Living with mental illness means accepting that some things are out of our control. It also means tolerating annoyances like pillboxes, regular doctor visits, and the symptoms we just can’t quite get under control.
But, does living with mental illness mean we have to keep toxic people around us? Do we, as people who are managing a severe and persistent illness, just have to take the abuse that people heap on us because at least we aren’t alone?
In this episode, Gabe & Michelle explore tolerating toxic people and whether or not it’s a good idea. Listen now!
“My number one job is taking care of my mental health.”
– Michelle Hammer
Highlights From ‘Toxic People and Mental Illness’ Episode
[1:00] Michelle and Gabe talk about toxic people.
[3:30] Michelle shares how her mental illness improved after removing a toxic person from her life.
[14:30] Gabe tells a story of removing a toxic person from his life to improve his mental illness outcomes.
[25:00] A touching story from someone who loves this podcast.
Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Toxic People and Mental Illness’ Show
Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you.
Narrator: [00:00:07] 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 Howard: [00:00:18] Hey everybody! You are listening to A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. I’m the bipolar one. My name is Gabe.
Michelle Hammer: [00:00:24] Hi, I’m Michelle. I’m schizophrenic.
Gabe: [00:00:27] Michelle, we are talking about people who are toxic for our mental health on this episode. Isn’t that kind of weird? “People who are toxic for our mental health.” Another way to say that is, like, “jerks.”
Michelle: [00:00:37] Jerks.
Gabe: [00:00:37] Like how to cut assholes out of our life.
[00:00:40] I mean, yeah, some people, they suck.
[00:00:41] They do.
Michelle: [00:00:43] They suck, and they just need to go. Like sometimes you just gotta be like chop chop chopped up, bye.
Gabe: [00:00:47] Chop chop chop chop bye?
Michelle: [00:00:49] Chop chop bye.
Gabe: [00:00:50] Chop chop bye.
Michelle: [00:00:51] Chopped up, bye-bye.
Gabe: [00:00:52] Like slap chop.
Michelle: [00:00:52] Slap chop.
Gabe: [00:00:53] Remember that guy?
Michelle: [00:00:54] Oh yeah. The Slap Chop.
Gabe: [00:00:56] Yeah.
Michelle: [00:00:56] I don’t have one.
Gabe: [00:01:00] I think your painting just fell over, Michelle.
Michelle: [00:01:03] You did not hang it nicely.
Gabe: [00:01:05] Hey, you’re lucky I have one at all. Michelle, everybody has toxic people in their lives. It’s interesting that we’re discussing this from the vantage point of people living with mental illness. Because all of us, I mean it doesn’t matter if you have mental illness or not, toxic people exist in everybody’s lives.
Michelle: [00:01:22] Everybody does have toxic people in their lives. Some people can handle that. But, why? Why would you want to, why? Why do you have to keep toxic people around? I guess if you’re related, right?
Gabe: [00:01:33] You’re related?
Michelle: [00:01:33] The only reason to keep somebody toxic around. Like, if you have to see them at family events and stuff like that. But, I mean, other than that, bye-bye.
Gabe: [00:01:45] Do you think our parents are at home, like, “We have to keep Gabe and Michelle around because they’re in our lives, even though they’re messed up?”
Michelle: [00:01:54] Maybe at some point in my life.
Gabe: [00:01:56] Let’s talk about, straight up, the people that we need to get rid of because they are bad for our mental health. And managing our mental health is kind of a full time job.
Michelle: [00:02:05] I would have to agree. It’s my number one job. Managing my mental health.
Gabe: [00:02:10] Yeah, okay.
Michelle: [00:02:10] Number two job is taking a shower.
Gabe: [00:02:13] The number two job is taking a shower?
Michelle: [00:02:14] No, I…
Gabe: [00:02:14] Where is podcasting on that list? The answer is you don’t consider that a job, right? Like, this isn’t work.
Michelle: [00:02:20] You know. You know – find a job that you love! You’ll never work a day in your life.
Gabe: [00:02:25] I hate that saying. I don’t believe that making your hobby your job makes you love your job. I believe that it makes you hate your hobby.
Michelle: [00:02:33] I actually would have to agree with that. Actually, yes. Agreed. A great big yes.
