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Podcast: Passively Suicidal: Are You Still in Recovery?

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Podcast: Passively Suicidal: Are You Still in Recovery?

April 02, 2024

Today, Gabe and Michelle explore the nuances of navigating passive suicidal ideation within the context of long-term mental illness recovery. They highlight that occasional fleeting thoughts of suicide don’t necessarily signify a regression in recovery. However, they stress the importance of addressing any inclination towards developing a plan or taking action regarding suicide immediately. They urge listeners to reach out to their support networks and seek assistance. Additionally, Gabe and Michelle reassure listeners that experiencing transient suicidal thoughts shouldn’t evoke shame or suggest a failure in their recovery journey.

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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 mental health advocate and the founder of the mental health clothing and lifestyle brand Schizophrenic.NYC. She is known for her efforts to raise awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues, particularly schizophrenia. She is an NYC native featured in the WebMD documentary Voices, which was nominated for a Tribeca X Award at the Tribeca Film Festival. She has also been featured in media outlets such as ABC, NBC, and CBS. You can find Michelle’s newest Home and Living line at Home.Schizophrenic.NYC where she brings her artwork into practical home essentials.

Transcript for A Bipolar, A Schizophrenic, And A Podcast: Passively Suicidal: Are You Still in Recovery?

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


Gabe: Hey everybody, and welcome to another episode of A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. My name is Gabe Howard and I am the bipolar one.


Michelle: Hey, I’m Michelle Hammer, and I am the schizophrenic one.


Gabe: And I guess the thing that you’re listening to is the podcast. See our naming convention, we’re not we’re not very original, are we?


Michelle: Are we original? Are we the original? The OG of mental health podcasts? Are we, like, with the bipolars, the schizophrenics and the and the all-mental illnesses putting into one big ball of podcasts that explodes and tears the internet apart and says, this is the podcast of the mental illness, actual living with the mental illness and is the greatest of all time.


Gabe: All I know is that OG is just a nice way to call people old. You ever notice that they’re like, oh, he’s the OG, but they never point at he’s the OG or she’s the OG and you see a young person standing there, it’s always like some middle-aged guy or middle-aged woman who is like, oh, oh, oh,


Michelle: Are you calling me middle aged? You think I’m middle aged?


Gabe: Yeah, yeah, we are middle aged.


Michelle: What year is middle aged? What age is middle aged?


Gabe: 35. Well, in women 25.


Michelle: Shut up, shut up! Gabe.


Gabe: Don’t blame me.


Michelle: You’re you’re the you’re the one. You’re the one who tries to look younger than you are.


Gabe: I do have to look younger


Michelle: I do put some makeup on like ladies.


Gabe: I do put on makeup. That is. That is fair. But. But how can you blame me? Think about it.


Michelle: What makeup do you put on? Gabe? You put on makeup.


Gabe: I,


Michelle: Tell me your makeup.


Gabe: I, I mean, I got the under-eye stuff, I got the I mean some of it is so that the lights don’t glare and glow against my translucent skin. But Michelle, you got to think about my job. My job is to be an almost 50-year-old guy who stands next to one of the most beautiful schizophrenics that there is in the world. And whenever I’m on stage with Cody, I just think I’ve got to step up my game.


Michelle: Ha ha ha ha ha ha! I want to call him beautiful.


Gabe: I mean, he’s prettier than us.


Michelle: Are you kidding me? My hair is nicer than his.


Gabe: That’s that’s that. That’s your only defense. You have better hair?


Michelle: All right, Gabe, let’s define passive suicidality. Being passively suicidal refers to having thoughts about wanting to die or wishing for death without actively planning or attempting suicide.


Gabe: And like there’s some examples out there, right? Like, I hope someone crashes into my car or I don’t want to live anymore. I can’t take it or I don’t care if I die in my sleep. Or the most famous and cliche, I wish I was never born or they’d all be better off without me. Now say having those thoughts is concerning, but it’s far different from having a plan.


Michelle: Having those thoughts are concerning, but it’s far different than having an actual plan.


Gabe: Correct. It’s something that you want to pay attention to, right? Maybe bring up with your support team, your friends, your family, your like don’t just ignore it. But I also don’t want people to think they’re out of recovery just because that thought pops into our heads. Just ask Michelle you can’t control what pops into your head, and Michelle can’t even control what pops out of her mouth.


Michelle: That that’s true. And I don’t even control what goes in my mouth.


Gabe: Michelle. I hope everybody thinks eating disorder. Just. Just think Michelle has an eating disorder. It’s the only way we’re going to keep our PG 13 rating.


