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Can a psychiatrist just point to someone with bipolar disorder and commit them? What factors into that decision – are their guidelines, laws, or rules? And what about the reaction of families and friends? Are they normal for lecturing people about their bipolar disorder?

In today’s episode we discuss how inpatient hospitalization is sometimes necessary, but always traumatizing. Listen Now!

Gabe Howard

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 also hosts Healthline Media’s Inside Mental Health podcast available on your favorite podcast player.

To learn more about Gabe, please visit his website,

Dr. Nicole Washington

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

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 Howard: Hey, everyone, my name is Gabe Howard, and I live with bipolar disorder.

Dr. Nicole Washington: And I’m Dr. Nicole Washington, a board-certified psychiatrist.

Gabe Howard: Let’s touch on that board-certified psychiatrist part right away. As I said, I live with bipolar disorder, making me a bipolar patient. And you’re a board-certified psychiatrist. You can commit me at will. Is that correct?

Dr. Nicole Washington: No, that is absolutely not correct. I cannot just get you admitted at any time I feel like it. So if you insult my shoes or run 10 minutes late, I can’t just decide that I’m going to have you hospitalized. We need real reasons to do these things.

Gabe Howard: Many people with bipolar disorder believe, and I count myself in this group. We believe that you just don’t need that much. Yeah, you probably have to have something more than insulted my shoes. But, sincerely, Dr. Nicole, even if you just lie, how are we supposed to prove it? I can insult your shoes and you could write, told me he was going to kill himself. And I’d be like, I never said that. Who? Who? We put a lot of trust in you.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Well, but do you? I mean, if you think that I would do something like that, I don’t know how much you trust me as your doctor. If you think that I really am just going to admit you for no reason. I mean, I don’t know that there is a lot of trust there, and that probably is the basis of all of the you’re going to admit me, so I’m just not going to say anything.

Gabe Howard: It’s a scary power dynamic. We know as a patient that you do, in fact, have this ability. And we talk a lot about how we’re all on the same team, we’re all on the same team. But in that team dynamic, you’re kind of like the coach, right? And we’re kind of like not the coach, right? We all try to be on the same team and I get that. But you have the power to cut us. I’m using sports analogies now, I don’t know why. How do you balance that?

Dr. Nicole Washington: I mean, there is a power gradient. There’s a differential there. I have the ability to complete paperwork if I feel like you’re at risk of harm to yourself or somebody else, or if I feel like your illness is taking over to the point that you’re functioning is severely impaired, I can recommend admission and I will admit most of the time courts will agree with us. It is a very rare circumstance that I have courts or law enforcement disagree with my assessment of someone. It does happen, but not very often.

Gabe Howard: That means that at any time you want, you can just point your finger at me and put me in lockup. Right? You can just you can just toss me right in in-patient hospitalization with the, with the power of your finger.

Dr. Nicole Washington: You really believe I have a lot more power in life than I do I actually could not do that just because I wanted to, and I would not do that, Gabe. I love you.

Gabe Howard: Well, I mean, you and I, we have a good relationship. We’re friends. But let’s say that we were enemies. I talk to a lot of people with bipolar disorder, and they’re just like, no, I have to be really, really careful because any psychiatrist at any time can point their finger at me and boom, I’m inpatient. This is a real fear in our community.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Yeah. People do really believe that. All I have to do is just say, put them in and somebody is going to come in. Like two big guys are going to come in and carry them out. People believe that. And I think that also leads a lot to people not sharing stuff with me because they’re concerned that I’m going to put them in. Right. They don’t want to tell me certain things because in their mind, whenever they share these things, they get put away. I would tell you it’s probably more likely the opposite. So, for example, if you have chronic suicidal thoughts, right, it’s best that you share them with me along the way so that I know that these are chronic suicidal thoughts for you and it isn’t new. If you never tell me for a year and then all of a sudden you pop up with, Oh, and I’m having suicidal thoughts with a plan to do A, B or C, then I’m going to go, Oh, my gosh, like, this is new. You have suicidal thoughts and you have a plan. I need to get you in a safe place when the reality may be that you’ve had the same thought and same plan for the last five years. But you just never told anybody. The person you’re telling this to all of a sudden gets more concerned, not that they shouldn’t always be concerned, but we get more acutely concerned than maybe we need to.