Gabe: [00:02:38] You also shouldn’t podcast with your friends because it makes you hate your friends.
Michelle: [00:02:42] That can happen too, yes.
Gabe: [00:02:43] I hate you.
Michelle: [00:02:43] I hate Vin.
Gabe: [00:02:45] Whoa!
Michelle: [00:02:47] Don’t tell him.
Gabe: [00:02:48] You don’t podcast with Vin.
Michelle: [00:02:48] I know, I’m just kidding.
Gabe: [00:02:49] I think it’s funny that you’re, like, “don’t tell him!” When you said it live on a show. You’re really banking on the fact that he doesn’t listen.
Michelle: [00:02:54] This is how we’ll know if Vin listens.
Gabe: [00:02:57] That’s true! We should also plant things in there, like, “Mom, I hate you!” Now I’ll know if she listens because she’ll be like, “That was mean, why’d you say that on your show?”
Michelle: [00:03:05] Right! What if I said how old my mother was? Right now?
Gabe: [00:03:08] Sixty-two.
Michelle: [00:03:08] Nope.
Gabe: [00:03:09] Seventy.
Michelle: [00:03:09] Younger.
Gabe: [00:03:11] Fifty one.
Michelle: [00:03:12] Older.
Gabe: [00:03:12] Thirty two.
Michelle: [00:03:13] Older.
Gabe: [00:03:14] Seven.
Michelle: [00:03:14] Older.
Gabe: [00:03:15] Ninety five.
Michelle: [00:03:16] Younger.
Gabe: [00:03:16] Ten.
Michelle: [00:03:17] Older.
Gabe: [00:03:17] Bat symbol.
Michelle: [00:03:19] Robin.
Gabe: [00:03:22] Michelle, tell us about the person that you had to cut out of your life because they were toxic.
Michelle: [00:03:28] Oh…children, children, children, children… Everybody knows those girls in high school. Those girls in high school, they just think they’re better than other girls, for no reason. Even though, they just are worthless pieces of shit. They love to pretend they’re better than you. They like to insult you. Even when you’re ridiculously thin, they call you fat. And when you have muscles from playing sports, they say, “Stop playing sports! You’re getting muscular, and boys don’t like muscular girls.” And, when you say you think that guy is hot, and you want to make out with him, they’ll say to you, “The question is, does he want to make out with you?”
Gabe: [00:04:10] Do you say it in this tone? I don’t know what kind of high school you went to, but…
Michelle: [00:04:14] No, I’m just – I’m pretending I’m on masterpiece theater right now.
Gabe: [00:04:18] Oh yeah! Yeah, yeah. Yeah,’cause that’s what we’re doing right now, Masterpiece Theater.
Michelle: [00:04:23] Masterpiece Theater. I’m telling the story.
Gabe: [00:04:24] I’m sorry, continue. Continue with-
Michelle: [00:04:26] So…
Gabe: [00:04:27] -with this.
Michelle: [00:04:28] After one night of just nonsense, there was a fight. And after years of knowing this person since kindergarten, and defending and defending and always just being a friend, even though she’s horribly mean to me. She didn’t take my side in a fight. So I decided, at that moment, I was never going to talk to her again. Senior year of high school, right at the very end. I don’t have to see her again, ever. So I decided, I just cut her out of my life – completely. I only ever had to see her at a shiva and a graduation party. But about a year ago I get an e-mail.
Gabe: [00:05:06] Nah, nah, you’re –
Michelle: [00:05:08] What?
Gabe: [00:05:08] You’re glossing over some stuff here.
Michelle: [00:05:09] Well, what?
Gabe: [00:05:09] You just – you’re just, like, “Oh, I knew her since kindergarten” Like that was nothing. I mean you just, kind of like in one sentence, skipped over, what? Ten years of friendship? You knew this person for a long time.
Michelle: [00:05:22] Right? We went to Hebrew school together. We went to elementary school, middle school, high school. We went to each other’s bat mitzvahs. We knew each other for a long time. But throughout all this whole time-
Gabe: [00:05:33] You got boobs together!
Michelle: [00:05:34] She was-
Gabe: [00:05:35] I mean-
Michelle: [00:05:35] Well, I mean, she would constantly, tell us how her boobs were, you know, better than ours. That she looked like a model and we did not. And just insult us, and just insult us, and insult us. But, we would always go back and be her friend because, usually that was just a thing.
