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Podcast: Women v Men: Who Has More Stigma From Mental Illness?

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Podcast: Women v Men: Who Has More Stigma From Mental Illness?

March 19, 2024

Today’s discussion explores the challenges men and women face in managing mental illness, examining societal expectations, medication, and support systems. What disparities exist? What similarities emerge? Who triumphs in the battle of the sexes?

Michelle and Gabe also delve into the question of whether it truly matters who suffers more (spoiler alert: it doesn’t) and why society perpetuates a competition of suffering. Join us for a thought-provoking conversation rooted in the timeless debate of men versus women. Listen Now!

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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: Challenging the Stupidity Stereotype in Mental Illness

Producer’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer-generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you. 


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


Gabe: Thanks for listening everyone. My name is Gabe Howard and I’m bipolar.


Michelle: Hey, I’m Michelle Hammer and I’m schizophrenic.


Gabe: And we are so excited to be here for a season four. If you want us to keep going, just head over to BSP.show/support, and throw your support. There’s lots of cool stuff out there, but all right, we have an episode to do. Michelle I decided that you and I, you know, because we’re stupid. We need to wade into the culture wars with the with the presidential primary season and, you know, woke politics and and cancellation culture and all the stuff that’s been going on. I decided that we needed to find a way to pit men against women on our show. So the topic of this show is, who has it worse with dealing with mental illness? Men or women?


Michelle: It’s a great topic. Gabe, let’s talk about it. Let’s get right into it. I want to know these answers right now. Let’s do it. I’m loving it. Let’s go.


Gabe: All right. It’s clearly men. Men have it worse when dealing with mental illness. I’m positive the show can be over. Roll the credits, I win.


Michelle: No, you don’t win. Women have it worse. Definitely 100%. I have all the facts right here. I have a whole binder right here, right now. You’re wrong. Women have it worse.


Gabe: Okay, first off, that’s a lie. I know we’re not playing two truths and a lie. But even though I first off, I can see that she doesn’t have a binder. But everybody listening is like, there is no way that Michelle made a binder. Come on, come on.


Gabe: Who are you trying to fool?


Michelle: I, I Googled everything. I went to the deep dark ends. I went to the dark web.


Gabe: You went to the dark web?


Michelle: I went to the dark web and found every story I want. I went to every Reddit thread because it’s all true stories on Reddit.


Gabe: Because that’s gotta piss some people off.


Michelle: That’s always going to piss people off when you play the suffering Olympics of genders.


Gabe: I just, your monotonous delivery of that line is something to die for. Michelle’s like I just, I just I just said the line. I don’t know what I can do.


Michelle: I just gotta do it. We just gotta do it, Gabe. What’s worse, Gabe?


Gabe: First off, I you are right, there is a bit of suffering Olympics involved. Just whenever you’re starting to like cross compare, you’re sort of playing the suffering Olympics. It really shouldn’t make any difference what your experience with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, whatever it is, it’s it really should only compete against yourself in this. But it does kind of make a difference, though, doesn’t it?


Michelle: I think it totally makes a difference. I find myself thinking about this a lot. Like if I was a guy, how would my life be different?


Gabe: Well, you’d have a wiener.


Michelle: In everything, in jobs, in in the in my whole life.


Gabe: You’d make more per hour.


Michelle: In mental illness, in everything that I’ve been through. Would it be different if I was a guy?


Gabe: If you were a white guy, you’d definitely have more power and privilege in society.


Michelle: Would my life be better if I was a guy? Would my mental illness be different? How would everything happen if I was a guy? I think about it a lot.


Gabe: I really think we’re definitely hitting all of the markers to really make people angry. Like half the people just stopped listening because they’re triggered.


Michelle: I’m not triggering anyone, Gabe. You’re saying I’m triggering people? I’m not triggering anyone.


Gabe: No. No, I’m doing it. I’m doing it on purpose. I’m sitting right here throwing gas right on your flame. What you’re saying is very sensible, but I’m adding in the hate. I’m a troll.


Michelle: The hate. The hate. So what are you? Okay, Gabe, if you were a woman, do you believe with your mental illness, your life would be easier?


Gabe: There’s this part of me that wants to say yes, right? There really, really is. And one of the biggest reasons is because I believe that I would be able to ask for help easier. That that’s number one. Two, I think that nobody would make fun of me or call me a wuss for crying. Uh, and three, if I had a breakdown in public, I don’t think people would fear violence. I think I think people would be much more likely to run over and help me. There’s lots of statistics that show that men having a mental illness, psychosis, fit in public are much more likely to be, uh, violently interacted with, shot, killed, restrained than a woman who is having a mental illness psychosis outburst in public. And we’ve seen lots of examples of this. It’s remember the New York subway guy?


Michelle: Yeah.


Gabe: It’s not an accident that that he was a man and a black man at that. The intervention for him was we must keep people safe and prevent violence. I think that if you, Michelle, had the exact same outburst on the exact same New York subway, people would be much more likely to de-escalate you. So in that way, yes. I think that it might be better if I were a woman living with bipolar disorder with psychotic features.


Michelle: If you’re going to bring up that subway thing. Listen, it does not matter if you’re a man or a woman. The person who did that to the subway dude obviously was not on the subway that many times, because there’s people on the subway all the time making threats, yelling things, screaming things, lighting up cigarettes on the train. Like the guy who did that. He didn’t know what the subway was like and took that guy for a, uh, dangerous dude and then attacked him.


