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Podcast: Deep Q’s For an NYC Woman with Schizophrenia

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Podcast: Deep Q’s For an NYC Woman with Schizophrenia

By Gabe Howard
June 20, 2022

“When I was at home, I’d be talking to myself and they’re like, What are you laughing at? What is so funny? And I’d be like, Oh, nothing, nothing at all. But yeah, they figured it out. They all figured it out.”

~Michelle Hammer

Sometimes people think our hosts, Gabe and Michelle, are actors just playing a role for the show. We can assure you, they are real people managing severe and persistent mental illness. In this episode, Gabe interviews Michelle about her life in New York City living with schizophrenia.

Secrets are revealed and you won’t know what it is truly like being a New York City schizophrenia unless you listen in now.

Hey! Follow Society of Valued Minds on Instagram by clicking here or search for @societyofvaluedminds.

This podcast is proudly sponsored by Betterhelp. Save 10% on your first month with the discount code “BSP22” or by clicking here.

About the Hosts of A Bipolar, A Schizophrenic, and a Podcast

gabe howardGabe Howard is a professional speaker, writer, and activist living with bipolar and anxiety disorders. Diagnosed in 2003, he has made it his mission to put a human face on mental illness.

He’s the author of Mental Illness is an Asshole and Other Observations and a popular podcast host. Learn more at gabehoward.com.

michelle hammerMichelle Hammer is a Schizophrenia Activist and spends her time passionately fighting stigma. She is an NYC native featured in the WebMD documentary Voices, which was nominated for a Tribeca X Award at the Tribeca Film Festival 2018.

Founded and run by Michelle, Schizophrenic.NYC is a clothing brand with the mission of reducing stigma by starting conversations about mental health.

Transcript for NYC Woman with Schizophrenia 

Please Note: This transcript was computer generated. Please be mindful of errors. Thank you. 

Michelle: Hey, everyone. I’m Michelle, and I live with schizophrenia.


Gabe: I’m Gabe and I live with bipolar. And we want to tell you about the Society of Valued Minds sponsored by Otsuka Pharmaceuticals. This is a brand new community of mental health advocates, building a platform on Instagram for seeking support, sharing our experiences, and embracing the self-expression that makes us unique. Listen, Michelle and I are proud members of the Society of Valued Minds, and, well, you should be, too. It’s free. It’s 100% free to join. All you need to do is follow @societyofvaluedminds on Instagram.


Michelle: We also want to give a huge shout out to our sponsor, BetterHelp. You can get 10% off your first month just by going to BetterHelp.com/BSP22.


Gabe: We get emails, Michelle. We get so many emails and most of them are positive, right? They’re mostly positive. And even


Michelle: Uh-huh.


Gabe: Some of the yeah. Yeah. And even some of the critiques are usually, they’re pretty nice. But a theme, a theme has emerged, Michelle, and we’ve noticed that people want to know more about us. And I’m quoting here, this is a direct quote, on a deeper level without hiding behind humor.


Michelle: I’m thinking people think this show is fake or scripted or some shit. Like Gabe told you he put a post-it note on a sleeping stripper’s forehead and you are all like, But we need a deeper dive into your mental illness.


Gabe: Yeah, yeah, yeah. But be that as it may, the first rule of podcasting is give the people what they want. So this episode and next week’s episode will be a deep dive with honest answers to really serious questions. And Michelle and I will do our best to take it super seriously and not, as requested, hide behind humor. Might be hard, but we will try.


Michelle: And we get the same questions. Did you tell them that?


Gabe: I was I was getting there. There are ten questions total. Nine of the questions are exactly the same for both of us. We’re going to ask them in the same order and everything. Right? And we know the questions in advance. Right, because we wrote them together. But the final question is whatever we want to ask the other person and that person will not know the question in advance. So they will just hear it for the very first time, live on the air with all of the recorders rolling.


Michelle: And because Gabe can’t answer anything short to save his damn life, there’s a one minute time limit per question.


Gabe: Now, okay, now that math is not going to hold up because then the show would only be 10 minutes long.


Michelle: Well, I have to tell you that one to keep it under one minute because you’re actually going to keep it under 5 minutes. Mr. Long-winded Answer Man.


Gabe: That. That is a very fair point, Michelle. So shorter answers are the goal. And we promise, we promise to take the questions very seriously. So the goal for this episode is not to make you laugh, but to honestly share our feelings.


Michelle: But I’m going to laugh at you anyway, Gabe.


