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Podcast: Trauma and Mental Illness

 
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Podcast: Trauma and Mental Illness

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“I believe like 99.9999% Of people have experienced some type of trauma. You think you haven’t. The statistics say that not everybody has, but I disagree with that. Everyone’s experienced some type of trauma.

~Michelle Hammer

People with mental illness have almost certainly experienced trauma — whether they are aware of it or not. Having a life-long serious illness like bipolar disorder, depression, or schizophrenia, can be traumatic.

In this episode, Gabe and Michelle share their personal trauma stories and discuss why people think that only people who have been in a war-zone can be traumatized.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transcript for Trauma 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. And today we want to give some more love to Society of Valued Minds, sponsored by Otsuka Pharmaceuticals.

 

Michelle: Society of Valued Minds was founded on the idea that creative self-expression makes the darker days feel brighter and reminds you that your mind is valuable just the way it is. Join the movement by following Society of Valued Minds on Instagram right now.

 

Gabe: It is completely free. There’s just no excuse not to. We follow them and you should do it, too.

 

Michelle: We also want to shout out our sponsor BetterHelp. Get 10% off your first month by going to BetterHelp.com/BSP22.

 

Gabe: Michelle, do you remember that that time we did carpool karaoke to I would Do Anything for love, but I won’t do that?

 

Michelle: Unfortunately. Yes, I do remember that.

 

Gabe: Yeah. Yeah, that caused me trauma. Lots and lots and lots of trauma. I have PTSD because of that.

 

Michelle: No, it definitely do not. And you’re just saying that because that’s the topic of today’s episode.

 

Gabe: Look you right, the segue If you don’t like my segue, you came to me and you’re like, Hey, I want to do a whole podcast on trauma. And I was like, What do you have to say about trauma? And she’s like, So much, so much.

 

Michelle: I got a lot to say about trauma. I think trauma is real. And I believe like 99.9999%

 

Gabe: Is this math? Are you doing math right now

 

Michelle: Of people have experienced some type of trauma. You think you haven’t. The statistics say that not everybody has, but I disagree with that. Everyone’s experienced some type of trauma. You can remember traumatic events from the age of two and a half.

 

Gabe: I think that trauma is like mental health. Everybody has experienced. Many things are traumatizing. I think in our society, we think that trauma is only like war. Right? Like if you come back from a war zone, you have been traumatized or something like really bad happen to you. Like if somebody tried to murder you. Right, and you were chased down the street with a machete and a guy in a mask with long fingernails, like then you can have trauma, but.

 

Michelle: That’s quite the visual you just gave me. You gave me quite a visual. You’re being chased down the street with a guy with a machete. And that’s traumatic.

 

Gabe: I think that is very traumatic.

 

Michelle: Yes, that’s quite traumatic. I mean, where do you get a machete these days?

 

Gabe: The Dick’s Sporting Goods.

 

Michelle: You can get a machete at Dick’s Sporting Goods.

 

Gabe: I don’t. Don’t ask me. They have golf clubs, they have Frisbee golf, and they have machetes and fishing stuff. They have fishing gear.

 

Michelle: This has become an ad. This is an ad for Dick’s Sporting Goods. Go to Dick’s Sporting Goods, get a machete, get a golf club. You know, get a baseball bat.

 

Gabe: I just I honestly just picked them because it’s called Dick’s Sporting Goods. But my point is, is people think that trauma is okay. They’re right. If it’s something big like that, it’s okay. But think about this. And I think everybody can relate to this. You ever been driving in a car and somebody who is a bad driver or you had a near miss and an accident? Or maybe you hydroplane, or maybe you got in a small fender bender. Nobody was injured. Everybody’s okay. But there was like that near miss while driving. You ever get that feeling in your chest? Like the next time you get in the car and you’re just, like, a little more worried about it than you were the previous time you got in the car. That’s trauma.

 

Michelle: One time I spun into a 180, but I wasn’t scared the next time I got my car.

 

Gabe: So what kind of trauma are you having then? That you believe that trauma is real? But when you spun around your car on the freeway going 60, you were fine to drive again the next day.