Gabe: [00:05:52] You just kind of grow out of it right? Like, you just kind of figured that stasis would be reached?
Michelle: [00:05:54] But it just came to a head where after years of defending her to everybody, being, like, she’s not that bad. Just whatever. It’s, it’s OK. She didn’t take my side in a fight. So .
Gabe: [00:06:06] So, you felt like she was disloyal.
Michelle: [00:06:08] So, she, after how many years of loyalty, she didn’t take my side. But on top of that-
Gabe: [00:06:14] and she bullied you.
Michelle: [00:06:14] She bullied me.
Gabe: [00:06:15] For many years.
Michelle: [00:06:16] Many years. Telling us, telling me, that I was very short. I needed to lose weight. I should stop playing lacrosse because it made me too muscular. Because boys don’t like that, she said. But, I also had to lose weight more and more and more. Because, you know, it’s fatness that’s really ugly. Even though I was way thinner than she was. But then she would tell me that my boobs weren’t big enough because they’re not really good. And also telling me how much I should just like, I look like a man, because I don’t put any makeup on and I wear my hair up. But if I put some on, and I wear my hair down, and I put makeup on I could kind of be pretty.
Gabe: [00:06:50] What year did this fight happen?
Michelle: [00:06:52] 2006.
Gabe: [00:06:52] OK, so you got in to a fight in 2006. And then 10 years later, in 2016…
Michelle: [00:06:56] Yes. In 2016, I get a Facebook message.
Gabe: [00:07:00] All right, and the Facebook message says…?
Michelle: [00:07:01] “Hey, Michelle! I wanted to share with you that I’m so proud of your transformation and what you’ve done with the mental health issues. It’s a huge issue in America, not just New York City, and something I’ve dealt with my entire life. I realize your bullying of me when we were kids might have been less personal for me and more about you taking out your anger and dealing with what you were going through. But I have had anxiety since I was 10 and found solace in therapy and medicine. It’s been a hard battle to convince people of what goes on in my mind, because they can’t see it. I had a boyfriend years ago who didn’t understand why I take medication. He kept saying, “You’re fine.” Little did he know that medication is what was keeping me fine. Had I had diabetes or something more visible, he blah, blah, blah” You get my point?
Gabe: [00:07:50] I think the thing that we can agree on is that mental illness is not taken seriously in America. It is a big problem everywhere including outside of New York City.
Michelle: [00:07:57] Okay, yes. Yes.
Gabe: [00:07:57] So, I’m kind of guessing that this is not the part that is upsetting you.
Michelle: [00:08:01] Yes.
Gabe: [00:08:01] It’s the part where she says you bullied her.
Michelle: [00:08:06] Yes.
Gabe: [00:08:06] And she didn’t acknowledge that she bullied you.
Michelle: [00:08:12] Yes.
Gabe: [00:08:12] Is it possible that she’s being sincere or do you think she’s dense?
Michelle: [00:08:15] She’s insane. She is absolutely insane, psychotic. OK.
Gabe: [00:08:24] She’s not. She’s not insane or psychotic, Michelle.
Michelle: [00:08:27] Again, I have a mental illness. I guess she has anxiety. But she has something else if she thinks that was the situation.
Gabe: [00:08:35] You’re saying you think she’s schizophrenic?
Michelle: [00:08:36] Beyond. Something even more beyond. I don’t even know. She’s on Mars. Because if she believes that’s what the situation was, she lives on planet Mars or something further away in the galaxy.
Gabe: [00:08:52] Because, you never bullied her?
Michelle: [00:08:54] Maybe. In retorts too, “you would be pretty if you put some makeup on!” I would say, “Shut the fuck up!”
Gabe: [00:09:00] Is it possible that she was trying to help you? And I know telling somebody to put on makeup is not helpful. But is there a world …
Michelle: [00:09:08] No.
Gabe: [00:09:09] Because you were kids.
Michelle: [00:09:09] No, no, no. No. Because it was like, “Well if you put makeup on, you know you would look less like a lesbian. Because, you know, if you dress different and you put makeup on, you look less like a lesbian. Like, you do look like a lesbian. Yeah, you should really, like, not look like that. Like, yeah. Like you know my mom, she’s a doctor, and she said you’re a lesbian.” Even though her mother wasn’t a doctor. She was a physician’s assistant. Which I understand is a good profession, but still, not a doctor.