Gabe: I would I would expect nothing less, Michelle. All right. So Michelle is up first. I am going to be the interviewer and Michelle is going to be the interviewee. So are you ready to answer all of the questions, Michelle?


Michelle: I am so ready. Let’s get to this. I am so ready.


Gabe: Now. All right. Here we go. Question number one. If there was a shot that cured schizophrenia with zero side effects, it worked perfect. You just had no more schizophrenia. It was gone. Over. Would you take it? Why or why not?


Michelle: I would absolutely take it. And why or why not? Do I want to take seven medications daily? No. Do I want a psychiatrist? No. Do I want to live in the same place forever? No. I want to be able to travel. I don’t want to worry about meds. I don’t want to go to the pharmacy all the time. All this stuff I have to deal with because of schizophrenia, plus voices, hallucinations, delusions, everything like that. People treating me less than normal, things like that. I don’t want to deal with it. I would love to get rid of schizophrenia.


Gabe: Many people feel that that’s like bad in some way. Like you, you are saying that a part of you is bad and that’s why you want to get rid of it.


Michelle: Okay, let’s find the average Joe on the street, and then I say to them, so I can give you this shot and you’ll have schizophrenia. Would you take it? They would probably say no.


Gabe: I would hope they would say no.


Michelle: Why would they say no? So if people are going to critique me for saying the shots to get rid of it would go away than give me somebody to get the shot to take it. I think that’s the same exact thing.


Gabe: Moving on to question number two. What is your biggest regret that was caused by schizophrenia symptoms?


Michelle: I would say my biggest regret caused by schizophrenia symptoms was not getting help earlier. I’ve shared my story, I think on the podcast and a lot of social things that my mom tried to get me help all through high school, but I refused all help because I was so paranoid. I thought she was trying to hurt me instead of helping me. I thought she was trying to sabotage me. I thought she wanted me dead. But what she was really trying to do was actually help me. So, I wish I wasn’t that paranoid and I could have actually gotten help and then I would have gotten help earlier. So my biggest regret is not accepting help at an earlier age of my life. Why did it take til I was 18 to figure out something wasn’t right? And then why did it take til I was 22 to figure out that I had schizophrenia? If we could have just figured all of this out so much earlier, I think I would have felt better so much earlier in life.


Gabe: Michelle, is it fair to say that the subtext of that answer is you do wish that you would have listened to your mother and there’s not a joke. I know that for long-time listeners, that sounds like the setup for a joke. But you did just say in between the lines that your mom was right. Is there a regret in not listening to her, not accepting her evaluation of you?


Michelle: I understand that she thought something was going on, but from speaking with her, after years and years, she had no idea that it was a mental illness that was going on. She thought something else was going on, but I regret not understanding that something was wrong with me at the time and not accepting any help or speaking to anyone else about what I was feeling because I was so paranoid.


Gabe: I mean, paranoia is a is a symptom of schizophrenia. So you’re kind of locked in there. Right?


Michelle: Yeah.


Gabe: All right. Moving on to question number three. What myth or stereotype bothers you the most about schizophrenia? You can only pick one. I love the look on your face, man. I wish we had video. She’s going back and forth between amused and furious.


Michelle: It’s just when people tell me you don’t look like you have schizophrenia. What does schizophrenia look like? You know, it’s that myth that like a person with schizophrenia has to be that homeless bum on the corner, talking to themselves, drooling on themselves, just, just completely debilitated, completely cognitively unaware, completely paranoid and delusional 24/7. And that’s what they think people with schizophrenia look like. So then people say, Oh, well, you don’t look like you have schizophrenia. How are you doing so well? Oh, I’m so surprised. I’d never thought a person with schizophrenia could act like this. But then there’s also that thing in their head of, Oh, well, she can switch it any moment, can’t she? What are you like it when you don’t take your meds? What’s going to happen if you don’t take your meds? Would you be okay if you don’t take your meds? Would you turn into one of those people if you don’t take your meds?


Gabe: Michelle, you’re tiny, right? You’re this little tiny person. So I’m curious, are people worried about violence from you? People have expressed that this is a concern of theirs over you know, I’m six foot three, 250 pounds. You’re like, what, five feet, 90 pounds?


Michelle: I would love to be 90 pounds. That would be very nice of you, Gabe, but I’m not 90 pounds. But also, I have legs of steel. I was a college athlete. I used to do CrossFit and I’m extremely strong person. People have always been very intimidated by me.