Gabe: Well, remember, if you tune in to our podcast, you get what you get. And if you want to keep tuning into our podcast, check out our begging for donations page. Remember, Gabe and Michelle work for free, but everybody else expects to get paid. If you want to support the show, just head over to BSP.show/support and show us some love and also share the show everywhere. It’s the only way we’re going to grow Michelle you and I spend a lot of time trying to figure out what topics are reasonable for us to cover, and sometimes we get topics that while we think they’re important, we just don’t feel that a bipolar, a schizophrenic, and a couple of smart asses who tend not to take themselves too seriously should be covering the topics, right? You know, research and and things that would be better coming from doctors we try to stay away from because frankly, we don’t want to muck it up. And we want to make sure that we’re giving good information out in the world. And this one sort of handcuffed us a little. Because the specific question is, if you think about suicide, can you still consider yourself to be in recovery? Now we get really scared whenever we cover suicide because we recognize the the gravity of the situation. So first and foremost, we want to put every single possible warning that we can. If you are considering suicide, please reach out to your support team in America. Please call 988 and any other country. Please call for medical support. Suicide is definitely not something that you want to play around with. Even Michelle becomes serious when we’re talking about suicide.


Michelle: That’s right


Gabe: Michelle, I do consider myself to be in long term recovery. Do you consider yourself to be in long term recovery?


Michelle: I really do. I consider myself in a very long-term recovery. I haven’t been in the psych ward in a very, very long time. I believe that I should have gone to the psych ward more times. But with the psych ward teaches you is avoid the psych ward because it’s the worst place ever. So I, I should have gone to the psych ward. I I’ve been there three times. I shot up, probably gone there about six times. But, you know, I avoided it. You learn. You learn how to avoid it. You learn how to keep your mouth shut, which is which is probably bad advice, but I am in recovery. I haven’t done any harmful things in over ten years, so I would call myself recovered in that sense. Even though I take meds every day, I would still say it’s recovery.


Michelle: Would you agree?


Gabe: Oh, yeah. Yeah, absolutely. We didn’t say cure. Right.


Michelle: That’s true.


Gabe: And I’m in line with you. Right. I probably should have been in the psych ward more than I was. There was definitely times that I needed services that either I didn’t know or they weren’t available. But over the past five years, maybe even ten, I’ve been relatively stable. Yes, of course I take my medication. Yes, I go to therapy, I go to support groups, I talk to my friends and family and but I guess what I want people to hear is that being in recovery doesn’t mean having zero symptoms. That that would be nonsense. It let’s use a sports analogy because Michelle loves them. Being the greatest in the world or breaking a record doesn’t mean that you never miss or that you never make a mistake. It just means that you are successful more often than everybody else’s successful. And that’s really how I define recovery. I spend more of my time living my life than I do than I do managing bipolar disorder. So but before we move on to the next thing, I’m curious, how do you define recovery Michelle.


Michelle: How do I define recovery? I mean recovery.


Gabe: I like the part where you repeat my questions over and over again, like. Like you’re drunk and you weren’t expecting, you know, being in the recording.


Michelle: Well, you know, when you’re when you’re learning to write comprehension sentences, they always say echo, echo the sentence. That’s


Gabe: Yep, yep, yep.


Michelle: What I was doing. Okay, so how do I define recovery Gabe. You know, how do I define recovery I,


Gabe: That’s the question on the table.


Michelle: I see how do I do you how do you live your daily life? Do you wake up in the morning and want to die and hate your life, and you hate everything about your life, and you’re doing terrible, and you think you’re going to cry, and you, you think you’re awful, horrible person and you’re not going to do well and you’re not going to do anything today, and everything’s disgusting, and you want to just go to the hospital because that’s the only day way you’ll spend time with people. I would say that’s not a good way to live life. I think that would be a very detrimental. And you’re not going to be happy. And I wouldn’t want to live like that. I would say recovery is waking up in the morning thinking things are going to be good, taking your medicine, thinking things that are going to be good, spending time with people that you like and living your life and enjoying it. To some sense, you don’t have to be 100%, hey, I’m having a great day and everything is 100% good because like, you know, that doesn’t happen even for people without a mental illness or something like that. You have to somehow live your life and say, you know, 50 to 100% of your day. About 50% of your day is I think I’m doing okay. And I’m thinking I’m having a good time. And I would say recovery is that, you know, thinking,


Gabe: Yeah, I


Michelle: Not thinking. Your life is over for at least 50% of your day. If you’re not waking up in a sweat thinking people are going to come and attack you all the time, you’re doing okay.


Gabe: What I hope the audience is hearing is that recovery isn’t perfection. Recovery doesn’t mean that you don’t have Michelle said 5050, right? If 50% of your time you’re doing okay and you’re happy and you’re not waking up terrified, I put mine a little higher and neither one is wrong. But what I’m hoping that the audience is taking away is that recovery is not perfection, right? You can have symptoms and still be in recovery. You can have bad days and still be in recovery. You can have setbacks and still be in recovery because you’re maintaining those. But there’s there’s one symptom out there that everybody thinks immediately negates recovery. And that’s anything to do with suicide. Whether it’s a casual thought, whether it’s the trauma of being suicidal, whether it’s casual suicidality, whatever it is, when suicide enters the picture, people are like, I’m no longer in recovery. Danger Will Robinson danger. And there’s this part of me, Michelle that doesn’t mind that people freak out about suicide because it it’s so dangerous. But there’s also this part of me that recognizes that it’s not the whole picture. And I,


Michelle: It’s not.


