Home Podcast: Our Take on Gun Violence and Mental Illness

Podcast: Our Take on Gun Violence and Mental Illness

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Podcast: Our Take on Gun Violence and Mental Illness

By Gabe Howard
June 07, 2022

“They say, well, something’s got to be wrong with you if you shoot a bunch of people. Yeah, I am not going to argue that point. Something’s got to be wrong with you if you shoot a bunch of people, but It’s not (NECESSARILY) serious and persistent mental illness.”

~Gabe Howard

Whenever there is mass violence in the United States, politicians are quick to blame people living with mental illness. These same politicians are often also quick to the cut mental health budgets and create barriers to psychiatric care for people who are sick.

In this episode, Gabe and Michelle discuss guns, mental illness, and sex toys — among other important points. Needless to say, they aren’t happy being blamed for the deaths of innocent people, including children. Listen now to hear their thoughts.

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.

More information on the “Texas Dildo Law” (in no particular order):

The Time Ted Cruz Defended a Ban on Dildos

Colin Jost, on Weekend Update, says a Texas law bars ownership of more than 6 dildos

Is it Illegal to Own More than Six Dildos in Texas? Yes, It Is


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 Gun Violence and Mental Illness?

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

Announcer: So, what did the bipolar say to the schizophrenic? You’re in the right place to find out. . .


Michelle: My name is Michelle and I have schizophrenia.


Gabe: My name is Gabe and I have bipolar disorder. In today’s episode is brought to you by the Society of Valued Minds, sponsored by Otsuka Pharmaceuticals.


Michelle: I’ve been a part of Society of Valued Minds for about a year and it’s been refreshing being part of a community of people sharing how they live with mental health conditions in their own creative ways.


Gabe: You can follow on Instagram @societyofvaluedminds, and you should do it right now.


Michelle: It’s completely free. We follow them, you should do it too.


Gabe: 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. Michelle, what is our topic for today?


Michelle: Our topic? Oh, my goodness. It’s about blaming people with mental illness for mass shootings. Can you believe it, Gabe? I’m not surprised. Are you?


Gabe: No, I’m not surprised that that’s how it works. Right? Right. First mass shooting, then thoughts and prayers. Then it’s people with mental illness who caused it all. Then it’s, I don’t know, reset. And then it just happens again and nobody seems to care. The one thing that at least all of America can agree on, though, is that people with mental illness are somehow responsible for this. It’s not hurtful at all.


Michelle: It’s obviously not people with mental illness. Why, Gabe? Because it’s men. It’s always men. Stop blaming the people with mental illness when we should just be blaming men like you, Gabe. You’re a man. You did it.


Gabe: So on one hand, listen to how ridiculous that sounds. Right? Michelle is trying to create this this simplistic narrative that that mass shootings and mass violence are just a men problem. Right. It’s just men. Now we can ignore the problem, thoughts and prayers and we can go away. It sounds ludicrous when Michelle just simplistically blames all men. Yet time and time again, politicians, presidents. I just this has been going on for a decade. And all of these high level people are just like, well, it’s a mental health issue. And everybody’s like, Yep, when Michelle blames all men, people are like, That’s stupid. But when people blame all mentally ill people, people are like, Yeah, there’s, there’s a good point there. That’s something we need to consider.


Michelle: Yeah. Yeah, but really, have you noticed it’s been all men?


Gabe: It has been all men. I, I have in fact, noticed that. And there is a wealth, a wealth of data to support that this is kind of a male dominated problem and that we really need to look into it. I, I, I don’t want to be blamed for this problem because I live with bipolar disorder and I sure as hell don’t want to be blamed for this problem because I have a penis. But I got to tell you, I am worried about men in this country and why they feel the need to shoot shit up when they get pissed off.


Michelle: I don’t get it either. I did a bunch of research and I found that only 8% of mass shooters had a serious mental illness. 8%?


