“Mania has the best public relations team in the world” is Gabe’s favorite “Gabe-ism.” It seems like everyone with bipolar disorder invariably remembers it as an amazing awe-inspiring time. Society, too, romanticizes mania, thinking about it often in positive ways.

But is mania really that great or is this another example of bipolar disorder lying to you? What makes people remember mania so fondly, and what does it look and feel like to our friends and family? Listen as Gabe and Dr. Nicole discuss the symptoms of mania and give you something to think about — no matter how you feel about mania.

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 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
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 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 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: And today I’m super excited because we’re going to talk about something that is that is is so many people think that this is the greatest thing. Listen. So so you’ve got this thing and everybody’s like, you want this thing and there’s this thing and just just you know what we’re talking about here. The other day I was outside with my dog, and my dog was like, Daddy, why are you throwing the ball and the ball now? You got to pick the right ball, right? See, this is okay. All right. Just just clearly this is an example. And and Dr. Nicole, you meet a lot of people who are manic. This is what mania really sounds like

Dr. Nicole Washington: Yeah.

Gabe Howard: When you’re talking to someone. Yes, or no?

Dr. Nicole Washington: Yes, yes. Like to the outside ear. We can’t keep up. We’re like, where is this going?

Gabe Howard: Now, from my perspective, the person experiencing mania, I feel really happy and powerful and like, I’ve got a lot going on. And especially as somebody who has experienced suicidal depression, that that gap is so wide to go from hating yourself and wanting to die to feeling like literally the king of the world. That feeling is remarkable. And on top of that, I really, really feel like I’m accomplishing a lot of things. But the little snippet of an example that I just gave is really what mania is. 99% of the time. But despite that, mania has a stellar, a stellar reputation.

Dr. Nicole Washington: It does. Oh, my gosh. And not even just went in the manic phase, right? Like when somebody is depressed and they tell me, I’d rather just stop all my meds and be manic than to deal with depression. Like, I feel like a used car salesman. I mean, I really have to try to convince them that mania isn’t this great and wonderful thing because you’re not able to remember all the bad stuff that happened when you were manic. You’re not able to remember overdrawing your account and not being able to pay your mortgage and, you know, doing risky sex things like you’re just not able to remember those things. You just are holding onto the feeling, which I would imagine is a great feeling if it was in a vacuum.

Gabe Howard: I want to be honest with everybody listening. The feeling is remarkable. Especially when you sit it next to wanting to die. It’s literally bipolar, right? It’s right in the name. It’s these two gigantic extremes. So, to be on the complete opposite side of it is amazing. But I have a theory. I have a theory, Dr. Nicole.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Okay, I’m ready to hear it.

Gabe Howard: See, first off, mania is the ultimate in rose-colored glasses. When people say, look, you’ve got rose colored glasses on about your child. I really think they’re misbehaving, but you’re calling it creativity because you love your son or daughter. But in actuality, they’re drawing on the walls after you’ve told them not to. You’ve got parental rose-colored glasses. And everybody listening to that example is like, Yep, I know that parent. I know that parent. Your kid’s screaming in the grocery store. No, they’re there singing and they’re being creative. Nope, that’s a temper tantrum. There’s a part of us that understands it because people don’t want to see negatives in their children.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Yeah, I mean, I get that. I mean, especially as a mom, you know, I mean, it’s a fine line, right?

Gabe Howard: When mania strikes, you do all of these things. You know, you gave some great examples. You know, risky sexual behavior. You blow off your friends, you quit your job, you overdraw your account, and all of those things in the moment when you’ve got the rose-colored glasses on and you’re feeling good, you don’t hear it. Right? Go back to the mom example. You don’t hear the temper tantrum. You hear singing. You don’t see the writing on the wall. You see beautiful art and creativity. But eventually that subsides, right? That that goes away. Eventually you got to clean that wall. Eventually your kid is screaming so loud that people are giving you the side eye and you’re like, Ooh, I’m starting to feel some sort of way about this side. Manias like that too. It has to subside. You have to pay that bill. You realize that you’ve lost your friend. You could have an unplanned pregnancy, an STD, or just feel guilty about the situation that you’ve gotten yourself into. So now the reality crumbles on you and here’s what happens. Nobody says, Oh, mania is a problem. No, that’s not what people say. People think and say, oh, bipolar depression is a bear because it’s depressing to realize that you’ve done these things. We give all of those negatives to depression, anxiety or whatever else. And somehow, mania just spin doctors its way right out of there.