Gabe: I get scared as a podcaster, anytime anybody wants to talk about suicidality, because I don’t want anybody to hear that, you shouldn’t take it seriously. But I do want people to hear that it’s much more involved than every single time you have passive suicidality, you think about suicide, or you’re traumatized by your previous suicidality, that you’re not in recovery. Because I think that’s bad, too. I in some ways, this might be too big of a topic for a couple of idiots to cover.


Michelle: Well, the way the way that I always thought like when I was younger and I still wasn’t fully recovered, I was still struggling. But I had already been to the psych ward, and I promised myself I’d never go back. It’d be like. Do I want to kill myself? No, but I wanted to kill myself. But do I want to actually do it? No. But when I start thinking that it’s a good idea, then there’s the problem. If I’m thinking of steps to do it, there’s a bigger problem. If I’m gathering things to kill myself, then there’s a bigger problem. So it all goes with the steps. Thinking about it, thinking it’s a good idea, gathering things to do it, setting up a plan. You know, there’s steps to wanting to kill yourself. Like you might just think, oh, I want to kill myself. But if you’re actually thinking about the plan to get it done, then you’re running into a problem. Because sometimes people might just flippantly think, oh, this is so annoying, I’d rather just kill myself. But if you’re actually thinking about plans to get it done, then it brings the real problem about it. Just because you’re in recovery, it just comes into your head doesn’t mean you’re not recovered. It’s how far you go into the thought that really makes it bad,


Gabe: That’s what I want to make sure that people understand, right? Having


Michelle: Yeah.


Gabe: Thoughts of suicide doesn’t immediately negate recovery.


Michelle: There is no shame in having a suicidal thought. As long as it’s not serious. There’s no there’s no shame in just having a suicidal thought. As long as it’s not too serious where you’re making plans to actually do it.


Gabe: Right. You shouldn’t ignore it, but don’t beat yourself up over it.


Michelle: Things happen. You know what I mean? Sometimes you eat a whole case of Nutella. What’s wrong with that?


Gabe: No, that doesn’t happen to most people.


Michelle: Just me?


Gabe: Just you.


Michelle: Well, you don’t get your period, Gabe, so shut up. You don’t get your period.


Gabe: I’ve got no response to that. But nobody’s saying not to take it seriously. I think you can both take something seriously, which you should. Suicide is serious and still be in recovery. And I don’t know that it’s possible to, to to be. Well, frankly, like Gabe and Michelle, having been so sick for so long and think that somehow we’re going to go the rest of our life without ever having a passive suicidal thought. And I would hate for anybody listening to think, oh, well, I’m not successful because I never think about it. And I want to make a confession. And I know you’re going to do it too, because I have our little outline here, but I, I consider myself to be recovered. And every now and again I’ll be lying awake in bed and I’ll think maybe the world would be better off without me. Maybe, maybe it would be okay. What would have happened if I died? Maybe this wasn’t the best decision for me. And they’re scary and they’re all encompassing, and they kind of hit me in the chest, and. But it does happen to me, and I. I have to ask myself, why? Was it because of anxiety? Was it because of depression? Was it because I was scared? Was it because I was lonely? I’m not saying ignore it, but I do want people to know that it does happen to me sometimes. It’s not intentional, but I don’t want people to look at any success I have had in managing bipolar disorder, and for them to think, well, it doesn’t happen to Gabe, so it must be extra bad when it happens to me because it does happen to Gabe.


Michelle: Yeah, I’m just looking for support. But, you know, it is. It is what it is, what it is. I feel like with severe and persistent mental illness, you’re always going to have that thought that you are never going to be good enough. You’re never going to be what you want to be, and you’re never going to achieve the goals that you’ve always wanted to achieve. So it’s just never going to be perfect for you. So you’re always going to be like, I’ll never live up to what I wanted. I should just die right now. And that’s just something that happens.


Gabe: That’s how it is for me. For me, in recovery, sometimes suicide is actually just about quitting or giving up. It’s not actual suicidal thoughts so much as in that I want to die. It’s more that I want to give up or I’m overwhelmed or I can’t take it anymore. And I lack the words. I’ve done a lot of work trying to understand if I’m just, well, basically just speaking out of my ass, right? Like when your mom gets mad at you and she’s like, I am going to kill you, right? She’s just trying to express that she’s pissed off. She’s not actually threatening your life. And I, I’m curious if sometimes people like us when we think when we have, like, passive suicidal thoughts, if what we’re actually saying is we’re overwhelmed or we’re tired or we’re exhausted, or it really is the stereotypical and cliched cry for help. And the only words we have are, I want to end my life, or I want to kill myself, or I want to die by suicide or whatever. Do you feel that it’s like that, that our society just frankly, we talk about murder, suicide, death and killing people quite often in casual conversation.


