Pessimism can feel like it’s part and parcel of having bipolar disorder. But differentiating how much of your pessimism comes from bipolar disorder and how much of it is just your personality can be difficult. Host Gabe Howard talks to co-host Nicole Washington about his experience with pessimism and bipolar, how (and when) to get help if you’re a Negative Nelly, and where to draw the line between the two. Give yourself a little grace — because let’s face it, even if we imagine a world where bipolar disorder doesn’t exist, there would still be plenty of pessimists.

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,

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

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: Greetings, 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 I believe this show is going to suck.

Dr. Nicole Washington: You would think that you would.

Gabe Howard: I just, I can’t help it. I really believe that every podcast that I do, not even just the show, all the other shows, I believe that they all suck. I believe that they suck when I plan them. I believe that the topics suck. I believe that every single solitary component and part sucks. And that’s my base resting place.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Wow. So why do it? I mean, I don’t know that I understand why you would do something that you think is going to fail.

Gabe Howard: There’s I mean, one, it’s my job. I have been hired to do it. And so I do earn a paycheck by doing it. So that that does help because even if the worst case scenario happens, which is everybody hates it, I did get paid for doing it. So that does help move things forward.And sometimes that’s it. Sometimes it’s just like, well, it’s my job. I have to.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Is it one of those things where you plan for the worst so that you’re not disappointed? And then if it goes well, then you can be pleasantly surprised. Is it like that?

Gabe Howard: See that would that would be great. That would that would allow room for growth. I would be willing to accept the idea that I could do a good job. But I no matter what happens, I just believe that it turned out poorly and it’s a difficult thing to shake. And it’s like pessimism on steroids. Don’t even think it’s fair to call it pessimism anymore. There’s also, like self-fulfilling prophecy that works its way in there because now I’ve made it suck. Right. But the important thing to understand is that I generally believe that everything I do is awful and that everything I’m involved in will turn out poorly.

Dr. Nicole Washington: That sounds very painful.

Gabe Howard: I mean, it’s not great. It I don’t know that painful is the right word. Some of it is based on previous experience. Right. We have to go back to Gabe’s childhood. Right. Remember, I was born with bipolar disorder, but nobody noticed until I was 26. So that’s a lot of years to have your brain doing stuff that is not normal, I guess is the right word. But I thought that it was so. So that’s what’s really important to focus in on. Not that my brain was behaving in a way that was abnormal. I thought it was normal, so that’s all I had to deal with. That’s all of the lessons that I got in the world. I applied them with the same broken brain. So when people would say to me, Well, Gabe, look on the positive side, I would think, okay, that’s good advice. But as you know, bipolar disorder has a way of changing things around. So in my mind, I was looking on the positive side, I didn’t realize I had shit colored glasses on, is what I’m saying. I thought that I was being positive. I thought that by saying, Hey, look, this is going to suck, but whatever, at least I get paid. That was the positive side. I honestly thought that was the positive side. I didn’t know any better.

Dr. Nicole Washington: So you’re a negative, Nelly.

Gabe Howard: Oh, that’s just that’s just hurtful.

Dr. Nicole Washington: And you sound like you’re okay with it.

Gabe Howard: I’m not okay with it. I’m not okay with it because it causes me a lot of pain.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Hmm.

Gabe Howard: But it doesn’t just cause me pain, it causes the people around me pain like I imagine like this scenario: I’m out playing putt-putt with my granddaughter. Right?

Dr. Nicole Washington: Okay.

Gabe Howard: She’s a little four-year-old. She’s so happy and she’s like, grandpa, grandpa, I got a hole in one. She’s never gotten a hole in one. She gets a hole in like 306.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Okay.

Gabe Howard: But she believes as a hole in one because it eventually went in the hole. See, I’m already doing it. Even telling the story, I can’t even just say I’m excited. I got a hole in one.

Dr. Nicole Washington: [Laughter] Okay.

Gabe Howard: I got to point out that that little four-year-old sucks at putt-putt.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Okay.

