Are you having trouble with mental illness or are you really good at managing it?
Humor can heal or hurt. Is schizophrenia something to joke about? Should you make jokes about mental illness? Schizophrenia is a very serious topic, but it can be exhausting to be serious all the time.
Host Rachel Star Withers, a diagnosed schizophrenic, and co-host Gabe Howard find the humor in having schizophrenia in this episode of Inside Schizophrenia.
TikTok star comedian Kody Green joins to share his journey that includes addiction, incarceration, schizophrenia, and comedy.
Kody Green (He/Him) is 28 years old with a diagnosis of undifferentiated schizophrenia. Kody is also the founder of a nonprofit, a motivational speaker, and content creator with over 1 million followers across social media platforms. He has struggled in the past with drug addiction, incarceration, and serious mental health issues.
In order to be a better advocate and speaker, Kody has been trained as a peer support specialist, recovery coach, and suicide prevention specialist.
Now, Kody shares his stories about his struggles and how to navigate through recovery, mental health issues, and life after incarceration. He chooses to pursue motivational speaking and mental health advocacy for schizophrenia awareness, drug recovery, and second- chance opportunities because he has dealt with these struggles in his own life.
“After my release from incarceration and my schizophrenia diagnosis, I thought there was nothing left for me. When I started sharing my story online, I did not think anyone would care. After gaining 1 million followers on social media, I realized how my struggles and my story could help others.”
Rachel Star Withers creates videos documenting her schizophrenia, ways to manage and let others like her know they are not alone and can still live an amazing life. She has written Lil Broken Star: Understanding Schizophrenia for Kids and a tool for schizophrenics, To See in the Dark: Hallucination and Delusion Journal. Fun Fact: She has wrestled alligators.
To learn more about Rachel, please visit her website, RachelStarLive.comm.
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.
Gabe makes his home in the suburbs of Columbus, Ohio. He lives with his supportive wife, Kendall, and a Miniature Schnauzer dog that he never wanted, but now can’t imagine life without. To learn more about Gabe, please visit his website, gabehoward.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 Schizophrenia. Hosted by Rachel Star Withers, an advocate who lives openly with Schizophrenia. We’re talking to experts about all aspects of life with this condition. Welcome to the show!
Rachel Star Withers: Welcome to Inside Schizophrenia, a Healthline Media podcast. I’m your host, Rachel Star Withers, here with my great co-host, Gabe Howard. Mark Twain said humor is tragedy plus time. Today we’re going to talk about finding the humor in having schizophrenia. Is schizophrenia something we should even be allowed to joke about? Should you make jokes about mental illness? Schizophrenia is a very serious topic, but it’s exhausting to be serious all the time.
Gabe Howard: And joining us today is Kody Green. He is a motivational speaker and content creator with over 1 million followers across various social media platforms. And he lives with schizophrenia. And well, frankly, he jokes about it all the time and he goes by the handle schizophrenic hippie.
Rachel Star Withers: And if you’re one of the younger ones, Gabe, you know, he blew up first on TikTok. I’m very slow at taking up TikTok. What about you? Is this one of your main platforms now?
Gabe Howard: I just every time I hear TikTok, I always think of the song TiK ToK, we can’t stop. We just. I have not gotten into it. But it is. It is, pardon the pun, insanely popular.
Rachel Star Withers: Oh, yes, yes, yes. It’s crazy how many people know Kody Green that I’ve talked to. And they were like, oh, yeah, I followed that guy on TikTok.
Gabe Howard: People are uncomfortable joking about schizophrenia because it’s a serious topic. And they think that because something’s a serious topic, you can’t joke about it as if the two are mutually exclusive. But I do want to remind the audience that we joke about very serious things all the time, and in fact, we take very serious things and trivialize them in society constantly. And I came prepared with an example
Rachel Star Withers: Okay.
Gabe Howard: To host a murder. Murder is very serious. People don’t want to be murdered. We train our kids not to get murdered. Whenever a murder happens, it makes news because it’s very, very, very, very serious. But it’s also a party game that you can play with your friends. So, it’s understandable that people who live with schizophrenia and live in society and have absorbed American culture are also going to want to take parts of schizophrenia and find the humor in it as a coping mechanism.
Rachel Star Withers: I agree when you’re talking about serious situations, I think the line is when you look at it, what’s being made fun of? Is the punch line of the joke a person or a group of people or is it a situation? There are comedians out there who have parents who have schizophrenia and I’m not a big fan of mainly any of them. And it really the reason is people are like, oh, but they’re raising awareness that they’re this, they’re that. And I’m like, But the punch line of the joke is usually the parent. Ha ha. It’s so funny. I had to grow up with this crazy person. And I don’t like those jokes because the punch line is the fact that they had schizophrenia versus the punch line being let’s say Gabe, I tell a joke about antipsychotics and I’m like, well, usually the choice with anti-psychotics is, do I want to think clearly and have a brain or do I want to be asleep for 24 hours a day? It’s like, those are my only two options. Okay? I’m not making fun of the fact I have to take anti-psychotics. I’m making fun of the fact that the situation, those are usually my options in a humorous way. So, I think that’s the line when you’re looking at can I tell this joke? What’s the punch line? What makes it funny?