Gabe Howard: This is a tough balancing act for patients. I hear all the time in the bipolar community and myself. I want to be fair. I have thought this, too. There’s a meme that we love to share in our bipolar social media groups that says, I need to tell the doctor enough to get help, but not so much that I get put inpatient. And I want to say this does speak to me as a person with bipolar disorder. It does speak to me because it’s a traumatizing and scary thing to go inpatient. But I don’t think anybody’s disagreeing with that. I mean, you acknowledge, Dr. Nicole, that going inpatient is not a fun thing, right? You know, it sucks.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Absolutely. And I think our laws, the way we deal with patients who have mental health disorders, who need emergency services, the way we even handle it from their home to the hospital can be traumatizing, right? Like if your loved one calls and says, oh, my spouse has bipolar disorder and they’re manic and they’re behaving erratically. And if the police show up, which is who shows up most of the time, right. The police come. And if you are indeed behaving erratically and your mania has taken over and they feel like, yes, this person is not safe enough to be home, a lot of times they will handcuff you and put you in the back of a police car and all your neighbors see that you’ve been handcuffed and put in the back of a police car. And unless your neighbors all know that, oh, so-and-so has bipolar disorder, and sometimes when they need to go into the hospital, they will handcuff them. Sometimes neighbors will take it to their own imaginations, and they might assume that you’ve done something criminally wrong. And so I could see how a person would want to avoid that like the plague. Right, because that’s embarrassing and it’s humiliating when you’re in the back of a police car in handcuffs and you’ve done absolutely nothing wrong other than having an illness that you can’t control.

Gabe Howard: Dr. Nicole, I always use this example, Jim Henson died because he didn’t want to go to a doctor appointment. He didn’t want to take time away from his projects, his busy day, his work, his family, whatever, to to go to the hospital for a couple of hours and let alone a couple of days. And listen. There’s no mental illness stigma. There’s no mental health issues there. There’s no discrimination. This is just a guy who, like so many people, just don’t like hospitals. But the level is higher for us. Right? So if this is the behavior of Jim Henson, a rich guy who just didn’t want to go to the doctors, you can imagine how people with mental illness feel. Now, I’m I know I’m preaching to the choir with with our listeners that live with bipolar disorder. But so many people were like, well, why wouldn’t you want to go to the doctor and get help? And I always fire back. Why didn’t Jim Henson want to go to the doctor and get help? There is a part of this that is just normal. People, they just have an irrational fear of doctors, hospitals and anything medical. And that’s just that’s just hard. Stop. Right. So now add in all of the mental health minutia

Dr. Nicole Washington: Yeah.

Dr. Nicole Washington: So fear is one thing, right? I mean, you bring up a good point. Sometimes we’re afraid we have that ache or that pain and we don’t go in because we really don’t want to know what that ache or pain is. We think, oh, it could be something worse, and I’d just rather not know. Right? I’m too busy. So we avoid it. We don’t deal with it. But what if it’s mistrust? That is the root of why you’re not going in. A lot of times patients won’t trust me and they don’t trust doctors because they feel very strongly and will really argue you down that, you know, the doctors are out to lock them up and they just won’t let them be. And it’s the doctor’s fault. Right. So whether that’s some bias on the part of the doctor towards people who have illnesses like bipolar disorder or whether that’s some poor insight on the side of the person who has bipolar disorder, either way, it’s damaging. And then when you get back to the police issue. Yeah, absolutely. If I already don’t feel like I can trust the police, I can guarantee you that in my manic episode, I’m not going to be able to ration through, oh, the police are here to help me because I’m manic right now and I need to go into the hospital. That’s just not going to happen. Any mistrust, any fears, any concerns you have are literally going to intensify once you’re in that manic state or that psychotic state. And it’s going to make that situation a whole lot more dangerous for everybody involved.

Gabe Howard: The number one thing that I hear from law enforcement is, and it’s comical to me, but this is where we are. Well, if they just listen, they’d be fine. And I always respond back with, you want somebody who is sick out of their mind, crazy.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Right.

Gabe Howard: Let’s use all the words. You have just said that you showed up and this person is out of their mind and nuts and seeing dragons. And then the next thing that you say is if they just logically follow your instructions, everything will turn out fine.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Yeah.

Gabe Howard: Those are mutually exclusive things, so.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Yeah. And if they could do that, they may not be in a situation they’re in in the first place. If they

Gabe Howard: Exactly.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Were truly able to do that, you might not even be there with them. But that’s also like saying

Gabe Howard: You wouldn’t even need to be there.