Gabe: But let me. Would he have taken a woman for a dangerous person if she had done the exact same thing?


Michelle: There has been women that have been killed by the cops. A fountain House member? Yes


Gabe: Oh yeah. Now, no, no, no, no, no.


Michelle: She was. The cops were called on her.


Gabe: Yes, yes, yes.


Michelle: She picked up a spatula and they shot her dead.


Gabe: Yes, there are obvious examples, but are there more examples of men? And the answer is unequivocally yes.


Michelle: I mean, pick up the statistics. I have no idea. But, like, I don’t think that just because men will be more violent. Remember my story? I was an 18-year-old college student in the dorm, and I got the crap beat out of me by a behemoth university police officer. Does that make any sense?


Gabe: I mean, in a way it does. It does. If we’re applying this fairly right? That that whenever somebody has an episode with mental illness, you know, they have a crisis in public. We must respond equally and fairly. Then, yes, it makes absolute sense. We killed the subway, dude. We shot the spatula, lady. Police officers are shooting men all the time for having psychosis issues in in public. So. Yes. Yes. Michelle you had a schizophrenic crisis in public. We must jump on you. I understand what you’re saying, but I think it just sucks to have mental illness. I think it sucks to have crisis with mental illness, but I’m still going to go back and say and again, right, right. Ding ding ding ding ding, suffering Olympics. I do think it’s worse for men, I think men, and statistically this holds up. Men are much more likely to be killed because they have a mental illness crisis in public than women. So in this way, I guess if I was going to have a psychosis outburst in public, I would rather be a woman. I think it would be safer for me.


Michelle: You can be a safer just because a mental illness crisis in public. But what about your life? Just life in general.


Gabe: Well, there’s


Michelle: Like, don’t you think you can get jobs easier than a woman?


Gabe: Hang on. This is another area where it gets where the devil is really in the details. You said getting a job is easier if you’re a man. That is factually accurate, right?  I want to be, like, super clear. I want to make sure that everybody hears that is factually accurate. However, explaining gaps in your resume is much easier if you’re a woman. When I had a year and a half gap where I couldn’t work, when I went back to work, everybody wanted to know why I was off for a year and a half. When you’re a woman, they just assume it’s pregnancy or child care or caregiving. Nobody gives a shit. So that’s a little bit of a that that’s a tricky question to answer.


Michelle: Gabe, all you need to do is pad your resume. I’ve been on so many interviews, you just pad your resume.


Gabe: So you’re saying lie?


Michelle: Yes. You lie.


Gabe: [Laughter]


Michelle: You just pad the resume. You just say, oh, this started in May when it actually started in August. You just make up things. That’s what you do. I’ve been on 8 million interviews in my lifetime because I could never keep a job because of all my symptoms.


Gabe: I can think of a hundred strategies, by the way, for men who have this gap. Say that you owned a business during that time. Say that you worked for a relative, say that you worked outside of your typical industry. Whatever. There are definitely ways. But it is harder for a man to explain a multi-year gap than it is a woman, because all a woman has to say is I was taking care of my mother and nobody checks. If a man says I was taking care of my mother, I, you know, half of the employers out there, like I think that’s a lie. The other half are well, you’re a wuss. I don’t know that I want you around here. I mean, who takes care of their mom?


Michelle: Uh, Gabe, you’re just making things up. Now you’re just saying it’s harder for men to get jobs when it’s obviously much easier for a man to get a job than a woman. It’s much easier whenever and also when you just talk to like a man. And they say whether you like, if you have a mental illness, oh, what are you doing? Or what are your projects? What are you doing? A man will talk up his project, say everything. That’s good. A woman loves to talk down their projects. Oh, it’s all right. I’m not really doing that much. I’m doing these things. They’re okay. But men talk up everything they do. Like they’re the best things ever. When a woman will put themselves down all the time.


Gabe: And thank you for listening to a feminist, a mansplainer, and a podcast. We’ll be right back after these messages. I’m not disagreeing with you.


Michelle: It’s true.


Gabe: I, I it is true. It’s 100% true, but it’s a bit outside of the scope of what we’re talking about. Whereas if you’re managing bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, is it harder for a man or a woman? Now first off, it’s a bullshit question. It’s just hard, period. And we shouldn’t be going down this road at all. But when you and I were talking about topics for this season, you and I realized that sometimes we see things differently based solely on our gender, literally, solely on our gender. I just, you know, Michelle is not the most warm and fuzzy person in the world. You’re going to find that hard to believe because she’s so kind to me on the show. But when I pointed


Michelle: Hmm-mm.


Gabe: Out that men crying was hard, she’s like, yeah, you’re a beep. I know that you were being funny. But, Michelle, you know as well as I do that even women look down on 250 pound, 50-year-old men bawling in their cubicles. They kind of avoid them. But if you saw a 50-year-old woman sitting in her cubicle sobbing, you’d run over and help her. I do think that’s a difference between the stereotypical male experience and female experience.


Michelle: I would not run over and help her.


Gabe: You wouldn’t.


Michelle: Are you kidding me?


Gabe: You wouldn’t.


Michelle: I would never run over and help her.


Gabe: You wouldn’t run over and help anybody. But don’t you agree that if there was two people crying in a cubicle, who’s more likely


Michelle: Listen,


Gabe: To get help?


Michelle: I never cried in a cubicle. I go outside, take a break and cry. I would cry at work. Yes, I would, but I would leave the building and cry on the street.