Dr. Nicole Washington: And during that moment it feels right. All of it feels right. Right? Like it feels like you’re firing. Like you’ve unlocked some part of your brain that you don’t normally get to use. You’ve made it to another level of clarity and you’re like, no, this has to be right. Like, it feels so right. And so, it’s I think it’s really hard to, after the fact, see it as bad because you felt so good when you were doing it. Even though there are a lot of negative consequences. I think your brain doesn’t allow you to remember those things.

Gabe Howard: There are so many analogies that you can use for mania to describe why, even though it makes you feel good, it’s a bad thing. There’s a really obvious example in drug use. I talked to people in the substance use disorder side and they’re like, look, I felt horrible and I did drugs or got drunk and I felt better. Why would I not want to do this? And of course, the reason they don’t want to do this is because of the long-term consequences. But in the short term, we can understand maybe why they turn to drugs and alcohol to mask the horrible feelings they were having because it made them feel better. But I think collectively we understand that using drugs and alcohol to mask a feeling is not in our best interest. I don’t think there’s anybody listening that doesn’t understand that. Maybe a more down to earth example and not go all the way to substance use disorder. Eating can be this way, you know, eating the cake or having the ice cream or having the treat. It can make you feel good in the moment. But of course, obesity is an epidemic in this country. Diabetes is an issue. Health issues. Even though in the moment that treat makes you feel better, the long-term consequences of that treat are well understood.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Yeah.

Gabe Howard: Mania is very much like that. Yes, in the moment I cannot deny that it feels wonderful. But like those two examples I just gave, in the moment does not make the entirety of our lives

Dr. Nicole Washington: Right.

Gabe Howard: And we have to live in the entirety of our lives. So long after mania is gone, the effects of mania remain. They linger. And those effects more often than not, are bad.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Yeah. How do you get someone who is like, I love my mania? I felt really great. It’s better than feeling like this. Like, how do you get from that standpoint to being able to realistically see what mania has done? Like, how do we get there? Because I need to know.

Gabe Howard: Yeah,

Dr. Nicole Washington: I need to know.

Gabe Howard: Obviously, Dr. Nicole, if I knew the specific answer to that question that worked for everybody, I’d be so rich. I just. I’d be. I would just sell people the answer $100 a pop. So, there are no tried-and-true methods. But for me, it was about it was about the compromise. I can have a reasonable quality of life, a reasonable control of my emotions, and I can move forward without hurting myself or others. Did I get rid of the mania? Yes, But I also got rid of the bad. So, and oftentimes, it goes hand in hand. You usually can’t get rid of one without the other. And I know there’s people who are tell you, oh, yes, you can you can get rid of the depression and ride the lightning of mania. I would challenge that. Maybe it works for them. I do not walk in their shoes. But for the majority of people living with bipolar disorder, you’ve got to get rid of both. That’s what did it for me, right? Yes, I got rid of the mania, but I also got rid of the suicidal depression. Also, I really put up against having control of my emotions. See, here’s the bummer about mania. You have no control over it. You don’t get to turn it on and off. You don’t get to select it. You go from hating yourself to loving yourself to hating yourself, to loving yourself, to hiding under a bed to and in my case, having, you know, delusions where I thought demons were chasing me and I had no control over it. Is the mania gone for me? Yes. And even if I wanted it back, which I don’t, because now I can see clearly. But even if I wanted it back, this isn’t a la carte.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Right.

Gabe Howard: I would have to get those other things back as well. And I don’t want those. I don’t want those things back. So that really, really, really resonated with me.

Dr. Nicole Washington: So, I’m always talking about having your team and your support system and the people you trust. And so, it sounds like this would be a really good spot where they might come in and kind of help you see things a little bit clearer. Because the one thing I do know is that most of the people I see who’ve been manic, they just don’t have the ability to remember the bad.