 

Michelle: Well, I was more worried that I would mess up my car and then I wouldn’t be able to have a car. And then my mom would yell at me, but I still never told her that story. So I hope she’s not listening.

 

Gabe: You are barely you are barely, though, defining trauma because the previous time you drove the car, you weren’t worried about losing the car. You weren’t worried about making your mom mad.

 

Michelle: That’s different because I didn’t find that to be a traumatic experience.

 

Gabe: That’s just it, though. Many people don’t find stuff like that to be traumatic, but that

 

Michelle: But there’s other things.

 

Gabe: Is a definition of trauma. This is an example. Maybe

 

Michelle: But there’s difference.

 

Gabe: It’s not a definition, it’s an example of trauma, but you give an example of what you consider to be traumatic.

 

Michelle: I am still traumatized from 9/11.

 

Gabe: Okay? Yes.

 

Michelle: Honestly. Honestly.

 

Gabe: Yes. That is a cultural trauma or a generational trauma or a societal trauma. All of those things are real traumas.

 

Michelle: Well, 9/11 is not a generational trauma. I’m not traumatized from the generations past of 9/11. I was alive.

 

Gabe: No, no, no. Generational trauma is something that maybe you didn’t experience, but.

 

Michelle: I know what generational trauma is, Gabe. I did research for this. You think I don’t know. A generational trauma is, it could be domestic violence, alcohol and drug addiction, child abuse and neglect. Refugees, survivors of combat trauma and war related trauma. I come from refugees, people. They came on the boat. They didn’t know where they were going. They came to the Lower East Side. They lived in the tenements. They were poor as can be.

 

Gabe: Michelle, exactly, exactly. That’s a really, really good example. You are a Jewish American, right? You were not alive during the Holocaust, but culturally, your people suffered a lot. So even though it didn’t impact Michelle Hammer directly, because you are Jewish, you are traumatized more by that than, for example. I am I was I was raised Catholic. I was born here in America. It’s not part of my cultural heritage or definition. The Holocaust should be traumatizing to everybody, but it hits you differently because of your culture, the way you were raised, your upbringing. And I know we’ve gotten far afield, but the point is trauma is everywhere. Nobody’s talking about it. People don’t think that it’s real. And much like people with mental illness are often told at, just get over it, you’re fine. People who have experienced trauma are told It’s over now, you’re safe now. Just get over it. It’s fine. And Michelle and I, well, actually, Michelle, Michelle believes very, very strongly that that’s bullshit.

 

Michelle: It is bullshit. We don’t talk about trauma because everyone has some kind of trauma that I believe. If you’re dwelling on things of the past, I believe you’re dwelling on traumatic experiences. Otherwise, why are you dwelling on something that happened when you were 11 years old? It obviously did something to you.

 

Gabe: So Michelle, let’s explore that for a moment. You talked about at the top of the podcast, people remember traumatic things that happened as young as two and a half years old. So against my better judgment, I’m going to ask you what happened to two and a half year old Michelle?

 

Michelle: Nothing happened to two and a half Michelle.

 

Gabe: Okay. So two and a half year old Michelle still trauma free. What about five year old Michelle? Traumatized yet?

 

Michelle: Don’t think so.

 

Gabe: OK, OK, ten year old Michelle.

 

Michelle: I don’t know. Things started getting wonky around that age.

 

Gabe: Okay.

 

Michelle: Once I got older, the mental illness started getting in there.

 

Gabe: So you really feel strongly that being diagnosed with schizophrenia or the mental illness impacting you started causing you trauma at a pretty young age? Would you say by 12 you would experience trauma that you remember?

 

Michelle: Yes, I experienced trauma because I started hearing like a horribly paranoid voice in my head that would just tell me that everything that I was doing was so stupid and so wrong. So keep your mouth shut. You know, everything you say is so dumb. And I just started experiencing just a lot of horrible just things just in my head. I was on a soccer team. My coach started being very mean to me. What are you doing? Why aren’t you paying attention? You’re watching the game. And he would yell at me and yell at me and yell at me and yell at me. And I understand why he was yelling at me. But if he saw all of these things going on with me and that I wasn’t acting like I used to act, why was he yelling at me and not saying that there was a problem there? That’s what really frustrates me about him. So it was just like the getting yelled at all the time.