Gabe: I know, but you’re avoiding the question. I. I understand, and I’m not disagreeing. Everybody is different. But, Michelle, the base premise of who do you believe is more likely to receive support at work? A man who is crying in his cubicle, or a woman who is crying in her cubicle? Who is more likely to get the support that they need?


Michelle: I really have no idea because I’ve never been in that situation.


Gabe: You just can’t extrapolate?


Michelle: I don’t know. I know you want to say. You want me to say woman, but like, this has never happened to me in any of my jobs, ever. And I’ve worked everywhere.


Gabe: Take a guess.


Michelle: I’ve never seen anyone crying in their cubicle at work. Everybody leaves their cubicle and goes crying alone. That’s the difference between New York City and every other place. Nobody cries in their own cubicle. They go somewhere else to cry.


Gabe: Okay. If you saw them crying around the corner, who would be more likely to get help? The man or the woman?


Michelle: Okay. Shut up already. You’re. You’re annoying me. Let’s get back to the point. Listen to this one, Gabe. So if you were to have a baby, is there anything you have to change with your medication?


Gabe: No. I can stay on my medication the whole time. And that really threw me for a loop when you brought that up, because I, I, Michelle, I love you, I do, I just I want to make sure that everybody hears this. But even if you could take medication for schizophrenia and be pregnant, I’d be scared of you. Pregnant women are scary to men. I just, I I’m not sugarcoating it any way. We’re being really direct. Like, I never know how to help pregnant women when they’re when they’re having pregnant woman problems. I don’t know what to do. So even if you were fully medicated and stable and pregnant, I’d be afraid of you. But here’s the thing. A lot of the medications that you are on, Michelle, you’d have to go off of in order to sustain your pregnancy. And


Michelle: You know, I hear both answers. I hear you probably should go off your meds. And then I’ve also heard you can stay on your meds. They’re fine. There’s nothing wrong with that. So I’ve heard two separate answers.


Gabe: I think it depends on the meds.


Michelle: The thing is, there’s not enough studies to be shown of what happens to the baby if you stay on your meds so that people don’t. People just have completely different answers.


Gabe: I want to make sure. Hang on. I want to pause right there and make sure we circle back to this. Another thing that sucks about being a woman with managing mental illness is that all these drugs are tested on men. But let’s stay on the pregnancy thing for a minute. But we’re getting to that other thing in a minute. But hey,


Michelle: Okay.


Gabe: There are women that I’ve talked to and I think you have too, that say things like, I want to get pregnant, so I’m going off my meds. They’re not even pregnant yet. They’re just going to start having unprotected sex and try. And now they’ve got to go off their meds. They’re on their meds for a reason. Michelle.


Michelle: So off meds plus pregnancy hormones. You wouldn’t even want to talk to me, Gabe.


Gabe: I, I.


Michelle: You wouldn’t even want to talk to me.


Gabe: I’m terrified of you now.


Michelle: I would be so crazy. I would be so off the chain nuts. And I thought my friend was nuts when she was pregnant. She’s not even on any psych meds. She doesn’t even have a mental illness. Every time I went out with her, we always ended up at the diner where she got French onion soup and tree fries.


Gabe: I love tree fries.


Michelle: Cheese fries


Gabe: You said tree.


Michelle: Always. That was the second pregnancy. The first pregnancy. She always kidnaped me and brought me to Applebee’s so we can get the deal. I was like, my god.


Gabe: You know, here’s a little offshoot to that. I think that there are some people listening to this podcast would be like, oh my God, people with schizophrenia and bipolar can’t have kids. This is where maybe men and women, you know, like people who want to be parents, sort of they have a little bit in common. It’s not really a gender thing. Right? I mean, people in general think that if you have severe and persistent mental illness, you can’t be a parent at all. I do think that that impacts men and women differently. But I do think that there’s like a small little like in the Venn diagram, like that’s the middle part, right? Where, where both. But when a woman says, I want to go off my medication and I’m, you know, it’s hard because Michelle and I don’t have children, not together or separately.


Michelle: Together. We do. We have a baby, Gabe.


Gabe: But when a woman goes to her doctor and says, I want to have children, doctors often try to talk them out of it. That’s got to be particularly devastating if you’re a person who’s always wanted to start a family and you’re like, hey, I, I’m managing my mental illness, I now want to start a family. How can I do it safely? And the doctor is like, no, no, that’s a bad idea. You should look into adoption. Are you sure? This might impact your stability?


Michelle: Because they’re going to be allowed to adopt?


Gabe: I, they’re.


Michelle: They’re going to be allowed to adopt with a mental illness?


Gabe: That that that is a whole other problem.


Michelle: Good luck. Good luck adopting.


Gabe: Here is an interesting little factoid, right? Remember, we’re talking about the gender wars. We’ve waded into the culture wars here at A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. If the woman has a history of mental illness, but the man is stable, much more likely to be able to adopt than the reverse.


Michelle: That’s absolutely the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard.


Gabe: Well, because women are expected to be a little crazy, which I can’t decide if that’s a protective factor or an offensive factor. Your thoughts?


Michelle: That is absolutely the craziest thing that I ever heard. I don’t know why they would assume the woman would be the crazy one, but the man is not.