Michelle: You know, we do, we do. And like sometimes people, they think that like, suicide will be better for everybody around them. What was it two, three years ago, my friend died by suicide. That was not better for us. We still want him here. There’s so many things I wish I could say to him. There’s so many things. I wish he was still here for, things I wish I could text him about. But then I go, oh, he’s not here anymore. He’s gone. So, for over a year. For a year I kept thinking, oh, he’s just on vacation, or he’s just not texting me right now, or I don’t know, like, where is he? And I kept reminding myself, oh, he’s dead. Oh, he’s dead. And I’m like, why did he do this? He doesn’t realize what he did to us, what he did to us. He thought, what was he doing something better for his life? Did he do something better? He thought he was doing better for the things or people around him. He made us feel so awful. It’s like. It’s almost like suicide hurts everyone around you. And then as the years go by, we just forget about him. You know? You end up just being forgotten. Nobody’s going to remember after a while. Nobody’s going to care. After a while, ten years go by, people will think, oh yeah, yeah, him, him and then you’re done, you know, is that what you want? You just want to be first. People are sad about you. They forget, then they forget about you and you’re done. You killed yourself.


Gabe: I think our society in general is just very cavalier about life and death. We talk about murder like it’s entertainment. We threaten to kill people who were mad at. We even say things like, oh my God, my mom is going to kill me. My boss is going to kill me. I just this is we’re literally talking about death. Is it so hard to believe that somebody with our history would, would talk cavalierly about suicide, given that we, we don’t really fear death in until it happens? So I do wonder if when we have these quote unquote passive suicidal thoughts, if we’re actually just well, frankly, we’re just saying that we’re overwhelmed or that we can’t take it anymore, or the proverbial cliched cry for help. We don’t. We’re I think we recognize on some level that we’re not actually suicidal. But given our history and the fact that we are talking about ending our own life even in a passive, casual or stereotypical for society, cavalierly talking about life and death way, I can see where it should scare us and it should scare others. Do you think this is just a case of, well, just poor word choice?


Michelle: I think it is poor word choice. But like I never say, besides that example of talking to my friend who works in like palliative care, I never say like, oh, I want to kill myself. I never say that ever, because it’s I think it’s too serious for me to ever say, because I’ve been in the hospital psych ward for trying to do such things. So I don’t like those jokes. I don’t like making a joke out of it. I don’t like saying things like that. And I don’t really like when other people make jokes like that in front of me, because I just think it’s not funny. It’s too serious. And, you know, because sometimes a lot of times people say like, oh, I’m just going to kill myself. And I would just go, well, that’s a little extreme. That’s what I used to say. Like that’s just a little. That’s a little extreme. I wouldn’t really go that far,


Gabe: I


Michelle: You know.


Gabe: I like that you, you reel them back in, right? You know, sometimes


Gabe: When I say like, oh my God, I just, I wish I was dead. I just, I can’t take this anymore. And somebody says, look, do you really mean that? And I immediately come back with, no, so I, I and then I explain what I’m actually frustrated by. So I think that’s a good technique for us to use. Like we as people, like if we’re lying awake at night and we’re like, God, I wish I was dead, I, I could just kill myself. I can’t take it anymore. Ask yourself immediately. Are you serious? Do you plan to do this? If you immediately back off of it, then it’s like. Like we’ve talked about poor word choice. We’re overreacting in the moment. We’re just venting. And then we can really address what’s wrong. We’re feeling overwhelmed. Maybe depression is back, maybe mania is back, maybe psychosis is back. I mean, there’s I’m not saying that just because you’re not suicidal doesn’t mean that you don’t need medical attention or support. I’m just saying that you need it in other areas. And it just sort of, for lack of a better word, devolved into a discussion about suicide. But the problem is, is you said something early in the show, right, that you should have been in a psychiatric hospital maybe six times, but you lied your ass off. You lied, you lied.


Gabe: You lied your ass off to make sure that you were only in there three times because you didn’t want to go back. And I want to talk about that for a moment, because I think that sometimes people say things like, I can’t take it anymore, and I wish I was dead, right? And then somebody says, okay, then we need to get you to the psych ward. And you say, look, no, I, I was venting, I’m overwhelmed. I need a different type of help. And they’re like, look, no, no, we’re not taking any chances. We’re putting you straight into the psych ward. And what I want to ask you about is, it seems like you are now acknowledging in those moments that you were lying your ass off you. You were a danger to yourself or others. You did need care, and you manipulated your way out of it, out of fear. So you can see where if me in recovery, I’m like, I can’t take it anymore and I just wish I was dead. Okay, Gabe, you’re going to the psych ward. No, listen, I’m. I was just venting. I’m just overwhelmed. Doesn’t matter. We’re not. It makes it murky because as you yourself admitted, people lie about how serious those statements or those feelings are because they’re trying to avoid other issues.