Gabe: And when we say serious mental illness, you mean like a diagnosable bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, psychosis, right. I think people conflate this idea, right? They say this, well, something’s got to be wrong with you if you shoot a bunch of people. Yeah, I am not going to argue that point. Something’s got to be wrong with you if you shoot a bunch of people, but


Michelle: Something.


Gabe: It’s not serious and persistent mental illness. I’m not saying that something didn’t go wrong in that brain. I’m not saying that there’s not an emotional problem or a societal problem or a gun problem or a just there are all kinds of problems that are converging to create this. I just want people to know that if you take all the seriously and persistent mentally ill people, all the Gabe’s and Michelle’s, and send us to an island in the Pacific, you’re still going to have mass shootings.


Michelle: But you know, if you think about it, wait, wasn’t the idea of Australia to send all of the, you know, the criminals to Australia


Gabe: Yep. Yep. It was a prison colony.


Michelle: Yes. Or, you know, what’s popping up in the news about that one school shooting that happened in Scotland. And then after that happened, they made guns illegal.


Gabe: So let’s talk about that just for a moment. One of the narratives that I also don’t like is the other extreme, this idea that all guns have to go away, right? We must make guns illegal. That that’s never going to work. Right?


Michelle: True. True. It’s never going to. It’s never gotten out. 100% work.


Gabe: It’s never going to happen.


Michelle: There has to be a happy medium in some sort.


Gabe: We do need a compromise. But more importantly, this isn’t how we have operated as a society before. I love the example of refrigeration.


Michelle: Refrigeration.


Gabe: Yeah. Yeah. Refrigerators. So. So it used to be you did not have a refrigerator in your house. And then one day a big company invented a refrigerator. Right? Like a refrigerator.


Michelle: There was the ice box. There was the ice box.


Gabe: There was the ice box.


Michelle: My grandfather told me about the ice box.


Gabe: Yep. That predated the refrigerator. But now you’ve got a refrigerator and it kind of looks like what we have now. And in order to keep the cold in, you had to seal it. So it had a locking mechanism on it, right? You lifted it up, it pulled up on the lock, and then you open the refrigerator and then when you shut it, the locked clicked into place and it was fantastic. Listen, it revolutionized the world. At least America. Right. People could buy food on Monday and eat it on Friday, five days later.


Michelle: That’s amazing. I love thing I love, you know, leftovers. You know?


Gabe: Right, leftovers.


Michelle: The fridge made leftovers a thing


Gabe: Yep. Carry out.


Michelle: I’m loving leftovers.


Gabe: Yep. And you’re thinking to yourself, Gabe, what the hell does this have to do with gun violence?


Michelle: Yeah, I’m kind of curious.


Gabe: Here’s how it has to do with gun violence. Here’s the connection, Michel. One day these refrigerators started to break and people threw them away. They dump them out on the curb so that the trash could come and get them, or they just threw them in the backyard and kids started climbing in them and they shut the door and they couldn’t be open from the inside. So kids literally died because of refrigerators and people are like, Oh my God, we got to do something. We can’t have kids dying because of refrigerators. Now, if this were a gun control debate, you’d have one side saying, okay, all refrigerators have to go, right. And if it was a gun debate, you’d have the other side saying no changes, everything is fine. I have a right to a refrigerator and both sides would be completely stupid. Just that is utterly stupid. But because there wasn’t this political aspect, this fighting aspect, this, this, this, this, this, I don’t know, partisan aspect, this, this measuring our wieners on the schoolhouse lawn aspect. People were like, What can we do? What can we do to keep our refrigerators and make sure that kids don’t die? And you know what they came up with? They came up with systems. First off, when your refrigerator dies, take the door off. There you go. Now, there’s no door that can shut. Kids aren’t going to get killed by a refrigerator. And they looked at the engineering and they’re like, okay, well, if kids are dying because they get stuck inside and they can’t open the door from the inside, let’s make it so you can open the door from the inside. And if you look at modern refrigerators right now, yeah, if you’re inside, you can just push it open. [Pop] There you go. And now this problem is largely resolved because people looked at it rationally and reasonably and not one single engineer, politician, housewife, house, husband, parent, said thoughts and prayers.