Gabe: No. No, they don’t assume that the man that the woman would be the crazy one. They’re saying, like, if you’re like, hey, this is my wife, and she suffers from bipolar disorder, and I’m the man and I’m perfectly mentally healthy. Adoption agencies are like, yeah, you’re live. But if it’s the reverse. Hi. This is my wife who is perfectly mentally healthy, and I am the man who has bipolar disorder. They’re like, oh, I don’t know. That might not be a good idea.


Michelle: What? Why? Because. What do they think? The man brings home the money and the. And the woman takes care of the kids? So.


Gabe: That, that’s one of the that that’s one of the old timey thinkings.


Michelle: That just makes no, no sense to me whatsoever. Like, there’s a lot of people that shouldn’t have kids and they have kids. No problem. A lot of people shouldn’t have kids anyway. There is no test for having kids. Anyone, anyone at any age can have a kid.


Gabe: Really at any age? You got a couple of six-year-olds?


Michelle: Biologically allowed. You know what I’m saying.


Gabe: I know. I know what you’re saying.


Michelle: You’re biological to whatever it is. You can have a kid. You can be a bum on the street and get somebody pregnant. It’s possible. Anyone can have a kid. So these adoption rules are pretty ridiculous.


Gabe: But I really think it comes down to this. Women are expected to be emotional, which is just a short jump to mentally ill, and men are expected to be able to manage their emotional wives where the reverse is not true.


Michelle: Where? Where did this come? How did you learn this?


Gabe: I just from talking to people. Again, I always like to be very, very clear. These are the stories that I’ve heard traveling the nation over the last decade that people are trying to adopt. And men are like, look, they found out that I had a serious and persistent mental illness and they wiped me off the list. Now, in fairness, when you cover something like this, you got to extend it one outward. You know, a woman trying to adopt a single woman trying to adopt a baby is much more likely to get a yes than a single man trying to adopt a baby. And we all know the reason for that, because men are assumed to be predators, and that’s why they’re trying to get a kid. So that really, really sucks.


Michelle: Oh, you predator men. That’s terrible.


Gabe: But isn’t that like a terrible stereotype? That if a man wants to become


Michelle: That’s. a horrible stereotype.


Gabe: A father. He, it’s assumed that he’s doing something wrong? And culturally, this is an American thing. You know, interestingly enough, our producer is much, much better traveled than us. And she has shared stories that in other cultures, a single man who reaches a certain age and isn’t married, who wants to adopt, it’s actually they’re like, well, that’s really, really smart, because when they get older, they’ll need children to take care of them because they don’t have a wife. Like, oh, well, yeah, you’re a 50-year-old man. You’ve never had kids. You should adopt, because when you’re 70, somebody’s going to need to take care of you. It’s just an entirely different way of thinking that that leaves out this idea that all men are predators. But back to the subject at hand. Uh, there is this idea that violence comes from men and that men aren’t in touch with their emotions and that men can’t cry. And I think that all of this not to fall down the world’s deepest rabbit hole, does, in fact, I’m trying to climb out, guys. I, I, I do think that these things make it harder for men to manage mental illness over women.


Michelle: I see what you are saying and you’re making a lot of interesting points. But yet women just have to be women and live with a mental illness, but still be a woman to be a good wife for their partner, especially if they’re marrying a man. You still have to be that good wife for your husband. In living in all of those roles, like, oh, you’re at home. Let me make you dinner. Let me do this for you. And then you’re expected to do all of those things and manage your mental illness at the same time. Otherwise you’re not fulfilling your wifely duties that your husband or say is expecting you to do, right?


Gabe: I always thought that wifely duties was sex.


Michelle: Wifely, and sex. And let’s just bring up sexual difficulties because of medication. Men, they can just go get some Viagra. Women, what do you get? The Hitachi Magic Wand and pray for the best?


Gabe: Remember that episode? Remember that episode where you discovered the Hitachi Magic? Can you believe that there is an episode of A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast where I told Michelle about the Hitachi Magic Wand? She ordered one, found it, and then raved about it for 15 minutes on the show. Like, this is the, this is the podcast that we bring to you, ladies and gentlemen.


Michelle: Because men. You see. Listen, listen, listen, listen. What happened to me? Men can get Viagra. My doctor prescribed me Viagra, and I brought it to the pharmacy. And I handed it to the pharmacist. And she looked at the prescription, and she looked back at me, and she said, what do you need this for? Like.


Gabe: Did you say sexing?


Michelle: I just said, I don’t know,


Gabe: You didn’t.


Michelle: Because why do I have to explain to the pharmacist why I need Viagra?


Gabe: You.


Michelle: Isn’t it kind of obvious?


Gabe: Well, I mean, was it to get an erection? Michelle, are you are you telling folks that you have a?


Michelle: I don’t know. He prescribed me Viagra, but then she told me that my insurance wouldn’t cover it because I’m a woman. So I said forget about it.


Gabe: Huh? That I have so many questions.


Michelle: So, she wouldn’t give me Viagra.


Gabe: But I, I think that you’re, you’re, you’re sort of burying the lead a little bit on this one. When men have sexual issues with their medication, I think that, one, men are more likely than women to address it with their doctors. And two, I think that men are more likely than women. Uh, not to get pushback. I’m just going to say it like, just, hey, I can’t get an erection. And the doctor is like, well, of course that’s important. We must fix that. I have heard from countless women over the years. That, one, they don’t want to bring it up to their doctors. The society has screwed over women and sexuality to they, they feel that they cannot bring it up, especially if they’re not married. And two, when they do bring it up, their doctors are just like, well, you’re not married. You have more important things to do, and it’s not that important. And women are like, the hell you say, old man. Uh, so I


Michelle: Yeah.