Gabe: So it is a concern. People have looked at you like you could be violent before. And it’s it’s. I mean, how does that make you feel? I hate to say. How does that make you feel? But, hey, we’re a mental health show. How does that make you feel, Michelle?


Michelle: I mean, people are I just think that those people are stupid. It doesn’t really hurt my feelings. It just makes me think that person is an idiot.


Gabe: Fair. Fair enough. Okay. So we’ve asked a lot of like negative questions. Let’s ask a happy one. What is the best thing that has happened to you because you have schizophrenia.


Michelle: Okay. So this is a cool story. A few years ago, I licensed artwork to Janssen Global and then I didn’t realize that it was going all over Global. And apparently, there’s a room in Janssen Netherlands, that has my artwork plastered all over the whole room. It’s plastered all over the room. And they invited me to the Netherlands to do a TED Talk. So that was so cool. That was the coolest thing ever. I was jetlagged the entire time. I didn’t know what I was doing the entire time. At one point I was staying with this woman in Zander Vought and Krumbumsveld street and the cat got out. But I didn’t know the cat could just be out and I was just running around trying to find the cat all through these streets. And then I was like, You know what? Screw it. Cat’s gone.


Gabe: [Laughter]


Michelle: But then I found it. But then I found out the cat can just get out in the morning because I was like, I lost the cat. Oh, no.


Gabe: You just gave up on the cat.


Michelle: Amsterdam is like the most fun place ever. I don’t know where I was, what I was going on. I don’t even know if I left the same street I went into, like like like a tourist place. I was trying to buy mugs. The guy kept telling me it was two for one. Then I went up to the other guy. He he’s like, you can’t make your own sales, miss. You can’t make your own. I was like, This guy is telling everyone the guy kept yell, I don’t even know what was going on there. I was so jetlagged and it’s Amsterdam, use your imagination and I don’t I don’t know who I was talking to, where I was, and if I even left the same street or walked down one side and then walked to the other side, and then I walked into one place and I could have sworn that there was famous actors there because they were all very tall, very built and very good looking. But I don’t know who they were


Gabe: No, that was me. You ran into me. I was. I was there. I was waving frantically. You didn’t you didn’t notice me?


Michelle: I don’t know. But they didn’t allow any hats in there.


Gabe: Wait, no hats?


Michelle: They said no hats in here. That one place, they said, you have to take off your hat. I go, but my hair doesn’t look good. She goes, you have to take off your hat because of the security cameras. I was like, Where am I right now? Like, where am I?


Gabe: Whoa.


Michelle: What in the place world is this? I tried to find the red light district, but I didn’t know how to get there.


Gabe: Now, if you could have found the red light district, would that have been your best memory of something that came out of having schizophrenia?


Michelle: No,


Gabe: [Laughter]


Michelle: That would have been funny. I just I don’t know where I was, but then when I got back to the place I was staying, they were like, Did you go to the red light district? I have no idea if I did. They’re like. Well, did you see red lights? I go maybe. And I got so lost. I got off the train somewhere. There was nowhere open. I didn’t know where I was. I try. I finally found a place open that was storing bikes and I said, Hello, my phone is dead. I don’t. I don’t know where I am. Can I plug my phone in and call a taxi or whatever? And I paid like 70 euros.


Gabe: How much is 70 euros?


Michelle: About the same kind of.


Gabe: $70.


Michelle: Yeah. Too much money.


Gabe: You paid $70 to use the phone?


Michelle: No, no, no. To get a taxi


Gabe: Oh.


Michelle: Because I missed the train and my phone was off. The person I was staying with, she was like, you were. You missed the train and your phone wasn’t working and I didn’t know where you were. And I was like, Yeah, I didn’t know where I was either.


Gabe: All right. Moving on to question number five, Michelle. So aside from the obvious medical stuff, what do you think schizophrenia took away from you personally?


Michelle: What schizophrenia took away from me personally was the ability to work a regular job. Like I had all of these dreams. I was going to be this graphic designer turned creative director, turned awesome art director. Have all these amazing clients, work at a great place. I’d be like this amazing person working in business. But that didn’t work out because I had 15 jobs in five years and got fired from every single one of them because that’s how it happens when you have schizophrenia. And well, for me at least, it just didn’t work well, especially in New York City, you know, corporate working. So yeah, I think that’s what it took away from me, the ability to actually have a real job and go for the goals that I initially had. So I had to set new goals.


