit could serve the same purpose. Just be sure to have something on your calendar other than therapy and work meetings.

Be in nature.

According to Elaine Aron, Ph.D., in her bestseller The Highly Sensitive Person, approximately 15 to 20 percent of the population is easily overwhelmed by loud noises, crowds, smells, bright lights, and other stimulation. These types have rich interior lives, but tend to feel things very deeply and absorb people’s emotions. Many people who struggle with chronic depression are highly sensitive. They need a pacifier. Nature serves that purpose.

The water and woods are mine. When I get overstimulated by this Chuck E. Cheese world of ours, I retreat to either the creek down the street or the hiking trail a few miles away. Among the gentle waves of the water or the strong oak trees in the woods, I touch ground and access a stillness that is needed to navigate difficult emotions. Even a few minutes a day provide a sense of calm that helps me to harness panic and depression when they arise.

Connect with other warriors.

Rarely can a person battle chronic depression on her own. She needs a tribe of fellow warriors on the frontline of sanity, remembering her that she is not alone and equipping her with insights with which to persevere.

Five years ago, I felt very discouraged by the lack of understanding and compassion associated with depression so I created two forums: Group Beyond Blue on Facebook and Project Hope & Beyond. I have been humbled by the level of intimacy formed between members of the group. There is power in shared experience. There is hope and healing in knowing we are in this together.

Laugh

You may think there’s nothing funny about your depression or wanting to die. After all, this is a serious, life-threatening condition. However, if you can manage to add a dose of levity to your situation, you’ll find that humor is one of the most powerful tools to fight off hopelessness. G.K. Chesterton once said, “Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.” That’s what laughter does. It lightens the burden of suffering. That’s why nurses use comedy skits in small group sessions in inpatient psychiatric units as part of their healing efforts. Humor forces some much-needed space between you and your pain, providing you a truer perspective of your struggle.

Dance in the rain.

Vivian Greene once said, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

When I was first diagnosed with depression, I was sure that the right medication or supplement or acupuncture session would cure my condition. Ten years ago, when nothing seemed to work, I shifted to a philosophy of managing my symptoms versus curing them. Although nothing substantial changed in my recovery, this new attitude made all the difference in the world. I was no longer stuck in the waiting room of my life. I was living to the fullest, as best I could. I was dancing in the rain.

References

Rosmarin, D.H., Bigda-Peyton, J.S., Kertz, S.J., Smith, N., Rauch, S.L., & Björgvinsson, T. (2013). A test of faith in God and treatment: The relationship of belief in God to psychiatric treatment outcomes. Journal of Affective Disorders, 146(3): 441-446. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S016503271200599X

Hildebrandt, S. (2012, February 6). How stress can cause depression [blog post]. Retrieved from http://sciencenordic.com/how-stress-can-cause-depression

Frankl, V.E. (1959). Man’s Search for Meaning. Cutchogue, NY: Buccaneer Books.

Aron, E. (1996). The Highly Sensitive Person. New York, NY: Carol Publishing.

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Podcast: A Bipolar and a Schizophrenic Discuss Feelings of Loneliness

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While depression is a common mental health issue, it’s not even close to being the most common. Listen in to hear our hosts discuss how loneliness can make a person feel unwanted and uncared for – even if they are standing in a crowded room.

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“People think you can’t be lonely if you have people in your vicinity.”
– Gabe Howard

Highlights From ‘loneliness’ Episode

[0:30] Loneliness kills more people than depression.

[3:30] Michelle explains loneliness she has experienced.

[5:20] Gabe explains loneliness he has experienced.

[8:00] We always bring up our moms – so why stop now?

[16:30] What can help people feel less lonely?

Computer Generated Transcript for ‘A Bipolar and a Schizophrenic Discuss Feelings of Loneliness’ 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. Thank you for tuning into A Bipolar, A Schizophrenic and A Podcast.

Gabe: [00:00:08] Hello everybody and welcome to a Bipolar, a Schizophrenic and a Podcast!

Gabe: [00:00:21] My name is Gabe and I live with bipolar disorder.

