Podcast: To Therapy or Not to Therapy?
“People don’t want to see a therapist because they think that means they’re crazy. But, who decided that?”
Today, we discuss the pros and cons of therapy. What it is, why it works, why it doesn’t work, and every tangent in between. Spoiler Alert: One host loves therapy and the other host doesn’t love therapy. Listen in now.
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 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 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 To Therapy or Not to Therapy?
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: Welcome everyone. My name is Michelle and I’m schizophrenic.
Gabe: I’m Gabe and I’m bipolar, and we want to give our sponsor some love. BetterHelp. Save 10 percent off your first month by going to BetterHelp.com/BSP22.
Michelle: Gabe, why do people with depression never seem to seek help?
Gabe: Listen, obviously, the people who do seek help there, they’re not running around depressed, right, so we can’t see them. So a lot of people do seek help with depression. But I think a great many people don’t seek help because in their mind, they should be able to handle it by themselves, which honestly is kind of stupid.
Michelle: So if you can’t handle your own depression, you should seek help, but if you can handle your depression, don’t seek help. So really, you’ve got the people going to therapy and getting help being not depressed, but the people that are not handling their depression are going crazy. So you got a whole up and down of undiagnosed people are crazier than the diagnosed people.
Gabe: I mean.
Michelle: What’s going on in the world.
Gabe: So, that’s a that’s a that’s an interesting thought, and I’m not sure that I follow it 100 percent, but here’s really the bottom line, right? There’s a lot of people that think something’s wrong, right. In their heart, they’re lying awake at night and they think they’re going crazy. They know that something is bad is happening. They know that they don’t like the way that they feel.
Michelle: So get up.
Gabe: Well, yeah, but they feel so strongly that if they do that, that means that they’re somehow bad that that they’ve done something wrong or that they’re not strong enough to handle it on their own. And we’ve got to we’ve got to dispel people of this notion immediately because you want to live your best life, get help for the things that are bothering you.
Michelle: Because that is stigma, they are stigmatizing themselves if I go get help. There’s something wrong with me stigmatizing yourself if I go to a therapist, stigmatizing therapy, if I take psych meds, stigmatizing psych meds. Why are we stigmatizing everything that I can actually help people?
Gabe: Exactly, and listen, when whenever we talk about stigma, I think stigma is one of those overused words, I really do. I just, I think it’s like person first language. Everybody’s like, I reduce stigma. Yeah, you spent a lot of money. You didn’t do shit. But let’s talk about self stigma. This is this thing where we believe that our actions, that means something else to the people around us. So like you said, Michelle people are self stigmatizing themselves. They don’t want to see a therapist because that means they’re bad. Ok? Who decided that your bad? Did you decide that you’re bad? Because if you’re running around thinking that you’re bad? Yeah, that’s something that you should probably discuss in therapy. But what about if you’re thinking that everybody else thinks you’re bad? Really, you think the whole world is paying attention to you? Wow, that’s probably something that you should discuss in therapy as well.
Michelle: And you know what, I bet if you told five people that you’re in therapy, three people would say they’ve gone to therapy.
Gabe: Yeah, therapy is such a regular part of many people’s lives, and it’s not like an everyday thing forever. Oh, Michelle, therapy is so, so common.
Michelle: I don’t get it; I don’t get it. Some people think that depression is when you’re sad, when you have nothing to be sad about. That’s not correct.
Gabe: I mean, it kind of is I mean, depression is being sad when you have nothing to be sad about, I mean, that’s kind of a that’s an analogy, right?
Michelle: But when you have something to be sad about and you’re sad about it, are you not depressed? Is that regular sadness?
Gabe: I mean, it could. First and foremost, like I think the word depression is kind of one of those words, it just means too many things. It’s become like bad, right? Like, Oh my god, that is that shirt is bad. Michelle Now, am I complimenting your shirt or am I insulting it? You’re not sure, right? The biggest problem is, I think, is education of what depression really is. Has it changed from when I was younger to what it is now, from when I was in high school because I remember learning that depression was when you’re sad for two weeks or more.
Gabe: It’s fascinating that you had any sort of mental health education whatsoever in your high school. You must have went to like a really good high school because most people don’t even cover it.