Gabe: Do think that it must be much more difficult. I don’t know why I’m arguing your side for you, but you have heard from women who have sexual issues with their treatment, and they cannot get help because they are young, they’re unmarried, and the doctors are just like, well, it’s more important than you’re stable. And not that you can have an orgasm, which of course is just bullshit.


Michelle: Exactly. See, I’ve been on so many medications. I know which ones work, which ones don’t, in the sexual kind of category. Right. So when some people that I just know tell me they are on certain medications, I don’t say anything. But in my head is going, how do you have an orgasm on that? But I don’t say it, but I know they don’t do it. It’s just kind of like, mhm. You must be having a good time with your man huh.


Gabe: You have guts, though. You wouldn’t let this happen. You know, Michelle Hammer’s personality is just like, hey, I can’t have an orgasm. Well, but I think stability is much more important. Yes. Stable with an orgasm. I see you fighting back. Is it true that the stereotypical woman just. And again, I know we’re speaking like super stereotypical, super broad and that’s kind of an asshole thing to do. But I’ve just heard from countless women that they stop taking their medication. They stop pursuing treatment because their medical team does not understand that they want to masturbate, they want to have sex, they want to have orgasms. So they just stop


Michelle: Yes.


Gabe: Getting treatment. And that, of course, exacerbates the schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.


Michelle: Exacerbates exacerbation, exacerbate exacerbation.


Gabe: Exacerbation. The masturbation.


Michelle: I’m exacerbated from not masturbating.


Gabe: But talk on that, Michelle. You’re doing a terrible job defending your gender.


Michelle: But it’s true. But it’s true. Right before I was on my antidepressant, [snap], 30 seconds. After my antidepressant? I think we can watch the movie. Like we can watch f***ing Dances with Wolves. You can watch Titanic on double VHS tapes. You know?


Gabe: Well, isn’t this is a good thing? Then, I mean, isn’t your partner like. Woo hoo! Before you were like, you know, hit it and quit it and like, under a second, I mean, now you’ve got like an afternoon. I think this is a good thing, especially during the pandemic.


Michelle: I mean, I mean, you know what I mean? It’s like it’s like running a marathon.


Gabe: You had something to do during quarantine.


Michelle: It is a marathon. It’s running a marathon,


Gabe: I think this is great.


Michelle: And then you can’t even walk the next day.


Gabe: Wow, wow.


Michelle: Then the next day you can’t walk. It’s like. Come on, come on.


Gabe: Wow.


Michelle: It’s struggling.


Gabe: I feel like we need a voiceover right now. That’s like the silence is not because your player stopped, it’s because Gabe just does not know what to say. I want


Michelle: You’re


Gabe: To be


Michelle: Going to be like, I’ll have what she’s having.


Gabe: I want to ask a question, though, that that noise that you were making was that the was that the orgasm or the the Hitachi?


Michelle: No,


Gabe: Magic


Michelle: That was


Gabe: Wand?


Michelle: The straining. I don’t actually make that straining noise.


Gabe: I. Are.


Michelle: And then while that’s happening, it’s [bzzzzz].


Gabe: Now. What’s that sound? Are you being attacked by bees?


Michelle: That’s the vibrator.


Gabe: That’s the vibrator.


Michelle: That’s the vibrator.


Gabe: That’s the. Wow. What’s your electric bill like? This is. This is. This is why we can’t have nice things. This is why Spotify and iHeartRadio won’t buy our show. 


Sponsor Break


Michelle: And we’re back playing the suffering Olympics. Who has it worth when dealing with mental illness, men or women?


Gabe: But you are right, though. I just, uh. Are you having trouble getting it fixed? Is this another thing that sucks about being a woman is that you really can’t talk about


Michelle: Yes.


Gabe: This with your doctors? Or do women just need to put on their big girl panties, go to their doctors and be like, I want to have sex.


Michelle: I talked to my doctor about it. We switched medications. Things were better, but things are not. You know, you just got to figure out the way to make it work. Gabe, you got to figure out the ways to make it work.


Gabe: How do you make it work? Michelle. No no,


Michelle: I


Gabe: Don’t


Michelle: Just explained.


Gabe: Don’t don’t


Michelle: No.


Gabe: Don’t. Okay. So so. But do you genuinely believe that that men are able to deal with sexual side effects easier than women? When we’re talking about


Michelle: Yes.


Gabe: Men, you know, men versus women, when dealing with mental illness, do you think it is better to be a man and have sexual side effects than a woman?


Michelle: I mean, as long as they can get it up.


Gabe: Okay, but. But many men can’t get it up and they just immediately.


Michelle: Viagra. Just take some Viagra.


Gabe: Stop.


Michelle: Viagra. What’s, what’s so hard.


Gabe: It’s, it’s not that simple.


Michelle: Just take some Viagra.


Gabe: You’ve said that multiple times.


Michelle: How is it not that simple?


Gabe: Like, it’s just not. It’s not.


Michelle: Pop it up. You pop it up, you pop it up, you pop it in you go.


Gabe: It’s not, some of the sexual side effects that that are caused by medication do not respond to ED meds. They it simply does not.


Michelle: It won’t pop up and pop in? Extendze?


Gabe: It’s something. Okay. That’s just


Michelle: What


Gabe: A, that’s


Michelle: About Extendze?