Gabe: [00:09:30] I think it’s interesting that in your rant you took time to acknowledge that anything in the medical field is good. I can’t help but think that-
Michelle: [00:09:36] Because I know it’s a really hard job, too. And I have to acknowledge that. And I know that I could not be a P.A., because I’m not intelligent or driven enough, but-
Gabe: [00:09:43] It’s the driven. You are definitively intelligent enough.
Michelle: [00:09:45] She was still lying. You’re still lying about the profession. If it was as good, or if it was the same as a doctor, you wouldn’t be lying about the position. Would you? Would you also lie and say you live in a different area code to make yourself look more rich? Yes. She did that too, case in point. I cut her out of my life and I’ve never been happier.
Gabe: [00:10:10] Really? At 18 years old, when you cut her out of your life, you didn’t go to a psychiatric facility?
Michelle: [00:10:16] Shut up.
Gabe: [00:10:17] Several times? You didn’t get almost kicked off the lacrosse team? You didn’t think that your mother was trying to kill you and then thought that your roommate was trying to kill you? So really, the core component, and crux, of all your problems, was this woman?
Michelle: [00:10:31] Shut the fuck up.
Gabe: [00:10:33] Do you think, maybe, you’re seeing this incorrectly?
Michelle: [00:10:37] I’m just saying…
Gabe: [00:10:38] I’m not saying this woman is not a problem. I’m not saying that she wasn’t rude. But you’ve really built this up in your head. Your life would be perfect, if this one person, when you were a child, didn’t piss you off.
Michelle: [00:10:50] It just gives me such pleasure to not be friends with her. To not have attended her wedding. To not be there when she gets divorced.
Gabe: [00:11:00] So you’re already wishing a divorce on her?
Michelle: [00:11:02] I don’t wish a divorce on her. I’m just saying, you know, saying the [unclear]
Gabe: [00:11:04] The inevitable?
Michelle: [00:11:04] You know what I’m trying to say. That word.
Gabe: [00:11:08] That word?
Michelle: [00:11:09] That – inevitable.
Gabe: [00:11:10] I like how I make fun of you for [unclear]. All right you win this round, Michelle. But, listen you needed to let it go. And it sounds like…be honest.
Michelle: [00:11:25] Well, I’ll tell you, I did not even respond to that. No response.
Gabe: [00:11:28] But you’re still mad about it. When are you going to let her stop living rent free in your head?
Michelle: [00:11:33] Well, sometimes, ugh! I’ll see her on my Instagram feed.
Gabe: [00:11:36] What? You can control that.
Michelle: [00:11:38] No. It’s like other people from my high school. Well, one person from high school. One person from high school will put her in an Instagram feed. Ugh!
Gabe: [00:11:48] OK, real talk.
Michelle: [00:11:50] Ugh. What?
Gabe: [00:11:50] You’re a 30 year-old woman. Why are you still pissed off at the chick from high school? I mean come on. Yeah fine, she was insufferable. She was horrible. She called you names. And it sounds like, a couple of years ago, her way of reaching out, just proves that she hasn’t changed much. She hasn’t grown. But why are you still mad at her?
Michelle: [00:12:08] I feel like she made me hate myself.
Gabe: [00:12:10] All right. So you don’t like the way you felt about yourself. And she reminds you of how you felt about yourself.
Michelle: [00:12:16] Yeah. Everybody in high school is really self-conscious, you know? And you don’t need to have another person reaffirming those beliefs all the time. Or just making fun of you all the time. Making you hate yourself, making you shame yourself. Just everything you do. Her opinion was always the most important opinion or everybody else was wrong.
Gabe: [00:12:38] But-
Michelle: [00:12:39] Like the dictator.
Gabe: [00:12:39] Did you kind of feel like her opinion was the most important one?
Michelle: [00:12:42] No. That’s why I told her to shut up all the time. Just stop.
Gabe: [00:12:47] When you finally cut her out of your life, was there a dramatic moment? Or did you just ghost her?
Michelle: [00:12:51] Ghost. Just ghost.
