Even though we all know that movies are fictional, alien robots don’t exist, and no one has magic powers, we often think pop culture portrayals of people with bipolar disorder — which are often negative — are accurate.
In rare cases when people with bipolar disorder are shown as being successful, they are unrealistically successful — genius crime fighters, concert pianists, or movie stars.
Join us as Gabe and Dr. Nicole discuss the impact pop culture has on how the real world sees bipolar disorder.
Gabe Howard is an award-winning writer and speaker who lives with bipolar disorder. He is the author of the popular book, “Mental Illness is an Asshole and other Observations,” available from Amazon; signed copies are also available directly from the author.
He is also the host of Healthline Media’s Inside Mental Health podcast available on your favorite podcast player. To learn more about Gabe, or book him for your next event, please visit his website, gabehoward.com.
Dr. Nicole Washington is a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she attended Southern University and A&M College. After receiving her BS degree, she moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma to enroll in the Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine. She completed a residency in psychiatry at the University of Oklahoma in Tulsa. Since completing her residency training, Washington has spent most of her career caring for and being an advocate for those who are not typically consumers of mental health services, namely underserved communities, those with severe mental health conditions, and high performing professionals. Through her private practice, podcast, speaking, and writing, she seeks to provide education to decrease the stigma associated with psychiatric conditions.
Find out more at DrNicolePsych.com.
Producer’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you.
Announcer: You’re listening to Inside Bipolar, a Healthline Media Podcast, where we tackle bipolar disorder using real-world examples and the latest research.
Gabe: Hey, everyone. My name is Gabe Howard and I live with bipolar disorder.
Dr. Nicole: And I’m Dr. Nicole Washington, a board-certified psychiatrist.
Gabe: I love movies, so I just want to start off by saying that this podcast is like Inside Bipolar: The Pop Culture Edition. And the more unrealistic a movie is, the better. Like I do like action movies, right, where the person like goes and gets the revenge. But in order to make it better, they have to wear some sort of costume. They have to be like Batman, Iron Man, Superman. In fact, like aliens from other planets. I love all movies. I don’t know how you feel about movies, television shows and pop culture in general, but I. I’m a fan.
Dr. Nicole: Yeah, I would guess, and probably be willing to bet money on the fact that we have very different movies, because
Gabe: How can how can you say that? You’re telling me that you don’t like the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
Dr. Nicole: I do. I’m a big Marvel fan, but I’m not usually, not usually an action person. Don’t like a lot of.
Gabe: What about, like, John Wick? Do you like John Wick? I mean, they killed his dog, Dr. Nicole. What we’re going to do is pause recording. We’ll be back in about 9 hours after we catch Dr. Nicole up. I feel that before we get too far into the weeds, Dr. Nicole, it’s important to say that everything in society, in the world eventually becomes a movie or a television show. So, it’s not any surprise that bipolar disorder is represented on television and in movies and in our popular culture. But I want to I just want to get people thinking maybe just a skosh that nothing is real on television. Law & Order is the best example of this that I have. This is not how the law works, for one thing. Have you ever seen like a murder case resolve itself in a week? You ever you ever watch that thing? They’re always like, this is what happened this week. Yet in real life, every single major event takes years, years to figure out. But yet they get it done in a weekend. So, as we’re talking, please know, this is why I pretty much hate every single representation of bipolar disorder in every single movie. Dr. Nicole, your thoughts?
Dr. Nicole: Every single movie? Like you’ve never seen one that you thought, oh, this might be a decent portrayal? Like every single one?
Gabe: There are portrayals that I do like more than others. First, I want to say that all of the positive portrayals of bipolar disorder, the ones that make us like detectives and superheroes and amazing and super creative and rich, there is this part of me that’s sitting there watching them like. That’s right. That’s right. You all need to suck up to me. I’m that guy. You all don’t know it because I’m that guy at the beginning of the movie right now. Or I’m just, like, running into doors and I’m having all the struggles. But by the end of the movie, I’m a billionaire detective who rode the lightning or the fire or whatever the hell they do to turn that plot corner. And now I’m amazing and everyone loves me.