 

Gabe: So even though you’re no longer a child, you no longer play soccer and the symptoms of schizophrenia are well under control and you’re really living quite a successful life. This still bothers you. It was a traumatic experience for you.

 

Michelle: Oh, it bothers me all the time. I found him on Facebook just so I could message him and curse him out.

 

Gabe: Okay. So something that happened to you in your formative years. You said you were early teens.

 

Michelle: Yes.

 

Gabe: And this is still bothering you even as an adult. So we’ve definitely met the threshold for this was a traumatic thing for you. Do you feel this is the coach’s fault? I mean, didn’t he treat all of the children this way trying to get everybody to pay attention to get on the set? I mean, he could not possibly have known that you had schizophrenia. You can’t hold that against him.

 

Michelle: Well, I mean, one time I was talking to him in the cab and I was talking to them, but apparently, I started talking to somebody else that wasn’t in the like area and they just started laughing at me.

 

Gabe: So it was traumatized to be mocked. You felt like you were being mocked for having the symptoms of schizophrenia and you still carry that with you.

 

Michelle: Yes.

 

Gabe: What would you say to the coach?

 

Michelle: Never speak to your daughters the way you spoke to me, which is what I said to him.

 

Gabe: So. So this actually happened. I apologize. I didn’t I didn’t realize that you confronted your coach.

 

Michelle: I told you, I. I found him on Facebook and I had a few choice words, and then I said, I hope you never speak to your daughters the way you spoke to me, because since then, he had two daughters.

 

Gabe: What did he say? Did he respond?

 

Michelle: The first time I messaged he said, nice to hear from you. And then I just went off and blocked him.

 

Gabe: Do you feel that you reach some level of understanding? Did it make you feel better to confront him in this manner?

 

Michelle: Yes. Also, he was just an idiot. I’m a good athlete. I just couldn’t do that. I was suffering with things and I quit that. I started playing lacrosse and my life got better. I just couldn’t I couldn’t deal with him. I couldn’t deal with soccer. I couldn’t deal with those girls. They were all really mean, and I just couldn’t handle it. At that time. Nothing was under control. I needed a whole new, just an outlet that was different, that was more positive, that could handle me, and that’s what I did. But in addition to that, Gabe, do you ever wonder why I never bring up my other grandmother?

 

Gabe: You have another grandmother other than Blanche?

 

Michelle: Yes.

 

Gabe: I thought Blanche was like the grandma. Like, I want her to be my grandma. I love Blanche.

 

Michelle: I had another grandmother, Gabe. But I never talk about her.

 

Gabe: Uh oh. Are the wheels about to go off the podcasting bus? First, Michelle, before you bring up your other grandmother, will this get you in trouble with your family?

 

Michelle: Not at all.

 

Gabe: Okay. So tell me about your other grandmother, Michelle.

 

Michelle: My grandmother, Tessie, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when I was about 14 and we had to put her in a nursing home. Have you ever had to introduce yourself to your grandmother?

 

Gabe: Not my grandmother, my great grandmother.

 

Michelle: Yeah. Have you ever had to introduce yourself to her? Every single time you’ve ever saw her?

 

Gabe: Yes. I also had to correct again my great grandmother. I had to correct her because she thought that I was my Uncle David. And I’m not. I’m Gabe.

 

Michelle: My grandmother has no idea who she was. Me and my mom would go there. She would say, How is your mother? I said, She’s good. She’s right here. And then she’d ask my grandmother, How’s your mother doing? And she would say, You’re my mother. And she said, I have a daughter. Yes, you have a daughter and this is your granddaughter. I have a granddaughter. I’m a grandmother. She would have no idea who we were. One time we were looking in her like mirror together. She had a big mirror in her bathroom at the nursing home, and she starts going, Why aren’t I moving? Why aren’t I moving? She was looking at my reflection and she thought it was her.

 

Gabe: I’m gathering that that you loved your grandmother and this was very traumatic for you.