Michelle: [00:00:24] My name is Michelle. I live with schizophrenia.

Gabe: [00:00:27] And today we are going to talk about loneliness. It seems to be everywhere right now because there were some landmark study done that said that loneliness kills more people than depression and heart disease. And I’m brutalizing it you know. Please go look up the study it’s available to find but it turns out that loneliness is actually a health condition.

Michelle: [00:00:50] I don’t understand. Would you say that if you’re depressed your lonely or lonely, you’re depressed?

Gabe: [00:00:55] We’re not going to devolve into explaining the study the Psych Central Show podcast which I am the host already did that. So there’s no reason to kind of you know just repeat the episode we’ll put the link in the show notes for this podcast. But there’s all kinds of different types of loneliness. And one of the reasons that we wanted to talk about it is because people with mental illness often feel lonely and people fire back immediately. Well you’re not lonely your parents love you or you’re not lonely you have all these friends or you’re not lonely you have a rich life you go to Starbucks every day and get coffee and they always say hi. And there’s this idea that the only thing you need to combat loneliness is another breathing human being in the vicinity and nothing could be further from the truth.

Michelle: [00:01:42] To me loneliness is just really really frustrating. You want to like go somewhere if you want to go to the bar but you don’t have a friend to go with there you want to go to the museum but you don’t have anyone to go with you kind of just feel alone. You have no one to do any of your things with. That’s what loneliness kind of feels like to me, when you have no-one to share any of your joy with, you’re just alone.

Gabe: [00:02:07] And that is kind of a better way to define it. Once again somebody can say to you “Oh Michelle you’re not lonely Gabe’s your friend,” but the way you described it is that you want somebody to share your joy with. You know we’re business partners we share our podcast we discuss business things etc. But I’m not your romantic partner I’m not your BFF, and I’m never gonna go to a museum with you.

Gabe: [00:02:32] The only joy that you share with me is work related it’s business related. I’m not saying that I’m not happy when you have personal dreams come true. I’m not a jerk but that’s not what you mean by sharing. And that’s what people misunderstand. They think that anybody who has a job can’t be lonely because after all you have all your co-workers.

Michelle: [00:02:53] Yeah because co-workers are such great friends all the time right.

Gabe: [00:02:56] Well exactly. Exactly. Again people think that you can’t be lonely if there are other humans in your vicinity. So the only people that can be lonely are people that are in the middle of a field a thousand miles away from everything. So you know that character that Tom Hanks played in Castaway.

Michelle: [00:03:12] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:03:12] That guy’s allowed to be lonely.

Michelle: [00:03:13] That just makes no sense to me because you can be in a room full of people and still feel alone. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a room of tons and tons of people. Yet I felt nobody understood me. Nobody here wants to talk to me. If I even try to go up to someone, they are just going to shut me out of the conversation. I was too nervous or anxious or I was just too in my head or I was just too paranoid. But I felt alone and it didn’t matter if anyone maybe even said “Hi.” I thought maybe they were just saying hi because they felt bad for me. So being with people that’s not really what loneliness could always look like or being completely like the dude in Castaway.

Michelle: [00:03:59] Even though he had a friend that was a volleyball.

Gabe: [00:04:01] Well and that’s why he created the friend that was a volleyball because he felt lonely and he wanted somebody to talk to and he created this this thing and that’s how he combated loneliness because he would tell Wilson everything. And as you saw as the movie went on him as a great movie. What 15 years ago were totally aging ourselves out but at one point I *spoiler alert* he gets off the island. But in the process of getting off the island he loses Wilson.

Michelle: [00:04:29] I know how i it’s devastating exactly.

Gabe: [00:04:32] Even though Wilson wasn’t real this meant something to him because it’s it was a representation of somebody else that he could share his life with.

Michelle: [00:04:40] Yeah basically Wilson dies.

Gabe: [00:04:43] Yeah. And that’s how he felt about it. He was screaming and yelling and his beardedness.

Michelle: [00:04:47] We’re getting really passionate about castaway right now.

Gabe: [00:04:49] I really miss Wilson.