Gabe Howard: So, let’s talk about those people for a moment. Mania drives those people away. If we believe that it doesn’t, but it does. And I can only share from my own lived experience. And in a way, this was the best thing that happened to me. And in a way it was very traumatizing and hurtful. But my mania drove away my first wife. I there was infidelity. I, I it was a really, really bad scene. But when I think about those moments where I felt good, I thought, well, I felt great. I felt great. I felt great. Yeah. You disappeared for days. You cheated on her. You didn’t communicate. You really took her for granted. And that’s either a decision that you intentionally made making you a really bad person or it was caused by the symptom of bipolar disorder, which is different. It’s still your responsibility. You don’t get to skate, right?

Dr. Nicole Washington: Right.

Gabe Howard: Maybe mania isn’t so great if it made you hurt somebody that you care about and love. So, her leaving. That hurt. That woke me up quick because I was like, well, now wait a minute. And I realized this was just going to keep happening

Dr. Nicole Washington: When people walked away. Was it the just them walking away that was eye opening or did they actually have a conversation with you? Like these are the things that happen when you’re manic and this is how it affects me. And I can’t tell you like that they have that level of conversation with you or was it just like, I’m out, I can’t deal with this because it was so overwhelming?

Gabe Howard: In my situation, we didn’t know that I was sick. I have I have

Dr. Nicole Washington: Okay.

Gabe Howard: The benefit of hindsight, as always, 20/20.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Okay.

Gabe Howard: Now, looking back, they just thought I was an asshole. They thought that I was maliciously making these decisions. And it wasn’t until after they left and after I ended up in the psychiatric hospital and after I looked back, I realized what kind of a role bipolar disorder played. But then moving forward, you know, in my treatment, in my recovery, in therapy and coping skills and of course, in repairing some of these relationships, the ones that I was able to repair, I had to take responsibility and I had to understand that, hey, that mania that you’re remembering so fondly was actually not fond at all. Bipolar disorder is a confusing illness. And but the way that we respond to it, for me as somebody who just loves to watch people is fascinating. And here’s the best explanation that I had when I was suicidal. I believed not only that I would be better off dead, but I also believed that nobody would miss me. I believe that my grandmother, whom I love more, just I love her the most in the world. And even though other family members don’t want to admit it, she loves me most, too. And my mom is my mom, right? She loves me and my dad. He loves me. And I convinced myself that not only would they not care that I was dead, they would celebrate at my funeral. Now, I quickly as I started to get help and therapy, I was like, wow, that was just a nonsense thing to believe.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Yeah.

Gabe Howard: Then we flip over on the mania side and I was like, Well, I thought I was boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. And then I don’t apply that same thing. I’m like, No, I still believe that

Dr. Nicole Washington: Right.

Gabe Howard: That one’s got to be true.

Dr. Nicole Washington: All right.

Gabe Howard: I was more than willing to admit that all this stuff that I believed in, in the depression and the negative side was, yeah, that was bipolar disorder, pulling the strings. And then I got over to mania and I was like, Well, I think that one’s real.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Yeah.

Gabe Howard: I mean, I am the greatest thing ever. I am capable of doing the following things with no training or experience.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Yeah.

Gabe Howard: And we all do this and we’re like, Well, now wait a minute. Why, why, why, why can’t we put the same microscope over on the manic side

Dr. Nicole Washington: Mm hmm.

Gabe Howard: That we’re willing to put on the depression, anxiety, suicidal side?