Gabe Howard: And of course, we also have to look at who’s telling the joke. People living with schizophrenia can make fun of their own experiences in a way that people who are not living with schizophrenia cannot. There’s a rule in comedy saying you always have to punch up, meaning that people that you make fun of always have to be above you. You can’t punch down, meaning the people that you are poking fun at can’t be below you. And I think that really applies here as well.
Rachel Star Withers: A big clue to me on whether a joke is appropriate or not is who was it made for? Who was the audience that’s going to find this funny? Is it just normal people who have stigmatization ideas about schizophrenia and they think that all schizophrenic people are just crazy murderers, so they’ll find this joke funny? Or is the audience for people who deal with mental disorders? That’s when you think about certain jokes like kind of toilet humor and stuff. Yeah, it could be funny to anybody. You know, everybody poops. Ha ha ha. But I think that’s the line of who was this joke made for? Who is going to find it funny?
Gabe Howard: You also have to ask yourself, is this joke pushing a myth or a stereotype? Because obviously mental health advocates everywhere are trying to reduce the amount of stereotypes. Rachel, I want to I want to I want to put the camera on you
Rachel Star Withers: Yeah.
Gabe Howard: For a minute because you do get criticism. You’ve been criticized before because you’ve been on numerous comedy TV shows like Ridiculousness, World’s Dumbest, America’s Got Talent, and you were doing stupid stunts and you’re also Internet famous for viral fail videos. You’ve been set on fire. You played paintball in a bikini and you wrestled an alligator. And many people have said, look, that’s not the kind of thing that’s funny because you live with schizophrenia. You can’t live with schizophrenia and set yourself on fire. That’s dangerous. You’re pushing something out in the world that’s bad. You’re for lack of a better word, promoting a stereotype. But obviously, you see it very, very differently. Are you hurting people living with schizophrenia by doing this?
Rachel Star Withers: That’s actually something that I’ve dealt with for a really long time. I just talked about toilet humor. If you’ve ever seen the show Ridiculousness, anyone can laugh because it’s people falling, you know? And that’s funny when someone just drops down, when they try and do something, they try and hit the ball and instead they miss and hit themselves in the face. That’s funny. And I do a lot of creation of video content like that, but I’m very clear to keep my schizophrenia away from that. I don’t want schizophrenia to look bad. I don’t want to portray schizophrenia as, you know, stupid. But you know, some people are going to mix them together.
Gabe Howard: I want to focus the audience on what you said there about people mix them together. Stigma works in all kinds of ways that people don’t realize, and the fact that people assume that everything that you do, whether intentionally or unintentionally, has something to do with schizophrenia, is part of that that stigma that just really permeates people living with schizophrenia. Everybody says, well, but because she lives with schizophrenia, maybe that’s not the kind of thing that we should tell people that she does. And in fact, maybe it’s irresponsible that she does those things, that that that is what stigma looks like. And to bring it back to the comedy realm again, when people hear people describing their lives and injecting humor, I look at it as, oh, wow, that’s like really well-adjusted.
Gabe Howard: Many people in our community look at it as, hey, if you can find the humor, if you can find the humor, if you can look on the bright side, if I’m not laughing, I’m crying. These are all like really powerful things to come from such a dark place.
Rachel Star Withers: Something most people miss is that I enjoy doing that stuff. It has nothing to do with schizophrenia. I just enjoy doing it. And when you think people with schizophrenia, it’s like, Wait, they have hobbies, they have careers, they have other things they want to do? That’s not being crazy? It was just almost like a mental light. Like what? No, this person has schizophrenia. That is the only thing we’ll ever think and associate them with. I have done many mental health videos that have nothing to do with stupid stunts. And one of them I did a number of years ago was called Fun Facts about Schizophrenia. This was not a funny video as far as comedy. I wasn’t making any jokes. They were just fun facts that I had found while researching schizophrenia. And I talked very positive and upbeat in the video. And I got a lot of emails about that, basically saying, how dare you? Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder. You should not talk lightly about it. You know, there is nothing fun about schizophrenia. You know, my blank loved one passed away because of this, you know, all this stuff. And I felt really bad. But I’m also like, that wasn’t my goal. My goal was for making it for people like me so that the word schizophrenia isn’t all bad. I get that it’s serious, but as a person living with it, I cannot be a downer all the time. I need something in my life and I like being able to look at my schizophrenia and not just see darkness.
