This podcast strives to accomplish many things: we hope to be entertaining and educational, and we hope to make our listeners think about their own lives — or about the life of someone they know who lives with mental illness.
There is, however, an easier way to describe this podcast. It’s an advocacy effort led by two people who are award-winning advocates nationally. In this episode, our hosts each tell three stories about their mental health advocacy work. Two of them are true and one of them is a lie. Is truth stranger than fiction? You decide. Listen Now!
SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW
“The man literally spit on me for handing him a pamphlet on mental illness.”
– Gabe Howard
Highlights From ‘Mental Illness Advocacy’ Episode
[1:45] WebMD said Michelle is a professional.
[4:20] Gabe was spit on for handing out a pamphlet.
[5:44] Michelle is unprepared for advocacy.
[7:40] Gabe gets slapped in the face.
[12:00] Don’t speak Michelle – mental illness speech.
[15:00] Gabe oversleeps for a mental health advocacy event.
[20:00] Which stories are true and which ones are fake?
Computer Generated Transcript for ‘ Mental Illness Advocacy Meets Two Truths and a Lie’ Show
Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you.
Announcer: For reasons that utterly escape everyone involved, you’re listening to A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. Here are your hosts, Gabe Howard and Michelle Hammer.
Gabe: Hello everyone and welcome to this episode of A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. My name is Gabe Howard and I live with bipolar.
Michelle: And I’m Michelle Hammer. I live with schizophrenia.
Gabe: And the reason that we are saying it so loudly is because this week’s episode is all about advocacy, mental health advocacy, bipolar advocacy, schizophrenia advocacy. Basically any mental illness mental health advocacy that you can think of. Michelle I have probably done it.
Michelle: Yeah totally. We’ve done all advocacy. Totally
Gabe: All advocacy all the time.
Michelle: Yes. And we’re playing 2 Truths and a Lie, trying to psych each other out and see what we’ve done or not done.
Gabe: True, that is true. Now the rules of 2 Truths and a Lie are always the same. We each tell a story. At the end, we can ask questions and then we each guess which one is the truth and which one is the lie. And we see if Michelle gets it right or if she continues to be an idiot.
Michelle: Yeah. Thanks.
Gabe: I just you know I’m dominating you in this intellectual endeavor. And since I can never beat you in sports or standing up without grunting, this is all I have.
Michelle: Whatever makes you happy. Do it up.
Gabe: This. This makes me happy. This makes me incredibly happy, Michelle. As always ladies first tell your first story and then we’ll just move on from there.
Michelle: Well here’s my first story, Gabe. It’s about being a liar and by lying I mean acting because being an actor is being a professional liar. Is it not, Gabe?
Gabe: I don’t know. This isn’t a Galaxy Quest. You’re not a professional liar if you’re an actor.
Michelle: That’s what I always believe it to be. If you’re an actor you’re a professional liar. That’s what it is. In my eyes. Come on. OK so here’s a story I am telling. I’ve made a WebMD video. Some people have seen it, if you have not seen my WebMD video. Just go on YouTube. Write Michelle WebMD. Find it. We filmed this WebMD video and at the end of the WebMD filming which took over two days the first day was at my pop up shop. It was a little grueling hours and then the second day was twelve hours and I was exhausted through the whole thing. We’re driving back in and it’s over and the director turns to me and says, “So have you ever had any acting lessons before?” And I said no why. She goes, “Well you’re just such a good actress. You took directions so well and you did so well in this video.” And I was like No I’ve never taken any acting lessons before. I’ve never really done anything like this. But thank you so much. And that’s really my story, Gabe.
Gabe: So the story is how you made a WebMD video and the people filming it asked you a question?
Michelle: Yes because they asked me, “Have you ever acted before?” And I said no.
Gabe: Did they have a reason for asking you this?
Michelle: Yes because they said I was so good at taking direction and acting that they thought I had acting training. When I had not. So I’m telling you that’s the story. Do you believe this story?
Michelle: Because, Gabe, you think that I am not an actor or an improv actor or some amazing speaker but these WebMD people first they believed that I had acting experience, Gabe. Do you believe that too?