Dr. Nicole Washington: Because it feels good. From the medical side of this. One of the biggest concerns I have when somebody is manic repeatedly that I think they don’t always get is that if you keep having manic episodes, like they can get more intense, they can get longer, they can get to the point where it’s not as easy to kind of reign them in with medication. And that that’s my concern. Like, let me let me stop you from having these episodes when you’re in your twenties. Let’s not let you get to your forties and fifties with all these unchecked manic episodes. And, you know, we are we are really starting to look at like, what do these recurrent manic episodes do to your brain long term? What do they do for your cognitive functioning long term? I think if we can get people to understand that I’m not Dr. Nicole Killjoy, who just doesn’t want you to have a good time. I want you to have a good time. I want you to love life and live it to the fullest. But I want you to do it on your own terms. And I want you to do it with clear thinking and reasonable decision making. If you do something risky, I want it to just be because you’re a random risk taker and you just, you know, decided to plan a trip to jump out of a plane. I’m totally fine with that. I don’t want it to be that you woke up one morning and said, Oh, I’m gonna jump out of a plane today and just went and jumped out of a plane? Like, I want you to make the decisions and have a good time. But we got to realize there may be some long-term health consequences that you’re not thinking about, too, when it comes to your mania.

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Dr. Nicole Washington: And we’re back discussing the lies that mania tells us.

Gabe Howard: One of the things that I think about a lot is the movie Total Recall. And in Total Recall, they implanted memories into these people’s brains and then they remembered them and they move forward. And the you know, obviously it went awry. That’s how you get a movie. But the specific thing they did is rather than go on vacation, they just implanted the memories of a vacation right in your brain and that was it. So, you don’t have time to go to a month-long vacation to England and travel it around? No problem. They’ll just implant the memory and then you move forward like you went. There’s a philosophical debate there that I always want to discuss. Is it better to remember it and not have done it, or is it better to have done it and not remember it right? And is it better to have loved and lost?

Dr. Nicole Washington: Never have loved at all? I got you.

Gabe Howard: Yeah. Yeah. This is the best example that I have of where mania really did a great disservice to me because even as I sit here and tell you this story, I have all the feelings, emotions and memories that had happened my way. And here’s what I believe happened. I believe that I went to a bar, a club with music, like live band music.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Okay.

Gabe Howard: And I was awesome, right? I was awesome. I was singing along and everybody loved me. And I jumped up on the bar and I started singing. And I was so great that the band even stopped playing so that the whole entire, you know, nightclub could watch me. And they were like, Gabe, Gabe, Gabe. I don’t know how they knew my name, but they knew it and everybody was awesome. And then finally I was, you know, I was I was I was, you know, walked out as a hero. And everybody cheered when I left. And I, I went outside and I was like, that was amazing. I was I was better than the band. I still remember it this way. It is still in my head this way, and I still have this feeling of triumph. But I want you to think about this for a moment. That doesn’t even sound realistic. Here’s what actually happened. Yeah, I went to a club. There was a band playing and I caused such a commotion. I was so loud and disruptive. And I want you to think about this. This is a local bar band.

Gabe Howard: Play it. Anybody who has listened to local music knows how loud it is in those clubs. It is so loud. And yet I was somehow capable of causing such a disruption, climbing up on the bar that eventually the band had to stop playing and security had to get involved. And people weren’t cheering me. They were booing, they were. They were angry. They were annoyed. And did I leave and did people cheer when I left? Absolutely, because I finally got escorted out of the bar and thrown out onto the street. If you mirror the two versions, the truth, which is I was a disruption and I got thrown out. And my version you can see how mania rose colored glasses it. Right? You can see how the crowd being angry at me was me was, you know, me seeing them as cheering. You can see how the band stopping was because they loved me versus there was just no other choice. I was with a lot of people and words started coming back to me that what I think happened and what actually happened was not the same. For a long time, I just cut those people off. I was just like, Well, you’re lying. You’re jealous. But again, once I started to get into recovery, I reflect on those moments and I realized that all those people were telling me the truth.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Right.

Gabe Howard: It is not even reasonable. My story is not even believable on its face. If I just told you that story, you’d be like, Liar,

Dr. Nicole Washington: Right.

Gabe Howard: That did not happen that way. You don’t even need witnesses.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Yeah.

Gabe Howard: But I still believe it.