Dr. Nicole Washington: That’s also like saying, well, you wouldn’t have that heart attack if your vessels would just relax like you. You just

Gabe Howard: Yeah.

Dr. Nicole Washington: I mean, you know, if you could just get your blood pressure down.

Gabe Howard: Dr. Nicole, you actually bring up a really, really good point, because you wouldn’t have had that heart attack if you didn’t eat McDonald’s every day or you wouldn’t get lung cancer if you didn’t smoke. Those things may be true to say, but. Yeah, yeah. Do you know how swole I would be if I just spent 2 hours a day in the gym? Like, I know this logically, but I’m not going to the gym. It’s

Dr. Nicole Washington: Yeah.

Gabe Howard: Never going to happen. The gym is hard. Just because you understand something doesn’t mean that you have the ability, the desire to do it. And the stakes are so much higher with people who are scared. And let me ask you this. The trauma feels a certain way, the scariness of when it happened a year ago. I’m going to go a year ago. A year ago, I went to the doctor. You inpatient-ed me. I’m making up words now.

Dr. Nicole Washington: You created a verb. I like it, OK.

Gabe Howard: I just created a verb out of nothing.

Dr. Nicole Washington: OK.

Gabe Howard: Right, you inpatient-ed me, so now it’s two years later. Now, when I was put in inpatient, we’re going to say that that was 100% justifiable.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Okay.

Gabe Howard: Right. I was suicidal. I was seeing dragons. I was a danger to myself or others. And if you hadn’t done that, something very, very bad is going to happen. So I want to remove all subtext of you were wrong or you overreacted. No, it was good. Now it’s two years later, of course, I feel, I still feel all this trauma locked behind the door, being told what I can and can’t eat, being forced to go to groups that I don’t want to go to. Of course, all of the stigma that comes with it. Not knowing how to tell work that the reason that I missed work or not knowing how to tell my friends that the reason that I wasn’t here this weekend is because I was locked up and all of that. It’s now two years later. So now I’m getting sick again and I’m doing everything I can to avoid that trauma. I don’t want to go back. There’s a this is the question that’s difficult for you. There’s a part of me that is trying to avoid being impatient. That’s good, right? Avoiding inpatient hospitalization is good. Here’s the part that’s difficult for you. I feel like if I tell you everything, I’m going inpatient like it’s going to happen. If I just dump everything on you, you’re going to be like, oh, man, he nuts. He gone. That is how people in my community feel. We feel like doctors are twitchy.

Dr. Nicole Washington: I think it’s the, it’s the, not power. It’s the differential, though, right? I mean, the doctors do have a lot of power. We do have the ability to say, I do not feel like this person is safe enough to return home. I do not feel like this person is safe enough to not be locked up. And oftentimes we will be supported in that and what comes with that is a lot of responsibility on our part, but that is what evokes a lot of fear on your part. Because there are very few people that have that kind of power over you. But we also are trying to convince you at the same time that we’re on the same team. And so it’s hard for me to convince somebody that, hey, we’re in this thing together like we’re the same because we’re not the same because I do have a lot more power in that relationship. It’s up to me not to abuse it. It’s up to us to develop enough of a relationship that we can trust each other to make sure that what’s happening is going to be right for you.

Gabe Howard: Many people living with bipolar disorder have never heard any doctor say that, that you have power over us and it’s up to you not to abuse it. Most doctors work very, very, very, very, very, very hard to convince us that we’re equals and that we’re on the same team. Now, I agree with the on the same team part, but we’re not equals. And I think the more doctors steer into that. No, no, no, no. We’re equals. I just have your best interest at heart. We’re going to do this together. I think the more the bullshit detector goes off in the patient. The people I talk to, they’re just like, yeah, my doctor thinks we’re friends. And that is code for my doctor thinks that we’re equals and I know we’re not. Do you feel that doctors do a disservice just not saying, Yeah, I’ve got more power than you?

Dr. Nicole Washington: I think for us, we feel like it’s an unspoken hierarchy, like we know.

Gabe Howard: But should it be spoken?

Dr. Nicole Washington: Well, I don’t have to open every visit with I could involuntarily hospitalize you if I.