Dr. Nicole: Okay, but isn’t there some value in seeing someone with bipolar disorder be successful? In my practice, I take care of a lot of successful people who have bipolar disorder. CEOs, doctors, lawyers. These people are out here killing the game, doing great, doing well. But they have bipolar disorder. I mean I think it’s helpful to be able to see that side.
Gabe: First and foremost, I completely agree with what you said. Doctors, lawyers, CEOs, parents, teachers. They’re professors, high end researchers. There’s so many incredible people living with bipolar disorder. And I do. I do like it. I’m not going to lie. Mad is not the right word. Here’s where I get aggravated. It seems like all of the movies, they don’t show us being doctors. They don’t they don’t show us having regular jobs. They show us having creative jobs. They show us being authors or they show us being comedians or they show this this this extreme spectrum where you become a multimillionaire billionaire. Except I would like to see a movie where the person suffers, right? They get diagnosed, they get treatment, they work really hard, and then they just become a regular old person. A regular old person. And you’re saying, well, that’d be a really boring movie. Well, yeah, but at least it would be true. Or realistic.
Dr. Nicole: It would absolutely be more realistic. And I do think that there can be some danger in in going too far too far to the positive, you know, excelling and because really the billionaire detective. That’s a stretch for anybody really, whether you have bipolar disorder or not, most of us are not going to become a billionaire detective. So, you’re absolutely right.
Gabe: It was really difficult to find movies that portrayed people with bipolar disorder. I found a lot of representations of mental illness and mental health issues represented well. But just getting into bipolar disorder, it became a little difficult. Now, there was a there was a documentary. So, I don’t know where documentaries fit into in in pop culture, but it was Bipolar Rock ‘N’ Roller, and it was about a sports broadcaster who lives with bipolar disorder. And he’s an incredible sports broadcaster. I want to be like, super clear. I, I really, I kind of look up to the guy. I look up to him a lot because he was, he was born a regular guy. He was born a middle-class guy, has a big mouth, made it all the way to the top of sports broadcasting. And as I’m watching the documentary, I’m like, I’m noticing some similarities here, right?
Dr. Nicole: [Laughter]
Gabe: But as I’m watching it, I’m thinking to myself, huh? He goes on and off these meds a lot. A lot. And to the credit, it’s portrayed well that these people are just constantly saving him. He’s constantly going in and out of institutions. He’s just constantly suffering. And it’s a documentary, it’s not a movie. So, it’s not based on a true story. It is a true story. So, in this way, the documentary is like, look, this this guy suffers and stumbles and falls a lot. And I was really happy about that. But then it hit me. It’s always told triumphantly, it’s okay that this is happening to him because after all, watch this. The first he suffers, right? He goes to an institution. He has all of these problems. His, his mom is crying. Right. And like, that’s like, oh, man, bipolar disorder is really hard. And then the very next scene, he’s calling the Mike Tyson fight. Oh, look at that. Look at that look. Look right there. Look at him on the air. Oh, and then everybody standing around talking, oh, he is a prodigy at this. He’s the best wordsmith ever. He’s the greatest sports caller ever. And it leaves this impression. It leaves this impression that it’s worth it, that it’s a good trade, and that his skill set is because of. Are you ready? Are you ready, Dr. Nicole? It’s because of mania. It’s mania that makes him such a good sportscaster.
Dr. Nicole: Hmm.
Gabe: And I’m just like, Wait a minute. And then I go back to just disliking it again. And no disrespect to him that I don’t know if he had any input into his own documentary. I don’t know if he designed it. And again, I look up to him so much, I have no idea how much input he had into this. I want to be like super clear. This is not about him as an individual. It’s about the emotions and the learning and the education and the pop culture value of his documentary. I feel like the average person watching it believes that because this man experiences mania, he is a better sportscaster. And I got to tell you, there’s a lot of people with bipolar disorder and there’s only one guy who’s a really, really good sportscaster. How did we get this idea that mania makes you better at anything? And this documentary plays right into that stereotype and that trope, and now all of a sudden, I’m like, wow, wow. Because, you know when he’s not a good sportscaster? When he’s institutionalized. You know when he’s not a good sportscaster? When he can’t get out of bed. You know when he’s not a good sportscaster? When you can’t wrangle him down and get him to the right place.
Dr. Nicole: Mm hmm.