Gabe: I mean, you still ended up in business.


Michelle: Yeah, but I could be making more money.


Gabe: That’s fair. That’s fair. But you’d have a boss.


Michelle: But I wanted to be the boss, on the level, you know?


Gabe: Like a high end graphic design firm in New York City?


Michelle: Yeah. Yes.


Gabe: I think that’s what a lot of people miss about your story. And I point this out ad nauseam. On one hand, you got fired from 15 jobs, right? Like that’s that seems to be the where the spotlight always goes. But you recognize that Michelle Hammer got 15 graphic design jobs in New York City. Do you know how incredible you have to be to get one? And you managed to do this 15 times. You lost them all. I mean, that sucks, but.


Michelle: I mean, I can get a job. I just can’t keep a job.


Gabe: [Laughter] Yeah. All right, Michelle, question number six. Just by looking at you, can others tell that you have schizophrenia?


Michelle: Well, it depends what shirt I’m wearing.


Gabe: Nice.


Michelle: If I walk around with my I’m mentally ill and I don’t kill shirt. I mean, I don’t know what people think about that, honestly, but I don’t think people can because I also I have my schizo disguise. Gabe, don’t you know this? You wear earbuds, sunglasses and the face mask. Who knows? Plus, also in New York City, you can think everyone is schizophrenic because everyone has their earbuds in and they’re on the phone. So now it’s everyone’s schizophrenic in New York City. Everybody, you have no idea. You can never tell the difference.


Gabe: Wow. Michelle. That is. That is awesome, Michelle. That might be the most succinct, complete answer to any question ever asked on A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. No surprise that it came from you. I, I need a solid 20 minutes to answer any question. So, Gabe, what’s your diagnosis? Well, let me tell you. And then the podcast is over, and I’m still blathering on about something that


Michelle: Right? Yeah.


Gabe: Happened back in 2003.


Michelle: Like in the 1950s, it was called this. In the 1960s it was called that, in the 1970s it was called this, in 1980 it was.


Gabe: Right. I’ve gotta give you the history of the name of my illness. That’s only reasonable.


Announcer: This episode is brought to you by The Society of Valued Minds sponsored by Otsuka Pharmaceuticals. If you believe that every mind is valuable and if mental health matters to you, you should join the Society of Valued Minds for free by following them on Instagram @societyofvaluedminds. We are a community of advocates and creatives who want to show the world that self-expression is stronger than stigma. Check out www.societyofvaluedminds.org to learn more. I’m a proud member and you should be too. Listener, your mind is valuable.


Announcer: This podcast is sponsored by BetterHelp. BetterHelp is not a crisis line, it’s not self-help. Instead, it’s professional therapy done securely online. BetterHelp will determine your needs and match you with your own licensed professional therapist in under 48 hours. You’ll get timely and thoughtful responses plus you can schedule weekly video or phone sessions, so you won’t ever have to sit in an uncomfortable waiting room as with traditional therapy. Visit BetterHelp.com/BSP22 and get 10% off your first month. Join the over 2 million people who have taken charge of their mental health. That’s BetterHelp, H E L P. Go to BetterHelp.com/BSP22.


Gabe: And we’re back asking Michelle really serious questions and expecting really serious answers. Michelle, question number seven. And it’s a big one. First off, there’re sort of like a pre-question that we have to ask just so the audience knows. Michelle, do you have any kids?


Michelle: No. I have a hamster.


Gabe: You have a hamster. But. But no human children.


Michelle: Not that I know of. Maybe I got somebody pregnant.


Gabe: God, I hope you’re kidding. Question number seven, did having schizophrenia stop you from having children? Why or why not?


Michelle: I would say yes, because the medication that I take, I would say it’s not very compatible with being pregnant. I looked up a lot of my medication and saw how it deals with the with like a fetus and all of it really said that it’s unknown. Everything pretty much said unknown, unknown, unknown. And one was like, this is safe. So if it’s unknown, I would probably say it’s not safe because I wouldn’t want to risk something like that. I don’t want to have a risky pregnancy. I don’t want to do that. I’m just too scared to have a risky pregnancy. So I think it did kind of stop me from bringing a child into this world. What would not stop me would be that risk of having a child with a mental illness. I know it’s about one in five odds, but if I did have a child with a mental illness, I know that I could deal with that and I could help that child. So that’s not the issue. It’s more of the medication issue for me, really.