Rachel Star Withers: Yes, it is a very serious issue and a lot of people are suffering, but it’s not all suffering. And the main thing I noticed from these emails was that the people writing them were always the loved ones. No people with schizophrenia ever wrote me saying, how dare you tell me fun facts about this disorder I have? Who are you? You know, that never happened. And it was the caretakers, kind of that knee flex response that they want to protect the person in their life who has it, and they’re coming after me like, how dare you? You know, you’re not taking my loved ones serious. And it’s good and bad. And my answer to all those caretakers out there, I respect you because that shows you really love that person in your life that you’re willing to go after random pieces of media. But also, going back to what I said earlier, who is the audience? The audience might not be for caretakers. The audience might have been for other people living with schizophrenia. Is the media that you’re watching hurtful? Is it mocking people or is it bringing awareness to a situation and slowly normalizing that situation? And for me, that’s always the line of, okay, should I make this, let’s say, comment about schizophrenia, who is going to be offended and who is going to like be like, hey, that’s funny because I can identify with that. And no one’s ever talked about that out loud.
Gabe Howard: There are real health benefits to having a positive outlook. There are real health benefits, to laughing. There’s real health benefits to not being bogged down in the quagmire of schizophrenia. Humor is a driver for that. Humor, study after study after study has shown that humor is, in fact, healthy.
Rachel Star Withers: Whenever we laugh, your body goes through physical reactions, the muscles in your face and body you stretch. I know if you’ve ever, like, laughed really hard and it’s like your sides almost hurt and you’re like, oh my gosh, what are these little muscles? Why does it hurt so bad to laugh? Your blood vessels dilate and the flow of oxygen to your organs is more efficient and your brain is also affected. It produces beta endorphins that help suppress pain and reduce cortisol levels, which helps you reduce your stress levels.
Gabe Howard: We all know that humor is healthy, and even organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness and their Connections program, which is for people living with serious and persistent mental illness. It’s a support group. One of their 12 principles, principles of support is we embrace humor as healthy.
Rachel Star Withers: Mark Twain said humor is tragedy plus time. When you go through something when I’m first diagnosed with schizophrenia, I do not want schizophrenia jokes. I don’t want jokes about how horrible antipsychotics might be. So, it’s also the time now that I have been with schizophrenia many, many, many years. I find a lot of things funny that I would not have found in my early 20s. So emotional changes also go through a person when you are laughing about some sort of trauma and it even goes as far as the person writing the joke. To write the joke, you’re having to look back at your own experiences and it can be kind of a way to heal of being like, okay, yes, I went through this horrible thing. Let me tell you about it on a way that’s going to be semi-relatable.
Rachel Star Withers: Something our listeners might not know is that I had a very serious skin infection a while ago that’s never really gone away. So, I regularly have dime to nickel to quarter sized sores on my face. I’ve been living with this for years. It does not faze me, but it’s funny how many people are awkward around me and I can see them looking at my sores, but then, they’ll be like, oh, I didn’t even notice them. And Gabe, I’m going to call you out because, Gabe, I just got to hang out with you and some other wonderful mental health advocates in New York. And everyone was like, oh, Rachel, I kind of make a joke about it. I know it looks like I do crack. I know it looks like I do meth, but I actually didn’t today. The sores are from something else, kind of things like that. And you and the others were all like, oh, I didn’t even notice them. And then our good friend Michelle Hammer comes, who is a wonderful friend who has schizophrenia. And the first thing she says to me, having not seen me for almost a year, Rachel, what’s wrong with your face? Like that.
Rachel Star Withers: Like she wasn’t even that that everyone else had said, oh, I didn’t even notice it. I didn’t notice that there’s like a giant chunk of your eyebrow missing. Yes. And it was funny because she was so out with it. And I’m like, yeah, because I know everyone sees it and I do appreciate her calling me out. A certain people that wouldn’t have been good obviously would have embarrassed them. For someone to scream that on the street as you’re walking towards them in New York City. But I also appreciated it because yes, I know that it’s there and sometimes it’s easier for me to bring it up than to have people just kind of looking at it thinking, wow, she really likes meth.
Gabe Howard: What I want the audience to hear is that Rachel deflected it using humor. You chose humor. This is an incredibly healthy coping mechanism that a lot of people use. Deflecting with humor is a it can be. I want to be very clear. Deflecting with humor can be a good thing, right? It can also be a maladaptive coping skill. If somebody comes to you and says, I’m worried about our marriage and you deflect with humor, that’s clearly not the time or the place, but in the right time and the right place. Using humor as a coping mechanism can be very, very healthy.