Dr. Nicole Washington: I mean, when multiple people tell you the same thing, at some point you do have to think, Well, what if I’m wrong? Like, what if it’s me that’s not remembering this, right? Back in the day, that was easy, right? Today, I am seeing a lot of people who when they behave in a way that draws a lot of attention. Everybody’s got a camera phone now. Right. And I’m seeing a lot of people get recorded when they’re in a manic phase and then seeing it after and having to deal with the oh oh, that is not what I thought I look like when I was doing those things. I mean, I’ve seen it be a very valuable tool for people to actually see themselves in motion. Like, this is what you were like. This is how scared you were. This is how agitated you. Like this. This is who you were, you know, is this who you want to be? Because again, it’s one of those things you don’t ever really remember what you’re like during that time.

Gabe Howard: I really want to acknowledge the double-edged sword of these recordings, because I agree they can be very, very powerful. The way that you know, that they’re very powerful is think of all the pro athletes who record themselves. They don’t go on how they felt about the play. They want to watch the play. They want to watch them do it and think, okay, here’s how I can improve. This is on the most elite level. So yeah, yeah, the way something feels and the way something is well understood to be different. But I want to touch on what you sort of alluded to there real quick. You know, many people, they see themselves manic on social media because it went viral. And by viral I don’t mean 800 million views. I mean, like through their town, through their school, through their workplace, through their church. And everybody is watching them well, be foolish. And they really remembered having a great time. But now that they’re seeing it and unfortunately seeing it in the most embarrassing way.

Dr. Nicole Washington: This is also another good reason to maintain your stability. Right? Because things that go on the Internet are there forever. They’re there once you are stable and looking for jobs, somebody may be able to look you up if they can figure out, oh, that’s that guy from the, you know, YouTube video when he was dancing on top of the bar and they had to escort him out of the building. You know, those things can follow you now in ways that, you know, your mania of the past that was in a public setting, didn’t really follow you because it just kind of went away. Nobody had a recording. Now everybody is recording everything. So, while there can be a positive to you, seeing it from people you love who are like, Hey, God, like, look at you. This is what you were like. It can also be a huge negative. If, like you said in your community, you get known as the guy who got escorted out of the bar because you were dancing on top of the table and everybody isn’t going to get that. Oh, oh, he has bipolar disorder and that can happen with that illness. They may just think, wow, this guy is out of control. Like, I don’t want him working for us. It can really have some negative consequences down the road when you’re behaving this way in a public setting because the Internet is forever.

Gabe Howard: I mean, the Internet’s forever, but. But where are my Myspace pictures?

Dr. Nicole Washington: Where.

Gabe Howard: Like, where do they go? I can’t. I can’t find them anywhere. I was promised the Internet was forever. But I want to stay on the topic of the Internet for a minute because there’s always these YouTube videos out there of the person who has harnessed their mania and I’m making air quotes and the person that is riding the lightning and capturing the fire. And there’s all of these phrases for the way people are taking their mania, harnessing it and using it for good. And the first thing that I want to say is there’s got to be somebody. There really does have to be somebody who’s made this work.

Gabe Howard: It’s just incredibly rare. And here’s the thing about YouTube and the Internet and the concept of forever. Bipolar disorder is a spectrum illness. We all understand this, which means you do absolutely nothing. You vacillate between, you know, suicidal depression, you know, normalcy, stability to mania, to hypomania and every possible spot in between. So, let’s say somebody reaches this level of mania, you know, maybe their mania isn’t, quote unquote, as bad as yours or it’s different than yours or it’s hypomania because they have bipolar two and not bipolar one, whatever. And they make this video. And the video is really compelling. Right. They did a really good job. They have great editing skills. It’s got good music. You know, You’re like, oh, and of course, it’s persuasive, right? You it’s wonderful and you like it. And this person is like, Yeah, keep your mania. You don’t need medication. Your doctor doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Mania. Mania. Whoo. And they make this video. Now something bad happens, right? Maybe they couldn’t ride the lightning. Maybe they got incarcerated. Maybe they died by suicide. Maybe they’re homeless now. They don’t take the video down.

Dr. Nicole Washington: No.

Gabe Howard: They don’t make a persuasive video about how they were wrong. It really is like the media. The front page is person did X, and then when they find out the person didn’t do it, it’s like on page 35 with no picture in the retraction section that nobody sees.