Michelle: Yeah.


Gabe: Hmm.


Michelle: And now we can keep our soda cold.


Gabe: And now we can keep our soda cold with kids not dying.


Michelle: I just want to bring up a fact that I learned about Texas. Listen to this one. Gabe, did you know it is illegal in Texas to own more than six dildos?


Gabe: Oh, my God. They’re regulating dildos, but not guns.


Michelle: Right. Right, right. Yes. So if you think it’s ridiculous to even have more than six dildos, like, why would someone need more than six dildos? And you might think that’s just crazy. Like, why would you want or need more than six dildos? Think about why would you even need more than six guns?


Gabe: Uh?


Michelle: Right?


Gabe: Just. Just. Just. Just back up for a moment. What I want to discuss is that the legislature, politicians, lawmakers in the state of Texas took a long, hard look at how many dildos a person should own. Now, I haven’t heard about a dildo killing anybody. I don’t know about any, like, mass dildo events. I don’t know about a bunch of children dying because of unregulated dildos. I’ve never really heard of a dildo problem. And yet Texas solved it.


Michelle: Because if a woman uses more dildos, then she doesn’t need a man.


Gabe: Oh. Hmm. I got it.


Michelle: And if she doesn’t need a man, what’s a man going to need? Men need to have sex, but if the woman’s using a dildo, she doesn’t need a man. And then what’s a man going to do with his Willy Wong?


Gabe: It. Masculinity is such an incredible concept to me because on one hand, men are supposed to be strong and powerful and the best that the world has to offer men. On the other hand, we can be taken down by something that costs $9 on Amazon. Like how strong are we if we can’t compete with a $10 Amazon purchase?


Michelle: I’m going to go to Texas and go to a gun range, but just bring a bunch of dildos and throw dildos at the target just to be like, Yeah, I’m dangerous. What are you going to do? I got dildos throwing. I’m throwing dildos because they’re more dangerous and more regulated than guns in Texas. What are you going to do? I’m throwing dildos everywhere. Yeah. Regulate me. Now you’re going to get hit in the head with a dildo because that’s more regulated than a gun. Yeah, fight me. I got dildos. This one is ribbed.


Gabe: You know what else Texas did? Let’s talk about other stupidity from the state of Texas. So Governor Abbott, the governor of the state of Texas after the mass shooting event, said, and I quote, This is a mental health issue. We know it’s a mental health issue. We know. We know. We know. We know. We know. He very matter of fact, very confident that, look, this is a problem with the mentally ill and we are aware of it. You know what else Governor Abbott did? Remember, he is aware that this is a mental health crisis and a problem that leads to the death of children. And he slashed the mental health budget by $200 million. So explain to me explain to me why he is not being criticized for putting children in harm’s way by slashing the mental health budget. Where’s the outcry?


Michelle: Because he loves children. He loves children so much. Loves kids.


Gabe: Then why did he slash the mental health budget putting children in harm’s way since he knows the solution to mass violence in America and therefore his state is a robust mental health safety net? Why did he cut the safety net that would have kept children safe?


Michelle: I don’t know. There’s no answer to that.


Gabe: There’s no answer to that because it’s bullshit.


Michelle: He doesn’t care.


Gabe: It’s just bullshit.


Michelle: I know, there’s no answer.


Gabe: It’s bullshit, it’s bullshit, it’s bullshit. We are scapegoats.


Michelle: There’s no answer, there’s no answer.


Gabe: People are scapegoating people with mental illness, pretending that that somehow all violence would go away, all mass shootings would go away, all issues would go away if only all of the mentally ill people would go away.


Michelle: Yo, did I ever tell you, like, five something? Five, six years ago I went to Texas, right? I went on my Tinder. I was like, okay, okay. I went over to a biddy’s place. We’re talking, she’s telling me she’s got an AR-15 underneath her bed. I said, What do you need that for? And that happened.