 

Michelle: It was extremely traumatic for me, extremely traumatic. She had no idea what was going on ever, no idea who anybody was. She didn’t know she had any grandchildren. One time I asked her if she missed her husband and she had no idea she had a husband. And then I showed her her wedding photo. I put it back and I said, So do you miss your husband? And she said, I have a husband. I said, I just showed you the photo. And she said, What photo? You know what that’s like?

 

Gabe: Oh, it’s terrible. I do not know exactly in your shoes, but I know that with I never really thought of my great grandmother’s dementia and Alzheimer’s and her deterioration and ultimate death as causing trauma. I mean, I knew her dying caused me trauma, but it never occurred to me how watching her go from, you know, the woman that cooked fried chicken and mashed potatoes and all the best apple pies to, you know, needing help going to the bathroom and forgetting who I was. I, I guess it did impact me, but there’s an example. I didn’t consider that to be trauma. If you would have asked me, Hey, Gabe, was it traumatic to watch your great grandmother deteriorate into nothingness and die? I would have said no. But I’m. I’m starting to think that. Yeah. Yeah, it definitely. I mean, it’s definitely impacting me now. I’m starting to feel some ways and not and not in good ways. Do you do you think this is an example of trauma?

 

Michelle: I think it was very traumatic for me. I was in high school and my grandmother like, you know, she not like she had the easiest life. Her mother was schizophrenic. She wasn’t really raised by her father. She was raised by a relative. And my aunt told me that my grandmother said that her relative didn’t really want her that badly. You know, I found her like little graduation signing book. She said that she wanted to be a teacher. She never became a teacher. She worked in like a belt factory. She just married a man when she was 28 years old because that’s what you’re supposed to do in the community. And she totally settled. He was a horrible person. He’s extremely racist, sexist, just a pig, not a nice guy.

 

Gabe: This is your grandfather. You’re now describing your grandfather.

 

Michelle: He was a horrible man.

 

Gabe: Is that traumatic?

 

Michelle: No. No.

 

Gabe: I mean, realizing that your grandfather is a horrible man didn’t cause you trauma.

 

Michelle: No, not really, because he was never a nice guy.

 

Gabe: So as long as somebody is always shitty to you, it’s not traumatizing. But if they used to be a good guy and then they become shitty to you, that’s traumatizing.

 

Michelle: I mean, it’s different. It was always like, you know, my mom always told me, you know, grandpa is not that kind of guy that’s going to say, I love you, but he does love you. He just doesn’t say it. And the thing is, like, you know, he would always say weird stories. He would always just tell us weird stories about women in the building. He talks this woman in the in the in the laundry room. But the woman says she has a boyfriend, but he doesn’t believe her. And we’re like, just leave the woman alone. Don’t go talk to her. Leave the woman alone. Please. Please. He was gross. He was just gross.

 

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

 

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

 

Gabe: I’m having trouble grasping trauma sincerely. And I think that many Americans have trouble grasping trauma. Again, I was in a war zone and I feel badly. Yeah, that’s trauma. Hey, I tripped and fell. And now I don’t want to walk on that street, baby. Get over it. Not trauma. The reality is, is some people go to war and they have no trauma whatsoever and some people trip and fall on a street and it’s very traumatizing for them. They don’t want to try to walk again. It sounds like trauma has a personal element to it, that it’s not a right or wrong thing. It’s just how it impacts you personally. But if I understand you correctly,  you’re saying that a lot of people are traumatized by things, don’t realize they’re traumatized by it, and then don’t get help for it. Like, for example, people with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia who’ve had a lot of bad things happen to us from being committed to psychiatric hospitals to being arrested, to being estranged from our families, to these things make us feel badly. And everybody wants to address bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, but nobody wants to address how traumatizing it is to be arrested or to be estranged from our family or to be committed to a psychiatric hospital. Is that your baseline premise?

 

Michelle: My cop story. I was traumatized by that woman for years. I would have horrible dreams about her or nightmares about that woman, like trying to attack me. I was completely traumatized by her.

 

Gabe: When you talk about it, when you say to somebody, I was traumatized by the woman who arrested me. When you say that, do you get support? Do people say, well, that’s understandable. Being arrested would be traumatizing? Do you get support? Do you feel that the people around you see you, acknowledge you, understand you and support you? Or do you feel that you’re dismissed?