Gabe: I just all of these things make him a bad sportscaster. But yet the tone of the movie was like, oh, his mania just makes him incredible. It doesn’t. It makes him suffer.
Dr. Nicole: Yes. Yes. But I do think that there are a lot of people who have bipolar disorder who can point to specific things that their mania was helpful for. People can say, oh, I work in sales when I’m hypomanic, I am really on those phone calls and I’m charismatic and I’m selling up a storm. And so, they can point to that one little thing that hypomania helped them with. But you’re right in that there’s often several other things that the mania and hypomania are not helpful for. And those are the things that we gloss over. Those are the things that patients gloss over and they don’t want to talk about that. They just want to talk about that one thing. So, I see what you’re saying about how it could it could absolutely lead someone to think that, well, yeah, I want to be manic because I want to be like this guy. And his mania was helpful, I think my mania is helpful. I don’t need meds. I do see how that could be a bit of a problem.
Gabe: Anybody who spent any time around me knows that I don’t like to give bipolar disorder credit for anything. So, any time I watch a documentary, a movie that’s like, No, no, no, no, no, hypomania made me a better salesperson. Mania made me a better sportscaster. Depression made me a better poet. I’m only going to say no. No. You may have gotten inspiration from those things. Obviously, everything gives us inspiration. Everything drives our life. We don’t know where certain things begin and other things end. But I’ve got to tell you, it’s a little bit like Stockholm Syndrome to me. Bipolar disorder held me hostage. The fact that I could take anything good away from it is because I, Gabe Howard, am incredible. My talent, my strength, my resiliency was so incredible that in the face of horrible, horrible darkness, I was able to rise from the ashes like a phoenix. And then it shows up and it’s like, Hey, hey, hey. You know how I was trying to kill you? You know how I was trying to make your life hell? You know how I was doing all this mean stuff to you? You’re welcome. No, no. Sincerely, Dr. Nicole. It’s like every business owner ever. Ask any business owner. When they started their business, how many people laughed at them? They will have a list of people who mocked them, laughed at them, treated them poorly. And then as soon as their business has made it, those identical people are like I always believed in you.
Gabe: Can I have some money? I always believed in you. Can I have a job? I really feel that is how bipolar disorder is. And I felt a little bad for this guy. Just by the end of it, I started to feel bad for him because he worked really hard. He worked really, really hard. I mean, he was a mixed martial arts and boxing expert. And after all of that hard work and after all of that effort, somebody is like, Oh, that’s just innate. He didn’t work for it. Bipolar disorder gave it to him. Erasing all of his efforts. And I want to focus on that for just a second. I want to talk to people with bipolar disorder who are watching this. See, they’re going to be sitting there and they’re like, oh, I didn’t get that. I don’t I didn’t get this innate ability to be anything. And since it’s very clearly being fed to me that this is like a gift that you get with bipolar disorder then and I didn’t get it, I guess this is where I have to stay.
Gabe: And then when people like me come along and like, no, no, no, no, you’ve got to work really hard. You got to work at it like, No, no, no, no. That that’s I haven’t seen that anywhere. And we. Dr. Nicole, we can’t compete with a $5, $10, $15, $20 Million production that is spoon feeding this trope that frankly people want to believe anyways. So, when, when people like us say look work really, really, really, really, really, really hard and you can be amazing at something too. They’re like, No, that’s not how it works. I watched a documentary. I watched a movie, I read a book. And so just again, I go back to my statement even when I’m incredibly impressed and I’m so impressed with that man. I just I am so impressed with that man. Genuinely and honestly, I’m a I’m a mixed martial arts and boxing fan. He’s incredible. I love it when he calls fights. I do. But I really feel like his documentary is doing more damage to the cause than benefits. But I will say, yes, we have somebody living with bipolar disorder who did remarkably well, and that is that does have a tremendous amount of benefit as well. So, I have mixed feelings.