Dr. Nicole Washington: And I always tell people, worry about yourself, just worry about yourself. Don’t worry about anybody else. Because that person who’s proclaiming to be able to harness their mania, they could be just flat-out lying.

Gabe Howard: It’s a possibility.

Dr. Nicole Washington: There are no fact checkers. You know, news alert, everything that’s on the Internet isn’t true. I know that’s a little bit tough

Gabe Howard: No,

Dr. Nicole Washington: To believe. I know. I know. I know.

Gabe Howard: No.

Dr. Nicole Washington: I know. So, they could be flat-out being dishonest, right? Just to get the views and the watchers. They could just have a less severe mania than you, at least for now. But, you know, if they keep on having these manic episodes, that could change in the future. And that’s the part you won’t see. And then resources do matter. I mean, you know, anybody out there who’s ever tried to lose weight, like you watch people and you’re like celebrities who are like, oh, and I lost this much weight and I did this. And I was like, well, heck, if I could work out hours a day and if I had a chef and a personal trainer, I mean, heck, I’d be fine as frog hair. But you know what? I got a job. And so, it’s just, you know, I mean, you know, it’s at the same you’re right. It’s not apples to apples.

Gabe Howard: I think we’ve done a really good job of establishing that mania lies. It’s not a true feeling and we’ve really given people something to think about. But here’s another really wrinkle in this whole mania debate. People that don’t have bipolar disorder also love mania.

Dr. Nicole Washington: They do.

Gabe Howard: Society really romanticizes this idea of mania. They really put it up. And for some people with bipolar disorder, it becomes the only, quote-unquote, interesting thing about them to their peer groups or to their friends, they’ve been able to build this following this idea that they’re creative, special, different, remarkable because of mania. So, in order to give up mania, they have to give up the only thing that they may be getting positive feedback on

Dr. Nicole Washington: Mm-hmm.

Gabe Howard: Living with bipolar disorder just involves a lot of self-loathing, a lot of self-hatred, and involves a lot of behavior that people give you a lot of, well, negative feedback about. But then the mania comes and maybe you do feel that that’s the thing that makes you creative and then that creativity gives you, you know, positive accolades out in your community or maybe in, you know, that level right before hypomania. It gives you the confidence to be charismatic in the life of the party, which again, gives you that positive feedback. You know, mania, it does give us confidence. Confidence feels powerful and that gives us the confidence to go for that long shot, which sometimes we do win, right? Maybe it gives us the power to ask out that person that we’ve been just too afraid to ask out in our quote-unquote, normal phases or depression phases. And people hear, you want me to give that up,

Dr. Nicole Washington: Yeah.

Gabe Howard: The only positive feedback that society is giving me. Dr. Nicole wants to take away. Why would I do that? I hate myself. Other people hate me. And again, this this this society really loves mania. That’s a struggle.

Dr. Nicole Washington: No. Yeah. I mean, I get people all the time who say to me about their loved ones, like, Man, I wish I could bottle that up, you know, sometimes and have that kind of energy. Or when I’m asking a person if they’ve ever experienced a manic episode and I describe it, they’re like, Oh my gosh, that sounds wonderful. And I have to go back and go, No, no, no, it’s not wonderful. Let me tell you what all could happen. Just to educate. But yeah, I mean, people love it. And it’s hard to get those people to think like, how about we get you to a normal mood state for you? And then we work on those things and therapy, the confidence, those kinds of things. But yeah, no, I mean, it’s tough and it’s sometimes it’s hard for me to convince people otherwise.