Gabe: A, that’s just a gas station con that nobody should use ever.


Michelle: Oh, I don’t even know what Extendze is. I don’t


Gabe: It’s


Michelle: Even know.


Gabe: A scam that nobody should buy, ever. Okay, Michelle, let’s go back to we’re on the topic of


Michelle: Pop


Gabe: Medication.


Michelle: Up


Gabe: Worst segue


Michelle: Pop


Gabe: Ever.


Michelle: In.


Gabe: Here is a thing that sucks about managing mental illness if you are a woman. Medication is predominantly almost exclusively tested only on men, which means by the time women start to take this medication, there’s a better than average chance that women have not taken this medication before.


Michelle: Say that again.


Gabe: I know it blows your mind. Right. So. So when they do trials. So you’ve got a new medication you’ve come out with, with, with, you know, bipolar schizophrenia cure right. Or treatment. Right. So you’ve got this new pill. It’s, it’s, you know, it’s blue and pink right. And you’re really excited. But it’s got to get through the FDA trials. You know, we’re now on human trials. So they convene a group of people to test this pill so that they can look for side effects and reactions. And they can, you know, make sure that it’s safe for people to take better than average odds that that group is predominantly, if not exclusively, male, which means that by the time these pills get in the hands of women with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, very few if any women have ever taken this medication, especially women of childbearing age. So if you’re a 25-year-old woman, better than average odds, that new treatment that you’re taking that has been ruled safe has never been taken by a 25-year-old woman. It’s been taken by lots of 25-year-old men. They know all of the side effects for the for the male, but they know precious few side effects for females. They try to slip in women like 50-year-olds, post-menopausal, etc. you know, test it there, etc. but they’re really scared to test this medication on women of childbearing age because of the liability that it could screw up the fetus. Remember back to what we were talking about before? What if the woman in their test study gets pregnant and it hurts that pregnancy, they’re going to be liable for that and that could cost them, you know, dollar dollar bills, y’all. So their solution to that is to only test on men, only test on women who are who are menopausal and up. So yeah. Yeah, you know, Michelle, if you’re a 30-year-old woman and you’re taking that new drug, you just might be the first. Makes you feel safe, doesn’t it? Warm and fuzzy.


Michelle: Just inject me with all these new long acting injectables.


Gabe: Well, they’ve probably never tested on women of your age.


Michelle: I want a jab of all of them. what’s going to happen then?


Gabe: I. I on one hand, you. She looks so confused, ladies and gentlemen, like she’s working it out in her brain. You’re like, they’re giving me drugs that they’ve never tested on menstruating women between the ages of 16 and 38. Yeah, yeah, that’s what they’re doing. They’re giving you.


Michelle: Would you bring up? You bring up a good point. Menstruating women. Are your symptoms from PMS or PMDD or are you crazy?


Gabe: Yes. Oh, that was the wrong answer? The hate mail is already being drafted. First, I want to make sure that everybody hears that a lot of these drugs are not tested on women. So I want to be clear that that makes it harder to be a woman managing mental illness, knowing that a lot of your, uh, medications that you’re taking have not been tested on you, especially if you’re between the ages of like 16 and 38. It’s just it’s just not a group of people. I don’t want to lose that thread. Hard stop. It sucks to be a woman in this way. Much better to be a man because, hey, they’re testing all these drugs on people who look and like me. But to your point, yes, yes. When you are sitting across from your doctor and you’re like, oh my God, I hate everything, is that because of your period or is that because of a symptom of mental illness? And I’ve said that in literally the most misogynistic way possible, I know that I have, but I got to imagine that this is a huge barrier to women getting care. If you’re medical person is like, that’s just your period.


Michelle: Mm-hmm.


Gabe: Why am I talking about this? You say stuff about this.


Michelle: But you know what they say sometimes that they’re like, have you ever tried going on birth control? That’s always what they say to a woman talking to a therapist or the first time, have you tried going on birth control? Like, no. I have a lot of friends that have been on birth control, and all they say that it does to them is make them extremely emotional. It makes them more emotional. I’ve never been on birth control before, but like my friends on it, they’ll watch a movie and they just start crying at the sad endings and they’re like, I’m just emotional because of my birth control. So what I’ve noticed about it is it makes people worse, more emotional and more sad, and they cry more and it messes up their sexual function even more. So I don’t know why. I don’t know why that’s ever suggested based on my experiences with my friends. Just saying.


Gabe: So what you’re saying is that the emotions are attributed to birth control instead of to schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, and therefore if it’s actually a symptom of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, it won’t be treated because it is blaming the birth control.


Michelle: I’m not blaming the birth control because that they always ask, are you on birth control because they said they could regulate your mood with you take birth control. Your mood can be regulated, but it makes no sense because the experiences that I’ve had with my friends who have been on birth control is that they’re only more emotional. But yet the doctors want you to sometimes go on birth control because they said it will regulate your mood better.


Gabe: So they’re using birth control as a treatment for mental illness.


Michelle: They’re trying to use it as a treatment for mental illness. Yeah. Birth control. Yet do you also know if you are taking an antipsychotic birth control pills do not work. Does everyone know that? Do we know that any hormonal birth control will not work? If you take an antipsychotic, your only option is the copper IUD, which will mess you up forever. Usually in my case and in other people’s cases, it has been messing you up because then they pop it up your cervix and you know what? If anything too big goes up your hoo hoo. It’s going to smack your IUD and it’s not comfortable. And even after they take it out, if anything smacks your cervix, it’s going to smack your cervix sooner than it ever did before. So I’m just saying it’s not good when you have a mental illness and you have to only go on the copper IUD, just a just a letting everyone know hormonal birth controls do not work on an anti-psychotic.