Dr. Nicole: It sounds like it. It sounds like it. And people are who they are, right? I mean, I think it’s important. The thing that you mentioned that stuck out to me the most is you said that you Gabe Howard are amazing. You did these things that bipolar disorder and somebody listening is thinking, man, this guy is full of himself, but he’s not. He is saying that those are those are things that happen because of him, not his illness. I do think sometimes, though, we feel like we need to be the manic version of our like people who have bipolar disorder are like, oh, I need to be that version of me. I need to be life of the party. Me. I need to be the one who goes into the party and I’m telling jokes and I’m laughing and I’m having a great time. I need to be that person. But if that’s not who you are, it’s just not who you are. I can tell you it’s not who I am. I go to a party, I find a corner. I people watch. You know, I might talk to a couple of folks here and there, but I’m not a big life of the party kind of person. That’s just who I am. If I had bipolar disorder and I became manic and then all of a sudden it was like, Oh, I’m life of the party. Yeah, that’s fun for everybody else, but I don’t care about everybody else. I am who I am. So, I think there is a bit of figuring out who are you and is it okay to be that person without all of the extra that comes with being manic?
Gabe: Exactly. And in many of the movies, mania was what was front and center. I really feel like when people are making these movies about bipolar disorder, whether they’re fictional, based on a true story or documentaries, they really, really, really love to focus on the mania. And in this way, I also take umbrage with pop culture because there’s so many other symptoms, and by so many other symptoms, there’s more than just mania and depression. There’s agitation, there’s anger, there’s hypersexuality. There’s just a whole array of emotions that happen with bipolar disorder, including psychosis. And we always seem to touch on bipolar disorder in pop culture as depression and mania. Depression and mania. We don’t we don’t even touch on the fact that it’s a spectrum illness either, that there’s depression, middle of the road, hypomania, mania, and then everything in between.
Gabe: These things are just almost never touched on. And that’s what brings me to Silver Linings Playbook. Silver Linings Playbook touched on actually didn’t touch on it. It front and centered irritability. There was this scene where he couldn’t find a book and it starts off, he’s just like, I can’t find the book. And then he ramps up, he ramps up and he’s just he’s, he’s irritable about it, and then he becomes angry about it, and then he becomes obsessed with it. And his family, whom he does love, is desperately trying to calm him down over this this this seemingly small thing to the viewer, to the audience. But to him, it is there’s that phrase, is this the hill you’re willing to die on? And he is he is absolutely willing to go down to the ship. The neighbors get involved. Lights come on all over something that is just seemingly insignificant. I love that scene in that movie because that is the reality for many of us living with bipolar disorder. It’s not uncommon for that to happen, and it’s not uncommon for people not to understand what’s happening because they just see it as part of our personality and not a symptom of bipolar disorder. So, kudos to Silver Linings Playbook for that scene.
Dr. Nicole: Yeah. That’s great that, that they portray the agitation piece. Because you’re right, they don’t often do that in movies where we talk about bipolar illness. The other thing we don’t ever see hardly with bipolar illness is people just having what anybody would consider kind of a whatever your normal is a normal mood. Right? Taking life as it comes. Going to the grocery store, buying groceries, not, you know, not hunting people down when they cut you off in traffic. Those kinds of things. Just living life as it comes. And we don’t see that a lot, which adds to the stereotype that people with bipolar illness. Well, it adds to the myth that people with bipolar illness often are going back and forth between mania and depression all the time. And they’re never normal. They never have what people would consider a normal mood. And I don’t like that part because I think it’s really, really important that we highlight that there are periods or there should be normal periods if we’re treating the illness right. Of normal mood.
Dr. Nicole: And we’re back discussing Hollywood portrayals of bipolar illness.
Gabe: As somebody who loves movies, I understand why this happens. The phrase based on a true story really resonates with me. I, I watch a lot of movies that are based on a true story. So, I always watch a movie like, wow, that was an incredible movie. Like, I really like that movie. And then I do a Google search and I’m like, okay, that never happened. That never happened. It made sense that that never happened. Why would anybody even believe that would happen? The drama almost never happens. Nobody was yelling at each other. It actually worked out quite smoothly. But who would want to watch that movie? Hi, I have an idea. Let’s execute it. Okay, We will. Everything went perfectly. Now you’re rich. And scene. Nobody would want to watch that movie. So, you have to introduce all of these struggles. I feel that bipolar disorder is the opposite of that. If it was nothing but struggle, right? You get diagnosed with bipolar disorder and then problem, problem, problem, problem, problem, problem, problem, problem, problem, problem, problem, boring life. That is kind of the reality. I mean, that is how the movie would have to be made. It’s up and down. You have success, you have failure. And then when you get to the end of it, you have a normal, average, stereotypical, boring, everyday existence.
