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Listen to This if a Doctor Has Ever Told You That a Physical Illness was All in Your Head

Most people with mental illness are diagnosed between the ages of 16 and 24. This means that many people managing severe and persistent mental illness – like major depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia – have never faced serious physical illnesses before.

So what happens when someone with a long history of mental illness reports symptoms of a physical illness, especially if that illness is hard to diagnose, treat, or see? Is it possible that the symptoms we believe we are having are just symptoms of mental illness – or could it be something more?

Moreover, how do doctors react when someone with such a history reports these symptoms? Do they take our concerns seriously or do they suggest we follow up with our mental health providers? And are they wrong to think this way?

What happens when a person with an invisible mental illness develops an invisible physical illness? How do we get the medical community to take us seriously? We discuss this – and so much more – with special guest Rachel Star, a young woman who lives with schizophrenia – and who went to her doctor to report that she had the symptoms of the plague.

Yes. That plague.





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“If I had to stay in the hospital for three days in isolation, I would just go so nuts.”
– Michelle Hammer


Highlights From ‘Doctors’ Episode

[0:30] Michelle and Gabe welcome the “Schizo Stunt Girl” Rachel Star to the show.

[4:00] Rachel tells us how, for the first time in her life, her physical health has failed her.

[8:00] Rachel explains how her doctors marginalized her concerns because she has schizophrenia.

[13:00] Was Rachel Star put in isolation because of physical or mental illness?

[18:00] Do people with mental illness struggle to get good physical health care?


Meet Your Bipolar and Schizophrenic Hosts

GABE HOWARD was formally diagnosed with bipolar and anxiety disorders after being committed to a psychiatric hospital in 2003. Now in recovery, Gabe is a prominent mental health activist and host of the award-winning Psych Central Show podcast. He is also an award-winning writer and speaker, traveling nationally to share the humorous, yet educational, story of his bipolar life. To work with Gabe, visit


MICHELLE HAMMER was officially diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 22, but incorrectly diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 18. Michelle is an award-winning mental health advocate who has been featured in press all over the world. In May 2015, Michelle founded the company Schizophrenic.NYC, a mental health clothing line, with the mission of reducing stigma by starting conversations about mental health. She is a firm believer that confidence can get you anywhere. To work with Michelle, visit Schizophrenic.NYC.

Listen to This if a Doctor Has Ever Told You That a Physical Illness was All in Your Head

Not Crazy Podcast

Not Crazy is the mental health podcast for people who hate mental health podcasts. The show is designed to explore all facets of our mental health -- without all the psycho-babble. New Episodes Every Monday on your favorite podcast player.

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APA Reference
Podcast, N. (2019). Listen to This if a Doctor Has Ever Told You That a Physical Illness was All in Your Head. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 25 Apr 2019 (Originally: 12 Nov 2018)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 25 Apr 2019
Published on Psych All rights reserved.