Michelle: [00:04:50] I know Wilson should have come back. He should have been a new Wilson.

Gabe: [00:04:54] Everybody deserves a friend like Wilson. He just listens. He sits there he understands.

Gabe: [00:05:00] You know some people have said though that like Wilson jumped. Wilson’s like you know you never ask me about my day.

Gabe: [00:05:14] A long time ago when I first started writing my book that may or may not ever get done I wanted to call it alone in a crowded room and several of my friends and family members were like that is the dumbest fucking name we’ve ever heard. Because you can’t be alone in a crowded room.

Michelle: [00:05:27] They’re their wrong.

Gabe: [00:05:28] They’re completely wrong.

Michelle: [00:05:29] 100 percent wrong now and so wrong unbelievably wrong.

Gabe: [00:05:33] And I tried to explain to them Do you have any idea what it’s like to be the only person with mental illness in our family.

Gabe: [00:05:43] It’s devastatingly lonely.

Gabe: [00:05:46] It’s awful to this day to this day every Christmas or Thanksgiving whichever one is the turn with the spouse. I sit in a room of my entire family and I look out at all of them and I think I have something that none of you do and you know they’re good people.

Gabe: [00:06:06] I love my family. They’re not bad. They try to understand but they don’t. And I think people can maybe can understand it better this way. Imagine if my entire friend group were women who had children. And I’m a man that has no children. So I’d never been pregnant and I’d never been a parent. It’s not that they’re not good people.

Gabe: [00:06:28] It’s not that we don’t share things. It’s just that part of their bond is this pregnancy part of their bond is motherhood. And here I am childless and not pregnant. So I can never connect with them on that level. No people are like Well but that’s cool because you have things in your life that you know maybe they envy like you know not having periods or something I don’t know.

Gabe: [00:06:48] The analogy is falling apart relatively quickly.

Michelle: [00:06:51] Yea I know you just pee anywhere.

Gabe: [00:06:53] Yeah. I mean that’s that’s a real benefit to manhood. I completely agree.

Michelle: [00:06:58] Yeah. You don’t understand gave it really is I.

Gabe: [00:07:02] Listen I’m not debating.

Michelle: [00:07:03] You don’t understand. You don’t understand. You can pee anywhere you want to pee.

Gabe: [00:07:08] I I’m I’m on board. It’s wonderful it’s fantastic.

Gabe: [00:07:14] But what I’m saying is when I look out at my family they don’t know they they’ve never experienced major depression. They’ve never experience psychosis. They’ve never been in a psychiatric ward. They’ve never had their life reduced to an illness they’ve never seen it.

Michelle: [00:07:32] I don’t understand why you feel so different. Same thing happens to me like go to family things.

Gabe: [00:07:37] Exactly. And that’s why we’re friends and that’s why our friendship combats loneliness.

Michelle: [00:07:42] I don’t really think it’s that big a deal.

Gabe: [00:07:45] Let’s touch on that for a moment because you’ve said to me numerous times and on this podcast as longtime listeners know that your mother doesn’t understand you well why not. I’m serious. Why not. She has known you your entire life. She gave birth to you. She is also a middle-class Jewish woman just as you are. So why do you think she doesn’t understand you.

Michelle: [00:08:07] My goodness did she send you an email.

Gabe: [00:08:11] She gave me 50 bucks. I’m just kidding. No she didn’t.

Michelle: [00:08:15] $100.

Gabe: [00:08:16] She gave me $100. Yeah. Yeah. The first offer was 50. But I Blanched it up.

Gabe: [00:08:24] No I I’m serious. This isn’t the pick on your mom. I feel the same way about my mother. Let’s reverse it on me.

Gabe: [00:08:29] I have said that my mother doesn’t understand me. I actually wrote an article once that sort of bothered my mother she said that I quote threw her under the bus and the title of the article was my mother doesn’t understand what it’s like to live with bipolar disorder.