Gabe: Here’s the stark reality. I don’t have a problem with guns. I want to state that unequivocally. I don’t. I have a problem with guns in the hands of wrong people. I myself do not own a gun. And here’s why. I have a long history of suicidality and psychosis. It is not safe for me to own a gun because in my darkest moments, I could use that gun to die by suicide. And that that would be that would be horrific. But let’s say that I’m suffering from psychosis. Let’s say that I believe that the demons under my bed are going to attack my wife. So I shoot the demons under the bed and I hit the dog.


Michelle: No.


Gabe: I know that is why. That is why I personally don’t own a gun. That is the level of thought that I put into gun ownership. I love going to the gun range. It is a lot of fun now. I am not a hunter, but I do come from a long line of hunters who enjoy hunting and I don’t see any problem with that. And my brother in law is he is he is one of the greatest shots I have ever seen. It is amazing. He can unload nine bullets in the tightest pattern I have ever seen. And it’s fun. We enjoy it. We enjoy it together. But listen, he has a gun safe. He understands gun safety. Guns aren’t loaded. My sister and him taught me perfect gun safety. Just when somebody hands you a gun, you check it. You never leave a gun loaded and lying around. Just I’m not trying to have a gun safety class here. I’m just saying that we have the utmost respect for firearms. And when stuff like this happens, you have to ask yourself, okay, what’s going wrong? I know how I treat a firearm. I know how I considered ownership of a firearm, what’s going on in other households. Because in the case in Texas, an 18 year old was able to buy a gun with no problem. This kid can’t even buy alcohol. He is not allowed to buy a beer. And in many states and in many cities, they’re trying to make it so you can’t buy Cigarettes until you’re 21. But you can buy a gun. You can buy a gun at 18. No problem.


Michelle: I had people at my pop up shop. They said they were from Texas. They show me there. Their young kid, he was maybe ten or 11. They were like, Yeah, he’s got 11 guns. I said, What does he need 11 guns for?


Gabe: Wait, wait, wait. Hang on, hang on, hang on, hang on, hang on. How many dildos do they have?


Michelle: That is a good question. How many dildos do they have? If it’s more than six? If it’s more than six?


Gabe: The only reason that I asked that question is, I think, a reasonable person, upon hearing that an 11-year-old owned any dildos would think that’s wrong. 11 year old shouldn’t own dildos, but many people hear that an 11 year old owns a gun and they’re like, Yeah, what’s wrong with that? Listen, I I’m not saying that 11 year old can’t understand firearms, can’t handle firearms. I don’t know what age it is appropriate to go hunting for the first time. This is why this is a complex issue. I just I can’t be more clear on what a complex societal issue that this is. What bothers me to my core is that lawmakers refuse to consider this a complicated issue. To many lawmakers and to many Americans, this is simple. Guns are perfect and present no danger, and mentally ill people are bad and present all the danger and the end.


Michelle: Yeah. The end.


Gabe: And as far as they’re concerned, the discussion is over thoughts and prayers. Thoughts and prayers. Thoughts and prayers. No, no reason to look into it. And again, I Michelle, I know you hate it, but I’m going to go back to the refrigerator. Could you imagine if that’s how everybody argued about the refrigerator and kids dying?


Michelle: Wasn’t the Second Amendment written in like 1776?


Gabe: Listen, I am I am super, super cool with the Second Amendment right. But there’s something that people forget about the Second Amendment.


Michelle: There was no machine guns or anything or there was no AR-15’s. And you had to like, you know, stuff the gun with the gunpowder, put the bullet, put the thing, and you could shoot like one bullet and it would take forever to load the other bullet,


Gabe: Nope. I’m not even going there.


Michelle: You know you couldn’t just go [machine gun noise]


Gabe: Nope.


Michelle: [Machine gun noise]


Gabe: I’m not even going with that.