Gabe Howard: [Laughter]

Dr. Nicole Washington: You know I could involuntarily hospitalize you if I wanted to

Gabe Howard: That’s fair, that’s fair.

Dr. Nicole Washington: But, I’m not. You know, it’s just kinda awkward to lead with that. You don’t put in your new patient paperwork, Dr. Washington has the ability to involuntarily commit you at any moment if you are behaving in a way that seems dangerous.

Sponsor Message: Hi there, I’m Faye McCray, Editor in Chief of Psych Central. Whether you’re looking for free resources, quizzes or thought-provoking personal perspectives, Psych Central has what you need to join you on your mental health journey. Psych Central’s talented team of award-winning writers, editors and medical professionals are passionate about creating a safe, inclusive and trustworthy environment where you feel seen and heard. Visit us now at, that’s

Dr. Nicole Washington: We are back talking about inpatient hospitalization.

Gabe Howard: I know that there’s a lot of distrust in the bipolar community for their providers. And unfortunately, that distrust, it rests on our backs. Right? People living with bipolar disorder, we are the ones that suffer the consequences of that distrust. And I know that you don’t have all the answers any more than I do, any more than the medical community does, any more than people living with bipolar disorder do. But something that you said there really piqued my interest where you said, well, I can’t start every session by saying I have the power to do X, Y, Z. Okay, yes. You can’t start every session by saying I have the power to commit you. I get it. But do you ever say it? Is it ever said?

Dr. Nicole Washington: It’s spoken in terms of under what circumstances will I go against your wishes to not have information shared. I don’t ever do the everything we talk about in this room is private. I’ll never share anything with anybody because that’s not true. So sometimes people will ask me, can I tell you something? And you promise not to throw me in the hospital? And I follow with the great majority of what you say here is very confidential and I would never share with anyone. But there are certain things that you could share with me that I do have to report and I will kind of outline what those are. If you’re a danger to yourself, if I think you’re a danger to someone else, or if we feel like your functioning’s gravely impaired because of your illness. And so people then make the decision, I think, whether they will move forward. I don’t lie to people. I’m not dishonest, but that’s usually where it comes out, is in that conversation about what will I disclose and what stays just between us.

Gabe Howard: I love that you’re honest with your patients because I’ve heard the horror stories of, you know, if I tell you this, do you promise not to commit me? This is how people with bipolar disorder talk. If I tell you this, you promise not to commit me? Absolutely. You can tell me anything. You can trust me. And then the person tells and then boom, they’re committed and it’s just over forever. Right? That person will not only never trust a doctor ever again, but they tell everybody. I am fairly certain that the majority of people living with bipolar disorder haven’t been traumatized by their doctor. They’ve been traumatized by the story they’ve heard from somebody else who they trust, which is problematic in itself, because you don’t know for a fact what happened. But it is terrifying. It is absolutely terrifying to live under this umbrella than at any moment somebody other than myself can take away my freedom.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Yeah. And I will jump on the defense of that doctor who does say, yeah, I’m not going to tell anybody. It’s just between me and you. It’s not my way. It’s not the way that I was trained. You can argue about what’s ethical and what’s right and what’s legal and all day long, but think about the other side of that. What if that patient doesn’t share something that really is dangerous or that really is serious and puts them at risk of harm? I have lied. I probably will lose your trust. But I may have saved your life by lying. So there is that place where you think, well, what do I say? How do I get this person to tell me the truth about what’s going on with them? I know doctors who practice both ways. There are some doctors who are very open about, nope, everything is not private, everything is not confidential. I will break confidentiality. And then there are some who will just kind of go with it and go, Oh, yeah, I won’t tell anybody. What’s going on? And then if it’s something really big, that person is really rewarded because they think, wow, like I saved that person’s life. I may have told a small lie. So I think you could make the argument either way. You could support both of those stances.

Gabe Howard: One of the things that I think is very important for people living with bipolar disorder to consider when they’re hearing these stories or even when they’re remembering their own stories is bipolar disorder impacts the way that you think, feel, react and remember. I often hear a lot of these stories and I think to myself, I wonder if it really went down that way? Or if that’s how you remember it? Because, you know, again, I remember being manic. I remember being depressed. I remember the grandiosity. And I have many, many, many memories that if lie detectors were 100% perfect, 100% real and not bullshit in any way, I’d pass it because I remember it happening that way.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Right.