Gabe: I have no idea about your acting experience but I know for a fact that if anybody said that you take direction well that person is delusional.
Michelle: I’m just letting you think that. That’s my story. Yeah yeah yeah.
Gabe: I don’t know what that had to do with advocacy. It really just seemed like a shameless plug for a WebMD video. But we’ll allow it because that’s where we are. Hopefully your next two are better so we’ll call that WebMD said Michelle pays attention.
Michelle: That was a great story. Gabe, I don’t know what you’re talking about.
Gabe: All right versus my story that I’m going to tell now. Back in the early days of my career I really volunteered just to kind of do like community things. In Ohio, they’re called health fairs. I’ve heard them called like resource fairs and just outdoor festivals or you know in people’s workplaces where you set up a table for a cause usually a charity. I was doing this for a national nonprofit mental health charity. And I would just hand out information as people walked by and you know like hey you want some information on a little blah. And this person walked by and I said, “Would you like some information on Baba blah blah?” And she said yes. Thank you so much. And she took it and she took a couple of more steps and her husband looked at it pulled it out of her hands and walked back to me and said, “How dare you? My wife is not crazy. How could you think this?” And he kind of went off on this little tirade that involved spit flying out of his mouth and landing all over me because he was very close. I apologized, I took the information back and then I had to go to the bathroom to wipe my face off because the man literally spit on me. So I’m going to call this story. Got spit on for handing out a pamphlet.
Michelle: That’s a such a sweet story, Gabe.
Michelle: That was sweet. I’m glad you got spit on.
Gabe: Well that’s nice, Michelle, I’m glad you’re always in my corner. What’s your second story?
Michelle: Here’s story number two. I get an email from a company who says just come to our event we’d like to have you there. Come on out just so you know we’ll talk and everything like that. I’m thinking I’m going to come to the event and we’re just going to chitchat. I go to the event and I’m told that I’m making a speech. What? What? So I immediately realized that I have to make a speech. I jotted down some notes and got up in front of a whole bunch of people said a bunch of the basic things that I just say that I could have possibly remembered and ended up getting a pretty good applause and some great questions from the audience. And that was one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done because I had no idea I was making this speech because I was not told I was making a speech because I was told I was going to come and talk to a bunch of people. I thought I was just talking to people, just talking. I just didn’t realize what I was to be doing. So was maybe I was wrong in that understanding or they were wrong? It was just a miscommunication error right there right? I didn’t really know what I was doing but I guess it went well in the end. Yay. I don’t know. I don’t know. That’s what happened to me.
Gabe: I just want to be clear. You were invited to a conference to talk to a bunch of people
Michelle: It wasn’t a conference. It was like an event and they just they sent an e-mail hey we’d love to have you at our event just come here you know would just come you know hang out and talk.
Michelle: I thought I didn’t know that it’s like talk meant make a speech. I didn’t. I thought it was just come and I thought Michelle, just come and talk. I thought it was like networking but
Gabe: Have you ever heard the phrase give a talk?
Michelle: It wasn’t give a talk. It wasn’t give a talk. It was just come and talk. I thought it was like talk you know. Hi how are you. No I was wrong on that one. Oops.
Gabe: We’re gonna call this one Michelle unprepared at events gave random speech she was unaware of is probably the subtext of that vs. my story. Back when I was just a young mental health advocates I used to be a lot more brash. I really just only saw the world from Gabe Howard’s perspective. You know what it was like to live with mental illness through my eyes and through all of the things that had happened to me and I felt very strongly that people who lived with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, major depression should really see a specialist and a specialist is a psychiatrist. I’d heard of all of these people seeing general practitioners and this was long before the nurse practitioner phase but they weren’t seeing a psychiatrist and I really didn’t like this trend and I spoke out against it and I said listen if you had cancer you would go to an oncologist and if you have a severe and persistent mental illness you need to go to a psychiatrist that’s the specialist for mental illness. We have to take this seriously and eventually I was in front of a large group of people and I said listen you have to see a psychiatrist. It’s not OK to see a general practitioner or somebody who is not a specialist. Mental illness is way too serious and a whole bunch of hands shot up in the air and I thought well what the hell man? Why is this a controversial thing? And they said look we would love to see a specialist but we don’t have health insurance and we can’t afford doctors and specialists and it takes six months to see a psychiatrist. And this is just not our reality. So we have to go to the health clinic and see a general practitioner because that’s all we can afford. Otherwise we see nobody. Asked a lot of questions and we had a good discussion but it was then that I realized that man I am only seeing advocacy through the eyes of a white middle class male with health insurance, money, resources, and an excellent support system. And in that moment I had to change like 90 percent of my advocacy because it really just represented this one viewpoint and it really wasn’t reflective of the greater society and the needs of everybody else. It was only reflective of the needs of Gabe Howard and people who are exactly like me of which I started to learn that most people with mental illness were not as lucky as I was. And it was really the beginning of the end for me realizing that oh man I thought it was hard to be mentally ill for me. And it’s so much harder for people that didn’t have all of the resources that I had. Which turns out are a lot of people with mental illness.