Gabe Howard: So you can see where that like takes some it takes some away from you. I could just be remembering this story as I with my granddaughter playing putt putt and she was like super excited to be with me, to be outside and she was excited that she got the ball in the hole. And I accidentally just I just, I don’t know. It’s so this is a burden to me. And I wonder, I often wonder, which is my original point. Am I visiting that on her? Am I visiting that on my wife? Am I visiting that on my podcast partner? Am I visiting that on all the am I just projecting that that that I’m disappointed so often that the people around me eventually have no choice but to believe that I’m disappointed in them. And then they just go away.

Dr. Nicole Washington: I don’t think you or anyone really has that kind of power on people. I think that people who are pessimistic, people who just kind of expect the worst and they just think the worse is going to happen. It can be a downer for sure, right? It can be hard to be social with people like that. It can be hard to do life with people like that. I mean, I’ll agree. You know, as a psychiatrist, I see people who are pessimistic and then I see people who are negatively affected by the pessimism of the people around them. But ultimately, everybody is kind of responsible for their own stuff. My question for you, though, is this pessimism? Is it something you’ve always had? Little elementary school Gabe, were you like this field trip is going to suck? I don’t even know why we’re going to the zoo? It’s going to be hot. The animals might not come out like, have you always been this pessimistic person or is this newer?

Gabe Howard: I’ve always been this pessimistic person, but I’m going to put just a gigantic asterisks on this. See, before a diagnosis, I was untreated. And when you’re untreated, you have this this ability with bipolar disorder to move from obviously depression to mania. I was never pessimistic when I was manic. That that adds a little element of difficulty there. Because when I was manic, I, I thought that I was a deity. I thought the world revolved around me. I was the best at everything. Whatever was happening was the greatest ever. And I thought this for two reasons. One, because that’s what mania is, right? It does not matter what’s happening. Mania will convince you that it is fantastic. Everybody’s screaming at you that they hate you, not, mania just fixes it to they’re cheering for you.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Yeah.

Gabe Howard: So I wasn’t pessimistic in those moments. That actually provided quite a bit of respite. Not only did it provide respite and relief for me as a person, but it would also show me being this like super confident person who is very excitable and cheerful and charismatic and amazing. So it sort of created this illusion among the people around me that Gabe’s not pessimistic. He’s happy, he’s excitable, he’s cheerful.

Dr. Nicole Washington: [Laughter] But I think it’s important to start from where we are and go backwards, right? So we know who Gabe is now. We know who Gabe is post bipolar disorder diagnosis. You know what Gabe is like when Gabe is depressed. You know what Gabe is like when Gabe is manic. You know what Gabe is like when he is pulling out my $10,000 word, euthymic, normal mood,

Gabe Howard: Euthymic.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Euthymic. Normal mood.

Gabe Howard: Sounds like a punk band in the 80’s.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Oh, we should create one and call it euthymia.

Gabe Howard: Sonic euthymic.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Euthymia.

Gabe Howard: Oh, euthymia.

Dr. Nicole Washington: [Laughter]

Gabe Howard: Can I put like, two words together, euthymia-mania. That’s when you start off normal and by the end of the day, you’re manic. Euthymania.

Dr. Nicole Washington: No.

Gabe Howard: OK, stop making up words Gabe, I got it.

Dr. Nicole Washington: So, you know what you look like in all those three states, right?

Gabe Howard: Right.

Dr. Nicole Washington: So, let’s work our way backwards.

Gabe Howard: Okay.

Dr. Nicole Washington: So if you’re only pessimistic when you’re depressed, that may be a symptom of your depression, right? That may not be like a personality trait necessarily. If you’re only pessimistic and angry or you know that way when you’re manic, maybe that’s a symptom of that. But if your mood is normal, then I want to go back further. So you mentioned earlier I was diagnosed at 26, but that doesn’t mean that you experienced mania and depression from birth infancy to 26. Right. There was a point where these things started happening. So before that was the pessimism there or you always are kind of pessimistic person. Is the pessimism a result of your diagnosis and feeling like life is going to suck? Because I have bipolar disorder? Like there’s a lot of pieces to this pessimism.