Rachel Star Withers: Let’s talk about education for a moment, Gabe, because this is something I’ve always heard, is that people with schizophrenia don’t have a sense of humor. That’s actually a symptom is the flat effect is that they don’t feel pleasure. They don’t really laugh. Or if they laugh, it’s at inappropriate times. My answer to all of this. That is correct. And it’s also incorrect, kind of like so many of our stigma around schizophrenia. Listen, when I am in a psychotic episode, no, I am not going to be laughing at your jokes. No, I am not going to be telling jokes because I can’t even keep my thoughts together. And when I go into depressive episodes where I’m just so far in myself, it’s hard to pull me out and be like, hey, let’s go to a comedy. Like, that’s the last thing I want to do. I don’t want to watch the new Adam Sandler movie. I don’t want to sit and watch this hilarious TV show. I want to be left alone, which is unhealthy.
Rachel Star Withers: But understand, that’s where my mind is at. So, yes, the lack of sense of humor, the flat effect, is correct. But I also want you to say, look at how the person is doing. One really good key with me, if you want to know, like how Rachel is doing, it’s what cartoons I’m watching. I love my adult cartoons. King of the Hill. American Dad. Archer. Rick and Morty. Like I have so many. There’s always one of them playing. The more mentally okay I am like, you’ll see me watching Rick and Morty because it’s a very fast paced show. A lot of times the characters interrupt each other, they talk over each other. Whereas as my mind gets worse, I’ll tend to watch shows that are much more slower paced. Like King of the Hill is a very slow-paced cartoon show. The characters never interrupt and it’s easier for my brain to handle that. So, I’ve noticed even like what I think is funny changes depending on where I am mentally.
Gabe Howard: People who live with schizophrenia are human. They’re normal. I think we all have comfort shows, right? Forget about schizophrenia for a moment. You ever had a hard day at work and just like, look, I want mindless television. But something you said earlier caught my caught my ear. And you said there’s this belief that people with schizophrenia aren’t funny. And look, the I only know one comedian, one comedic actor with schizophrenia and that’s Darrell Hammond.
Rachel Star Withers: Yes.
Gabe Howard: And he is hilarious. I know there are more, but I just the minute you said that, I’m like, well, then how do you explain Darrell Hammond? Are there more comedians or comedic actors that live with schizophrenia other than Darrell Hammond?
Rachel Star Withers: Now, honestly, I feel like he’s the pinnacle, right? Like he was one of the longest running actors on Saturday Night Live. He was known for his Bill Clinton impressions. For anyone out there who’s like, who’s that? And if you’re like, who’s Bill Clinton? You’re much younger than us. But he’s also the announcer on Saturday Night Live and still makes appearances. He is hilarious and he does have schizophrenia. And you’ll notice if you’re like, I had no idea, right? You don’t have any idea because it has nothing to do with his job and who he is. You know, he doesn’t go up there and make schizophrenia jokes. So, you can have a career that has nothing to do with your schizophrenia. And so, if you’re asking me like, well, are there other funny people, comedians? Yes. And I’m sure many of them are out there and they don’t ever bring up mental health or mental illness because it has nothing to do with, let’s say, their sense of humor. However, I did want to I did want to drop two people. Sasha Lane, now she’s an actress and she’s been in numerous comedy films up and coming. And for my comic book people like me, she appeared in Hellboy and she’s in Marvel’s Loki as Hunter C-20. I haven’t seen Loki yet, Gabe, but, that’s one of your shows, isn’t it?
Gabe Howard: I do like Loki. It’s a great show over on Disney+.
Rachel Star Withers: Yes.
Gabe Howard: I love the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Rachel Star Withers: Yes. And one I wasn’t expecting, Gabe, Russell Tyrone Jones. I’m not sure if you know who that is.
Gabe Howard: I don’t.
Rachel Star Withers: That is Dirty Old Bastard from Wu-Tang Clan.
Gabe Howard: Hey. Hey. I know Wu-Tang.
Rachel Star Withers: Yes. And I even last night I was scrolling back through some of his works, his songs, and I’m like, he was clever. He was a smart guy, clever, quick, funny. And I think he should definitely be added to the list because people kind of just say, Oh, well, he’s a rapper. But he was he was a very intelligent, kind of quick-witted guy when it came to funny stuff.
Gabe Howard: All right, Rachel, you’ve convinced me that people with schizophrenia can be funny. Not that I needed convinced, but. Okay, let’s hear some of these jokes. I know that later on, Kody will tell some of his, but. But give me an example of some of some jokes about living with schizophrenia.
Rachel Star Withers: These are not my jokes. They are from upstroke.com, which pulls from Reddit and all these different ones. So, these are from different people. I cannot tell you if they actually have schizophrenia or not, but I did appreciate all of these. I don’t think my girlfriend likes my schizophrenia meds because every time I take them, she goes away.
Gabe Howard: [Laughter]
Rachel Star Withers: I appreciate. I thought that was hilarious. The doctor said I have paranoid schizophrenia, but I’m pretty sure he’s out to get me.
Gabe Howard: [Laughter] Wow.