Michelle: Oh, yeah? Well, I manipulated my lacrosse coach in college. I told her that if I went to the psych ward one more time, I. My parents were pulling me out of school. So that time, she had to show up at my house to calm me down, to relax me to. And like, my assistant coach came to my house because I had called a friend and told them I was making a plan, that whole deal. And then the next day, they brought me to like the health center to talk to the therapist. And they were telling me, asking me, what was I doing? What did I have? You said you had a plan, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. I started yelling at the guy. I’m asking him what proof he had. You have no proof that I said any of this. I’m yelling back and forth with him over and over and over again, right? I didn’t go to the psych ward when that, that was suicidal ideation I was doing.


Gabe: Yeah. So you can see where when somebody then says no, no, no I was just venting. They’re going to have this story in their head. And it’s very reasonable. Like I’m not trying to be mean to people. I just I don’t know.


Sponsor Break


Michelle: And we’re back talking about recovery and suicidality. Like he was straight up. You called your friend and you said that you were trying to die by suicide. And I said, no, I didn’t. He said, yes, you did. I said, prove it. Because my friend wasn’t there. It was over the phone. I said, prove it there. Like you said, you had something dangerous. I said, no, I didn’t, and he said, yes, you did. I go prove it. And I was yelling at him. I was saying anything that I could possibly say to prove him wrong, to make sure that I didn’t do anything because he goes, if you don’t tell us, you’re going to the hospital. I go, I didn’t have anything. You have no proof of anything. I didn’t do anything to myself. There’s no reason I should be here. Everything you’re being told was not true. I don’t have to go to the hospital. We were yelling at each other back and forth while my lacrosse coach sat in the room very uncomfortably. And she kept saying. Do you want me to leave? I go, no, do you want me to leave? No. As I yelled at that freaking head of the therapy department at my college, calling him a liar, saying I had nothing, asking him to prove everything he was going to say. Or he kept saying that I was going to the psych ward. We were yelling at each other because I kept telling him he had absolutely no proof. The person who said things to him didn’t was lying because she had no proof that I said any of those words.


Gabe: So. But okay. Now let’s, let’s back up for a second and look into this. You had a lot of other issues. You just said that you’re yelling and you’re screaming. And so it’s not just that you made a casual comment about suicide or that you were thinking about suicide. You just said that you were sitting in a room screaming and yelling at people. Why?


Michelle: Well, no, it was because.


Gabe: Why did you say this to your friend to begin with? What started you’ve sort of started this story in the middle. Let’s go all


Michelle: Right.


Gabe: The way back to the beginning where somebody suspected that you were suicidal. Why did they suspect that? I think that might be the difference here.


Michelle: I, after our lacrosse game, went back into the athletic building, was very upset, went into the trainer’s room, grabbed a surgical knife, called my friend crying, said I did grab something, a surgical knife, and I’m upset. I’m making plans. I’m going home. She called my then assistant coach, told her that I had something very dangerous and then I. I making plans and she has to come find me. Ten minutes later, my coach and my assistant coach showed up at my door. I had already thrown the blade in the garbage outside. They’re talking to me, they’re calming me down. We’re all chit chatting, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Another roommate came home. They eventually left the next day when I went to my coach’s office, she said, you’re not going to class. We’re going to the health center. Omar talking to this douchebag who I hate. And that’s where the conversation started, where they were like, you told your friend you had something dangerous. No, I didn’t, I never said that. That’s what she said. Nope, never said that. You said you were planning on trying to die. I said no, I didn’t. Yes you did. No, I didn’t prove it. And they said, what did you have? I’m not telling you. So what did you have? I’m not going to tell you what I had. If you don’t tell us you’re going to go to the hospital. I’m not telling you anything. I didn’t have anything. I didn’t have anything.


Gabe: But you are lying. Just everybody knew you were lying.


Michelle: I know I was lying. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter, I said you have absolutely no proof of any of this.


Gabe: Michelle I first want to say, I hear these stories, and I can hear even as you’re telling them, literally a decade later, how traumatic they are for you. You’re going through them. You feel like your back is against a wall, it’s you against the world. You’re terrified. And I hope our listeners get that out of the story as well, because there’s the juxtaposition, right? If you are behaving like Michelle was, was behaving in that story where you know that you’re lying, where people are trying to help you, where you’re screaming at people, where you have a level of paranoia, where you’re fearful, where you’re scared, and you’re also talking about suicide. I if it is possible in those moments to really take an introspective look, you need help. Michelle needed help in those moments. And it could have turned out very different for Michelle. In this case, it did not. We now have the hindsight is 2020. We know that she was okay, etc. but it could have turned out differently.


Michelle: But one thing he said was, why didn’t you follow your crisis plan? And I said, I followed my crisis plan on my crisis plan. It says, call somebody. As soon as I had something I knew I shouldn’t have, I called somebody. And that’s. That was what I was supposed to do. I did that, I followed it. What if I didn’t call my friend? I called her. That’s what I was supposed to do.