Gabe: [00:08:42] I wasn’t trying to be mean. She doesn’t she doesn’t understand and that sucks. I wish that she did because I feel that that would let her be closer to me which would mean that I was closer to her. And I think if you thought about it you would realize that your parents do not understand what it’s like to live with schizophrenia.

Gabe: [00:09:02] There’s a barrier, there just is.

Michelle: [00:09:05] Recently I visited our good friend Anne-Marie Otis and she has a ton of kids1w and her youngest child is bipolar. And I realized when I was there is that Anne-Marie knows about mental health. She knows that her child is bipolar. She you know, has him on medication if anything goes wrong with anything. She’s always there for him you know. She knows things are rough. She’s getting him the help that he needs she understands how to treat him what to say to him. She’s educated on the topic. I grew up with schizophrenia. My mom had no idea that I had schizophrenia. She didn’t know how to handle a girl with schizophrenia. She was never educated on the topic because I was not medicated for anything, she had no idea it existed. So, if we had both known that was the issue if I was medicated if we were both educated on how to treat a person with schizophrenia if she knew the right way to treat a child going through those issues I think we would have a better relationship today. And I think it is unfortunate that we did not know the problem way back when because we didn’t know the exact issue so we weren’t educated. My mother wasn’t educated and how to bring up a child with schizophrenia that is my answer to your question.

Gabe: [00:10:26] So that made you feel pretty lonely right.

Michelle: [00:10:28] I guess so.

Gabe: [00:10:29] I would like to point out we love Anne-Marie on the show you should check her out at stupiddumbbreastcancer she is a breast cancer advocate. Her son does live with bipolar disorder and he is a complete badass. We want to give him a shout out as well. He will join our ranks no doubt when he turns 18. Probably start his own podcast and Michelle and I will get cancelled because his will be better but I would also like to point out that that is an excellent point that you made but Anne-Marie lives with depression so she does understand mental illness.

Michelle: [00:10:57] I said Anne-Marie understands mental illness.

Gabe: [00:10:58] Right.

Gabe: [00:10:59] So my family and your family have no mental health problems. I mean they’re crazy but they have no mental health problems. And it does make me feel lonely because of all the reasons that you just said I completely agree with everything that you said 100%.

Gabe: [00:11:17] I would have a better relationship with my parents if they understood mental illness. If I got diagnosed younger and if I didn’t go through so much trauma. We have built up from the ground up as adults after like I don’t know my 13th divorce.

Gabe: [00:11:32] But why do we have to do that?

Gabe: [00:11:33] You know who has a great relationship with my parents?

Michelle: [00:11:37] Who?

Gabe: [00:11:37] My sister, and you know why my sister has a great relationship with my parents.

Michelle: [00:11:42] Why?

Gabe: [00:11:43] Because she’s a woman who is cheap and clips coupons and is a mother like my mom and she’s a stubborn bad-ass like my father. So they basically on the third try. Got the right kid. And they’re like super close because they’re basically all three carbon copies of one another.

Gabe: [00:12:03] And then there’s me, the gigantic redheaded stepchild.

Gabe: [00:12:10] I do. I feel lonely and that is what I think people a lot of people with mental illness. I think they feel lonely and their families get really really upset. They do. They’re like Well I don’t know why you’re lonely your father and I are always there for you. I don’t know why you’re lonely. I’m always there for you. We talk to tons of people that live with mental illness and their families are always really really defensive about the idea that they can be lonely because they’re like Well we always come when you call. That’s not what loneliness is. It’s not about you coming when I call.

Gabe: [00:12:45] It’s about you understanding me. Don’t you often feel misunderstood Michelle?

Michelle: [00:12:52] Yeah definitely.

Gabe: [00:12:53] I always feel misunderstood. I don’t feel like my wife understands me and she’s my wife and she’s trying so hard.

Gabe: [00:13:01] So hard. She’s taken every class read every book listen to every podcast read every article. I think that in her brain exists PsychCentral.com like if PsychCentral.com ever breaks my wife could recreate it from scratch.

Gabe: [00:13:17] But you know what she’s never been mentally ill. There is a big difference between somebody describing the Sistine Chapel to you and standing in the Sistine Chapel.