Michelle: Tell me you don’t know somebody maybe in high school or had friends in high school or knew so many high school students that were sad for possibly two weeks or more. It’s high school and it’s miserable.
Gabe: It is high school and also, how do you factor in like grief? Let’s say, Michelle that tomorrow I die. I’d like to believe that you are going to be sad, depressed or down for longer than two weeks at the death of your good friend, right? Does that mean that you now have major depression? No.
Michelle: That’s why it’s confusing to learn about depression.
Gabe: It is very confusing to learn about depression.
Michelle: Do they still teach you two weeks or more because that made no sense to me, I didn’t understand it. I was sad all the time. Therefore, I didn’t know the difference between not depressed and depressed because I always was depressed.
Gabe: First and foremost, who cares, let’s just throw all of that out the window is your mood. Notice I didn’t say depression. Mood is your behavior, your mood, your outlook, your emotion causing you trouble is your mood causing you trouble? Because if it is, you should get help. See, most people just they’re trying to figure out what the hell is wrong with them. You don’t have to figure it out. Go to a damn doctor.
Michelle: People don’t want to go to doctors.
Gabe: They don’t want to go to doctors because they think it makes them crazy, they think it makes them Gabe and Michelle, they think it makes them whack jobs and it just one really like, evaluate your stance on this. I don’t want to be crazy. Therefore, I’m going to get no help and that’ll make it better. That’s just it’s nuts, right? It’s just nuts. But two why? Why are you worried about what other people think? You’re miserable? You’re doing nothing about it, but you’ve declared that what you’re like. Michelle that’s what gets me the most. Could you imagine somebody like my car won’t start, I don’t want to own a bad car, so I’m not going to fix the car. Look, you own a bad car. All right. Refusing to take it to the mechanic does not suddenly make the car good.
Michelle: I just don’t understand why people don’t want help, like there’s a problem fix the problem, but what? Oh, stigma, stigma, stigma, stigma like one in four people have a mental illness. One in four.
Gabe: Well, first off, it’s one in five. I love correcting you, it’s my favorite thing to do.
Michelle: No, but I’ve been told it’s one in four. There’s differences.
Gabe: Yeah, but you’ve been told by people who are wrong.
Michelle: No, no, New York City, we have the one in four or five K.
Gabe: Yeah, and they are wrong. This is one of those things that just persists, no matter what I do. There are major major mental health charities right now, screaming one in four, one in four, one in four. First off, it’s one in five. There’s never been a one in four study.
Michelle: Whatever, whatever, whatever, whatever the. Ok, I don’t even care.
Gabe: No, no, no, no. I’m not correcting you, I’m correcting society. You quoted the right stat. It’s not Michelle’s fault. The people who have been given millions of dollars by our government to educate you are educating you wrong. They’ve been called out on it numerous times and they don’t care. First off, it’s one in five, and the stat is even more incorrect than the numbers. These mental health charities love to say one in four people have a mental illness. That’s not true. That’s patently false. It’s one in five people in a given year will experience a mental health challenge. It doesn’t mean that they have a mental. That would mean listen to look at me Michelle. That would mean that 25 percent of the world lived with bipolar schizophrenia or experience psychosis. Do you believe that 25 percent of America lives with the same things that you and I live with?
Michelle: That’s millions of people.
Gabe: Right, that’d be insane. It’s more than a million, it’s about a hundred million people. There’s 380 million people in America. Do you believe Michelle that 90 million people are living with bipolar schizophrenia and major depression experience psychosis? Oh my god, no. No.
Michelle: We’re all crazy.
Gabe: Yeah, the whole world would be nuts.
Michelle: The world is nuts.
Gabe: It would explain some of our political choices over the past five years. But moving that
Michelle: I mean.
Gabe: Along, but moving that along, it’s one in five people will experience a mental health challenge and Michelle. You are right. This is very, very important because just because you have a mental health challenge doesn’t mean that you’re mentally ill. Like just because you have the flu or a cold doesn’t mean that you have a terminal illness or that you’re physically ill for the rest of your life. It just means that you have something that’s causing you a problem. And here’s where I want to enter. This is, really this is where I want to enter Michelle. Very important.