Gabe Howard: I do not think that being diagnosed with bipolar disorder made me pessimistic. It is certainly possible that having bipolar disorder made me pessimistic because again, you see things the way that bipolar disorder wants you to see things. So when I was depressed, I saw everything as awful, including and this is both pessimism and trauma. When I was suicidal, I believed that my mom and my grandma and the people who loved me would not only not care if I was dead, they would actively celebrate my death like it would be a happy occasion for them. So I’m positive that that thinking that the people who love you would be happy that you were dead is definitely the type of pessimism that is caused by bipolar disorder or has a link to bipolar disorder. But here’s where it gets a little bit difficult to separate out. And I’m desperately trying to answer your question, thinking that the project that you’re starting is going to fail. In the old days before a metric shit ton of therapy, I called that realism. I thought I was just being realistic.

Dr. Nicole Washington: You do know that all negative people think they’re just being realistic, right?

Gabe Howard: I know. That’s why therapy has messed me up, because that’s what every single Dr. Nicole says to me. They’re like, You’re not realistic. You’re negative. Realistic would be accepting the idea that it could work. That’s realism. Accepting that both are possibilities.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Yes,

Gabe Howard: Negativity and pessimism is accepting only one possibility.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Exactly. Exactly.

Gabe Howard: Yeah, it did startle me. It startled me when somebody said that to me because I rather liked being realistic.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Which you were not, but okay.

Gabe Howard: Which I was not.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Which you were not.

Gabe Howard: I liked believing that I was realistic.

Dr. Nicole Washington: But did you, though? You just said it causes you pain. It causes pain for those around you. Like we talked about how difficult it is. I mean, were you really okay with that?

Gabe Howard: I mean.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Is it protective in a way?

Gabe Howard: That one. That one. See? Yes, it is absolutely protective because if you think that it’s going to suck and it does suck, then you win.

Dr. Nicole Washington: You were right. Yeah.

Gabe Howard: Yeah, you were right. So you’re never let down. You’re never disappointed.

Dr. Nicole Washington: You can say, See, I told you.

Gabe Howard: I’ve got that going for me.

Dr. Nicole Washington: I told you.

Gabe Howard: I’ve got the, see, I told you so’s. I’ve got I told you it was going to fail. But here’s where it goes too far. Why do a project if you honestly think that it’s going to fail? Like just what is wrong with you? It’s like starting a business that you think is not going to work. Why are you investing your time, resources and money if you think the business is going to fail?

Dr. Nicole Washington: But I think if you start a long-shot project, I mean, even this podcast, for example, right? I mean, if you say, I’m gonna do a podcast, I’m gonna go find a random doctor person who I’ve never met, and I’m going to see if we can click and do a podcast. And

Gabe Howard: That’s our origin story, by the way, for everybody to listen in. That’s it.

Dr. Nicole Washington: That’s it.

Gabe Howard: I would have told it better, but.

Dr. Nicole Washington: I want to do a podcast with a random doctor. I found this lady. We’re just going to see if it works. We’re going to throw some noodles against the wall and see if they stick. Like that’s what we’re going to do.

Gabe Howard: That’s what we did.

Dr. Nicole Washington: That is what we did. So I think you can still go into a long shot project or experience saying, hey, chances are this really might fail, but the potential that it could do is worth the risk of the failure.

Gabe Howard: I completely understand what you’re saying. If I bought a lottery ticket, I would think to myself, I’m going to lose.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Yeah.

Gabe Howard: But I would also be open to the idea that I could win. Otherwise, why buy the lottery ticket? It’s a one in a 100 million chance. But hey,

Dr. Nicole Washington: It could happen.

Gabe Howard: It’s a chance, right? And if I don’t pay the dollar, I have zero chance.

Dr. Nicole Washington: So you’re saying there’s a chance.

Gabe Howard: So I’m saying there’s a chance. Right. But here is where here’s where my pessimism and bipolar disorder, I think, uniquely converge. And by uniquely, I mean uniquely for people with bipolar disorder who also just happened to be pessimistic for whatever reason, to go back to the lottery ticket analogy, I pay my dollar, I buy my lottery ticket. But I know for a fact that I can’t win. And I believe that I can’t win. Like I waited until after the drawing and I found somebody who bought the lottery ticket and I gave them a dollar for their ticket. Like, that’s how I feel inside. I don’t think that the odds are long. I think they’re literally zero. And where it’s very damaging for me and again, I think this is where like the depression, just really the depression and the pessimism, they sort of hang out, right? They’ve become buds. This is why I think it’s really dangerous, because then I create this self-fulfilling prophecy. Right?