Gabe Howard: But I’m just so fortunate that somebody that I trust more than myself was there and was like, No,

Dr. Nicole Washington: Right.

Gabe Howard: No, that is not what happened. I’m like, But that’s how I remember it. And then I go off and I tell this story. This doctor did X, this doctor did X, and I’m super compelling because I’m super upset.

Dr. Nicole Washington: So tell me this, I’ve had patients tell me that being manic for them was like waking up from a dream. Where you remember like highlights. You remember certain parts about it, but you don’t remember all of it. And so then you’re left to try to piece together all the stuff.

Gabe Howard: This is the hardest part about mania, bipolar disorder, mental illness. Right? We see things in and I’m stealing this line from a famous 90 song. We see things in clips and phrases. There’s a little bit of truth. And that just that adds that extra, extra burden. For example, we absolutely remember standing on the bar, and that part is 100% true. We jumped up on the bar and we were screaming and dancing. And then bipolar mania changes the part where the crowd was yelling, Get off the bar, asshole into them, cheering for you. Go, go, go, go. We’re like, Yeah, I’m the life of the party. So we got part of it right. We were on the bar, the crowd was looking at us and the crowd was yelling at us. What bipolar changed is the crowd was not on our side. The band had to stop playing. We were getting evicted. But here’s the problem. The patient believes that their version is 100% true,

Dr. Nicole Washington: Mm-hmm.

Gabe Howard: Which means that their trauma is 100% real. It doesn’t really matter whether or not it happened if you believe with every fiber of your being that it did, and this is why we need trauma-informed care. This is why we need to understand that some things, even though they’re in our best interest, like in-patient hospitalization, is traumatizing. We often don’t get that kind of follow-up care. And when I say we don’t get that follow-up care, I’m going to let you off the hook, Dr. Nicole. I’m going to let the entire medical community off the hook. In fact, every single person that holds a medical degree, I’m not talking to you. You know who we really don’t get support from our families. We come home after being hospitalized for three days, six days, two weeks, and we’re like, that was awful and the food was terrible. Every single member of our family, it was for your own good.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Yeah.

Gabe Howard: What did you expect to happen? It’s for your own good. Could you imagine, Dr. Nicole, if you collapsed right now? I called 911, paramedics came in and you had to have an emergency heart replacement. We’re just going all in.

Dr. Nicole Washington: OK, all in. OK.

Gabe Howard: All in. You wake up, you got a new heart. There was one waiting on you because you’re Dr. Nicole. And doctors have extra body parts just laying around. We all know that you got your yachts, you got your horses,

Dr. Nicole Washington: [Laughter]

Gabe Howard: You got your extra

Dr. Nicole Washington: Gosh.

Gabe Howard: Body parts laying around. We all know

Dr. Nicole Washington: Okay.

Gabe Howard: The doctor perks. But sincerely, you wake up from that and your whole family is there because we were worried about you. We’re scared. We love you. Right? And you’re like, I’m terrified. Why am I in the hospital? And every single member of your family looks right down at you and says it was for your own good.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Mm-hmm.

Gabe Howard: And you’re like, I’m in pain. Really? You just wanted us to let you be in pain and die. You didn’t want us to help you. And the more you complain about being bedridden, sore, hurt, scared, traumatized, the more aggressive every single member of your family gets to tell you what we’re supposed to do? You collapsed while podcasting,

Dr. Nicole Washington: Right.

Gabe Howard: And that’s what happens to people living with bipolar disorder.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Yeah.

Gabe Howard: We say that we were scared about what happened and we get met with this, what we’re supposed to let you do? Walk around suicidal?

Dr. Nicole Washington: Yeah. I would also tell that person, though. So I would tell you, your family was scared too.

Gabe Howard: Right.

Dr. Nicole Washington: That’s why they’re angry.

Gabe Howard: Yeah.

Dr. Nicole Washington: That’s why they’re frustrated. They were terrified. They were terrified that you were going to do something and get injured or you were going to get hurt. Right. So going back to your bar analogy, you’re on the bar, you’re like, yeah, this is wonderful, but you’re at risk of getting your butt whooped, getting Molly whopped because you are on top of the bar stopping the concert. And there are a lot of angry people in this bar who are going to come for you.