Rachel Star Withers: As a paranoid schizophrenic. I appreciate it. Are you struggling with a mental illness or are you really good at it?
Gabe Howard: I. That one seems inspirational to me.
Rachel Star Withers: I like that one. I know, right? Like I was like, I am really good at it. Thank you.
Gabe Howard: Yeah. Nice. Nice.
Rachel Star Withers: I know. I like that one.
Gabe Howard: That should be embroidered on a pillow.
Rachel Star Withers: I have a childhood friend who has suffered from schizophrenia his whole life. In fact, he never moved out. He still lives in my head.
Gabe Howard: Just in a come on, that’s an easy joke. I want my humor to have a little more oomph.
Rachel Star Withers: A hallucination is an optical delusion.
Gabe Howard: Oh,
Rachel Star Withers: I think that’s just a good definition.
Gabe Howard: That’s clever.
Rachel Star Withers: Like, it is. That’s like the best way. It is.
Gabe Howard: And that joke is an excellent example of where people might think, oh, that’s a joke about people living with schizophrenia, but it’s not. It’s a play on words.
Rachel Star Withers: Yes.
Gabe Howard: Right, nice. Nice.
Rachel Star Withers: I’m like, that’s a smart one. And last, I think we can all appreciate how many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one. But the light bulb has really got to want to change.
Gabe Howard: See, I’ve heard that joke before.
Rachel Star Withers: Yes.
Gabe Howard: But again, I don’t think that’s about people living with
Rachel Star Withers: Yes.
Gabe Howard: Mental illness or living with schizophrenia. I think it’s just we hear this all the time. We’ve been through a lot of therapy and they’re like, well, you’ve got to want to you’ve got to put in the work. You’ve got to do the homework. It’s just it’s really funny. Again, it’s that play on words that makes the hard work that that people living with mental illness and people living with schizophrenia do. I don’t know. It makes my psychiatrist less scary. That’s really the bottom line for me.
Rachel Star Withers: Yes, yes, yes. I’m all of those. When I was reading them, they disarmed me. They made me laugh at myself or situations because I identified with all of those. I was kind of like ha-ha, nice.
Rachel Star Withers: And we’re back talking about finding the humor in schizophrenia.
Gabe Howard: Rachel, I appreciate that you did your best telling other people’s jokes about living with schizophrenia and mental illness. Let’s go ahead and bring on Kody Green, who has jokes of his own.
Rachel Star Withers: I am so excited today to be speaking with Kody Green, who is an actual TikTok star. I’d even say social media star across like multiple different channels. Real quick, for our audience that might not have checked you out yet, Kody, give us the tour. Who is Kody Green?
Kody Green: So online people know me as schizophrenic hippie. It’s a username that I picked and got stuck with, which I like, but, you know, wasn’t expecting. I have over a million followers on TikTok. I have over 100,000 followers on Instagram and just about 50,000 followers on YouTube. I share stories about my life with schizophrenia, addiction and my experience being incarcerated.
Rachel Star Withers: When were you first diagnosed with schizophrenia?
Kody Green: So, I started having symptoms when I was about 19 years old. I wasn’t officially diagnosed until I was about 21. The reason for that being that I spent a few years struggling with addiction and trying to self-medicate, I also, because of the stigma surrounding schizophrenia and medication, refused to get help for several years.
Rachel Star Withers: Anyone who follows you on the different social medias or have seen you speak in person, know that you speak a lot about addiction and also having been incarcerated. How does that play into your schizophrenia? Do you think it had any effect on it or the reverse maybe?
Kody Green: Yeah. So, I started using drugs as a way to self-medicate because of my schizophrenia. So that’s a question I get a lot is which came first. The reason I tend to talk about all three is because statistically, if you look at it, people with schizophrenia have higher rates of addiction. They’re also more likely to be incarcerated. That being all elements of my story, I think it’s important to talk about all the different aspects of why I started using and how I ended up becoming incarcerated and how that all plays into my diagnosis and my schizophrenia.
Rachel Star Withers: If I can ask, Kody, why were you incarcerated?
Kody Green: I was incarcerated because of nonviolent drug crimes. So, because of my addiction, I spent just under a year in jail. And it was directly related to what I was going through at the time of my psychotic break.
Rachel Star Withers: What was the turning point where you decided you need to get help for your mental disorder?
Kody Green: There was a lot while I was struggling with addiction, but while I was in jail was actually when I recognized that I needed to get some sort of help. While I was in jail, I didn’t have the distractions that I know a lot of people with schizophrenia rely on. No TV shows, no one to talk to. I couldn’t just call up my friends or family any given minute of any given day. And so, I lost all the things I used to distract myself on the outside, which is why I started being able to quickly recognize that there was something wrong with me. At the time, I wasn’t sure that it was schizophrenia. My mom also has schizoaffective disorder, so I had a suspicion that that’s what it was. But before my diagnosis, I had a. I had a lot of questions about what was going on and a lot of denial, too, as I think anyone does, who’s struggling with one of these disorders.