Gabe: Michelle, moving the question beyond pregnancy and just talking about being a mom. Do you think that schizophrenia prevents you from being a good mother?


Michelle: I think I could be a good mother, even though I have schizophrenia. I like kids to some extent. Just like my mom always says she likes her own kids. Other kids, they’re okay.


Gabe: [Laughter] That’s, my mom says the opposite. She’s like, I like other people’s kids. My kids, they’re just they’re just okay.


Michelle: My mom was a nursery school teacher.


Gabe: Nice. Do you think society thinks that you would have been a bad mom because of the schizophrenia?


Michelle: Oh, definitely, definitely, definitely. I was looking up some stuff recently because somebody asked me that question online. I looked up some things that it was it said like all this horrible stuff that you can it’s abusive to your children to have a schizophrenic mother and that your child will never turn out like other children. And it’s just so, so terrible. I think society just doesn’t know. Society doesn’t get it. Society sees what they see on the news. Oh, oh, this person with mental illness. Oh, look what they did now. Oh, she had a mentally ill mother. Oh, no, look at this. I know a ton of people with mental illnesses that have kids. I know people with schizophrenia that have kids and they’re great moms. But, you know, it’s what you hear on the news. Oh, mental illness, person with this, this person with a mental health issue did this. And you know what? If we’re just going to keep perpetuating horrible stories on the news, that’s what people that’s what people are going to believe. So they’re stupid for believing it. But if we’re just going to keep feeding them the same narrative, they’re going to keep believing it.


Gabe: Michelle, question number eight actually kind of dovetails into what you just said. Can you tell me about like a specific time, a specific time that the stigma of schizophrenia hurt you personally?


Michelle: Well, I was dating somebody. And we were close. Everything was cool. We even went on vacation together. Everything was fine. He knew I was taking meds and I never told him what it was for because he was he was a med student. And then finally I did tell him that I had schizophrenia and he’s like, Yeah, you really should have told me that. Yeah, you should have told me that before we went on vacation together and then we never spoke again.


Gabe: So he broke up with you because he found out that you had schizophrenia.


Michelle: We never spoke again.


Gabe: Did. Did he ghost you?


Michelle: Pretty much.


Gabe: How did it feel to know that somebody that, I don’t want to say loved, but I mean, did you love him?


Michelle: No.


Gabe: Okay. But you said you went on vacation together. You were close. You spent a lot of time. Were you dating? Were you a couple? Were you an item? Were you Facebook official?


Michelle: We were not. No, no. Nobody does Facebook official anymore. Gabe,


Gabe: Yeah. But you said this was in the past.


Michelle: I don’t know what we were. We I know we we we were together. We saw each other a lot. We had a lot of fun together. But I just know as soon as I told him that it was basically radio silence, I think I texted him, How are you? And he was like, I’m really busy with school.


Gabe: How did it, how did it feel?


Michelle: It was just one of those things where I was like, You know what? He can’t handle it. On to the next one.


Gabe: I want to give a slight amount of pushback. I mean, I want to believe you like I want to believe that you were that cavalier about it. But when I tell stories, I’m like, Oh, they don’t like me. I don’t care. But in actuality, I was in a ball in a corner crying, right? I always tell the story and I make myself the hero and I puff myself up and I’m real strong and I’m just like, Well, they don’t deserve me. I went out and found my tribe, but I know that in the moment I was actually devastated. Did you really handle it that well? Were you that tough? Were you just like, screw it and move on?


Michelle: I did handle it very well because I was like, if he can’t handle it, then he can’t handle anything.


Gabe: I’m always envious of you for that. Because. Because I can’t do that. That’s just not a skill that I have. I have to cry for four days. I go through, like, the seven stages of grief. Like 35 times, right? That just first I’m mad, then I negotiate, then I bargain, then I. Then I have to send 3 a.m. texts saying who? Who do you think you are? Why would you do this to me? That’s discrimination. Yeah. There’s so many texts in my past that I just wish I could take back. So, so, so many. You have to say words, Michelle, because this is a podcast.


Michelle: Yeah. Yeah,


Gabe: You can’t just give me facial expressions and move your hands. That doesn’t work.


Michelle: I know. The thing is the thing. I live in New York City, so it’s like just get on a dating app. Swipe, swipe, swipe onto the next one, onto the next one. One mile rwadius is really handy sometimes.


Gabe: Yeah. In New York City, a one mile radius is like 8 million people.