Gabe: [00:12:52] Just straight up ghost? You just ghost? You didn’t just say, “Don’t call me anymore?” There was no yelling, there’s no screaming? Just you thought, “Today. Enough is enough?”.
Michelle: [00:13:00] Yeah, today enough is enough. And then sometimes I would get a phone call saying, “Oh, me and her are going to the city. Do you want to come?” No. Or, “Me and her are together. She says, ‘hi.'” OK, never said hi back. Never anything. I had to see her two separate times. I was nice. I didn’t like it. Actually, after I graduated college, I think she was asking, “Oh, you know, did you get any internships?” I said, “Yeah, I got two internships this summer.” And her first question after that was not, “Where?” or, “What were they?” It was, “Are you getting paid.”.
Gabe: [00:13:36] Were you?
Michelle: [00:13:36] Not answering that question. Regardless, not, “Oh, where are your internships?”
Gabe: [00:13:42] I want you to know every time-
Michelle: [00:13:43] “Are you getting paid?”
Gabe: [00:13:45] -you say regardless, I’m taking a drink of Diet Coke.
Michelle: [00:13:46] Suck my dick.
Gabe: [00:13:50] All right, it’s my turn to lay on the couch and it’s your turn to be therapist. Got it?
Michelle: [00:13:53] Hang on, Gabe, we’ve got to pay the bills. Here’s our sponsor.
Narrator 2: [00:13:57] This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp.com. Secure, convenient, and affordable online counseling. 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 counseling is right for you. BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral.
Michelle: [00:14:28] We are back talking about toxic people and protecting our mental health.
Gabe: [00:14:32] All right, you ready?
Michelle: [00:14:33] Yes.
Gabe: [00:14:33] OK, because we’re not going to solve your problem from high school when my problem from high school is still lingering.
Michelle: [00:14:39] Fine.
Gabe: [00:14:39] You’re gonna find this hard to believe so don’t make fun of me.
Michelle: [00:14:41] Mm hmm.
Gabe: [00:14:42] I was bullied a lot in high school.
Michelle: [00:14:44] Really?
Gabe: [00:14:45] Yeah. Now don’t be mean to me, or you’re just that lady from the other story except in my story. I didn’t do well. I didn’t do well in high school. And you know, I did have untreated bipolar disorder. I didn’t get along with my family. You know, they tried to punish bipolar disorder out of me. I didn’t have a lot of friends. I was fat. I had horrible acne and I did not play sports. I was a classic underachiever. And my favorite hobby was computers. I loved computers in the 80s and 90s. So-
Michelle: [00:15:19] That’s awesome.
Gabe: [00:15:21] Yeah, it was awesome when it came time to get a job. But it was not awesome when it came time to get a date.
Michelle: [00:15:27] Oh, yeah. Gotcha.
Gabe: [00:15:27] I was a fat, zit faced kid with no game who wore clothes that didn’t fit, and my hobby was playing with computers.
Michelle: [00:15:36] Wow.
Gabe: [00:15:37] Yeah.
Michelle: [00:15:37] Wow, Gabe.
Gabe: [00:15:37] Yeah.
Michelle: [00:15:38] You paint a really sexy picture right there.
Gabe: [00:15:41] Yeah, it was stunning. Stunningly awful. But I did have a friend. Like a really good friend. And we were friends through a lot. We met in middle school, and we were friends in middle school. And we were friends in high school. And we were friends when I graduated high school. And we’d just been through a lot together. Like, a lot. Like things that I am legally not allowed to mention on the podcast. Because, you know, they’re sealed. And, we were just there for each other. He went through a lot of stuff too. I mean, with his family he went through a lot of stuff. I went through a lot of stuff with my family. We both have- we found out later, in later years, we both had untreated mental illness. So, we sort of even had that in common. When I was in the psychiatric hospital, he came to visit me. This is not some low end friend.
Michelle: [00:16:38] Yeah. This guy seems like a really good friend of yours.
Gabe: [00:16:40] Yeah. You’re thinking when am I going to meet him?
Michelle: [00:16:41] Right.
Gabe: [00:16:42] Yeah. You’re not!
Michelle: [00:16:43] Something must have gone very, very wrong here.