Michelle: So how could that not be true?
Gabe: Maybe I still don’t know. Maybe that’s not how I learned it. Maybe I read it on the Internet. Maybe I learned it from watching you because you told me all the time that your parents are just completely unsupportive.
Michelle: I’d never say that.
Gabe: That’s not true. You said that your mom was evil and you hated her.
Michelle: I never said that.
Gabe: I have a text message that shows it.
Gabe: Michelle, I think that it’s unfair that I always named yours and I named mine. So what do you want to name my second story? Remember, Michelle, your second story is Michelle unprepared in an event vs. a.
Michelle: Gabe gets a slap in the face. Hold up. Let’s hear from our sponsor.
Announcer: This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp.com. Secure, convenient, and affordable online counselling. All counselors are licensed, accredited professionals. Anything you share is confidential. Schedule secure video or phone sessions, plus chat and text with your therapist, whenever you feel it’s needed. A month of online therapy often costs less than a single traditional face to face session. Go to BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral and experience seven days of free therapy to see if online counselling is right for you. BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral.
Michelle: And we’re back playing 2 Truths and a Lie.
Gabe: All right. So to catch everybody up. Round one. WebMD said Michelle pays attention versus got spit on for handing out pamphlets. Round Number two Michelle unprepared in an event versus Gabe gets a slap in the face. Headed into Round 3. Michelle, the floor is yours.
Michelle: So there was a market that I was working at about two years ago and there was a lady there named Jenson and she had tried to get me kicked out of the market very early in the season by saying that she just didn’t like me I was too loud and too much energy and the guy in charge of the market told me just don’t speak to her at all. So I said I wasn’t going to talk to her no matter what. So every day she would just walk by say hello I would say hello and that was the end of it. And you know a month goes by weeks go by and I had never spoke to her at all. Just listening to what I should have, doing what I am supposed to do. And my friend next to me he was an older man I guess they were friends but I said one day you know I just don’t like her. She’s a you know, I said a bad word about her to him and him like an idiot went and told her. So she gets really mad at me and comes over to me and said I heard that you called me this. And I said yes. And she goes Well why would you do that? I go because you tried to get me kicked out of the market. And she goes No I did not. I go Well that’s not what I was told. And then she’s demanding I need to apologize. And I was said well she needs to apologize to me because she tried to get me gets out of the market and she came over to my table one day asking me the prices of everything of all my stuff. So she would know who she is competing with and everything like that. And then I wrote a list of things that she needs to apologize to me for. And I handed it over and then she starts yelling This is not an apology. Blah, blah, blah, blah, what she’s yelling at me all this crazy stuff. And then I hear her go back to her booth and she’s yelling She’s making money off of an illness that she doesn’t even have. Yes. And I almost get up to go fight her. And these two big women came over to me and this was a church flea and they start calming me down and I’m getting very emotional as I say a prayer with me and I start praying to them to Jesus and I’m praying to Jesus. And then we have this whole meeting afterwards with the market manager and I said you know you came over to me you call me paranoid and you call me delusional. She goes I didn’t call you delusional, I said you said the story I told you never happened. That’s delusional. So you call me paranoid and delusional and then you said I wasn’t schizophrenic. How does this make any sense? And she goes oh and pretty much that’s the end of my story.