Gabe: It’s not that simple. It’s not that they don’t work 100% of the time. It’s that that they work unpredictably. I just feel the need to say that I don’t. But that does make it dangerous for the purposes of med review, because we do med check these episodes, it is it is not true that it’s 100%, but it makes it very sketchy and hard and difficult to the point of you might as well not use it because you don’t know what’s going to happen. The point is, is that you absolutely, unequivocally need to work with your doctor. But this does add another layer, right? Because chances are the doctor who prescribes your birth control and the doctor who prescribes your anti-psychotics are two different people. Meaning to get an answer to this quagmire of a question. Just so yeah, I’m going to have to give that point to women. It’s harder to manage mental illness if you’re a woman, because the birth control is probably prescribed by a general practitioner or an OB?GYN, and your anti-psychotics are prescribed by a psychiatrist or a psych nurse. And chances are those two people are not giving you the answers that you need because they’re not working together.


Michelle: Right. But when you go to the gynecologist and you tell the gynecologist what medication you’re on, they, if they are a good gynecologist, will say, oh, you’re on an antipsychotic. No birth control will work for you. And then I told the gynecologist, what about the copper IUD? And they said, oh, that will work for you.



Gabe: So again, point awarded. It’s harder for women. Men


Michelle: Mm-hmm.


Gabe: Do not have this particular issue.


Michelle: No. Remember, they were trying to come out with a man birth control or something, but it was making them more emotional so they didn’t like it.


Gabe: Is that a true story or is that an urban legend?


Michelle: No, I heard it on The View.


Gabe: Did you really?


Michelle: Yes I did.


Gabe: I, in general, trust the information that comes out of The View.


Michelle: Yes, The View is a great show, been in the been in the audience many times.


Gabe: Yeah. How do you keep ending up in the audience?


Michelle: You just sign up online?


Gabe: That’s it. They’re just, like, so desperate for people. They’re just like, we’ll take you.


Michelle: Well, I mean, all during like just after COVID times, like, no, there’s no tourists or anything. So I got so many audience availability things. I went so many times. I even saw Sarah Michelle Gellar, which was the best day of my life. Went to the Halloween show. That was fun.


Gabe: As much as I’d love to stay on the topic of being in the audience of The View and wow, do I have so many. This is what this is why it’s cool to be in New York. But the I Michelle I just, I do think that there are differences between being a man managing mental illness and being a woman managing mental illness because there are just differences. Being a man and a woman. It’s unfortunate. I would love to believe that all of society is treated equally, but that’s just bullshit. We do not live in that world, and I do think that there are unique challenges to managing bipolar and schizophrenia. If you are a man, and unique challenges to managing bipolar disorder and schizophrenia if you’re a woman. But as we said at the top of this episode, it is a bit suffering Olympics. I, I want to touch on one thing before we get out of here, and that’s support groups. I got to tell you, Michel, whenever I go to a support group to get help with bipolar disorder, they’re almost always women. And I got to tell you, that’s tough. It is tough. This makes me think two things. This makes me think that one, it’s harder for a man because men are so emotionally pent up, they won’t go to a support group. And two, it makes me think that it must be easier to be a woman, because when you go to these support groups, you’re surrounded by people like you. I know that you are not a therapy person and that you’re not a support group person, but why do you think women are more likely to go to support groups other than men?


Michelle: I really have no idea. I just know whenever I was in the psych ward, it was full of men and not a lot of women at all, so I don’t really know what that that really is. I went to one support group with my friend Nico, and we went to the bipolar support group because I didn’t there was no schizophrenia support group, and it actually was mostly men in there. And I just kind of like just sat around and I talked a little bit. It was like, whatever. But um, like, I don’t know why. It’s mostly women. Maybe they want to hear other people talking about their stuff that’s just going on with them. But, I mean, I feel like men want a place to talk as well. They want to have an open dialog where it’s men talking to men. I think there’s probably different support groups. It depends where you are. Like, I’m also in New York City, so if you don’t like a certain support group, you can probably go and find other support groups to go to. Also, is mental illness more prevalent in men or women, say statistic wise?


Gabe: No, that’s the thing. It’s equal opportunity if you’re a man or a woman. Same prevalence rates. However, suicide is much more likely to be completed for males than it is for females. I don’t want to fall down a rabbit hole on this, but. But it is true that men are more likely to complete suicide than women. But the attempts are largely the same. The same. There are very interesting cultural reasons for this that we’re not going to get into on this show. But if we are talking about suicide attempts, largely the same suicide completion higher for men because of the way that our society is set up, I, I don’t know how to really tie that into if it’s harder or easier to be mentally ill if you’re male or female, because honestly, the whole conversation is stupid. I’m glad that we brought this up on this show, but I do want the audience to hear that comparing this is the suffering Olympics. We set it at the top of the show and I want to reiterate it now. You really should only be comparing mental illness to yourself. Are you doing better this week than last week? But I do think it’s important to understand that there are differences because of your gender. Just like there’s differences because of your culture, just like there’s differences because of your age, just like there’s differences because of your socioeconomic status. And doesn’t this suck? Michelle mental illness is hard enough to deal with without having to take into account all of these other factors that arguably have nothing to do with the disease process itself.