Gabe: [00:16:45] Something did go wrong. And I’m honestly, to this day, not sure what it was. At some point he started to get very aggressive. And he would insult pretty much everything that I did. And he would make fun of me.
Michelle: [00:16:59] Why?
Gabe: [00:16:59] I don’t know. I don’t know. I decided several years ago to be a writer. That’s how I ended up with a podcast. That’s how I met you, and I started writing about – blogging. I mean, let’s call it blogging, that’s what it was. I started blogging about my journey with mental illness, and when I started doing that he just started making fun of me. And he was like, “Well blogging is stupid. Anybody can have a blog. Blogging is dumb.” And, you know, I thought-
Michelle: [00:17:21] Well, was he on medicine doing this to him?
Gabe: [00:17:24] No. No, he..he…he just thought that writing was dumb. I don’t know why.
Michelle: [00:17:30] But, why did he become such a dick?
Gabe: [00:17:31] I don’t know. And I thought, maybe, it was like depression.
Michelle: [00:17:36] Mm hmm.
Gabe: [00:17:36] That it would just pass. And so I just started the blog. And he would insult it. Occasionally he would read it and point out that I had grammar mistakes, which was true. But he never really would comment on anything other than, like, you know, picking it apart. And I just kind of happened and that was fine. And then eventually a site came along and offered me money! And I was like, “Hey, I’m getting paid to write!” He was like, “Well I don’t understand, that’s just bullshit. They can do better. I don’t know why they’re doing this.” And, you know, he wasn’t really proud of me, or happy for me. Or anything.
Michelle: [00:18:05] Was it jealousy?
Gabe: [00:18:07] See, that’s what a lot of people say. But I have trouble. Like, who would be jealous of me? And I know, this is not me fishing for a compliment, I just… I don’t understand why anybody would be jealous of me. I didn’t have a lot of money. I was writing about living with a horrible disease. I was still kind of estranged from my family. Not a lot, but more than zero. I mean, why would you be jealous of me?
Michelle: [00:18:32] Well, were you getting better and he was getting worse?
Gabe: [00:18:36] I don’t think so. He has a master’s degree. I never went to college. He had a job that he liked and he’s good at that he’s suited for. I mean, I just….there were many things about his life that I was jealous of.
Michelle: [00:18:49] What? What was what was going on? I’m so confused.
Gabe: [00:18:52] I honestly don’t know. Eventually, I got an offer to write for The Stanford Medical Journal, the online edition. Which is a real big get for somebody who is not in medicine. And I took it, and it was really hard to write. You know, I’m not a researcher, I’m not a doctor. And it was about the lived experience, and I want to be clear, it wasn’t for the printed Stanford Medical Journal. It was for their web site. And I was so proud. I was really proud. Because, as you know, I want to get the patient experience into as many doctors’ brains as possible. Because I don’t think that they understand what people with mental illness go through. It’s really easy for them to say things like, “Be med compliant!” But I don’t think they understand fully why we’re not. So, I was really proud of this, and I worked really, really hard. And his entire attitude was, “Whatever, it’s online. Who cares? Nobody cares.” And he just kind of picked it apart. So, I started moving away from just telling him about my accomplishments, because he was never very supportive. And I tried to focus all of our conversations on, like, Star Wars and Star Trek and stuff like that. Because I just didn’t get why he wasn’t proud of me, and I wanted him to be proud of me. I know that’s a messed up thing to say, maybe. But I wanted my friend to be happy for me. That’s all I wanted. And then bipolar magazine came along.
Michelle: [00:20:12] Oh, and he was pissed?
Gabe: [00:20:12] Yeah.