Michelle: Oh, shit.
Gabe: When people have like the flu or the cold or a rash or whatever they go to the doctor, they go to the doctor and they’re like, Hey, something’s bothering me physically and I want to help with it. But for some reason when people have a mental health challenge. They won’t go to the doctor. Why?
Michelle: Sometimes things are so cultural, you know, like I like to say that like almost everybody goes to therapy. Just talking to anyone, Oh, I go to therapy or I go to therapy or I go to therapy. I had an Asian friend who was dealing with alcoholism and depression, and she’s telling me, You know, I think I’m going to have to go see a therapist and I’m just going, everyone sees a therapist. You’re saying it like, it’s not like a thing people do. But you know, it was just her culture of her thing is that it’s so taboo. But also between 20 and 30 percent of adolescents report some type of depression. Is it them who doesn’t want to see a therapist or are their parents not taking their illness seriously? Where’s the problem?
Gabe: You said that that that you’re your friend is worried about going to therapy because of, like how her family will react or how her friends will react, et cetera. And let’s talk about toxic masculinity for a moment. Let’s talk about men, and I’m going to pick on my father, so I hope he’s not listening. My dad saw a therapist and didn’t tell anybody. He didn’t tell any. I mean, he told my mom, obviously. But his friends, family and his children me didn’t know. So, you know, I was emulating my father right when I became a young man, I wanted to be like my dad. You know, my dad’s a good guy, right? My parents are good people, despite all of the horrible stories that we tell about them. So as I’m trying to learn how to be a man, I’m following my father’s lead and I believed, look at me, look at me. It’s very important. I believe that seeing a therapist made me a wuss. I thought it made me a bad person, so I didn’t I. I felt all kinds of ways about trying to be a man and going to a therapist. And it made me embarrassed and not want to go now. Listen, I did go. I was so sick I had no choice.
Gabe: I was desperate and I went, and thank God because the all of this stuff made me better. But could you imagine if I would have decided that I want to be like my dad and refuse to get help and refuse to go to therapy and didn’t get help? And something bad happened, and the whole time my dad did go and just didn’t tell us. My dad feels bad about this. He’s like, Well, I just thought it was something that you don’t burden your children with. I don’t know. He’s got all kinds of reasons that he didn’t tell me. I don’t even think it’s fully fleshed out in his own mind. But the bottom line is my dad drives an 18 wheeler, 20 ton semi-truck. He is the most masculine, badass male that I have ever. He is basically the stereotype of blue collar, and he went to therapy, and he maintains that it helps. So I agree with you, Michelle. I think the I think people are afraid to go because they believe these things that aren’t true, as in the example of, well, real men don’t need therapy. There is. There is no more real man than my father. And he maintains that it helped him and he knows that it helped me. And we’re all better because of it. So I think people are refusing to go because they think other people give a shit what they do.
Michelle: Yeah. I mean, I suck at therapy.
Michelle: I’ve always sucked at therapy. I always have like even in high school. But like my mom would give me these ultimatums that I had to go and one day she was like, I don’t care what you’re doing after school today, you come home, you get in that car. I don’t want to hear everything and we’re going to therapy. So you know what I did, Gabe, this was the worst thing I’ve ever done, I think.
Gabe: No, no, no, that one’s a lie if this is two truth and a lie. This one’s a lie. I know what the worst thing you’ve ever done is.
Michelle: I got home, she said, get in the car. I got in the car. We drove to therapy and I refused to get out of the car. Wouldn’t get out, she was begging me to get it out, she was pleading with me to get out. She even started crying.
Gabe: You made your mom cry.
Michelle: I wouldn’t get out of the car when we finally drove home, got into the garage. I opened the door and I said, that’s why you don’t force me to go to therapy.
Gabe: You made your mom cry.
Gabe: Usually when you tell these stories that have anything to do with your childhood and your mother, it’s how your mother was evil. She was so evil; you made your mom cry.
Michelle: Well, that’s how I was, if you’re going to force me to get in the car and go with you. You didn’t say you have to get out of the car and go into therapy. I got in the car, I did it and we went there. I just wasn’t going to get out of the car and go.