Michelle: I’m just saying, I know a lot of women with a lot of anxiety, really, really high anxiety all the time. They’ve had it for years and years and years and it’s just always, always going around. They might not be diagnosed with anxiety, but it’s just a high anxiety all the time in the workplace, outside of the workplace, just all, just always. I’ve always known anxious people and they were especially women. And I think that’s just something that goes on with society now is just anxiety all the time. Or you’re depressed about something anxiety, depression, anxiety, depression all the time. And I see it mostly in women and I don’t see it as much in men.


Gabe: It is interesting to get this tunnel vision right. I’m a man living with mental illness, so I see challenges that I feel like women don’t have to face. But I do think that that’s kind of dumb. I mean, why am I comparing myself to a woman? But I do think for this podcast, it is important to understand that there are in fact, differences. I don’t think that it’s bad to talk about those differences, but I do think it’s bad to talk about those differences in terms of is it easier or harder to be a man or a woman managing mental illness? I think it’s just hard to manage mental illness. I


Michelle: Oh,


Gabe: To.


Michelle: It’s hard to manage mental illness. Managing mental illness is hard. It’s


Gabe: Yeah,


Michelle: Definitely


Gabe: Yeah.


Michelle: Hard.


Gabe: Hard stop, hard stop.


Michelle: Oh, yeah.


Gabe: Hard


Michelle: It’s


Gabe: Stop.


Michelle: Hard.


Gabe: And.


Michelle: It’s


Gabe: Yeah,


Michelle: Hard.


Gabe: Yeah I.


Michelle: I want, I want to throw out there if you’re non-binary. If you’re non-binary, it’s also hard. Just want


Gabe: Yeah


Michelle: To put


Gabe: Yeah


Michelle: That out


Gabe: Yeah.


Michelle: There.


Gabe: Fair,


Michelle: It’s hard


Gabe: Fair.


Michelle: For a non-binary people to.


Gabe: It’s hard for I know this is a little bit of this this I you know, I hate it when somebody like, I have a challenge with something or like everybody does. It smacks a little bit of I have bipolar disorder. Well, everybody’s a little bit bipolar. Gabe, uh, I hate it when people say that, but I do kind of understand what they’re driving at, which is that everybody has mood swings or that everybody has mental health challenges, or that everybody has something that they’re dealing with in their lives. They just say it in the douchiest way possible. That sort of invalidates my experience, and I don’t want to invalidate anyone’s experience, but I think it’s just tough to manage mental illness. And your gender does play a role in that toughness. I hard stop. I don’t think it’s worth comparing and contrasting, except that we needed a podcast topic and well, this just seemed like nice waters to wade into.


Michelle: I love how you say that with a smile on your face, Gabe.


Gabe: What else can I do.


Michelle: See that, big a big smile on your face? Because you’re just that bipolar man living the best life ever.


Gabe: I mean, I’m living the best life that I can live, and you’re living the best life that you can live. And where we live and our gender, our socioeconomic status, our support system, our age, all of these things do play a role. And they make for great podcast topics. But you know what else they make for great distractions. I really


Michelle: Mm-hmm.


Gabe: Do think that a lot of people are being distracted from getting their best care, because they’re trying to figure out if it’s because they’re a man or a woman or whatever. And I really think we need to put the spotlight back on the illness and living our best lives, and less on what path we have to take to get there. But hey, we needed a podcast topic. You can’t hold this against us. This is what you get. You know, Michelle and I, we’re not smart people.


Michelle: If you want to suggest any future topics, send us an email at BSP@ThisEmotionalLife.org.


Gabe: That’s a good point. If you don’t like this topic. Tell us why at BSP@ThisEmotionalLife.org. If you do like this topic, tell us why at BSP@ThisEmotionalLife.org. If you have a better topic, send us an email and let us know what it is and you might see it on an upcoming episode. And in fact, if you want upcoming episodes, you need to go to BSP.show and give us some money.


Michelle: That would be BSP.show/support.


Gabe: Oh, thanks. Thanks.


Michelle: Yeah.


Gabe: Yeah,


Michelle: You need


Gabe: Yeah.


Michelle: A woman in your life sometime.


Gabe: Well, now that we’ve asked for money in the most awkward way possible, we want to thank the people who supported a Season 4. Michelle, read that list.


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: On that note, thanks everybody for tuning in. Hey, we need you to do us a few favors. Wherever you downloaded this episode, please subscribe or follow the show. It is absolutely free and you don’t want to miss a thing. Rate, rank and review this show everywhere. Also share it. Tell everybody you know. Bring it up in support groups. Bring it up on Reddit threads. Bring it up in the deep dark Facebook groups we all know you’re a member of send people emails and texts because sharing the show is how we grow. We will see everybody next time on A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast.


Gabe: Michelle, introduce yourself. We need to tell people who we are.


Michelle: I am Michelle Hammer. I created Schizophrenic.NYC  a mental health clothing brand and uh, lifestyle and all that fun stuff. You can find that at Schizophrenic.NYC. That’s also my Instagram and my TikTok. And you can also check out my new home and living line at uh, Home.Schizophrenic.NYC. Once again, I’m Michelle Hammer, and I’m, uh, waiting for you to check out my stuff.


Gabe: And I’m Gabe Howard. I wrote the book Mental Illness Is an Asshole and Other Observations.” You can find that book and me online at gabehoward.com. See you all next time.


Michelle: Men suck.


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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