Rachel Star Withers: Did you start getting help while you were incarcerated or after you got out?
Kody Green: So, I tried to start getting help while I was incarcerated. This is one of the reasons I talk about this in my story is because our current jail and prison systems are not set up for that type of care, for that type of diagnosis. I didn’t get help until I got out of jail just because the resources were more readily available once I was out of those facilities than when I was actually in them.
Rachel Star Withers: What is one thing that you think the government should focus on when it comes to incarceration of people with mental disorders?
Kody Green: Well, I think there’s a lot of different aspects because when people who have mental health issues are first admitted into a jail or prison facility, they can actually have their meds taken away from them. And so, someone who is struggling, even if they have those meds on the outside, it may take a few weeks to be able to get access to those meds on the inside, which
Rachel Star Withers: Wow.
Kody Green: Anyone with a serious mental illness knows. Being without those meds for even a few days can have very detrimental side effects. And so that is a huge issue. But because of safety reasons, they can’t just let you bring in medication from the outside. So, they have to bring it in through their facilities. And then be able to provide some sort of treatment or medication while they’re transitioning out because that’ll ensure that they’re able to transition safely back into everyday life, but also reduce the rates of them coming back or reduce the rates of recidivism.
Rachel Star Withers: Let’s take a little bit of a turn on that. All the serious stuff. When did you decide to start creating videos about schizophrenia?
Kody Green: My wife started sending me TikToks like three years ago when the app was just kind of getting started and I was like, this is so stupid. I’m never going to watch anything you send me on this app. And then I was like, well, I’ll tell you what, I’ll download it so I can watch the video she sends me. And then after a while of having the app, I started liking videos and started seeing videos that I actually kind of resonated with. At some point I just decided maybe I should try to make some videos about my own experience. I meant more for it to be like a personal blog, just a video blog for myself. At no point did I intend for people to actually watch it or listen to it or gain over a million followers. That just became what it was because people liked how I authentically shared my stories. I didn’t sugarcoat things when I was sharing stories of my hallucinations and delusions. I was very descriptive. I told people how I felt in those moments. And then as my page grew, I also started showing videos of me reacting to hallucinations or showing me using coping mechanisms.
Rachel Star Withers: I think what stands out the most when you look through your videos is the humor.
Kody Green: Yeah.
Rachel Star Withers: You’re really funny and you’re not like making fun of schizophrenia. You’re making fun of the entire situation.
Kody Green: Yeah.
Rachel Star Withers: Like, tell us about your humor when it comes to schizophrenia.
Kody Green: Well, I think anyone who’s a millennial or Gen Z cope with humor, right? That’s like a very common trauma response. And in my journey, I went through so much difficulties and I went through so much trauma where I did start needing a way to cope with it. I needed a way to let some of that anger out, let some of that frustration out with everything I had been through. And humor became a very quick coping mechanism when I started making videos because I was tying things back to my own lived experience, like you said, not trying to make fun of any individual person with schizophrenia, just trying to make light of this really stigmatized topic that a lot of people struggle with. And it became very quickly a big part of my content and a big part of now pursuing comedy on the side too. And I’ve really enjoyed that because it allows me to not only spread awareness about schizophrenia, but do it in a way that’s not so traumatizing.
Rachel Star Withers: Now, I’m very lucky because I’ve gotten to see you now twice doing stand-up comedy. Can you drop a joke for our audience here on Inside Schizophrenia?
Kody Green: Yeah, absolutely. So, I was really excited that I got to go to New York with you and some other mental health advocates. But the problem is New York is really confusing as a schizophrenic person because I tend to look for things that stand out as a way to identify that those things aren’t really there. The problem with that is New York is so different than anywhere else in the world. So, there are three different things that I witnessed while I was there. I’m going to tell you three scenarios, two of which are real, one of which is not. I’ll let you try to figure out which one was real. So, the first thing I saw was I saw a man dressed as Spider-Man throwing the contents of his sandwich at someone at Subway. Not the sandwich shop, the train.
Rachel Star Withers: [Laughter]
Kody Green: I saw two women dance battling to the SpongeBob SquarePants theme song. Not dubbed or anything, just the actual theme song. And then lastly, I saw a man drinking a Four Loko yelling at a Starbucks advertisement and his exact words he said, when I walked by were, I’m not afraid of a grande. I fought a venti before. Out of those three, which one do you think would be the one that isn’t true?
Rachel Star Withers: [Laughter] OK, uhm.