Gabe: Spoken like a true politician.
Michelle: And I never went back to that woman, I didn’t like her.
Gabe: Now this is an interesting thing as well that we’ve sort of landed on, you said and I quote, I didn’t like her and you never went back to that woman. Now I notice you didn’t say I never went back to therapy. You didn’t connect with one therapist. See, this is another problem that I think that people believe. This is another reason why people aren’t getting help for their depression. They believe that if they go to a therapist, that that’s like the only therapist, they have to go to that therapist and no other therapist. They can’t switch therapists. They can’t shop around for a therapist. They can’t pick their own therapist, that therapist, the end hard stop. That’s just such bullshit. If you don’t connect with your therapist, you are allowed to request a new therapist, and I’m going to take it one deeper. If there’s a certain type of person that you want to talk to, you’re allowed. If you only want to talk to a female therapist, that’s OK. If you only want to talk to a therapist that’s the same race as you, that’s OK. If you’re a member of the LGBTQ+ community and you only want to talk to an LGBTQ+ therapist, that’s OK. People believe that whatever therapist they are assigned and I make an air quotes is the therapist that must guide them for the rest of their life. Michelle, I’ve had like seven therapists in my life.
Michelle: I’ve had about like 8000.
Gabe: Yeah, yeah, give it. I think they quit on you, though, right?
Michelle: I hated all of them. All of the ones during high school, I was all afraid that they would say everything I’m saying. I thought they would just say it to my mom and I didn’t trust her and I was very paranoid. I was schizophrenic and I didn’t know it and I didn’t trust them. I thought they were just going to spill everything that I had to say, and I didn’t want to talk to them anyway. I had nothing to say. I had no words to say. I had voices in my head going back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, and they just told me, Don’t speak, don’t trust this woman, don’t say a word. And I didn’t say a word.
Gabe: It’s a different mentality, right? When you were an adolescent, you were under 18, right? You lacked. What’s the word I’m looking for here? Like you lacked like autonomy.
Gabe: You lacked power? Well, yeah, you also
Gabe: Lacked insight, but you didn’t have the control, right? Your mom had the control. So that’s like really tough, right? Because you didn’t know if you could trust your therapist because you didn’t know if the therapist worked for you or if the therapist worked for your mom.
Michelle: Because always they say everything is between me and you, unless you’re thinking of hurting yourself or somebody else. And I was suicidal the entire time, so I said nothing.
Gabe: Yeah, that’s such a sticky wicket. That’s the only phrase that I can think of because obviously if a teenager tells you that they are suicidal, you can’t say, Oh, well, I’m going to keep your confidence and not tell anybody, but.
Michelle: Exactly, so you say nothing. Then you say nothing because you don’t want to tell anyone because what’s going to happen? You’re going to get sent away or something or even more big things are going to happen when the whole thing is you don’t want to talk to anyone. So why would you say something which would go red alert to everyone around you?
Gabe: What would you have preferred that they did? Because, Michelle, listen, come on, you have schizophrenia. You were in desperate need of help, desperate. If your mom would have done nothing, you would probably be dead. I mean, seriously, I’m not trying to be dramatic here, but I know that you’re mad at your mom for many of the things that she did, and I understand that it’s very traumatic. But if your mom would have done nothing, you recognize that you would have been an untreated schizophrenic receiving zero help and zero oversight left to your own devices to do whatever you wanted. Have you ever heard about that turning out well?
Gabe: So you’re pissed at your mom for helping, but you do recognize that if she hadn’t helped, you’d probably be dead.
Gabe: And you also recognize that as sick as you were and as young as you were and as inexperienced as you were, and I still go back to as sick as you were, that you obviously couldn’t have helped yourself. What were you going to do, make your own appointment? Did you even know what health insurance was when you were 15?
Gabe: So you were going to make your own appointment with your own specialist? We were talking about adults earlier 30, 40, 50 year olds that can’t make their own appointment with mental health providers. And you think you were going to help yourself? Michelle, what’s the solution? What did you want to happen?