Michelle: It’s a lot of, it’s a lot of people.


Gabe: It is a lot of people.


Michelle: And then it’s like, Oh, where do you live? Oh, I live here. Oh, you live so close. Oh, I do live so close. How convenient.


Gabe: It must be nice.


Michelle: One mile radius. One mile radius.


Gabe: All right, Michelle, moving on to the last scripted question before the surprise question that Gabe wrote himself. All right, number nine, how did you feel and what were your initial thoughts when you first found out that you had schizophrenia?


Michelle: Well, my initial thoughts was like, okay, well, it’s confirmed because I thought that might be it, but that really sucks. I was wishing that it wouldn’t be it, but now I can finally get the medication that I need, thank God. But I was really, really, really, really bummed out. I didn’t like it. So, like, maybe like a week or so later, I met up with my friends at a bar in the city. We were just getting some dinner and it was three of them, my friends Kate, Hassan and Wendy. And I was really nervous. I was like like I had lived with them like all through college pretty much. And we all live together. Yeah, we all live together. And I said to them and I was nervous and I said to them, Guys, I just want to let you know I have schizophrenia. And they seriously said this to me. They each said one thing Isn’t that what you had the whole time? That couldn’t have been more obvious. And yeah, we told you that. So all of my best friends already knew. It’s like I was the last one to find out.


Gabe: How did they all know?


Michelle: Because I would talk to myself constantly. Constantly talk to myself all the time. All the time. Like Lauren on my lacrosse team, on the bus rides, I’d be talking to myself. And I remember at one time she would be like, who’s Hammer talking to? Look at her. Who’s Hammer talking to? And I would look up and like three people would be staring at me and they’re like, Who are you talking to? I go, Oh, nothing, nothing, nothing. Or like when I was at home, I’d be talking to myself and they’re like, What are you laughing at? What is so funny? And I’d be like, Oh, nothing, nothing at all. But yeah, they figured it out. They all figured it out.


Gabe: But before you talk to your friends about it and had that moment where they were all like, we know and we still love you, what were your thoughts leading up to that? So the doctor looks at you and says, Michelle Hammer, I am diagnosing you with schizophrenia. You, you now get up, you leave the office. So it’s 5 minutes. It’s been 5 minutes since you found out that you had schizophrenia. What was going through your mind?


Michelle: Oh, I was really upset. I thought nobody would ever love me. I thought I had, like, a mark. Like, it wasn’t just me. I had a mark on myself. I thought I was going to be alone forever. Thought like my life is over. That everyone would think I was just done.


Gabe: Wow. Wow. Michelle, that that must have been, like, devastating. I mean, it just it sounds lonely. That’s what it sounds like. It sounds lonely.


Michelle: Yeah. It was. But that’s why that’s why I felt the need to tell people. I didn’t want to tell anyone. But when I did tell my friends and finding out they already knew and didn’t care was was great. Because then, you know, if my best friends already knew and didn’t care, why do I care about other people’s negative reactions? And this all turned into why I decided to tell everyone because I didn’t like having a secret. So I told everyone in the biggest, boldest way possible. I started a clothing line called Schizophrenic.NYC and posted it all over the frickin internet and stand on the streets of New York City and tell everyone.


Gabe: All right, Michelle. Those are the nine scripted questions. Good job. Those are the same nine questions that I will have to answer next week. So I have to figure out what it’s like to be stigmatized for having schizophrenia, even though I don’t. It might be reasonable to change it to bipolar disorder. What do you think?


Michelle: I think so.


Gabe: You think so?


Michelle: I think that might be the right I think that might be a good idea. I think that would probably be the best idea because you have bipolar disorder


Gabe: I do have bipolar disorder.


Michelle: Or you’re bipolar.


Gabe: Oh, I am bipolar.


Michelle: Are you bipolar, but you have bipolar disorder? Or you’re bipolar?


Gabe: I think this is a semantics argument that’s going to go nowhere, but it’s best that we spend millions of dollars on it while ignoring homeless people, lack of health care, the fact that there’s no safety net, that there’s not enough beds, there’s a psychiatry shortage because as long as we use the right words, money will magically appear and people with serious and persistent mental illness will get help. Notice how I always got to plug in there and how we’re always wasting money on person-first language initiatives. But Michelle, question number ten and this is the one that I got to make up and I got to ask you anything that I want. Are you ready?


Michelle: I’m ready.