Kody Green: So, all three of those actually happened in the three days I was in New York. That’s how nuts it is out there. Yeah [Laughter]
Rachel Star Withers: [Laughter]
Kody Green: I want to start a Ghost Hunters TV show. And I think it would be really fascinating to have a schizophrenic person on a show like that because then someone would actually be hearing something instead of them just grabbing a mic and be like, hey, did you guys hear that? It was over there. I can be like, no, I actually did hear that. He said, Get out of here, please.
Rachel Star Withers: Very nice. Very nice. I mean that. Yeah, that’s every night I’m listening to the whispers.
Kody Green: I recently have been getting a lot of comments from what I call crystal ladies, the people who are going to, you know, tell me that the best course of action for my schizophrenia is to get different types of crystals. And they ask me questions about when I was born and the moon cycles. And they a lot of the time will ask me if I have increased symptoms during full moons. And then I have to very quickly explain that I am not a werewolf.
Rachel Star Withers: [Laughter]
Kody Green: I have schizophrenia and I don’t know why there’s a correlation between the two of those ideas,
Rachel Star Withers: Mm.
Kody Green: But that’s something I get a lot in my comments. And believe it or not, not the worst of my comments, actually.
Rachel Star Withers: Oh, yeah, those are like the softball.
Kody Green: Yeah.
Rachel Star Withers: What is some of the feedback you’ve gotten from your different jokes?
Kody Green: You know, every joke hits different depending on the audience. And I’m still learning a lot about what people like to hear, what’s too far for some people.
Rachel Star Withers: Mm-hmm.
Kody Green: And then also sometimes there are things that I think will be common knowledge about schizophrenia that I forget not everyone knows. And so having to go into explaining some of the side effects or explaining some of the medication journey before I tell these jokes I found is really important because not everyone has spent the last decade of their life living with this disorder and trying to better understand the illness. And so being able to help people have a foundation for the joke I found is really important, which is difficult because I think when you’ve lived a decent amount of your life with it, you just assume everyone’s at the same level of knowledge as you are. That’s been one of the things I’ve been really realizing and trying to improve on during this adventure with comedy on the side.
Rachel Star Withers: It’s an incredible way to just be like dropping knowledge, though, on everybody.
Kody Green: Yeah. Yep.
Rachel Star Withers: Do you ever get chastised or people upset saying that like you shouldn’t be making light of such a serious mental disorder?
Kody Green: Oh, absolutely. And I think I take those comments with a grain of salt because my intention is never to offend another person living with schizophrenia or offend someone who is a caretaker of someone with schizophrenia. That’s why I try to thoroughly explain, like, this is just for my own ability to cope. I use humor as a way for my own journey, and I know that there are people who aren’t huge fans of that. But I think the important thing to remember is everyone copes differently. I will say, though, a large, large majority is people who love that. I’m using this to not only cope but educate people, because
Rachel Star Withers: Yes.
Kody Green: That is, it all comes back to my main intention is to help people better understand the illness. And if we can do it through laughs, I think that’s even better.
Rachel Star Withers: Looking back at your life thus far, what do you think has been like one of the most standout experiences that you’ve got to do in this journey?
Kody Green: So, I think I mean, there’s been so many because of social media. I’ve met some of my I’ve met some of my idols from when I was a kid.
Rachel Star Withers: Oh, wow.
Kody Green: YouTubers and movie stars. And like people who have been actors since I was a young kid. And so, my large social media presence has given me this opportunity to meet and talk to people that I could have never imagined. Speaking to. Just one example is Anthony Padilla. He used to be a part of Smosh, which was one of the original YouTube groups that really blew up.
Rachel Star Withers: Yes.
Kody Green: And he started doing things on his own now. And he actually invited me to be interviewed about my experience with schizophrenia. And that was surreal for me because like I said, I had followed him since I was in middle school. And
Rachel Star Withers: Right.
Kody Green: So, to be able to do things like that and it every day it seems like I have a new opportunity like that. If you ask me two years from now, I’m sure I have a different example too, which is so exciting and also, you know, a little nerve wracking, but mostly exciting.What I love about my life and what I do is I never make plans above what I’m already doing. So, things that kind of happen just roll out for me like that. So motivational speaking wasn’t something I planned on doing.
Rachel Star Withers: Mm-hmm.
Kody Green: I, because of social media, started getting requests to come speak. And I did it a few times and I was like, I love this. I love being able to share my message. I love being able to help educate people so they better understand schizophrenia. And then from there, because of my comedy videos that I’ve done on TikTok, I got the same request to come do comedy places. And so, I try to just keep it open-ended and know that if an opportunity arises, I’m usually the type of person who I’m going to take it or I’m going to try something new. And I think that’s what I love about my journey, is that I don’t really have an end goal. I’m doing whatever feels right. I’m doing whatever is exciting and new, and I think that leaves a lot of open possibilities.
Rachel Star Withers: I know a lot of people are going to hear this interview and they’re going to listen to you talk, even with you telling us your background with addiction and incarceration and schizophrenia, they’re going to say, wow, But he’s so well-spoken. He’s so smart that that’ll never be me. What is your message to other people with schizophrenia?