Michelle: And you know what? That sounds like a vibrator. If you could only have six dildos, how many vibrators are you allowed to have?


Gabe: I don’t know. I have no idea, but.


Michelle: Do you think when they sell a gun, they say, Here’s your gun, here’s your dildo.


Gabe: You think there should be a free dildo with gun purchase?


Michelle: What if they came as a package? I think it should come as a package. It should come as a package


Gabe: That is.


Michelle: Dildo and a gun.


Gabe: That is.


Michelle: I think they should be sold together.


Gabe: That is fascinating. I’m not sure how I feel about that. But going back to the Second Amendment, because everybody likes to say, look, the Constitution guarantees me the right to bear arms. Yeah, the Constitution specifically says a well-regulated militia. Why do we always forget the two words well-regulated? Because what we have now is not well-regulated.


Michelle: No, no.


Gabe: It’s not well regulated at all.


Michelle: It’s not.


Gabe: And whenever somebody talks about regulations, people immediately say, but the Second Amendment guarantees me that. Right, right. The Second Amendment says a well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. But well-regulated is right in there. And then everybody says, well, that’s not what they meant. That’s not what they meant, that’s not what they meant. And we can’t change it because it’s the Constitution. The Constitution has been amended many, many, many times.


Michelle: How do we know what they meant back in the old days where they were, you know, wigs and had like fake teeth that like were made of shark teeth and George Washington have sharks’ teeth in his mouth. And they wore wigs and they were short and they were old people. I don’t know what I’m trying to say right now.


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.


Lisa: Hey BSP fans, your favorite producer Lisa here.  The Texas dildo law is complicated and we didn’t have time to delve into all the details.  It’s still on the books and was found unconstitutional by the 5th US circuit court of appeals in 2008, after millions upon millions of dollars and wasted hours.  The story is depressing and intriguing.  Fun fact, Ted Cruz defended the law as the Texas solicitor general.  It doesn’t change Michelle’s point, but check out the show notes for more info.


Michelle: And we’re discussing blaming people with mental illness for mass violence. And we’re back talking about dildos.


Gabe: I want to get back to this this very, very specific concept of that this very idea.


Michelle: That dildos can only be six of them.


Gabe: That dildos can only be six of them.


Michelle: But guns can be a million. That’s the that’s the point of the dildos.


Gabe: That’s the point of the dildos.


Michelle: Ribbed dildos, rib dildos, veiny dildos, dildos with balls on them, all kinds of purple dildos, red dildos, you know, veiny dildos, everything with a dildo. That’s the important point of this whole podcast. Dildos.


Gabe: Listen, every time you bring up dildos, I think this is ridiculous. Why do you keep saying it over and over and over again? But this is what it sounds like in the media. Take out the word dildo and insert mental illness. And that’s what we have. Politicians are just saying this nonstop and you’re thinking, Michelle sounds like an idiot. Why is she so fixated on dildos? This has nothing to do with anything. Yeah. Yeah. Listen to how dumb Michelle sounds, blaming this on dildos. But again, if instead of Michelle, it’s Senator Michelle or House of Representatives Michelle. Congressmen Michelle. President Michelle. Vice President Michelle. Legislator Michelle. Lawmaker Michelle. Governor Michelle. And instead of dildo, she says Mental health. Everybody’s like, yup. I


Michelle: Yeah. Mental illness. Mental Illness. Mental illness. Mental illness. Mental illness. Mental illness.


Gabe: I really want everybody to hear this. I really, really, really do. If lawmakers believed that mental health was responsible, responsible for the death of children, they would not slash the mental health budget because they would save the children by making sure that people with mental illness had care. Mental health budgets are slashed across the country on a near yearly basis. It’s such an easy cut for politicians. They’re like, hey, we’ve got a choice between taking care of people with psychosis and bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Or we can build a new football stadium. The football stadiums keep getting built. Homelessness keeps rising. People with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and psychosis and severe depression continue to suffer year after year. Yet there always seems to be resources for concert venues.