Michelle: I don’t know. That’s why I find it amazing when I hear stories about people with mental illnesses that got help for themselves without their family helping them, and I always say, how did you do that for yourself? That is just amazing to me because it was so forced upon me and until I realized and got insight into myself, I was like, whoa, it is me with the problem. But up till then, who knows? I was fighting everyone constantly, constantly, and I was showing symptoms to everybody. I had like my best friend in high school. We were at a pizza place, and she loved to bring up the time that I looked at the wall and smiled and laughed at somebody that wasn’t there. Hello. There’s a symptom right there. She was always cracking up about it, but we didn’t know what it was. Nobody knew what it was. But there it was, right there.
Gabe: And see, that’s problematic as well, because you and your friend, let’s not even talk about you because, yeah, we know what’s wrong with you. Let’s talk about your friend. I’m assuming that your friend is of a sound mind, right?
Gabe: Right. So your friend knew something was wrong, but because of her age, because of her misunderstanding, because of her inexperience, she didn’t know what to do for you and therefore did nothing. I just say this because I know that the younger generation listens to this podcast and they’re thinking to themselves, Well, my friends aren’t worried. Yeah, your friends don’t know to be worried yet. Toddlers aren’t scared to touch the oven because they don’t know to be scared yet.
Michelle: She wasn’t worried at all. She thought it was funny, she thought it was
Michelle: A joke. She thought it was funny,
Michelle: She said all the things I said were funny. When we would hang out and I would do weird things, or she’d be like, Who the hell are you talking to you right now? You’re so funny. You do the funniest things all the time. And it was just my quirks.
Gabe: Yeah, it was quirky.
Michelle: They never thought it was a mental illness, except for that is one of the people that I called from the psych ward. I just texted her. I said, Call me on this number right now, you know, for the payphone and I pick up she what’s going on? What is this number? And I was like, I’m in a psych ward right now. She’s like, What? Why?
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Michelle: And we’re back talking about why people don’t want to seek help for depression.
Gabe: I’m still stuck, though, on the fact that when you were in the psych ward, you texted somebody. Because when I was in the psych ward, texting had not yet been invented.
Michelle: Oh, no, I would ask for my phone because I would say, Oh, I need to look up a phone number in my phone because you’re not to have phones, and then I would text people say, call this number ASAP, call this number ASAP. And then I would get phone calls on the payphone.
Gabe: I’m still stuck on the fact that texting was invented when you went to the psych ward.
Michelle: On a flip phone.
Gabe: There was no texting yet when I went to the psych ward. What year was that?
Gabe: I hate you so much right now. I hate you. So young,
Michelle: There’s worse things.
Gabe: Your whole life ahead of you.
Michelle: There’s worse things.
Gabe: There are worse things? There’s worse things than you being 10 years younger than me? Name one.
Michelle: You could be 80.
Gabe: You want to? You want to try another joke?
Gabe: We’ll edit it out and make you sound funny.
Michelle: Um, oh, here I got one. You could be a redhead.
Gabe: I am a redhead.
Michelle: Oh, Snap, oh man, I messed that up then. I guess there’s nothing worse.
Gabe: I kind of wish right now that we had, like a video podcast. What are those called? YouTube channels? Or no, TikTok? Could you imagine if we had a TikTok instead of a podcast? Like our entire podcast was eight seconds? It would just basically be you screaming and me asking you to stop.
Michelle: TikTok’s are like a minute, Gabe. You’re really showing your age now.
Gabe: What was 8 seconds?
Michelle: You couldn’t text in the psych ward. That was like vine.
Gabe: What was vine?
Michelle: Where have you been? You are too old.
Michelle: Gabe, getting back to depression.
Gabe: We are back to depression because I am depressed about my age.
Michelle: You’re depressed about your age? Well, that’s stupid.
Gabe: I am depressed about my age.
Michelle: My dad says age is just a number. Age is a mentality; age is a mentality. He doesn’t care that he’s short, fat and bald. Doesn’t care whatsoever, loves his life.
Gabe: I bet he cares a little bit that his daughter is calling him short, fat and bald on a podcast.
Michelle: I’ve said it to his face before.
Gabe: Yeah, but that’s less hurtful. You’re now publicly.