Kody Green: I would say that everyone starts somewhere in their journey. I think the frustrating thing that I and other advocates go through is people see us now and think we’re quote-unquote, high functioning. We’re doing so well. We’ve, you know, gotten to this point just through sheer luck. And it was years of medication. It was years of treatment. It was years of therapy. I used to love public speaking in high school. But then when I was first diagnosed, I had a very hard time articulating thoughts. It took years to regain that and it took years to be able to feel like myself again. My message is that anyone can do this. I’m not special by any means. With the right treatment plan, with the right care team, anyone can do what I’m doing or what Rachel’s doing. I think that’s the part we’re always trying to communicate as advocates, is that anyone can do this because we did it and we’re not anything special in comparison to anyone else struggling with this disorder.
Rachel Star Withers: Where can our audience learn more about you and hopefully bring you some more followers?
Kody Green: Yeah, absolutely. So, my username for Instagram, TikTok and YouTube is @schizophrenichippie. I know it’s super long and difficult to spell, but that’s what it is. And then I do have a motivational speaking website that’s KodyGreen.com. And then I actually do have a comedy website which is really new and it’s KodyGreenComedy.com.
Rachel Star Withers: Well, thank you so much for joining us today, Kody, and I love your videos. We’re definitely going to be watching more and seeing what all you do. It is very, very cool talking with you today.
Kody Green: Thank you so much for having me.
Gabe Howard: Rachel, excellent job. Love Kody Green. I’m so grateful that he was available. You know, it occurred to me, Rachel, when I was listening to the two of you, and I swear to God, this is not a set up to call you old, but you have one of the original YouTube channels of somebody openly talking about living with schizophrenia. And it’s much older than the new TikTok versions and all the new stuff that’s coming out, which of course, Kody represents. And as I was listening to the two of you, you’re both schizophrenia advocates, you’re both people living with schizophrenia, but you got your start a decade before Kody So, so things are changing. And it was interesting to see that. What are your thoughts on all of the changes of humor and schizophrenia advocacy being pushed out onto the Internet now?
Rachel Star Withers: I absolutely love it. I love this new wave of comedy that is just kind of taken over the entire world. And I think because the entire world went into COVID, everyone discovered TikTok. A decade ago, Gabe, if you had been like, okay, Rachel, this is what’s going to be funny in a few years, it’s going to be these quick five-second, one-liner videos. That’s what you want to make. And I’d be like, no, that that you can’t make a five-second video that’s terrible. Like, it’s over. No one’s going to click on that. No one’s going to load a five-second video. Whereas now, I mean, if I’m on TikTok and the video plays longer than a few seconds, I’m on to the next one. I’m like, ugh, I don’t want to sit through this. And I love that There’s so many new comedians out there who are able to pull the sight gags and these jokes. And if you haven’t checked out Kody Green, please do. He has a number of schizophrenia ones where it’s just great with him making fun of having delusions. Now, again, not making fun of the fact that people have them, just his experiences with them and I think they’re hilarious. I hope there’s more of that. I hope that this online community keeps growing because for one, more people with schizophrenia are able to talk about it and find other people like us. I think that’s the most important thing. Yes, there’s going to be some bad things that come with it. But look at the overall good. More people with schizophrenia can talk about it, can be open about it, or even just find people that are like them.
Gabe Howard: It is funny. I do, I remember making videos and content ten years ago as well. And yeah, I’d love to make five-second videos. I just we had to put in like all of this time and all
Rachel Star Withers: Yes.
Gabe Howard: Of this effort to and then you needed like two, three, four, five, six, ten minutes. And now people are getting the same amount of oomph and educational value and humor and support and love and everything in a few seconds. I it’s, it is an excellent evolution. But man, did we work hard.
Rachel Star Withers: I know.
Gabe Howard: We worked so hard. Kids these days.
Rachel Star Withers: I know.
Gabe Howard: Kids these days.
Rachel Star Withers: I know. I’m like, wow. I mean, I wish I could have done those things. Humorist Erma Bombeck once said, there is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt. Humor can be used to bring us all together or tear us apart. So, let’s connect with those around us and become a bigger support group for each other. I’m Rachel Star, thank you so much for listening to this episode of Inside Schizophrenia. Please like share, subscribe and rate our podcast and we’ll see you next time here on Inside Schizophrenia, a Healthline Media Podcast.
Announcer: You’ve been listening to Inside Schizophrenia, a podcast from Psych Central and Healthline Media. Previous episodes can be found at psychcentral.com/is or on your favorite podcast player. Your host, Rachel Star Withers, can be found online at RachelStarLive.com. Co-host Gabe Howard can be found online at gabehoward.com. Thank you and we’ll see you next time.