Michelle: Yep.


Gabe: Listen, they’re lying to you. Here is a hard, uncomfortable fact for everybody. It is true that some people with mental illness are responsible for some violence. That is that is absolutely true. It is also true that religious figures are responsible for some violence. It is also true that sometimes married couples kill each other. It is also true that sometimes children kill their parents. It’s also true that sometimes parents kill their children. This doesn’t retroactively mean if you get rid of all the religious figures or parents or spouses that suddenly you have resolved the violence problem. It doesn’t matter. Every single subtype of people that you have can and are responsible for some violence. As Michelle said at the beginning of the podcast, she thinks it’s just all men. But, you know, I’m going to challenge her. I think it’s all white men.


Michelle: Yeah, it usually is. White men.


Gabe: It usually is white men.


Michelle: You know, recently, recently there were subway shootings recently. And it was actually done by black men. And the thing is, both of them turn themselves in.


Gabe: Well, now, wait a minute. I do remember that. And that’s an interesting thing to discuss, because they didn’t blame that one on mental illness. That was considered a terrorist act. Now, now, what’s the difference?


Michelle: Because it wasn’t white men. It wasn’t white men.


Gabe: Oh. So when white men shoot up a theater or shoot up a concert or shoot up a school or shoot up anything, we have a mental health issue on our hand. If anybody who is nonwhite does it, we have hate America, terrorism, an immigration issue.


Michelle: Yes, absolutely.


Gabe: So I just I just want to be clear, Michel. I want to make sure I understand. I’m honestly asking, are you saying that mental illness is something that only impacts the white community?


Michelle: Yes. That’s what happens. When it’s white men. It’s mental illness. If it’s not a white man, it’s some sort of terrorism. Yes.


Gabe: Okay. So if we follow this narrative that we are being fed, that means that white men have high levels of mental illness, which means it is reasonable to assume that white men are crazy, which means white men really shouldn’t be in charge of anything since our levels of mental illness are so high. Now that is completely stupid. Nobody should listen to me. That’s the dumbest thing that I’ve ever said in the history of ever. But it doesn’t track it. For some reason, this is all a mental illness problem, yet we don’t fund it. It’s predominantly white males that are having this mental illness violent outburst. Yet we’re not doing anything to regulate white males. I don’t understand why it doesn’t track right. If predominantly white men are doing this and it’s a mental illness issue, then that means that there is some propensity in white males to be severely mentally ill. Yet we seem to be in charge of most things. There’s more white men in charge of companies. There’s more white men in charge of the government in leadership roles across the country. So even though we now have proof, apparently, that that that white men are more likely to be severely mentally ill, we also keep wanting to put them in charge of stuff, which means nobody believes this shit, right? We do not believe that white males have more mental illness than anybody else. Yet whenever something bad happens, it’s always blamed on mental illness. It’s bullshit. It’s a straw man argument. Just. Just it’s. I’m. I’m so tired of it. I’m so tired of it. Because every time this happens, people look at me like, hey, when are you going to shoot up the place?


Michelle: Yes.


Gabe: And this all points back to the simple fact that people had an agenda before this started. Whenever mass violence occurs, people just use it to push the agenda. The thing that they already believed. Whatever people believed before the event is what people believe after the event.


Michelle: Yeah.


Gabe: There are people that it just doesn’t matter.


Michelle: They’re saying, don’t take away the guns. They’re saying arm the teachers.


Gabe: Oh. Oh, that’s


Michelle: Why does a teacher have to be armed? Are you kidding me?


Gabe: That’s going to be fantastic.


Michelle: I know tons of friends of mine that are teachers like they don’t know how to use guns. I heard now schools are being built with secret areas in the school that you can hide in if you have to build a school with secret rooms to hide in for shooters when they come, then something is wrong. You are not fixing the, you’re putting a Band-Aid. That is a Band-Aid on a problem that’s not going to stop the bleeding.