Gabe: Do you feel that in that case, your friend did the wrong thing?


Michelle: No. She did the right thing.


Gabe: She? She told your lacrosse coach.


Michelle: Well, she used to be on my lacrosse team. She had just graduated.


Gabe: So you followed your crisis plan. You did the right thing. The person you by calling your support. Your support did the right thing by telling you so. What were you so mad at? Everybody did what you wanted.


Michelle: I was mad the next day. The next day when we went to the health center and we had a meet with douchebag who I don’t like, and he kept saying, if I wasn’t going to tell him all this stuff, he was sending me to the hospital. So I just kept saying, where’s your proof? Where’s your proof? Where’s your proof? Because I just kept saying. I just kept saying no to everything. He said. You called somebody saying you were you were planning. I said, no, I didn’t. And they said you had something dangerous. I said, no, I didn’t.


Gabe: It’s it’s wild. But do you see. And Michelle, I’m asking you, there’s nobody else here. Do you see the difference between that experience with thinking about suicide and when a passing suicidal thought enters your mind today?


Michelle: Yes, absolutely. Because like I was saying before, you have the thought, but when you start to make a plan, that’s a bigger thought. When you start to gather things to make that plan happen, that’s a bigger thought. And that’s where you then need to follow your crisis plan to start getting help. It’s not just, oh, I want to kill myself. It’s oh, this is how I’m going to do it. That’s what I’m going to do it with. There. Then there’s the problem. It’s not just a little thought.


Gabe: I can I I’m not trying to cosign what you’re saying. I just I’ve never had any issues as dramatic as yours. I’ve never had to scream at anybody. I’ve. I’ve always been kind of docile and passive. I, I thought demons were trying to eat my brains, and that was a big difference. I really feel like now, whenever suicidality pops into my head, I just have so much more control. I look around to my life and I’m still going to work. I’m still interacting with friends and family. I’m still meeting the activities of daily living. But this this thing just pops in my mind. And here is an interesting thing that I was unaware of until after I reached recovery. Whenever I stood like over something high, I would always get this feeling that I wanted to jump. You know, when I when I saw Niagara Falls, I wanted to jump in when I was at the top of the Empire or, I’m sorry, the Sears Tower in Chicago. I was like, I wonder if I can leap. Whenever I’ve been high up on anything, I always have this urge to jump. And for the longest time I thought that was because of bipolar disorder. I thought it was because of suicidality. So I was shocked to learn that this is a well-recognized phenomenon that almost everybody has. My mom and dad have both said, well, yeah, that that urge to jump, I think is just perfectly quote unquote normal. I’m like, it’s normal. And there’s all of this science on why humans are like this. It had nothing to do with bipolar disorder. It had


Michelle: Oh, wow.


Gabe: Everything to do with being human. But I didn’t know that I was completely unaware of that. So I think that sometimes this idea that pops into your mind of, hey, I could jump off this thing or I could wreck this car might just be a mechanism of humanity and have nothing to do with underlying mental illness. But I do have to say, I feel like the stakes are higher for us. Do you ever get that feeling? Do you ever stand on something high and look down and have this urge to jump?


Michelle: No, not at all. But


Gabe: Never?


Michelle: I’ve gone cliff jumping. I’ve gone cliff jumping. You ever did that?


Gabe: So you don’t have the urge because you’ve done it. But safely but safely.


Michelle: Yeah. Yeah, like I thought cliff jumping was terrifying. And I only did it because. I was, I was cliff jumping when I was working at sleepaway camp. I was terrified to jump. And then they told me that this other girl did it, and I’m like, she did it. I can do it then, too. And then I found out that that other girl never did it. But I still jumped anyway. It was fun.


Gabe: I, just I, I’m, I do want to circle back there. This urge does have a name. It’s


Michelle: It does?


Gabe: Called the call of the void. Right. And it describes the impulse to hurl yourself into or off of something.


Michelle: Like a lemming? Like the lemmings.


Gabe: It’s, it is unnerving. I want to be very, very clear, but there’s just there’s so much research into this and it is very clear it has absolutely, unequivocally nothing to do with suicidal ideation. But that’s what’s fascinating to me, though.


Michelle: Do you want to be a base jumper?


Gabe: No, no, I don’t want to be a base. What are you talking about? I don’t want to, I don’t I. No, no, it’s the urge to jump off of heights. Like


Michelle: You


Gabe: When you’re,


Michelle: Want to


Gabe: You


Michelle: Be


Gabe: Know,


Michelle: A base


Gabe: Standing


Michelle: Jumper,


Gabe: On something


Michelle: Gabe?