Michelle: I’ve said to him, Jeffrey, you got to lose weight or Sue is not going to be interested in you, and he goes, quite the opposite, Michelle.
Gabe: That is that is a baller move, Michelle’s dad. But here’s the thing, so you’re thinking to yourself, OK, my daughter is insulting me on a podcast. My daughter is insulting me to my face, and you’re thinking, is that the kind of thing that you can go to therapy for or do you have to have major suicidal depression? Get this, your daughter being mean is in fact something that you can go to therapy for, and it’s OK if it makes you sad or if it bothers you or it annoys you. I am fascinated by the number of people who don’t believe that therapy is for them because therapy literally is for everybody. I firmly believe that there is nobody on the planet, literally nobody on the planet that wouldn’t benefit from therapy. And here’s the other thing because people are going to say, So you think the whole world needs to be in therapy every day for the rest of their lives? That’s another myth. No, you can go to therapy like three or four times and be done.
Michelle: I hate therapy.
Gabe: Of course, you hate therapy, you hate everything, though.
Michelle: I hate all therapy.
Gabe: How can we have a podcast on the benefits of therapy when you hate it?
Michelle: We’re not having a podcast on the benefits of therapy. We’re having a podcast on mental illness and depression and why people with depression don’t get help.
Gabe: Ok, so what kind of help would you recommend that they get if they don’t get therapy?
Gabe: Because, as you know, the number one treatment for depression is therapy.
Michelle: Well, you know, if you are depressed, get some therapy, but then you move on to a psychiatrist, which I’m totally for a psychiatrist because I’m down with taking meds, which a lot
Michelle: Of people are not down with.
Gabe: I know that you are not a fan of therapy, Michelle, and listen, you have to choose your own adventure. That’s the great thing. But I think you are misremembering because you have some very good coping skills, and I refuse to believe that you learned those coping skills by yourself. All right. And I know that psychiatry just manages your meds. So somebody along the way taught you those coping skills, whether it was group therapy, whether it was one on one therapy, I don’t know, but I sincerely believe, and I know you’re going to argue with me. I sincerely believe that as much as you hate therapy, you have benefited from it.
Michelle: Not one bit.
Gabe: Not one bit?
Michelle: Not one bit.
Gabe: All the coping skills, all on you? You just invented them all?
Michelle: The last therapist I spoke to told me that I was not acting like a girl of my attractiveness should be.
Gabe: Oh, yeah, I also had a therapist that tried to get me fired from my job because he thought that I was going after the same woman that he was interested in.
Michelle: Yeah, that’s the last therapist I spoke to.
Gabe: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Therapists, like anything else, can be shitty, but you realize that both of those things are not an example of therapy being bad. They’re just an example of a bad therapist.
Michelle: I’ve never gone to a good therapist.
Gabe: Michelle, I get it, and I know you don’t like therapy and then thank you for being honest. I’m not trying to change your mind. But I do have to wonder if somebody listening to this going to think, well, Michelle Hammer hates therapy and didn’t work for her, so therefore it won’t work for me and I don’t have to go.
Michelle: What therapy did for me was get me to my psychiatrist, I like talking to my psychiatrist. It’s not all that mushy mush. How do you feel? What is this? Blah blah blah blah blah blah. We just talk straight shooting. This is what’s happening. This is what’s doing. The meds do this. I do this. What’s good? Here, this is good. That’s great. This this, it’s no getting into my deeper feelings, things like that. I like to just have a conversation, just plain conversation.
Gabe: So you’re doing therapy with your psychiatrist.
Michelle: I guess you could say it’s therapy with my psychiatrist, but I’m not like spilling my guts, talking about my past, going on and on and half the time he just goes, Your mother keeps emailing me.
Gabe: I knew your mom was going to come into this, but that’s another one of those myths that you’ve touched on, that all therapy is this gushy, mushy talking about your past and crying. Listen, I’m not going to say that I’ve never cried in therapy because in the early, in the early days, I cried a lot, but I have been in therapy continuously for almost, 2005. Or let’s see. Wow. Almost 20 years now, and with the exception of the first few years after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I’ve never cried and I’ve never talked about my past. I talk about things that are impacting me today. I sit down at my therapist’s office and I say, You know, I’m worried that that my wife is going to leave me. That’s happening today. I’m worried about this today. I haven’t talked about my past in therapy in 15 years at least. So I think you’re accidentally putting out this sort of myth idea that therapy is just people bawling, hugging, talking about their moms. And which is odd because for somebody that doesn’t like to talk about your mom, she comes up a lot, Michelle.