Gabe: But I don’t understand. This doesn’t make any sense. Why do we need those rooms? And why do we need to arm the teachers? Can’t they just teach the teachers to look out for the mentally ill people? Most teachers in this country have master’s degrees. They’ve taken psychology classes. They’re really, really smart people. And they’re educating our children. They don’t know which ones have mental illness. I don’t understand why they need guns. Can’t we just look out for the kids with mental illness and then this problem is solved?


Michelle: Well, the Parkland shooter, remember him? Like President Trump said that we have to like watch out for people. Watch out for people. Watch out for people. The kids said they were complaining about that boy since the eighth grade. They complained and complained and told teachers, told people in the school and they complained about him for years and nothing happened.


Gabe: I don’t think people understand the difference between a mental health issue or a mental health crisis or something like grief, which is a mental health issue and severe and persistent mental illness. People believe that mental illness is just is just a weird thought. We see this all the time and oh, I’m so creative. It’s because I’m a little mad. No, no. You do not have mental illness. You’re just creative. Stop glamorizing and romanticizing severe and persistent mental illness. Michelle talks about this all the time. It’s like, Oh, Michelle, you’re a great artist. It’s because of the schizophrenia. Michelle is like, No, it’s because I worked hard, went to college, practiced, and I’m a really creative person, way to take a horrible illness and assign it my good qualities. Isn’t that great?


Michelle: Yeah, right. But whatever am I pop up shop? Whenever I’m selling some type of art, they always want to know what’s behind it and they always want to know if it has something to do with mental illness behind it. And I have to give them some shtick about it and say, oh, you know, it comes from a place of anxiety and it comes from your eye moving all over the place. And it’s like what goes on in my head. They want to hear that kind of story, what’s the meaning behind it? And I have to give them some spiel about it like that.


Gabe: What’s so sad is that mental illness has absolutely influenced and inspired great art, great stories, great podcasts. Right. There’s no doubt about it. But the reason that Michelle and I have a good podcast is not because we have bipolar and schizophrenia. It did inspire it. It gave us our topic. It gives us our outlook. There’s no doubt about that. But the reason that Michelle and I have a good podcast is because we work really, really, really, really, really, really hard. I and we got better and we improved and we listen to our audience and, and, and there’s a lot of fighting. I mean, there’s, there’s definitely a lot of fighting which fuels like the passion and the animosity in our voice that people hang on to because.


Michelle: Yeah. We fight with our, like, different dildo swords.


Gabe: Oh, the dildo swords. Yes.


Michelle: Yeah.


Gabe: Yes.


Michelle: Yeah, I have a lot of dildos. Like, one of them is like a sword. We fight with the sword dildos and stuff. Yeah, I own, like, so many dildos.


Gabe: Everybody needs to understand. Michelle lives in New York State where she


Michelle: Yeah.


Gabe: Is allowed to own the dildos, so nobody needs to panic. Michelle lives in a state that allows dildos.


Michelle: Ton. I have like I have a room full of dildos, like on the walls and stuff.


Gabe: A room full of dildos.


Michelle: Yeah. They’re not loaded, though. They’re not loaded.


Gabe: They’re not. Well, of course, Dildos. They’re not loaded. You’d have to have a vibrator, and then it would be loaded with batteries.


Michelle: Some have batteries,


Gabe: Some have batteries.


Michelle: But I make sure that they’re off and safe and the safety is off and the safety is on and everything like that. Because I don’t want people, you know, getting their hands on my dildos and doing something dangerous with them.


Gabe: Listen, blaming this on dildos is stupid. Blaming this on people with mental illness is stupid.


Michelle: [Laughter]


Gabe: Blaming this on any one cause is stupid. This is a complex societal issue that no policy maker is taking seriously. They blame people with mental illness. They blame terrorism. Here’s the bottom line for me, Michelle. It’s not dildos, right? That’s just stupid. And anybody that keeps blaming this on dildos is a moron. I love you, but you have to admit, you sound kind of you sound kind of crazy.