Dr. Nicole Washington: Mm-hmm.

Gabe Howard: I have some control. Right. I could I could not do the research for this podcast. I could I could show up late. I could refuse to talk on the show. You could say, Gabe, are you pessimistic? Yes. What do you think it has to do with your bipolar disorder? Probably.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Because you think, what’s the point? It’s going to fail anyway.

Gabe Howard: Right. And you’re and you’re like, See, I told you it would fail. And it’s like, no, it didn’t fail. You did.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Yeah.

Gabe Howard: So I, I don’t know how to weigh all of that out, but.

Dr. Nicole Washington: So on my end, I’ll tell you what I have difficulty with in this whole thing is I am often kind of stuck. I stuck would be a good word or I just don’t know what to think about it. Right. There are people who have certain diagnoses because this is inside bipolar disorder. We’re going to stick with bipolar disorder. I do sometimes wonder, again, I’ve said this on previous episodes, do people get so enmeshed with their diagnosis that they think that, oh, because I’m pessimistic, it has something to do with the fact that I have bipolar disorder. Could it not just be that you would have been a pessimistic person, regardless of the fact that you were diagnosed with bipolar disorder? Maybe that was just going to be who you are. We all know pessimistic people who don’t have any kind of mental health diagnosis. So is it possible in that because we are getting focused on it being related to the bipolar disorder, that maybe we’re losing opportunities to deal with it?

Gabe Howard: I love that you introduced that idea because you’re absolutely right. Zero bipolar disorder in the world. I still could have been a pessimist, so I have to wonder and I spent a lot of time thinking about this, what is just my personality, which is naturally pessimistic? What is my personality driven by the illness? You know, bipolar disorder is an illness. And now since we’re talking about bipolar disorder and pessimism, what part of pessimism is driven by bipolar disorder? And these are not easy questions to answer,

Dr. Nicole Washington: No.

Gabe Howard: And they’re very individualized. I should point that out, so I can only speak for myself. One of the things that that I think is that bipolar disorder caused me quite a bit of pain and suffering and trauma, and it hurt a lot.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Mm-hmm.

Gabe Howard: And as you alluded to, it’s a protective factor. If I can avoid those pitfalls, I don’t have to suffer. Now, a reasonable person would say, Well, yeah, but then you don’t get the good, you don’t get the excitement, you don’t get the happiness. And that’s true. I cannot deny that. So let’s say that my level of pessimism is perfectly within just a normal personality trait, not driven by bipolar disorder at all.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Not driven by your mood episode.

Gabe Howard: Right.

Dr. Nicole Washington: So you’re pessimistic regardless.

Gabe Howard: Yes.

Dr. Nicole Washington: OK.

Gabe Howard: So. But there’s another layer that maybe we need to consider, which is, if I didn’t have bipolar disorder, maybe I would have better odds of defeating that line of thinking. Maybe if I didn’t have bipolar disorder, the therapy or the interventions would work better. Maybe when somebody said, Hey, you realize your pessimism is impacting a four year old, maybe you shouldn’t do that. I would think to myself, Oh, that’s a really good point. And I could seek coping skills. And because I wasn’t also battling bipolar disorder, I could focus all of my energy on battling my pessimism and maybe become more balanced. So we have to factor that in there as well.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Yeah.

Gabe Howard: It’s like quicksand, right? It’s just everywhere you step, you sink a little more and you think you’re making progress. But I don’t know. Before you know it, you’re just. You’re just under the sand.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Oh, gosh. Okay. Well, before you drown in quicksand, let’s.

Gabe Howard: Hey. I didn’t say I drowned. That’s very pessimistic of you.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Before you drown in quicksand?

Gabe Howard: I just said I got stuck.

Dr. Nicole Washington: [Laughter]

Gabe Howard: What is this?