Dr. Nicole: Yeah, but they don’t make movies about everyday people. Right? The movies that they make are movies about people who’ve accomplished high levels of things, and then they go through and embellish a bunch of stuff. And then you get this highly successful person. Nobody makes movies about the person who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, who’s an accountant, and who was able to become stable and work as an accountant until they retired. Nobody wants to watch that movie. Right. Do you want to see the movie about the person who was diagnosed and then was able to become stable and work as an accountant and retire after 40 years of a successful accounting career with a family and kids? No, nobody’s paying for that. Nobody wants to see that. They want to see the concert pianist. They want to see the billionaire detective. Nobody wants to see everyday people. So, it gives hope. But is it a false sense of hope? Does it then lead to family thinking? Well, look at you. You’re just an accountant making $50,000 a year. That guy was a billionaire detective. He’s a concert pianist.
Dr. Nicole: That person is a famous sportscaster. Oh, look, that person’s a surgeon. We don’t want to see everyday people. So, you know, I don’t know. I’m conflicted. I’m always conflicted. And honestly, a lot of times I won’t even watch movies that are about people who have any kind of mental illness because I don’t want to see it. It’s my everyday life. I want to be entertained. I don’t want to be frustrated because they’re portraying people in a in a way that I don’t approve of. And I do also want to say to my people out there with bipolar disorder, hear me, hear me now. We really have to choose who it is that you’re going to model yourselves after. Modeling yourself after somebody you saw in a movie who had bipolar illness and whose mania gave them powers and made them powerful and productive and all those things, we got to we got to change our role models, just like we don’t want our children to, you know, set these some of these random athletes as their role models, like your role models should be people in your community, people that are putting in the work, people that are doing things. That may be an athlete, but maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s just a random guy who’s an accountant who lives next door to you, who is doing his thing and crushing life. You know, I think you have some role in not wanting to be somebody you saw on TV or somebody who’s famous, you know, or whatever that looks like.
Gabe: Dr. Nicole, you’re so right. But I got to tell you, it’s not the people with bipolar disorder picking the bad role models that I see as the problem. I’m not saying that it never happens, but more often than not, it’s the people around us. Why can’t you get out of bed? He became a billionaire detective. Why can’t you get out of bed? He became a concert pianist. Why can’t you get out of bed? She, she did X. And this show just happens to be about pop culture. I’m using pop culture examples, but people also use examples that are frankly mean, right? They their loved one gets diagnosed with bipolar disorder and six months later they’re like, why can’t you be like, and then the person that they use is somebody that has been managing bipolar for 15 years. I see it a lot where people write me and they’re like, How can my love one be more like you? And the first thing that I always write back is they were diagnosed six months ago. They were diagnosed a year ago. You’re, this is not fair.
Dr. Nicole: Mm-hmm.
Gabe: You’re literally doing the thing that I think that every young adult who moves out of their parents’ house does when they buy their first house or they get their first apartment or they get their first car, they immediately say, well, my parents have X, so I’m not doing well. I’m failing. No, no, no, no, no, no. You’re comparing your parents 25 years’ worth of work to your year one,
Dr. Nicole: Mm-hmm.
Gabe: Go back and ask your parents what they had year one
Dr. Nicole: Yeah.
Gabe: Then see how you’re doing. You got to compare apples to apples here.
Dr. Nicole: Yeah.
Gabe: So, I just. I just want to give that big shout out to all of the all the people listening that are wondering why their family members can’t be like the people they see in the movies.
Dr. Nicole: Okay.
Gabe: First off, we’re all uglier than the people in the movies. So, you already know that there are some differences. Just keep that in your head. Gabe Howard does not look like Bradley Cooper, even though Bradley Cooper was portraying a man with bipolar disorder. I was that was frankly a kick in the teeth. And
Dr. Nicole: [Laughter]
Gabe: I’m not gonna lie.