Michelle: [00:13:31] We’ll be right back after these messages.

Narrator: [00:13:34] This episode is sponsored by betterhelp.com secure convenient and affordable online counseling. 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 counseling is right for you. Betterhelp.com/PsychCentral.

Michelle: [00:14:05] And we are back talking about loneliness.

Gabe: [00:14:08] The best thing we can do to a lot of our friends and family is describe what it’s like to be bipolar and schizophrenic.

Gabe: [00:14:14] There’s really no way to let them live in our head for a day and I think that’s why there’s so much bullshit in the world about you don’t need antidepressants. Go for a walk in the woods well you’re lonely because you don’t come to more family functions. Well why don’t you join a book club if you’re lonely.

Gabe: [00:14:31] Oh my God. I just came up with an idea.

Michelle: [00:14:34] A book club in the woods!

Gabe: [00:14:35] No. Now I’ve come up with two ideas. A book club in the woods! Thank you, Michelle. Number two a book club for mentally ill people! Oh my God. I’ve just invented support groups.

Michelle: [00:14:48] Book club support groups.

Gabe: [00:14:51] Oh my God! Book club support groups. But let’s not read the book.

Michelle: [00:14:53] I don’t want to read a book.

Gabe: [00:14:54] I don’t want to read a book either.

Gabe: [00:14:55] Let’s start a book club for mentally ill people where we get together and we share our issues we learn from each other.

Michelle: [00:15:03] That’s called that’s called group therapy.

Gabe: [00:15:05] I really think we’ve just invented therapy. We did it like we invented support groups. A Bipolar, A Schizophrenic, and A Podcast is on the front lines of support groups. We did this.

Michelle: [00:15:17] Are you lonely? Are you sad?

Gabe: [00:15:20] You don’t have to be lonely at mentallyillonly.com. Remember the dating site for mentally ill people?

Michelle: [00:15:27] I think I’m still on it and every once in a while, I get an email.

Gabe: [00:15:31] However the date’s gone.

Michelle: [00:15:32] I haven’t replied to a single one.

Gabe: [00:15:34] Really.

Michelle: [00:15:34] I haven’t even logged in. I forgot my username and password.

Gabe: [00:15:37] I remember when we did that episode I logged in and there was a couple of people that suffer from agoraphobia. And I was like listen this going to work. Also it’s really not a good place for people with obsessive compulsive disorder, because like all of the things don’t match perfectly. Like some people wrote two paragraphs some people were one paragraph that’s not okay. How you’re gonna line that up I’m just saying.

Michelle: [00:16:03] I mean it was very weirder that I got the message from the guy that owned it.

Gabe: [00:16:06] I think he still wants to date you.

Michelle: [00:16:08] He wants to be on this show.

Gabe: [00:16:11] If we ever have guests on the show, I think there are several people who might be contenders.

Michelle: [00:16:16] Peppy?

Gabe: [00:16:18] For those that don’t know Peppy is my dog that Michelle is enamored with because she’s never seen a schnauzer before.

Michelle: [00:16:25] He woke me up this morning.

Gabe: [00:16:27] You left your door open.

Michelle: [00:16:29] He jumped on my bladder.

Gabe: [00:16:31] You left your bladder open.

Gabe: [00:16:35] We’ve talked about loneliness and of course we’ve talked about a volleyball that came to life for 20 years ago Tom Hanks.

Gabe: [00:16:42] But a lot of people in our community feel lonely. What some practical advice that we can give them to help kind of get out of the funk.

Michelle: [00:16:50] We can realize that loneliness is just more a feeling and it’s not really a fact.

Michelle: [00:16:56] You’re not going to be lonely for the rest of your life.

Gabe: [00:16:58] And it’s so much like a lot of the other things that we feel you know living with mental illness you know depression isn’t a fact either it’s a feeling. Mania isn’t a fact either it’s a feeling. You know paranoia isn’t a fact either it’s a feeling. And we have to try to find ways to use our brains to kind of escape that.