Dr. Nicole Washington: [Laughter] Oh, gosh.

Gabe Howard: You went to the worst-case scenario. How could you?

Dr. Nicole Washington: [Laughter]

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Gabe Howard: And we’re back talking the convergence of pessimism and bipolar disorder.

Dr. Nicole Washington: When someone who has bipolar illness comes to me and with anything, if they say, you know, oh, my wife said that I’m super pessimistic and, you know, it’s causing problems in my relationship. My kids are always, you know, whatever it is, I the first thing I do is check in on what’s our mood state, because I think that’s important. I don’t I don’t ever want to see any of my patients who have bipolar disorder to kind of define themselves as who they are during a mood episode. So I think that’s important. I think it’s important to tease out, like, what’s your mood? And then sometimes, you know, patients will get mad because I’m always like, okay, what’s your mood like when this is happening? But really, that’s why because I, I don’t want that for you. Like, I don’t I don’t want anybody with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or depression or anything. I don’t want people to start attributing traits to you that we could actually attribute to your illness

Gabe Howard: I do think that it’s important and that’s why it gets so frustrating, because if I just decided that every time I was pessimistic, a hot bipolar disorder, well, that sort of lets me off the hook. Right?

Dr. Nicole Washington: It does.

Gabe Howard: I don’t have to try to evolve or get better. I just it’s just a medical condition that I can’t help. And then that takes the onus off of me and puts it on an illness and well, isn’t that convenient? And but I don’t I don’t feel that it’s very empowering, but I also don’t feel that it’s going to let us lead our best life. But at the same time, to your point, I think sometimes we’re too mean to ourselves. We need to give ourselves some.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Yes.

Gabe Howard: We need to give ourselves some grace and be like, Hey, look, yeah, this bad thing happened to you, but come on, you know, you are battling a mood disorder. You were manic, you had depression. Your medication, your treatment, your. So where do those converge?

Dr. Nicole Washington: But can we take a step back? Like, can we take a step back and just ask yourself, okay, like, what is going on with my mood? We talked earlier about, am I pessimistic when my mood is in that normal state? Like, am I? Am I just a pessimistic person? It’s important when you have bipolar disorder in general to know who am I when my mood is normal? Who am I when I’m depressed? Who am I when I’m manic? And I find that most of my patients do have some kind of tell of, you know, Oh, I’m getting depressed. I know it when I stop doing this or I know I’m getting manic when I start doing this or stop doing this, they kind of know those things and see them, their loved ones see them happening. So I think it’s good to have kind of a self-inventory and a longitudinal relationship. If you’re hopping around from doctor to doctor, therapist to therapist, they won’t know what your signs and symptoms are.

Gabe Howard: It’s very difficult to consider how to treat any of this, speaking just as a person who is living with bipolar disorder, because I’m not sure I want to treat it at all. That’s like the honesty, right? Pessimism is my personality. It’s how I see the world. It’s how I look. And more often than not, the only problem I have being pessimistic is when other people tell me that it’s a problem. I think the average pessimist, especially the average person living with bipolar disorder and pessimism, where it is like, look, leave us alone, this is our personality. We don’t want help at all.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Yeah. You don’t want help, but you also don’t want people to avoid you because you’re difficult to be around. I mean, you can’t have it both ways. So do you have to treat your pessimism? No. I mean, do you have to address it? Do you have to see a therapist or work on it? No. Can you decide to live your life as just a glass half empty, pessimistic person? Absolutely. You have every right to do that. But people also have the right to not want to be around you because you’re bringing them down or it’s hard for them. So you have to decide, do you want to stand on this as who I am? Love me or leave me? Do you want to stand on that? And if so, that’s fine. But you got to take the risk that somebody might just decide to leave you.

Gabe Howard: I think making these changes for the people that you love is actually like a really good reason. I think it’s a noble reason. I think you should be proud of the fact that you have noticed that some part of your behavior is causing discomfort or pain or unhappiness to people that you love. And you have the insight to notice that and want to fix it. We judge that in ourselves so much or we get angry at the people that we’re trying to change for. I say, let all that go. I say pat yourself on the back and be proud of yourself for doing it. But now we have to do it. So Dr. Nicole, we show up and we’re like, Look, we hate everything. We hate the world. We think it’s all going to suck. And by the way, we want you to fix it. What are our steps like? We can’t just show up one day and be like, Hey, I realized that I think everything sucks. I’m not going to do that anymore. What’s step one?