Dr. Nicole: But I think, you know, even beyond movies, when you think about celebrities, you know, and there is a certain rapper that has been in the news for having, you know, bipolar illness and everybody is talking about it. And I think it’s brought an additional light. Because patients will say like, oh, you know, they’ll mention pop culture references or famous people, celebrities who actually have bipolar illness, you know, forget portrayals in movies for a minute, but actual people who are famous. In most things in life, the squeaky wheel is the one that we always hear. And when we see there are a ton of celebrities who have announced that they have bipolar illness, but you don’t see them in the news. They are out here just living life, making movies, singing songs, not being problematic, not the headlining articles, you know, they just are living life. And we don’t highlight those people We hear from the ones who are making a lot of noise and creating a lot of problems and cutting up and acting up. And I think then even our loved ones around you all are saying. Mm hmm. See, that’s what that bipolar disorder does. It causes you to cut up and act like that. And that’s exactly how you act when you’re not. Right. But what about all those people who are doing well with their illness? Nobody talks about those people like nobody. Nobody talks about the random celebrities who have this. And we haven’t talked about it. And we don’t let it stop us from doing what we need to do.
Dr. Nicole: I brought up when we talked about this show, how I cannot tell you how many probably 40 somethings, maybe 30 somethings, but mostly 40 somethings with bipolar illness who, if I even say the word lithium, they cringe and bring up Kurt Cobain. Now, God rest his soul. We know that Kurt Cobain had a lot of problems when he was alive. Lithium was probably the least of his problems when he was alive. But because of the Nirvana song Lithium and because of people have watched interviews and they’ve listened to him talk about his illness and all these things. I have a population of people who will literally look at me like I never attended medical school because I bring up the word lithium. So, we have to again figure out who do we want to be like, what do we want to be? How do we want to be? I’m perfectly fine. If you are just hesitant about a certain drug in general, because let’s face it, the drugs that treat bipolar disorder do not have sexy side effect profiles. But let’s not let it be because Kurt Cobain said he didn’t like lithium or because certain celebrities say, Well, I don’t want to take my meds, so you’re not going to take your meds. You don’t always have that luxury. I mean, they have a team of people and millions of dollars around them to protect them from anything that happens. You don’t have that. So, let’s govern ourselves accordingly and not have that be something that we have to deal with.
Gabe: I’m really glad that you brought up that many of us don’t have a team of people to look out for us or millions of dollars, and that’s why we have to make different decisions. But I also want to cycle back that those millions of dollars and that team of people did not keep Kurt Cobain alive. He ultimately died by suicide. And the rapper formerly known as Kanye or I’m not sure what name he is he’s going by now because he does change it a lot. But, you know, he got a divorce. His wife won’t even speak to him and frankly, appears to be traumatized based on what we’ve seen in the news. His children are alienated and his friends are becoming sparser and sparser, speaking out publicly about how they just can’t tolerate or be around his behavior. So, forget about the millions of dollars in the team of people for a moment. I think losing your wife, your friends, your children, and ultimately your life binds us all together. I understand this idea of well, I heard it on the news. I heard somebody say at this person was afraid of it, and I don’t want that to happen to me.
Gabe: But I really think that you’ve got to look at the big picture. You also don’t want these other things to happen to you either. I think deep down at our core, many of us, we want to win our battle with bipolar disorder. And sometimes in pop culture, we’re using examples of people who aren’t real or we’re using examples of people who are frankly, failed. Now, I’m a I’m a huge Kurt Cobain fan. I love Nirvana. I’m the right age for it. I remember when Smells Like Teen Spirit came out, but I also remember the hit I took when he died by suicide because I it was huge. And when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, he’s the only person I knew that had bipolar disorder and he didn’t survive. And this had an impact on me.
Dr. Nicole: But in songs, I mean, it just is what it is. I mean, you’re just up there sharing your own experience, which is the point to remember. It’s their experience. It’s their run with bipolar illness. It’s their thing. I have so many people who, going back to the Kurt Cobain thing would say, absolutely not. Kurt Cobain hated lithium. And I say, oh, I didn’t realize that you and Kurt Cobain lived similar lives with the exact same genetic makeup. And then they kind of laugh and we can talk through it.I can’t tell you how many people who’ve tried it and been successful and said things like, Oh, well, that wasn’t as bad as I thought. So, I do think it’s important, we can kind of talk through that. Like, it could be perfectly accurate. His feelings about lithium could have been perfectly accurate for him. Doesn’t mean that’s going to be the case for everybody else. But no, they’re not consulting us. But they can. Holler at me, music people. I will I will help you pull it all together. But yeah, they’re probably not consulting us because most songs are about people’s personal experiences and everybody has their own truth that they choose to share via song.