Gabe Howard: I do like that you address the trauma that happens to everyone around us. I do know that we have a tendency to forget about this because, well, you know, we have a lot going on with bipolar disorder. We’re pretty wrapped up in our own illness. But let’s go back to the analogy of you having the heart attack. When you wake up, you’re not thinking about how scared your children or your husband were. Or that we’ve been all sitting around for six, 12, 18 hours waiting to see what happened. And you’re not thinking about Gabe who watched you collapse, dialed 911. You’re not thinking about any of that. One minute you were podcasting, the next minute you’re waking up. We’ve all had time. The family has had time to contemplate this. We’ve had time to worry. Right? We’ve had time to freak out. And this is the beginning of the journey for you.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Right.

Gabe Howard: But how do we get around this, right? How do we move forward? The answer can’t be that we all yell at each other. And I guess I know the answer, right? We need open and honest communication, but that’s, that’s a bumper sticker. What does this look like in real life?

Dr. Nicole Washington: I think the real answer is having the conversation not in that moment. Like, I mean, yes, conversation is the answer. Doing it right when they get out of the hospital, not the right time. Doing it when you come for visitation while your loved one’s in the hospital, like when your parents and, you know, loved ones come visit you, that’s not the time to have a conversation about, look what y’all did to me. I can’t believe y’all put me here. It’s also not the time for them to start lecturing you about taking your meds and all these things. Like timing is key, and that is not the right time. It is much better to have these conversations when you’re in a place of stable mood and clear thinking so that you can then talk about what would you like to see happen? What would you not like to see happen? How would you like this handled in the future? I think sometimes we don’t do that part. I think there’s a lot of family therapy that needs to happen and not long term, we’re all in there every week, death matching it out about the time I was five and my brother got Legos and I didn’t like not that kind of stuff. Right.

Gabe Howard: [Laughter]

Dr. Nicole Washington: Right. But just family systems therapy to help just have the conversation. It can be one session, two sessions, just to come up with a plan because bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, illnesses like that, you don’t go through life with those kind of disorders without at least considering your family. And they shouldn’t go through and walk alongside you and your disorder without thinking about how it affects you.

Gabe Howard: want to leave people with this message, people like myself, people living with bipolar disorder, we’re always saying that we want to be treated just like everybody else. We want to be treated just like everybody else. Now, I’ve been using the heart attack analogy in speeches all over the country for years and years and years and years and years. And I never got any pushback until one day. One day I told the whole story basically exactly how we did on the show, and some older gentleman walked up to me. He just kind of sashayed up. I’d say he was about probably 65, maybe 70. And he said, you know, that’s not true. I’m like, okay, I don’t, which? Which part? I’ve been up here an hour. And he said, Well, the part where you wake up from the heart attack and everybody just loves you, that part’s not true.

Gabe Howard: He goes, When I woke up from my heart attack, my wife immediately started yelling at me about the fried food that I ate and the bacon and my smoking. She didn’t even ask me if I was okay. They brought her in and she just immediately started in on me. People with bipolar disorder, we think sometimes that when our families immediately start in on us, that this is because it’s a mental illness, it’s because of stigma and discrimination. But I think about that gentleman a lot, because I can imagine that if I had been telling my wife for years not to do something because I was worried about her health, and then I had just spent 12 hours worrying about her health during an emergency surgery? Yeah, the first thing I’m going to say to her is I told you not to eat bacon. I know for a fact I’d do it. And that’s straight up physical health, doesn’t have the same stigma, discrimination and weight of mental illness. So in this way, we’re actually a lot more normal than maybe we’re willing to admit.

Dr. Nicole Washington: I’ll give you that. But, yeah, even that example that that guy gave you, it’s all about fear, right? All about fear. She was terrified. She’s going to lose him. He’s going to die. It was all about fear.

Gabe Howard: I agree, Dr. Nicole. Thank you to all of our listeners, thank you so much for being here. 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. You can also get a signed copy with free show swag by heading over to my website. Also on my website, you can learn more about me as a speaker, I do travel nationally. And that website is

Dr. Nicole Washington: And my name is Dr. Nicole Washington, and 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 Howard: Wherever you downloaded this podcast, please follow or subscribe. It is absolutely free. Share the show with your friends and family. Sharing the show is how we grow.

Dr. Nicole Washington: We’ll see you next time on Inside Bipolar.

Announcer: You’ve been listening to Inside Bipolar from Healthline Media and Have feedback for the show? E-mail us at Previous episodes can be found at or on your favorite podcast player. Thank you for listening.