Dr. Nicole Washington: I think step one is getting with somebody who can help you. Right? Because so many times people say just that, well, I’m just going to change. It’s fine. I’m going to fix it. I got this. I’m going to work on it. But what does I’m going to work on it mean? I can’t tell you how many times people have told me, oh, I’m going to work on it and they have no plan. Like, what do you mean you’re going to work on it? You might as well tell me I’m going to Disneyworld. Well, how are you going to get there? I don’t know. You know, I’m just going to go. So I think it’s important to know how you’re going to get to this place that you’re trying to get to. And that’s why you need support.

Gabe Howard: So talk therapy is what we’re advocating for here, right? There’s no medication that solves pessimism.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Nope. Unless your pessimism is exclusively when you’re depressed.

Gabe Howard: Perfect. So talk therapy is good now. Now, group therapy and peer support is I have found a lot of help with that. And I’ll tell you why. Because you go in and you tell a story of something that you did, right. It’s like, hey, my wife is mad at me. And here’s the story now. It’s my story, right? I it’s my version of events. And the whole group just looks at me with their head down. And I have learned that that means that even in my own telling, my wife just won the argument.

Dr. Nicole Washington: No, that would be great. But I don’t I don’t think we have pessimism anonymous. I don’t think we have pessimist anonymous groups that you can go to and say, Hi, my name is Gabe. I think the world sucks.

Gabe Howard: But we have Emotions Anonymous. There’s also just general mental health groups. Also, if you’re in a bipolar group and you just say, hey, this is my check in, this is what happened, I’d like to talk about this. I do think that those groups in general tend to recognize, hey, man, you’re kind of dragging people down with your negativity.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Absolutely, and your peers have a way of being so brutally honest with you that it hurts in a way that a mental health professional could never be honest with you.

Gabe Howard: And that’s a good thing. It’s one of the reasons that I love peer support so much. And I think sometimes for things like you just see everything again with just those shit colored glasses. I think that support groups, peer support are really, really good. Now we’re a mental health show and we’re owned by a mental health website. So we’re talking a lot about, you know, like therapies that you can acquire and doctors who you could see. But listen, do you have like a best friend that you trust? Maybe they’re pessimistic as well. I don’t know. Just is there somebody in your life that you consider a mentor? Start a conversation off like this. My negativity or my pessimism is starting to bother X and I need to get it under control because I am hurting that person.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Yes.

Gabe Howard: You know me better than anybody. Can you help me?

Dr. Nicole Washington: So you need people. Basically,

Gabe Howard: I believe that you need people.

Dr. Nicole Washington: And so even if you don’t have a group because not everybody will go to group. Right. Some people hate the idea of going to group therapy, but you need people. I mean, I usually tell people you need somebody who, you know, you all have put equity into each other that you trust. And this is the same person that you have told, hey, these are my symptoms when I’m really manic. This is what I look like when I’m super depressed. I may not respond to your text messages for days. This is what you need to do when I do these things like this is that person, these are your people. So same thing. You need to you need to have somebody. I have these people in my life when I can call and go, Hey, am I trippin or are they trippin? And I lay it all out and people that really love me will tell me Now you were definitely trippin. And or they will say or they will say, Well, maybe both of y’all were trippin a little bit. Or they’ll side with the other party. You need people like you just you cannot go through any of this alone. And if you can sit here and listen to this episode and you think, I don’t have anybody in my life that plays that role for me, then that’s your first step right there. We got to find you a support system, a group. We need to find your people. I don’t know where they are, but we need to find them.

Gabe Howard: And it’s certainly possible. Again, you’re listening to a podcast on bipolar disorder and pessimism. It’s certainly possible that you’re you know, your negativity is what pushed people away. So but I know it sounds it sounds bad to say it out loud, but it’s a good thing because if you can zero in on that and fix it, you’ve got an excellent opportunity to bring those people back, meet new people. And this is not an all or none scenario. Negativity in and of itself is not a bad thing. I think sometimes negativity gets a bad rap. True realism, true realism is a good thing.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Yeah.