Gabe: I normally save my questions for after round three but I think that many people are going to be shocked to hear how often in mental health advocacy we get told that we’re not sick that we don’t have bipolar that we’re lying that we’re making it up. This is it. I have no idea if this story is true or not. We’ll find out in a moment. But the number of times that I get told that I don’t have bipolar disorder, if I got a nickel for every time I’d have like six bucks. So that’s a lot. It just it’s amazing. It’s amazing. So we will call that don’t speak, Michelle, and I will lead right in to my final story that you will get to name. So pay attention.
Michelle: I will.
Gabe: I got hired to give a keynote speech and I was very very excited and I flew all the way to where I was supposed to go and I got picked up and I got to my hotel and I was very excited. I was very very very excited and I went to bed the night before. I had everything all ready and I had to get up at 5:00 a.m. and the next thing I know it’s 11:00, it’s 11:00 a.m. like four hours after I was supposed to get up to give my speech. And I look over at my phone and there’s like a hundred missed calls and everybody is panicking and they’re even they called in the room and I got none of this. And I called down to the organizers and they’re like, “Oh my God, are you OK?” And I was like I don’t know how this happened. I honestly don’t know what happened. I overslept. I am so sorry. They’re like, “Are you OK?” I was freaking out, panic, the whole nine yards. And I ran downstairs and it was awful. It was awful. I had done all of this work, all of this effort, all of this preparation and the night before I had taken my pills but because of the time zone changes and everything the half life of the pill was still in my body when I was supposed to get up and that amount of drowsiness cetera is why I didn’t hear the knocks at the door. It’s why I didn’t hear the phone ring. It’s why nothing woke me up because it wasn’t until the medication was out of my body that I could wake up naturally. So I just it was a real mess. And I learned that travelling when mentally ill because of things like jet lag and medication and being in a different place just really has its own skill set that I need to master because this could have really derailed my advocacy hard because after all the mentally ill guy doesn’t show up on time. I mean, don’t people already think that people with mental illness are unreliable and can’t be trusted and can’t hold down jobs and can’t do what they say? And here is a whole roomful of people in front of an empty stage waiting on the guy with bipolar. What do you want to name the story, Michelle?
Michelle: Gabe’s sleeping late.
Gabe: Gabe’s sleeping late. All right. So now to get us all a big giant recap before we go into the question round, Round One WebMD said Michelle pays attention versus Gabe got spit on for handing out a pamphlet. Round Number two Michelle unprepared in an event versus a Gabe gets slapped in the face. Round Number three don’t speak Michelle versus Gabe sleeping late. All right, Michelle. Ladies first questions to determine which one’s truth and which one’s the lie. Advocacy edition.
Michelle: Let’s see, this guy that spit on you. How bad was his breath?
Gabe: It’s pretty bad. It was it was I don’t know. It wasn’t good.
Michelle: Lovely. That’s. That’s good. That’s great. Got any questions for me?
Gabe: That’s it? That’s your only question?
Michelle: That’s my only question.
Gabe: Ah right, Michelle, the WebMD said Michelle pays attention in complimenting your acting skills. Was this person implying that you were faking?
Michelle: No, not at all.
Gabe: Then the why ask about acting skills? Like what does acting have to do with it? You were you were shooting a reality show, so no acting involved at all.
Michelle: No, I follow direction.
Gabe: But what does it have to do with acting? You don’t have to be an actor in order to follow instructions.
Michelle: Then you really haven’t watched my video that well.
Gabe: I’ve watched your video a thousand times.
Michelle: About that, about me in the middle and then the person talking on left here going on the right. And me in the middle?
Michelle: That’s all acting. Acting.
Gabe: That’s true. You weren’t actively, OK. That’s a fair point. My next question is Michelle unprepared in an event when somebody books you or hires you and you like leave the state in order to do something don’t you ask for a contract or something?
Michelle: There was no contract. I don’t believe.
Gabe: Right, you didn’t ask for one.
Michelle: I had no idea what was happening.
Gabe: That’s my point. You got on an airplane and you had no idea what was happening?