 

Michelle: No. I feel that people support me.

 

Gabe: I only bring that up because I feel that I sort of dismiss you on that, because when I heard the story, you were laughing. You know, it was a it was the big fight with. The process of elimination. You kept yelling, and I. I’m going to defeat her. And I hate that. Biti, you’ve got, like, all this bravado as you tell the story, and even though you’re a tiny little person, you tell the story and it fills a room. It’s big. It’s like an epic battle. You sure don’t tell the story like you’re traumatized. But I learned by being your friend and working with you that this this really, really does bother you. Do you tell the story and eliminate all the trauma to make yourself feel better? You don’t tell the story like it bothers you.

 

Michelle: It took me ten years to be able to tell that story. I couldn’t talk about that story for ten years because it was so traumatizing.

 

Gabe: How did you move past it? Have you moved past it?

 

Michelle: No, I didn’t tell you what I did. I found again I found her on Facebook. I friended her. And then I had done an interview with these girls that went to NYU. And I told the whole cop story and I wrote a post on her wall and said, Hey, I don’t know if you remember me, but I remember what you did to me. I’m now a mental health advocate and I tell the story of what you did to me in speeches that I give. If you forgot what you did to me, here’s an article about it. And then she blocked me.

 

Gabe: Just out of curiosity, Michelle, what did you think was going to happen?

 

Michelle: I don’t know. I don’t know. She needs to know. She needs to know that I am not silent about how she abused me.

 

Gabe: So what I’m hearing is that you’re still pretty traumatized by this.

 

Michelle: Yes.

 

Gabe: How do you move past it? Because it’s hurting you. It’s controlling your life.

 

Michelle: Let’s see. Well, I tried to get her fired for a while. That didn’t work, but I think she quit. But, I mean, maybe I can go to her house if I find it and burn it down.

 

Gabe: Okay. I’m not 100% sure that you’re even joking. Do you feel that these are healthy outlets for what’s happening to you? I mean, you’re doing a lot of I want revenge, I want to get back at her, I want to tell her off, I want to go on Facebook, I want to yell. Is this the best way to handle trauma? It doesn’t sound like you’re moving forward.

 

Michelle: I’m not moving forward because I’m never, ever, ever going to get over that story. I was beat up for no reason. No reason at all.

 

Gabe: Do you have any advice for people who feel the exact same way as you? Because it doesn’t seem like you want to be here. It doesn’t seem like you want to be miserable. The whole reason that you wanted to do an episode on trauma was to help people move past their trauma, but instead you’re just reliving yours.

 

Michelle: I get that. But maybe they can listen to me popping off about this and be like, why is she still on this trauma that’s so dumb? And then they’ll be like, oh, I’m on trauma too so they can get over theirs. I’m just saying that just bugs me, but there’s tons of other trauma. People have all kinds of trauma that just won’t stop. This is just something. That’s me. It used to be much, much worse. It’s a lot less now, but it’s not that I’m like every day thinking about her. Like I used to, like, think all the time. It’s just when I think about that thing that time, that night, I’m just like, I hate that woman.

 

Gabe: And you’re struggling to move forward from it. So that so if I understand you correctly, the trauma just overcomes you sometimes, right? It’s. You’re fine. You’re fine. You’re fine. You’re fine. You’re fine, you’re fine. You’re fine. And then one day you see something, you think about it, and you’re just triggered by it. So. So trauma, it sounds like it can be very triggering.

 

Michelle: Yes, but don’t you have trauma? Tell me about your dad, Gabe.

 

Gabe: Which one?

 

Michelle: I don’t know. The one that traumatized you.

 

Gabe: The one who abandoned me. See? See, that’s what’s interesting. Whenever somebody says, please tell me about your dad, I immediately think of my dad, my real one, the guy who raised me. But, I know that you don’t mean him. You mean my biological father, the guy who impregnated my mother and left, the guy who took one look at me and decided that I wasn’t good enough. The guy who, even though he is dead, I am still furious at. Michelle, I get you. I understand you completely. I want to give you better advice. I want to tell you that the way you’re handling this is wrong. I want to tell you that you need to make better choices because I want to be a good friend to you and because I want you to live a better life than I’m leading. But here’s the truth of it. I’m 45 years old and I’m pissed off at a guy who left my mom and me when I was six months old. And he’s dead. He is dead. He died a lonely alcoholic who nobody gave a shit about.