Gabe: I wish we had a live band. Like we could get a drum roll. We could just have so much pomp and circumstance. But here is my question for you, Michelle. When you were diagnosed with schizophrenia, did you know how to spell it?


Michelle: I have no idea. Maybe.


Gabe: Did you spell it wrong a lot? Did you pronounce it wrong? Did you know where to put the Z? Did you have any issues getting autocorrect to fix schizophrenia?


Michelle: I have no idea if I knew how to spell it. But as for pronunciation, I think it’s supposed to be pronounced schizophrenia.


Gabe: So you’re pronouncing your own illness wrong?


Michelle: I think everyone pronounces it wrong. I think you’re supposed to say schizophrenia, but that sounds weird. So I don’t say that, but I don’t know if I knew how to spell it. But all I got to do is Google it.


Gabe: Are you Schizophrenic.NYC?


Michelle: I think that’s the correct way, but nobody says it that way. But I don’t know. I figured out how to spell it the right way. But yet people online all the time write comments or messaged me and they spelled it wrong all the time. There’s no “T” in it. No.


Gabe: They think there’s a “T” in schizophrenia?


Michelle: Yeah.


Gabe: Where would you put the “T?”


Michelle: Skits.


Gabe: Skits? Oh, schizophrenia. I didn’t think about that.


Michelle: Or a “K.” They think it’s a “K.”


Gabe: Michelle, this is a follow up question to that question. You are a graphic designer. You’ve designed all of the logos for this show, all the logos for your website, of course, all of your clothing, all of your artwork, just just everything. And you once told me that the the hardest thing to do was fit in the words schizophrenic or schizophrenia in any design.


Michelle: Yes. Because when you’re trying to make a design, you like things to look balanced. And the word schizophrenia is so long it messes up every design. It’s just way too long. That’s why the logo that I use is so condensed. I use the most condensed font possible. It’s just so long, the word is so long it screws up every design. Sometimes I just have to chop it in half and put it on two lines. It’s way too long to use and design. It’s so annoying. Nothing gets balanced, right? It looks weird and it just doesn’t look right. It’s just the most annoying word because you can’t use any thick fonts, you can’t use a wide font, you can only use squished fonts. It’s frustrating and I don’t like it.


Gabe: Michelle, thank you so much for your candor, your honesty. I don’t know if there was humor in there or not, but I hope, I hope that Michelle answered all of the questions from a vulnerable, deeply emotional place. And this satisfies all the people who email us on a weekly basis. Michelle, are you excited to interview me and ask me the same questions next week?


Michelle: I am so excited. I am going to get lots of confetti and balloons about it.


Gabe: Nice. Nice.


Michelle: Yeah, you know that for sure. I’m already prepared with lube.


Gabe: That was awful. That was just absolutely awful. We need to give a shout out to our sponsor, BetterHelp. You can get 10% off your first month just by going to BetterHelp.com/BSP22. And listen, I am the author of “Mental Illness Is an Asshole and Other Observations. You can get it on Amazon or you can head over to my website and get a signed copy with free show swag. Just head over to gabehoward.com.


Michelle: And you need some awesome mental health T-shirts, artwork, mugs, stickers and leggings because I’m the founder of Schizophrenic.NYC. Check out my designs and swags over at Schizophrenic.NYC. Go there now if you know how to spell it.


Gabe: Yeah. Wherever you downloaded this podcast, please follow or subscribe. It is absolutely free. And do us a favor. Tell everyone you know, email, text messages, social media, word of mouth, whatever it takes. Please share the show because that is the only way that we can grow. We will see everybody next Tuesday on A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast.


Michelle: Schizo!


Announcer: You’ve been listening to A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. Previous episodes can be found on your favorite podcast player or by visiting ThisEmotionalLife.org/BSP. Have comments or show ideas? Hit up the show at BSP@ThisEmotionalLife.org. Gabe and Michelle are not medical professionals. This podcast is not a substitute for medical advice and is for entertainment purposes only. If you need help, please call your doctor, emergency services, the national suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741. Thank you for listening.


Gabe Howard

Gabe Howard is a professional speaker, writer, and activist living with severe bipolar and anxiety disorders. Diagnosed in 2003, he has made it his mission to put a human face on mental illness. Society often sees people living with mental illness at their worst and he works to add a more balanced view. Gabe Howard is the recipient of the 2014 Norman Guitry Award, given by Mental Health America to the person who shows exceptional leadership in promoting mental illness awareness and prevention in the community.

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