Gabe Howard: It’s really important that you remove that kind of thought process from your vocabulary because you’re not doing your friend, family member, loved one any favor by giving bipolar disorder credit for the things that they’ve accomplished. And could you imagine if your loved one had cancer and you were just like, Oh, you’re so skinny and you don’t have to do your hair anymore? You know, I spend 45 minutes a day doing my hair and you’re just bald now because of the treatment. I wish I was cancer skinny. I wish I had cancer skinny. All of these things are just patently offensive. Nobody hearing it thinks that that sounds okay. But for some reason, we move it over to bipolar disorder and you think it’s complimentary? It’s not. Now, I want to flip it to the people living with bipolar disorder who are listening. When people say that they’re not building you up. They really aren’t. They have a fundamental misunderstanding of your challenges and what you’re living with. And it’s really quite offensive to say that bipolar disorder is the reason that you are successful or a great artist or so creative or work so hard. These are your talents. Bipolar disorder works really, really, really hard to derail our lives, to distract us from our goals, to prevent us. And of course, there’s a you know, there’s a 15% death rate. So those people aren’t riding any lightning. They’re not accomplishing anything and their creativity is kaput. It’s we need to get away from this idea. That there’s really just any back door benefit to bipolar disorder. There’s not. I mean, just it reminds me of people who want more time. So, they only get 5 hours of sleep a night when they clearly need eight. They think they’re getting more time,

Dr. Nicole Washington: Right.

Gabe Howard: But they’re not. They’re destroying their body and their quality of work and their quality of life will eventually suffer because they’re not getting the sleep they need. If you’re not treating your bipolar disorder at the level that you need to treat it because you feel that you’re getting a backdoor benefit, it is much like getting more time in the day by giving up sleep. It might work in the short term, but it has disastrous consequences in the long term.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Yeah. Another mic drop moment from Gabe. Another one. Another one.

Gabe Howard: I like it when you say I have mic drop moments. I don’t know why. I just. I feel so good, but. But isn’t that, like, the goal, right? Dr. Nicole complimented me, and I feel good about it, and it’s real.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Yeah. And, you know, as a little tip for the caregivers and the family members, pump your people up when they are stable, right? Like give them compliments when they’re in a just whatever their normal mood state is and they do something great like, Oh, that was pretty awesome. Like, you know, we need to complement each other more in general just in life, period. We need to point out the good things that people are doing. But I do think it’s important that when you have someone in your life who has something like bipolar disorder and they’re stable and doing great, you know, I tell my patients all the time like, Oh, I’m so proud of you. Like, look at you like you’re working and you’re productive and you’re able to pay your bills and like, you’re going out like, isn’t this great? Isn’t this better than being manic and doing it wildly and without purpose and like, you got to pump folks up. So, I think the loved ones around there, the psychiatrist, the therapist, the support system, let’s pump folks up when they’re when they’re normal mood.

Gabe Howard: There’s so much that can be said about mania, and there’s no way that we’re going to get to all of it. But I, I just I understand why people want to hang on to it. Bipolar disorder is painful and it comes with a lot of negativity and a lot of issues. And for many people, the only positive memories that they might have of their life up until the point of diagnosis is shrouded by mania. The only compliments they may get from people happened while they were manic. And again, it feels so much better to be manic than depressed, suicidal, anxious, whatever. Just I hate that mania is so wrapped up in positivity because it is so damaging, but I understand it. And helping people living with bipolar disorder understand that, look, all facets of bipolar disorder are negative. There’s not a secret back door good one. And helping people understand that mania didn’t make you better. It didn’t make you creative. You’re creative because you’re creative. It didn’t make you a better whatever it is that you excel at. You excel at it because that’s your talent and because you worked hard. Don’t give an illness credit for your success. Don’t give mania credit for your success. Raise your level of thinking and give yourself credit for your success.

Dr. Nicole Washington: I love that. Give yourself credit for your success. I love it.

Gabe Howard: Dr. Nicole, it’s always great hanging out with you. And to all of our listeners, it’s great to hang out with you as well. My name is Gabe Howard and I am the author of “Mental Illness Is an Asshole and Other Observations.” I’m also a speaker who travels nationally. You can get my book on Amazon or you can get a signed copy of my book by heading over to gabehoward.com.

Dr. Nicole Washington: 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 Howard: Dr. Nicole and I need a big favor. Wherever you downloaded this podcast, please follow or subscribe. It is absolutely free. And we also need you to share the podcast. It turns out we do not have Superbowl advertising money, but we do have our great listeners. So please share us on social media. Tell a friend about us, shoot an email, send a text, and of course, good old-fashioned word of mouth still works. We will see everybody next time on Inside Bipolar.

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