Michelle: Well, she’s like a huge freaking character in my whole schizophrenia story.
Gabe: She’s a character now, is she?
Michelle: She’s a character, she’s a character.
Gabe: Your mom is a character, I love her. I full disclosure, I love Michelle’s whole family. Like I am desperate to like boot Michelle out and become a Hammer. I want to be Gabe Hammer. I want your parents to adopt me.
Michelle: Have fun with that. Go live with them.
Gabe: You want to live with my parents.?
Gabe: Oh my God, you know how they have wife swap?
Gabe: Let’s have
Gabe: Kids swap.
Gabe: You could live with my parents. I’ll live with your parents.
Gabe: You don’t think my parents are awesome?
Michelle: Doesn’t your mom do Christmas crafting?
Gabe: Well, I mean, yeah.
Michelle: I don’t want to deal with that.
Gabe: Yeah, yeah. My God. You know how my mom is like, well, Gabe’s got a temper. Wait until she gets a load of your temper.
Michelle: I’m not doing no Christmas crafting with her.
Gabe: She doesn’t make me do Christmas crafting with her, it’s her hobby, not mine.
Michelle: But she’s gonna be like, oh, a girl is here and let’s do some Christmas crafting.
Gabe: You know, I only have one sister and she’s a sniper in the U.S. military.
Michelle: Oh, I don’t want to mess with her, oh. Keep her away from me, I don’t want to be sniped. Get
Gabe: Yeah, yeah.
Michelle: Get that girl away. I don’t want to be. I see a laser on my head, I’m going to run away.
Gabe: She doesn’t need a laser and you won’t see her.
Michelle: I’m scared now.
Gabe: Yeah, you should be. You should be nicer to me.
Michelle: You gonna get her to snipe me?
Gabe: I’ve said too much.
Michelle: Getting back to the point.
Gabe: I love it when my sister’s military career comes up, you know why? Because I always get an email or a text message like, hey, I’m not a sniper, you know that right? I was. I did two tours in Iraq, but I was, I was never a sniper. Like, why? Why do you think I was a sniper? And you’re thinking, why do you like it when she corrects you? Because I never know if any member of my family is listening to my podcasts until they email criticism. Like, whenever they disagree with something, I get tons of text messages, emails and phone calls. But whenever they agree with me, nothing.
Michelle: Do you remember how my mom stopped listening to the podcast?
Gabe: Yeah. Yeah, because you made her mad and hurt her feelings.
Michelle: Yeah. Mm-hmm.
Gabe: I know you’ve got family dynamics, but your mother was hurt by what you said and that is something that you can go to therapy for. People believe, for whatever reason, that the only reason that you can get help for your depression is if you have, like severe depression, if you’re suicidal, if you can’t work. Look, this is literal nonsense. It’s like only going to the doctor if you have terminal cancer. No, you can go to the doctor if your nose is running. You can go to the doctor if you have an earache. You can go to the doctor if you’ve got a little bit of pain in your left hand and only after cooking for eight hours. Why does everybody believe that with mental health, you can only only only seek help after a crisis? This is how we get to the crisis people. This is how. Because all of the warning signs we ignore until the next thing you know, you’re standing in a convenience store, throwing canned goods at a dragon.
Michelle: I would love to see that happen. That’s pretty funny, but you are correct about that. People just wait and wait and wait and wait until there’s a crisis, but is it a crisis or are you begging for help?
Gabe: Well, exactly. It’s fascinating how the world sees it, the world sees it as a crisis. It’s a problem. There is a crazy guy throwing cans at the soda machine, but to that person, he’s terrified. They are scared.
Michelle: Let’s not even talk about how people are just like, I don’t need psych meds. Oh, I’m not crazy. I don’t need psych meds. That person is on psych meds because they’re crazy, but I don’t need them because I’m not crazy. Or I took a psych med one time and it was terrible. And I’ll never take a psych med again. That argument is just so annoying to me.