Gabe: High. That urge to jump is called the call of the void. And it has nothing to do with suicidal ideation, except that some people do hurl themselves off of tall buildings or bridges, etc. so they weren’t experiencing the call of the void. They were experiencing actual suicidal ideation. So you can see where it’s difficult for people like us. Right? Just there’s all of this research that says wanting to jump off something high has nothing to do with suicidal ideation. But there’s all of these facts and figures of people who have died by suicide, by flinging themselves off of a bridge or a building, etc. and so those people weren’t having the call of the void. They were having suicidal ideation. But most people when they want


Michelle: That.


Gabe: To fling themselves off, don’t. You see where it’s complicated for us?


Michelle: Yes, but don’t they say that everyone who jumps immediately regrets it?


Gabe: Well, there’s no way to actually know that because we can’t. The people


Michelle: Ask


Gabe: Who have survived


Michelle: Everyone.


Gabe: Have reported that they immediately regretted it. But we don’t know how the people who didn’t die feel.


Michelle: I mean, have you ever gone bungee jumping?


Gabe: Do I look like? I am six foot three, 250 pounds of chicken? Does any part of me. Have you ever


Michelle: I mean,


Gabe: Seen


Michelle: I


Gabe: Me


Michelle: Thought


Gabe: Walk?


Michelle: That might help you. I thought it might help you, you know, with that urge or something like that. I thought that, you know,


Gabe: No,


Michelle: Maybe it


Gabe: That’s


Michelle: Would be


Gabe: My


Michelle: Like.


Gabe: Point. I don’t need help with the urge. I’m perfectly normal. This is a well-recognized stereotypical. I just hang on. We can’t see our producer or I’m sorry, our producer is not miked up, but we can see her give a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Have you ever had this, Lisa? Have you ever wanted to jump off of a of a high building? And it has nothing to do with suicidality. She’s given a thumbs up, and now she’s writing. Hang on a second.


Michelle: Constantly


Gabe: She? Yeah, constantly. She says that she wants to do it constantly and just with a thumbs up or thumbs down. Thumbs up means suicidal ideation. Thumbs down means you just think this is a normal human thing,


Michelle: I


Gabe: Do


Michelle: Mean, I


Gabe: You?


Michelle: Mean, I don’t I don’t know if I’ve ever been on the edge of something


Gabe: Yeah.


Michelle: So


Gabe: She says


Michelle: Much


Gabe: It has nothing


Michelle: That I


Gabe: To do


Michelle: Want


Gabe: With


Michelle: To,


Gabe: Suicidality.


Michelle: Like, jump off of stuff. Maybe I have to think about this more. I’m going to walk across some bridges and see if I want to jump off the edge. I mean, I live on the first floor. Jumping out of my window is not going to do anything.


Gabe: It’s heights. It’s this. It’s this urge to jump when you’re up high.


Michelle: I’ll go on the roof today. I’ll go on the roof and see if I want to jump off my roof. If you want me to do that.


Gabe: I mean, I would love for you to report back. The whole point, though, is I don’t want to get bogged down too far. The point is, is


Michelle: Mm-hmm.


Gabe: That this urge to jump is just a well-recognized human phenomenon. So if you are in recovery and some of these quote/unquote passive suicidality, things enter your mind, they might not be passive suicidality at all. It might just be utilizing, well, frankly, shorthands, like, for example, when you say, oh my God, I could kill my child. Mom, brother, you’re just expressing anger or frustration. You’re not actually threatening their lives. And maybe when you think to yourself, God, I don’t want to live anymore, maybe you’re just expressing anger or frustration, not actual suicidality. But that gets tough for people like us because I don’t want to ignore somebody’s call for help. I don’t want to ignore somebody who is expressing real suicidal thoughts and needs immediate help. It’s I think this is difficult for people, but I want people to understand that having some of these thoughts doesn’t mean that you’re not in recovery. It doesn’t mean that you’re slipping it. It may just be. Any of these reasons that we’ve discussed and especially with Michelle’s story. Thank you again for, for sharing. There was so much more to Michelle’s statement of that that she wanted to kill herself than just that statement. There was all of that that went around it. So it it’s not we must compare apples to apples, I guess, is what I’m saying. If you’re backed into a corner lying about things, screaming at people, yelling, you, you definitely have more going on than if you just say to yourself oh my God. It popped into my head that maybe I’d be better off dead. All of that said, please, please, please, please bring it up with your support system. Bring it up with your therapist. Bring it up with your doctor. Don’t ignore it. But maybe don’t give it more power than it needs to have.


Michelle: Is there anything you should do in the moment you think while this is going on, if you’re having suicidal thoughts, is there anything you should do in the moment to stop these?