 

Gabe: I could not win more if I tried and I am still pissed off at him. It still bothers me to this day. And you know what triggers my trauma? Bad parents. Whenever I see bad parents and I don’t mean parents yelling at their kids at the mall, that’s normal parenting. I don’t mean parents that that get overwhelmed. No, I mean the guy who tells me that he hasn’t seen his kid in three weeks and that bitch is still collecting child support. And he says it just like that, all the misogyny. Right, intact. And I just slowly cock my head to the side and unload 45 years of abandonment issues on them. And what they’re thinking is, is, wow, I should just spend some time with my kids because this guy is nuts. Maybe that’ll work. I don’t know. So, yeah, I get it. But nobody should want to be us. Like, if anybody’s listening is like, Yeah, yeah, I do that too. Does this sound healthy to you? Does any of this sound healthy to you?

 

Michelle: No. No.

 

Gabe: No, no. I think this might be the first time in history that the moral of the podcast is don’t be Gabe and Michelle be better than us in every imaginable way. The other moral is that we need to lock down your social media. Like, for real. We’ve got to keep you off Facebook. If we ever get in a fight again, I’m disconnecting all my social media because I’d be terrified. I’d be terrified that you know what you did to me.

 

Michelle: Yeah. You know what you did?

 

Gabe: I just be like, Who the hell is this? You know, that would be the other thing. If I got that message, I’d be like, Who is this? Because there’s a lot of options. Like, there’s so many people that could send me that text message and that I want to talk about that just like real quick. Michelle, you and I have done a really good job of talking about all the people who have traumatized us. But you recognize that we’ve traumatized other people. You know, we have our illnesses have scared people

 

Michelle: Yeah.

 

Gabe: Our outbursts are, it’s scary. It’s super scary. My mom says that she still worries about midnight phone calls, but just I you know, actually, I don’t even discuss it with my mother, but I. I don’t discuss it with my mom because I just. Here’s a question that I don’t want to ask her. Hey, Mom, what’s it like getting a phone call that your oldest son has been committed to a psychiatric hospital with bipolar disorder because he wants to kill himself and he thinks it’s perfectly normal.

 

Michelle: Yeah. I never I never asked my mom that question.

 

Gabe: Yeah. I didn’t ask my mom either. And you know why I didn’t ask my mom? Because I don’t want to know.

 

Michelle: Yeah. I don’t want to know.

 

Gabe: It’s actually a question that I’m terrified of knowing because there’s no good answer. What if my mom gives this answer? Oh, I didn’t care. It didn’t bother me at all. Oh, how could you know? You’re supposed to love me. No. But what if she gives this answer? It was the most horrible phone call I ever got. I cried endlessly. It was horrible. You know how awful it is to hear about somebody that you love being out of their damn mind and being committed to a psychiatric facility. It was the most horrific phone call I’ve ever gotten. I don’t want to live with that knowledge, so I can’t decide if I want my mom A to have been traumatized by me going to the psychiatric hospital, or B, if I want my mom not to give a shit. But either one has its own list of problems that frankly, I just do not have the emotions to deal with.

 

Michelle:  Mm-hmm. I called my mom and told her I was in the psych ward and she started crying.

 

Gabe: Yeah. I don’t remember what my mom did because I don’t remember.

 

Michelle: She was out. She was at work. And I hear her friends say, what’s wrong? And she said, Michelle’s in the psych ward.

 

Gabe: So you traumatized your mom. That’s got to make you feel some ways.

 

Michelle: Well, what was I supposed to do, not call her?