Gabe: It’s kind of like the same argument where people say that therapy is stupid and they don’t need it.
Michelle: No, the argument is stupid is because they might take like one antidepressant, it doesn’t go well and they’ll say they’ll never take another antidepressant. Say you have a headache, right? You might take Tylenol. Oh, the Tylenol didn’t work. I’ll never take any painkiller again. No. Then if your Tylenol didn’t work, maybe you’re going to try ibuprofen or Excedrin. So look, if you have a headache, you’ll try different medications to help your headache. But if you’re depressed, you’ll go, Oh, no, that one didn’t work. I’ll never try another one.
Gabe: And I can say the identical thing about therapy, and that’s just why I want to throw it out there, you go to one therapist and it doesn’t help you and people are like, Oh, therapy is bullshit and it doesn’t work, and I’m never going again. There are so many different types of therapy. And, Michelle, this isn’t. You have tried different types of therapists and listen Michelle’s views and opinions are your own. And we really, really, really believe in self-directed recovery here at A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. So, Michelle, I want you to know I am not shaming you in any way.
Michelle: It’s OK.
Gabe: I just want to make sure that people know that they can take their own path. And Michelle wants people to know that they can take their own path to. And whatever that path looks like to, you should not be compared to what two idiots on a podcast are doing. The number one treatment for mental health issues is the one that works for you. Don’t be afraid to try different methods, and when one method doesn’t work, that’s fine. Listen, that’s fine. Like Michelle said, if one headache medication didn’t work, you wouldn’t be like, No. All headache medication is bullshit, and I ain’t taking it anymore. They’re just pushing shit on me. That’s just so dumb. Come on, man. Try something different. Try something else. Be better.
Michelle: Be better, and I want to give you a statistic that’s absolutely nuts and you’re going to not even think it’s nuts, but it’s nuts. Did you know there’s more depressed people in the world than there are Jews?
Gabe: Is that true?
Michelle: True, it is. A lot of times people bring it up to me at my pop up shop that only one percent of people are schizophrenic. People love to bring that up, only one percent. And my response always is point two percent of the world is Jewish, and this is New York City. There’s Jews everywhere. So if you’re going to say one percent of the world is schizophrenic, I need to point out that point two percent of the world is Jewish. Look around you.
Gabe: Michelle, as per usual, we’re running out of time and people are giving us the evil eye. But you said something in our pre-meeting for this show that I want to make sure that we get to. And you said, Listen, I want to tell the audience why I choose not to suffer anymore.
Michelle: I choose not to suffer anymore because I don’t want to live a life where I hate myself every single day, where I’m scared to get out of bed, where I don’t want to leave my apartment, where I cry and cry and cry, where I have voices in my head telling you what a horrible person that I am. I want to live a life where I’m happy, where I’m not scared, where I’m not paranoid, where I can live a happy life, have relationships with people, with friends, with partners, with work people, everything. I don’t want to live a scared, horrible life. I just don’t want to be upset anymore. I don’t want to be sad anymore. I choose to live a life. And I do what I have to do to live the life that I want to live.
Gabe: Michelle, I agree with you 100 percent and, hey, how often does that happen? You have been listening to A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. Wherever you downloaded this episode, please subscribe or follow. It’s absolutely free. And hey, can you do Gabe and Michelle a solid and tell someone about this show? It’s how we grow. Word of mouth, social media, text message, it all works. Just please share the show and I would be a damn fool if I didn’t tell you about my book, “Mental Illness Is an Asshole and Other Observations.” It’s obviously over on Amazon, or you can go to gabehoward.com and get a signed copy with free swag.
Michelle: Even better than that, if you’re interested in the first clothing line started by a schizophrenic New Yorker, go to my online store, it’s Schizophrenic.NYC.
Gabe: Michelle and I both travel nationally as speakers, you can find out more information about that on our respective websites and listen, I gotta give some love to our sponsor. Do you want to save 10 percent on your first month of online therapy? Just check out BetterHelp. Go to BetterHelp.com/BSP22
Michelle: Get help!!