Michelle: [00:20:15] He was jealous then! That’s jealousy. That is jealousy. He was jealous you were getting better, you were getting this success, and he probably just was like, “Blah, I suck at my stupid boring job. Gabe gets to do all this cool stuff. Gabe feels comfortable being bipolar.” And he’s probably like, “I have a mental illness. I don’t want to tell anyone about it. I’m scared of it”
Gabe: [00:20:34] Sure. You’re not the first person to posit this as a theory. But why would you give up your friend over that? And he was good at his job. He liked his job. I was jealous of him for his job. He was so stable and, again, well educated. Intelligent. He just…I’m not describing somebody that lives in his parents basement. He has his own stuff. He drives his own car. He lives in his own place. Like I said, he has a master’s degree and a great job. He’s not- I could, maybe, see him being jealous of me if he was making minimum wage and living in his parents’ basement. But he wasn’t. He was a success in a multitude of ways. We weren’t the same type of successful, but he was doing well. I don’t understand. All I know is that I just couldn’t take it. I told him that he hurt my feelings, and that I just wanted him to respect all of the work that I put in and all of the effort and all of the energy. Yeah, I just wanted my friend to be proud of me. I did. That’s what I wanted him to say. I wanted him to say, “Wow, Gabe, you did it. You did something that nobody thought you could do, and you did it well. I am glad to know you.” And what he said instead is, “That’s stupid, print is dying.” I don’t even remember, because when I told him that he hurt my feelings, he jumped out of my car. We were driving. I was at a stop sign, or a stoplight. He got out of the car, and he walked away. And he never called me again. About a year and a half or so after that, I ran into him at the movies. And I was actually excited, because I thought, “Oh this is it!” And it was a movie that we loved and that we often would go to together. And I said, “Hey, how are you?” And he said, “Hi,” and I tried to talk to him and…
Michelle: [00:22:32] Wow.
Gabe: [00:22:34] …kind of walked away. And that hurt my feelings all over again.
Michelle: [00:22:38] I don’t think he was okay in his head.
Gabe: [00:22:41] I said the same thing about your friend. Maybe she wasn’t okay in her head. Maybe she regrets this friendship. Maybe all of these people are messed up in their own right, and they’re the villains in our story. But maybe they’re the hero in somebody else’s. I don’t know. All I know, is that I don’t have my friend anymore and I think that sucks. But it was the right thing to do; not chasing him down and begging him to be my friend. Because I begged him to be my friend for years. I tolerated him tearing down my efforts, my work, my career, my success, for years. When I told him I wanted to be a public speaker, he openly mocked me, and I just took it. This is a guy that never supported me being a speaker and a writer. And it took years. You know, I know people see me now and they’re like, “You’ve got a podcast, and you’re successful, and you’re a speaker.” Yeah, but for a decade, I wasn’t. For seven years I wasn’t. For many years I wrote for free on a weebly site.
Michelle: [00:23:43] Ha-ha.
Gabe: [00:23:42] And I was nothing. I was nobody. And then I’d get little, little successes in drips and drabs. Like, I’d get success. I get offered something, and I’d be so proud of it! Then nothing would happen for another nine months, and I thought maybe nothing would ever happen. So, I just put up with him tearing my career down for years, and there is a part of me that wonders why he jumped out of the car and ran away from me.
Michelle: [00:24:11] I think that just proves his issues.
Gabe: [00:24:13] Well, sure. But-
Michelle: [00:24:13] He didn’t want to even do any conflicts at all. He probably knew that it was true. If it wasn’t true, he would have argued that it wasn’t true. But he knew it was true, so he ran away. He ran away from the truth. Doesn’t that prove it right there?
Gabe: [00:24:26] Yeah, but he also ran away from me. Like, wasn’t I worth it?
Michelle: [00:24:29] He was scared of you.
Gabe: [00:24:31] But, of what?
Michelle: [00:24:32] He was obviously just scared of you.
Gabe: [00:24:34] Listen, the only thing that needs to be scared of me-
Michelle: [00:24:35] He ran away.
Gabe: [00:24:36] -are french fries. Like, that’s it.
Michelle: [00:24:38] He ran away from you because he was scared of you.
Gabe: [00:24:41] Okay, what did he think I was going to do to him?
Michelle: [00:24:43] I don’t know. But he was scared of you because you were right.
Gabe: [00:24:46] Intellectually, if roles were reversed, this is exactly what I’d be saying to you. But, you know, this is the thing that sucks. My mental health is better now that he’s not here. Because he was always a nagging, negative voice in my life. And there’s a lot! Come on, Michelle, you and I do this work. People tell us all the time that we suck. They tell us all the time that we need to get real jobs. That we need to stop it. That podcasts are for losers; blogging is stupid. We don’t get a lot of positive reinforcement. You know, our families, when we told them that we wanted to do this, they were like, “Oh my God…podcaster. That’s what I wanted.”