Michelle: I know, but


Gabe: I know. I know, right?


Michelle: Now I want to own, like, as many dildos as possible.


Gabe: Now, that could be like a life goal. But. But. But it’s not one thing. I don’t understand why policymakers are like, Oh, it’s mental illness. I don’t understand why policymakers are like, Oh, it’s guns. I don’t understand why policymakers are like, Oh, it’s the breakdown of the family unit. And we even have policymakers out there, literally lawmakers, people who have won elected office that are like, No, it’s the LGBTQ+ community. It’s like, where did this come from?


Michelle: What? The gay people are doing it?


Gabe: And then even though it’s predominantly white men doing this, nope, we’ve somehow managed to blame immigrants and we’ve brought racism and misogyny. And just listen. I need policymakers, lawmakers to sit down and read the available data on this and realize it’s no one thing. It’s not the dildos, it’s not people with mental illness. And every single time you blame people with mental illness, you make life harder for Gabe and Michelle and all of the people like us. I’m just it’s devastating to have people in my life that think that that I Gabe Howard am somehow culpable. Or responsible for this? I. Do you know how horrible it is? I mean, you do, Michelle, but. And many of our listeners.


Michelle: I’ve never even held a gun. I have never held a gun in my life.


Gabe: I just wish that people would understand that being associated with the death of children. Is devastating. It’s just devastating. And to hear our elected leaders continuously. Blame us. Repeatedly. While also doing nothing to help us. In this in this latest mass shooting, Governor Abbott blamed people with mental illness and he also cut the budget to help people with mental illness.


Michelle: Governor Abbott, you suck.


Gabe: You do suck, Governor Abbott.


Michelle: You suck. Governor Abbott,


Gabe: We’re going to get so many letters.


Michelle: Can I mail him a dildo? Wait, can I. Do we have. Does he have a P.O. box? I’m going to mail him a dildo.


Gabe: Especially if you have more than six, this would be a way to get your numbers down.


Michelle: Oh, seriously.


Gabe: Seriously, Michelle, it is always fun to hang out with you. And here’s the thing that I hate about this episode. I guarantee you we change nobody’s minds. Whatever people believed when they hit play is what they believe right now. Nobody has considered this from any other vantage point, from what they have now. And that’s the problem. That is the problem. Every time this happens, whatever people believed before it happens is what they believe. Now, we need people to change. We need people to look at this differently. We need people to look at the research, the data, the studies. We just need somebody to take an unbiased, independent look and find a path forward. Because, listen, this rinse and repeat of children dying, of people dying, blaming people with mental illness, doing absolutely nothing and offering thoughts and prayers and moving on is not working. And I know it sounds selfish, but I just I can’t be associated with this. Every single time it happens, it hurts me.


Michelle: It hurts me, too. It really hurts me a lot. And I think that all of our listeners and both of us should all send Governor Abbott a dildo.


Gabe: Well, Michelle, we have our marching orders between now and next week. You need to send Governor Abbott a dildo, apparently. I mean, you heard Michelle. She knows what she’s talking about. We need to shout out our sponsor BetterHelp.com. You can get 10% off your first month just by going to BetterHelp.com/BSP22. And hey, you need a book to read? Really? Because I wrote the book “Mental Illness Is an Asshole and Other Observations.” You can get it on Amazon because everything’s there or you can head over to my website and get a signed copy with free swag. That is gabehoward.com.


Michelle: And do you need some awesome gear because I’m Michelle Hammer and I’m the founder of Schizophrenic.NYC. Check out my designs, my shirts, my artwork, my leggings, my pillboxes, all kind of stickers and more. Just go to Schizophrenic.NYC  and you will find all of it there.


Gabe: Wherever you downloaded this podcast, please follow or subscribe. It is absolutely free. And do us a favor. Tell everybody you know, email, text message, social media, word of mouth. You can take out billboards in our name. Michelle will even design an absolutely free 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: Dildo.


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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