Gabe: So when I get these thoughts, I immediately ask myself, why am I thinking this? And the answer for me again recently since recovery, definitely the last five years, probably the last ten has been I’m overwhelmed. I’m frustrated, I’m depressed. And as you know, Michel, I reach out to people who I can trust. I have sent Michelle texts where I say, Michel, I’m depressed, I’m sad, I’m. I’m unhappy. And Michelle writes back Michelle things. But I know that Michelle is going to write back Michelle things, and they make me feel better. And Michelle cares enough to take the time to write back. Michelle thinks sometimes it makes me laugh. Sometimes it makes me think. Sometimes she just reminds me of things that I’ve done. She’s like, Gabe, you know, you got to do this. And here’s a link to this picture. And remember that time that you and I were on the stage. And sometimes she does call me a wuss and tells me to stop whining. She does, but I she’s my friend and she can talk to me that way. And it does make me feel better, because sometimes I do need people to remind me not to fall down the rabbit hole. But you’ve got to find your own support. Maybe you don’t have a Michelle. Maybe you do need to discuss it with a therapist. Maybe you do need to bring it up to your prescriber. Maybe you do need to bring it up in a support group. So I’m not saying everybody start texting Michel. That’s. Well, here, let me give everybody Michel’s number. If you have any problems whatsoever, just text Michelle at oh, my God. If I gave it, she would kill me.


Michelle: Mm-hmm.


Gabe: Michelle, what do you do now? Now that you’re in recovery, when these things pop into your mind? What? What’s your solution?


Michelle: Honestly, when these things start popping into my mind, I try to come up with ideas to work harder, to do better. What can I do to get myself happier? I start making plans to better myself in some way. You know, if I don’t think I’m doing the greatest, what can I do to be the greatest? How can I achieve more? I use it as a as a way to motivate myself.


Gabe: I know we’re almost at the end of the show, and I just I just want to clarify just a couple of things. One, nobody is saying ignore these. These thoughts. I want to make sure that everybody hears that. Do not ignore these thoughts. If you feel that you are in danger, and even if you don’t, you just don’t know what direction to go. Call 988. It is absolutely free and you don’t have to be suicidal to call. You can just be thinking about suicide. You can be. You can have no suicide. You can just be lonely. For real. We need to utilize the resources that are at our disposal. So I don’t want anybody to hear that they can’t call 988 unless they are unequivocally, absolutely, positively suicidal. No, no, you can call 988 for any reason and check this out. Please do so. But second, I also don’t want people to think that if you have these passing thoughts or if these things enter your mind that you’re not in recovery or that you’re failing in some way, I hope we’ve given some examples along the way.


Michelle: I mean, I think we’re, we’re getting at here is that even if you’re in recovery, you could have suicidal ideation. It’s just how far do you go with that suicidal ideation. Are you making plans or are you gathering supplies? Are you really attempting this in a real way? Are you really going to do it? Because then there’s a problem. But if you just get that flippant thought, okay, that’s fine. It’s just are you really, really making the steps to make it happen? Then there’s a problem and you should probably reach out to somebody, whether it be calling nine, eight, eight or you’re very good friends or just telling your therapist. I think that’s what we’re really trying to get at.


Gabe: Oh my God, Michelle, you pulled it out. I always act surprised when you do it, but you do it a lot. I just sometimes I’m a jackass.


Michelle: Mm-hmm.


Gabe: All right, everybody, we need several favors from you. First and foremost, please subscribe or follow this podcast. It is absolutely free and you don’t want to miss a thing. Next, tell people about the podcast, share it on social media. Share it in a support group. Send somebody a text message. Send somebody an email. Get one of those sandwich boards, write the website BSP.show/support on it and say, hey everybody, listen to A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. And also, Michelle, you’ve got to read the list of all of the people who have supported our show.


Michelle: Here I go: Bonnie Landini, Jeff and Sue Hammer, Frances D. Thayer, Leigh Harris, Ross Milne, Gregory Zarian, Ariella “Ari” Kadosh, Kathleen McKeon, Judene Shelley, Elmer Earley, Carolynn Ponzoha, Dr. John Grohol, John Humphrey, Sara Danner, Lisa Kiner, and Marilyn Knight.


Gabe: And lastly, we want to do many, many seasons. Remember, Michelle and I will work for free, but we got to pay the people around us. So if you want to support our show, do it at BSP.show/support. My name is Gabe Howard and I wrote the book “Mental Illness Is an Asshole and Other Observations,” which you can get on Amazon. But if you want a signed copy with free show swag, just hit me up at gabehoward.com.


Michelle: And I’m Michelle Hammer and you can find me at Schizophrenic.NYC, mental health and lifestyle brand and my new venture at home.Schizophrenic.NYC. Selling more home and living type of merchandise and skits. I am Schizophrenic.NYC on Instagram, TikTok, and a lot of different social medias, but definitely just find me at Schizophrenic.NYC.


Gabe: So just to be clear Michelle it’s Schizophrenic.NYC.


Michelle: Just Schizophrenic.NYC. Can you spell schizophrenic? Good luck. If you can spell it, you can find me. Peace out.


Gabe: All right, everybody, we will see you next time on A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast.


Michelle: Prove it.


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 or a loved one needs help, please call, text or chat the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. That’s 988. Thank you for listening.


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