Michelle: [00:25:22] I loved it when my roommate’s girlfriend said, “Does anyone actually listen to podcasts?”
Gabe: [00:25:30] Yeah. I remember when somebody said, “So how much money do you lose per episode?” I was like, “No we make money.” And they’re like, “Whatever.” They think I’m lying. We have sponsors in place; we work really hard. We have a good audience. I’m not saying that we’re rich off the podcast, but it’s a profitable enterprise. Michelle and I work really, really hard. They think it’s a joke. They really do. They still mock us. They have this idea that we’re sitting with our phones under a trailer recording these shows.
Michelle: [00:26:00] Maybe we are.
Gabe: [00:26:01] Maybe we are.
Michelle: [00:26:02] Maybe. We. Are.
Gabe: [00:26:05] Michelle, it is always great hanging with you. Do we have any takeaway for our listeners? You and I both had toxic people in our lives, and we are better off that they’re gone. But it clearly has still hurt us. You’re 30 years-old and you’re still pissed off at something that happened in high school. I’m a grown ass man and I’m still upset that somebody who did nothing but insult me went away. I mean, these are lingering effects, but-
Michelle: [00:26:29] I guess that means we just gotta learn how to let go.
Gabe: [00:26:32] But, how?
Michelle: [00:26:35] I don’t know. I guess somebody might say, “Why don’t you drink some tea?”
Gabe: [00:26:38] Drink some tea?
Michelle: [00:26:39] Drink some tea with honey, sir. That’ll fix all of your issues.
Gabe: [00:26:43] Who would say that?
Michelle: [00:26:45] Somebody in the comments.
Gabe: [00:26:47] In the comments? I told you, stop reading the comments! That is not the place to get mental health advice.
Michelle: [00:26:57] We need an exorcism, Gabe.
Gabe: [00:26:58] We need an exorcism?
Michelle: [00:27:00] Yeah.
Gabe: [00:27:00] That is another great thing that has happened to people in our community. Michelle, I do think that our our listeners, like us, are probably struggling with some relationships that are maybe not the best. And we need to set better boundaries, and some days I wish that our show was, like, real therapy. Where we could tell people how to set better boundaries and how to not let people get to them. But, you know our our show is not practical advice. Our show is more like, “Hey we’ve been through it, and we survived it. And if you’re going through it, you can survive too.” But I wish we had that magic cure. I wish that somebody listening right now, that has a friend that’s making them feel bad, would be like, “Tell me what to do!” And we’d be like, “Do this!” And then they’d do it and their life would suddenly get better, but the world is just way too complicated.
Michelle: [00:27:44] If someone is not bringing joy to your life, they’re only bringing negativity to your life, then – goodbye.
Gabe: [00:27:52] Yeah, that is the sensible thing to do. Why do we hang on to these negative people? I think it’s because we remember when they used to be positive. I do. I really do. It’s just like my friend. You’re like, “Why are you sad that he is gone?” And I’m like, “Because I remember when he was good.” I remember when we were in high school, and he was my only friend. And that’s hard to get over. And it’s times like these that I remember that people can be two things. He can both be the asshole that I’m no longer friends with, and he can also be the guy that got me through my teen years. He was a good friend. He was a really, really good friend, right up until the time he wasn’t. And it’s hard that he occupies both spaces in my life. Because we think that people have to be one thing, but people can be two things. I guess when I was in high school, he was the hero. And when I was an adult, he was the villain.
Michelle: [00:28:39] You can’t move forward when you’re stuck looking backwards.
Gabe: [00:28:43] Here, here! Thank you, everybody, for tuning in. And remember, we need you to do the following things, not necessarily in this order: 1) Give us a five star review on iTunes and leave a nice comment. 2) Whenever you see this posted on Facebook or on Psych Central, leave a comment. Start a conversation. 3) Go to store.PsychCentral.com and buy the official A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast t-shirt. It is the “Define Normal” t-shirt, and you can find it at store.PsychCentral.com. And, finally, don’t be afraid to drop us a line at [email protected], and we will see everybody next week. Thank you for subscribing, thank you for listening, and tell a friend.
Michelle: [00:29:21] Hey, jealousy!
Narrator: [00:29:21] You’ve been listening to A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. If you love this episodes, 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. The show’s official web site is Psych Central.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.