Michelle: I wasn’t on an airplane.
Gabe: You’ve got in a town car?
Michelle: Yeah. Did I tell you a town car?
Gabe: So you just, I. My point is that you just got in a stranger’s car and you didn’t know what was going on. How are you not kidnapped?
Gabe: I’m afraid our listeners are going to hear
Michelle: I thought I was just going to say hi how are you guys? What’s going on?
Gabe: I need you to focus, Michelle. Are you telling me that one of our listeners can send you an email and “hire” you, send a car for you and chain you in a basement?
Michelle: No. It was a legitimate place, a legitimate place.
Gabe: This time.
Michelle: No, I’m careful, Gabe. It was.
Gabe: I can tell. I can tell by the amount of preparation and organization that went into what I am now going to say is the lie.
Gabe: That was the lie. Thank God I was legitimately concerned about you, Michelle.
Michelle: Something similar. There was a similar situation that happened similar to that which is where I came from and I just saw.
Gabe: I understand completely what. We’ve all been put on the spot before with speeches and things like that, Michelle. What do you think is the lie?
Michelle: Gabe’s sleeping late.
Gabe: Yeah. Completely.
Gabe: Complete lie. However, it’s a complete lie in that I found out about this the pill stuff is true because I was actually late for work a couple of times when I first got medicated because I didn’t understand how these pills work. So that part I learned long before I became a speaker and I do in fact have to take this into account but I never missed a speech because of sleeping late, but I did miss work, I missed family events. I had trouble waking up and managing these medications as we’ve talked about is very difficult because they’re doing stuff to your body and you have to take these into account when your routine changes or when you travel or when you’re on vacation or just when you do anything. I am very very very very very fortunate that I figured all this out before I started traveling as a speaker but I do think sometimes, oh man, this could turn out poorly for me but I’m very very very cautious. Michelle, we both won 2 Truths and a Lie: Advocacy Edition.
Michelle: Which means it’s true that biddy said I wasn’t schizophrenic.
Gabe: It is true?
Gabe: That that biddy said that you weren’t schizophrenic. You know what else is true? Whatever you called her we can’t say on this show. A show where we can absolutely unequivocally say god damn fucking asshole shit face. Whatever you said was worse than that. Wow.
Michelle: She does. Oh.
Gabe: Your mom must be so proud.
Michelle: She was mean to me.
Gabe: But still. But still. It is true that Gabe and Michelle get this a lot. It is something that comes up where people question our motives, what we’re trying to do here, why we’re talking, or because people disagree with us they attack our character. What are the hardest things about advocacy is knowing who to give our attention to. Michelle and I are anxious and sometimes paranoid people. And even though we get lots of great e-mails, we really do dwell sometimes on the more negative ones. And that’s why next week we’re going to talk about anxiety. So I hope you tune in. Michelle, any last words for the listeners?
Michelle: Me and my old roommate saw that woman in the street one day at another market. And that word that I couldn’t say, we just started yelling that at her down the street. Yeah. Just wanted to add that in.
Gabe: I love it. I love the way that you can behave in New York City versus the way that you can behave anywhere else on the planet because that’s just the kind of thing that would get you shot in Columbus, Ohio, but in New York people are just like what? They’ve got an opinion and their sharing it. Thank you everybody for tuning in to this week’s episode of A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. My name is Gabe Howard and with me as always is Michelle Hammer. If you like this show, and be honest you stayed all the way to the end. You need to grab the link, put it on Twitter, put it on Instagram, put it on Facebook, share it everywhere that you can find snail mail and email it. If you have a family member that owns a television station or a radio station, get us free community service advertising. Check out all past episodes on PsychCentral.com/BSP. We will see you next week.
Announcer: You’ve been listening to A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. If you love this episode, don’t keep it to yourself head over to iTunes or your preferred podcast app to subscribe, rate, and review. To work with Gabe, go to GabeHoward.com. To work with Michelle, go to Schizophrenic.NYC. For free mental health resources and online support groups, head over to PsychCentral.com. This show’s official web site is PsychCentral.com/BSP. You can e-mail us at [email protected]. Thank you for listening, and share widely.
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 gabehoward.com.
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.