Gabe Howard: Buying that lottery ticket and saying, I probably won’t win, but I have a chance.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Yeah.

Gabe Howard: That’s realism.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Yeah.

Gabe Howard: Buying that lottery ticket and saying I’m definitely going to win, so I quit my job. That’s problematic. That’s way too much optimism.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Toxic positivity can be just as bad as the pessimism and the toxic negativity. So, no, that is not the goal.

Gabe Howard: As we’ve learned with bipolar disorder, it’s the extremes that are the problem.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Yes, exactly.

Gabe Howard: Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. You’re not going to listen to a single podcast, go to a single support group or an engage your social circle. And this is going to be fixed tomorrow. This is going to take work. You’re learning a new skill. The other thing I want to say, and this is very hard for me, right? It’s super hard for me. I don’t need to comment on everything I know. I know it took me a long time to learn that lesson. But sometimes when I see something and I’m around a group of people and I just I just want to say something negative about it because I’m feeling something negative. It’s just a good idea to just hold it inside. Just. Just sit there with it. And if you still feel that way that evening, once again, you can tell a trusted acquaintance, you can write it down, you can send an email, you can call your buddy or you can bring it up in group. But you don’t always have to address every single thing that you think pessimistically about right in the moment. It’s super hard for me. I’ll be honest.

Dr. Nicole Washington: And people will say, but it’s true. And my response to that is everything that’s true doesn’t need to be said out loud, even if it is right. Like, I don’t know that I believe it 100% is. But just because it’s true doesn’t mean it has to be said out loud.

Gabe Howard: I’m always fascinated that I use that excuse. Well, but I’m just being honest. Like, that’s another one. Well, it’s the truth. Well, I call it like I see it, right. These are examples that people always use. Listen, if Scarlett Johansson walks into the room right now, it is true that she is prettier and richer than my wife. Do you honestly think that I am dumb enough to look over at my wife and say, Hey, she’s prettier than you? That it may be true, but that’s just what a horrible thing to say. And nobody listening to this thinks that’s a good idea. But hey, I call it like I see it. Yeah, see, I just sound like an asshole. I like what you said there, Dr. Nicole. Just because it’s true, doesn’t mean that it needs to be said. In fact, most things that are true don’t need to be said.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Nope, they just come out of our own need to be heard.

Gabe Howard: And sometimes our need to be heard hurts other people. And that’s really what we’re trying to stop, because I do believe it’s definitely true for me. I, I don’t want my pessimism to hurt other people. And that’s, that’s really why I decided to do something about it. I want to be clear to everybody listening. I didn’t just evolve because I wanted to be a better person or I’m enlightened. No, I wanted to have friends and I wanted to have people in my life. And I realized that my pessimism was driving them away. People

Dr. Nicole Washington: Right.

Gabe Howard: Didn’t want to work with me. People didn’t want to hang out with me. People didn’t want to be around me. I just want to be super clear.

Dr. Nicole Washington: Going back to what we talked about earlier, you may not want to change your pessimism, but you have to decide, does it mean that much to me to let the world know about my pessimism that I’m going to lose people that I care about?

Gabe Howard: I could not agree with that more. Dr. Nicole, everybody, thank you so much for listening. My name is Gabe Howard and I am the author of “Mental Illness Is an Asshole and Other Observations.” I’m also a nationally recognized public speaker who could be available for your next event. You can get my book on Amazon because, well, everything’s on Amazon, or you can get a signed copy with free swag just by heading over to my website,

Dr. Nicole Washington: And I’m Dr. Nicole Washington. You can find me on all social media platforms @DrNicolePsych to see all the things that I have my hand in at any given moment.

Gabe Howard: And can you do us a favor? Wherever you downloaded this episode, please follow or subscribe. It is absolutely free and tell all of your friends, family, colleagues about this podcast. Sharing the show is how we grow. We will see everybody next Monday on Inside Bipolar.

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