Gabe: This is 2023. Anything that you believe, somebody will back it up. It’s literally just answer shopping at this point now. And I understand that maybe you heard a song and it left a bad taste in your mouth. I get it. We can’t help the way that we feel about things. There is a type of cookie that I’m not going to name because I don’t want that cookie industry contacting me. I just happened to be eating it when I got really bad news and now, I can’t eat that cookie anymore because it always reminds me of that awful thing that happened in my life. It’s not the cookie’s fault, though, and I understand it. But that’s not life or death. That’s a cookie. I got. I got many other cookies to choose from. But sincerely, anything that you believe you will be able to back up, especially if you use pop culture. Because pop culture, it’s not governed by the truth. It can say and do and be anything that it wants. And in some ways, that’s great. Batman is incredible. But listen, in real life, Batman would get shot in the face his first night out. I don’t know how to break it to you, but Batman’s not going to do so well. He’s just not going to do so well. First off, he’s not even going to stumble upon any crime. He’s just going to drive around aimlessly and people are going to be like, Who is that dork in the bat suit? Also, they’re going to know that he’s coming. That is easily a $700,000 car. That is the kind of thing you notice when it’s parked around the block of where you’re committing a crime. None of this holds up or makes sense. And that’s just that’s just the nature of pop culture. But when it comes to portrayals of bipolar disorder, people are like, no, that’s factual. That is, that is straight up true. And I’m I it’s practically mental illness to believe that pop culture is going to portray anything perfectly accurately.
Dr. Nicole: And it’s tough because everybody’s reality is different. Everybody’s bipolar illness is different. Everybody is handling it differently. You may see something in a portrayal that reminds you of you. Right. But is that does it really remind you of you or are you grasping for straws because you’re just looking for hope somewhere? Even those loved ones listening, the doctors who are listening, is it helpful to compare one person’s bipolar illness to another one? Is it even realistic to compare it and especially not to compare it to someone who isn’t even real? I mean, that that is that is a lot. Or like you said earlier, the portrayals are based on reality, but not actual reality because real life is just boring sometimes. So, I think we just all have to figure out where does it all fit? It can be entertainment, it can be a source of hope in the sense of you saying, Yeah, I can do things, I can accomplish my goals, I can do the things I want to do in life. But being realistic and tailoring it to your own situation is going to make you feel so much better in the end because you won’t be trying to chase something that’s unattainable.
Gabe: Sincerely, you’re going to set yourself up to fail and you’re going to be very, very disappointed if you think that anything in real life works the way it does in the movies. Listen, I’m going to disclose, Dr. Nicole, don’t. Don’t try to stop me. Stop waving your hands. We edit this podcast. We make all kinds of mistakes, and then we edit them out and we retake them constantly. Even the thing that you are listening to right now is not actually real life. We have this woman named Lisa. She fixes everything. You ever think, Wow, how did Gabe know that? Because we paused and I googled it. And you think to yourself, Wow, Dr. Nicole handled that well. She did. In the first time. She’s like, Gabe, you’re a dumb ass. Why? Why did you do that? I’m just kidding. She’s never called me any names. This might be one of the things that gets edited out. It might not. The real world is complicated and it’s messy. And the goal with bipolar disorder is to lead a boring life. To lead a typical life, to lead a normal life. And the goal of movies is to show anything that’s not typical because that’s what engages us. Thank you, everybody, for tuning in. My name is Gabe Howard and I wrote the book “Mental Illness Is an Asshole and Other Observations.” I’m also a nationally recognized public speaker who could be available for your next event.
Dr. Nicole: And I’m Dr. Nicole Washington. You can find me on all social media platforms @DrNicolePsych to see all the things I have my hand in at any given moment.
Gabe: And can you do us a big favor? Wherever you downloaded this episode, please follow or subscribe. It is absolutely free and share the show. Tell people on social media. Tell people in an email, hell, send a text, share it in a support group because sharing the show is how we grow. We will see everybody next time on Inside Bipolar.
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