 

Gabe: Exactly. Exactly. And if that doesn’t just sum up the problem with trauma right there, I don’t know what does so much of trauma is caused just because I had to call my mom and tell her I couldn’t not tell her. But, yeah, it was traumatizing. Sometimes when everything goes right, it. It’s just traumatizing. There’s just. Just there’s just so much trauma laying around that nobody pays any attention to and that nobody cares about, and it just seems to crop up the most inopportune time. Michelle Everybody needs therapy. I’m prescribing everybody therapy.

 

Michelle: Everyone.

 

Gabe: You know where you can get therapy for 10% off? BetterHelp.com. Just go to BetterHelp.com/BSP22 and save 10% on your first month. Use coupon code BSP22. I joke, but it’s one of the reasons I love them as a sponsor. Telehealth is phenomenal. I think everybody should be in therapy and it’s super easy. You can do it on your phone. I did not mean for this to devolve into some sort of plug.

 

Michelle: Yeah. I don’t know what’s going on with you. I think you’re so traumatized that you’re just going off the rocker right now.

 

Gabe: All I’m trying to say, Michelle, is that trauma is everywhere. And a lot of us trip over it. And many of us don’t even know that it’s a real thing and it’s really controlling our lives much in the same way that bipolar and schizophrenia was, you know, yanking the strings and leading us around by our noses before we got diagnosed and before we get help. I think many people are struggling with a lot of trauma issues. And just in the same way that we didn’t know that we had bipolar disorder and schizophrenia and it caused us a lot of problems. I think many people are impacted by trauma. They’re not getting any help for it and it’s causing them a lot of problems. I think that many people would do well to really pay attention about these landmines that are in their past and get help

 

Michelle: I mean, even they affect things like little things now. Like, can you even watch Girl, Interrupted? Can you watch that movie?

 

Gabe: Well, I can’t watch it because it’s a shitty movie.

 

Michelle: It is a good movie, but like

 

Gabe: It’s not a good movie.

 

Michelle: I was out of the psych ward like maybe a week and my roommate put Girl, Interrupted on and I was like, Turn this off, turn this off.

 

Gabe: Right, because it was a bad movie.

 

Michelle: No, because it’s about a psych ward.

 

Gabe: Yeah, I do. I remember the very first time that I was mental health advocate and I toured a psych ward just as a mental health advocate. I was with a group of other people and we just like walked in and the door locked behind me and that the locking door in a psych ward has a very unique sound. First, the door shuts and it’s a really heavy door. So it’s got it’s got sort of that sound to it that kind of reverberates a little bit.

 

Michelle: Yeah. Yeah.

 

Gabe: Yeah. And then there’s the locking mechanism that usually makes a buzzing sound like that, and then it clicks. I heard that sound and I just I broke into an immediate panic and anxiety attack. I just I just instantly turned into sweat my knees. I didn’t even know why. Like, that’s how long that was hidden in there. It didn’t even occur to me that it would be a problem, and it just rendered me incapacitated. It was it was horrific.

 

Michelle: Yeah. Yeah.

 

Gabe: Michelle, thank you as always for spending an hour with me. It’s always super fun. What’s your favorite part?

 

Michelle: That I need to get off Facebook and stop stalking people.

 

Gabe: No. Don’t say something funny. Say some nice.

 

Michelle: My favorite part is that we got really deep and hugged.

 

Gabe: I can edit that in a way where people won’t know that it’s bullshit. And by I, I mean Lisa. You ever notice that whenever I say I can produce, I can edit, I can change it. Lisa always glares at me. That’s. That’s my. This must be the season of Lisa glaring at us. And on that note, we’re just going to go ahead and get out of here because Lisa’s making the little wrap it up Gabe sound. Hey, everybody. My name is Gabe Howard and I am the author of “Mental Illness Is an Asshole and Other Observations,” which you can get on Amazon, but you can get a signed copy with free show swag just by heading over to gabehoward.com.

 

Michelle: And my name is Michelle Hamer and I’m the founder and creator of Schizophrenic.NYC. Check out my designs, shirts, artworks, leggings and more over there. Just type Schizophrenic.NYC into your browser.

 

Gabe: We also want to shout out our sponsor Better Help. Com you can save 10% off your first month by going to BetterHelp.com/BSP22. We will see everybody next Tuesday on A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast.

 

Michelle: Trauma.

 

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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