Michelle: [00:17:17] Yeah, another good idea would be to put your attention into something else you could just ask people if they need help or you can try to volunteer with something.

Gabe: [00:17:27] Joining groups is also I think a good idea.

Michelle: [00:17:29] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:17:29] I don’t know it’s sort of counterintuitive. It’s like when people say so when I’m lonely the solution to loneliness is to go out with people and not feel lonely. It’s not a bit like saying when I’m depressed. The solution is to not be depressed. Listen kind of. I mean I understand how that kind of sounds but Michelle is dead on.

Gabe: [00:17:47] I mean if you’re sitting at home feeling lonely go find some people in whatever way is meaningful to you.

Michelle: [00:17:54] Yes something I always did was join sports teams. That’s how I got out of.

Gabe: [00:17:58] You don’t say.

Michelle: [00:17:59] Yeah.

Gabe: [00:18:01] And one of the things that I do is every morning I get up and I go get a soda at the local fast food place. I don’t even eat the food but I just kind of sit there and people watch and I see a lot of amazing people.

Gabe: [00:18:14] And it’s just I don’t know something about connecting with them even though I’m kind of sitting in the corner and I know everybody’s got their like wait there’s a mentally ill man in the corner watching families come in and get their food. But seriously I just I sit there with my phone I drink and I watch.

Michelle: [00:18:28] Which brings me to the next point of go run an errand and make a point to be nice to people wish them a good day hold doors show kindness which is something that you do because everywhere we go you have a full conversation with everybody. It’s like everywhere we go they know you already, and they know you’re going to get a pretzel or they know you’re going to get a Diet Coke. You know everyone.

Gabe: [00:18:57] I mean yes. And the reason is because to ward off loneliness and to find meaning in my life, I really do spend a lot of time. I am that guy in line that turns around and asks you how your day is.

Michelle: [00:19:09] Yes. And stranger danger.

Gabe: [00:19:11] No it’s not stranger danger if you don’t want to talk, I don’t press. I mean I’m not an asshole about it but I say hello. I say hi. I ask people how their days are. It makes me feel better. And you know I could be like curmudgeonly about it because almost nobody asks me how I am. But I ask like 20 people a day how they are. But I don’t care because I get to kind of connect with them just for a moment. And it does make my life more meaningful.

Michelle: [00:19:35] It does actually do well. I would say because when I worked retail and I was a cashier when I would say Hi how are you and they would say I’m good how are you doing. It always made me feel better because not every customer would say How are you doing. They would say, I would say How are you. And they’d be like fine in a rude way. Okay great. You’re just rude. That’s not nice.

Gabe: [00:19:54] It is nice to connect with people. And I think that again people build things up in their mind. They think that a connection has to be like Uber meaning for you know it has to you have to meet your future spouse or meet your new best friend. But you know connection can come in little couple of second bites. You can say hey and the person can say hey you can say I like your hat. Well I like your hat too. I hope you have a good day. You too. And that whole thing took like what five seconds but I’m telling you it’ll put a little extra spring in your step.

Michelle: [00:20:24] Absolutely 100% agree with that statement.

Gabe: [00:20:27] Wow. I think it’s the first time in the history of man that Michelle is 100% agreed with anything that I have ever said. Could this be the start of something new for Gabe and Michelle.

Michelle: [00:20:36] Yeah, we’re gonna get married.

Gabe: [00:20:37] No no no. But tune in next week to find out.

Gabe: [00:20:43] We don’t have a lot for you to do but we do have a couple of things one rate and review us on iTunes Google Play Stitcher or Spotify.

Gabe: [00:20:51] Go on to social media until all of your friends about us don’t make us the best-kept secret in the world. And finally, you can head on over to store. It’s store.psychcentral.com and buy the Define Normal shirt. It helps support the show and of course, it starts many conversations. So, you won’t be lonely. We’ll see everybody next week on a bipolar schizophrenic and a podcast.

Michelle: [00:21:12] Wilson! Wilson! No Wilson!

Narrator: [00:21:17] 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: A Bipolar and a Schizophrenic Discuss Feelings of Loneliness

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