Throughout our lives, we are inspired by many people, from our parents to our teachers to celebrities to great thinkers of the past and present. And sometimes, we find ourselves being an inspiration for others. Also, sometimes, this fact surprises us. In this episode, Gabe and Michelle talk about both being inspired by others and how it feels to be an inspiration to others.

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“In the right light, all of us are fantastic. In the right, light we all suck.”
– Gabe Howard

Highlights From ‘Inspiration’ Episode

[00:30] Is Michelle amazing?

[3:30] Is Gabe an inspiration?

[7:00] Gabe is more organized than Michelle.

[9:00] But, what is success?

[12:00] Nobody wants to hear about hockey.

[14:00] Awesome social media swag.

[18:00] Gabe’s hero wasn’t really that great.

[19:00] Recovery doesn’t mean 100% symptom free.

[22:00] Don’t compare yourself to others.

Computer Generated Transcript for ‘What’s So Inspirational About a Bipolar and a Schizophrenic?’ 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.

Michelle: Hello, welcome to A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. I’m Michelle, I’m schizophrenic.

Gabe: My name is Gabe Howard and I live with bipolar disorder.

Michelle: Yes. Hi Gabe. Hi Gabe.

Gabe: I love it when you start off the show because you’re always like so confused you’ve got that oh shit I have to talk now. I’ll just say hi to Gabe again.

Michelle: Keep saying hi to Gabe.

Gabe: Hi, Michelle.

Michelle: Gabe. Gabe. Gabe, something that’s been puzzling me I get these messages online like your such an inspiration. All you’re doing is so great, you’re so amazing. And everyone is kind of like always thinking that I’m this fantastic person yet i don’t really think I’m that great. So I kind of balanced myself with, am I cool? Am I not cool? What is the right social media balance of amazing?

Gabe: You’ve opened up a lot there. There’s so many ways that we can take this. First, you said that people will look at your curated social media page where you’ve taken time, effort, energy and decided what to post in you know some deliberate fashion and they come to the conclusion that you’re cool. Awesome. Great. I think that you’d be hard pressed to find somebody’s social media page that isn’t curated to lead people to a certain opinion and that’s how everyone wants to portray themselves.

Michelle: Well. Well you never know. I have like a big fan on Instagram like these two sisters that message me a lot. One of them messaged me on Facebook. Like right in the middle of the conversation she just goes, “I can’t believe you’re actually talking to me.” And I’m like really? And she goes, “Yeah, you’re like my my biggest inspiration in the world. You know you’re like my hero.” And I’m just thinking like what? Like I’m you’re what?  I mean growing up nobody liked me. And then somehow now people are thinking that I’m cool and it’s kind of like it’s like I’ve never got rid of the lowest self-esteem from high school and then I built up my confidence but yet I go back to that low self-esteem because how can I be somebody’s inspirational hero? Because of you know starting a whole conversation about mental health and opening up about schizophrenia is that really inspirational? Gabe, am I putting myself down?

Gabe: So you are and you aren’t. It’s such a nuanced conversation because you can be two things. You can be three things. All of us can. I think that Michelle Hammer is absolutely unequivocally an inspiration when it comes to living well with schizophrenia. It’s a difficult illness to manage. It takes a lot of time and energy. You have to go to the doctor, you have to take your medicine, you had to find the right medicine, you had to survive suicide attempts, and managing families and on and on and on. And then the fact that you came out the other side. That’s incredibly inspirational. But you’re a slob. You’re disorganized.

Michelle: Hey!

Gabe: None of that is an insult. I’m just saying that if somebody was like, look I think that Michelle Hammer is an inspiration for how to build a business. I’d be like, “Look, I don’t know. She has piles of stuff all over her room and she doesn’t know what the word database means. So none of that.

Michelle: I know what a database is? What are you talking about?

Gabe: All right, all right. How about how about this? The same thing for me. I think that I’m absolutely an inspiration when it comes to living well with bipolar disorder but nobody, nobody, in their right mind should take relationship advice from Gabe Howard. I’m twice divorced already. I was engaged three times. Well, one of them I don’t even know if I was engaged it is like we’re going to get married we should move in because I cheated on one of my wives. Like for real. If somebody is like, “Gabe is my inspiration I want to handle all of my marriages just like him.” You think wow that is not inspirational, but if somebody said, “Hey I want to live well and fight my inner demons and my mental health issues, Gabe is an inspiration.” They’d be correct but they’re talking about the same guy.

Michelle: I see it you’re saying that you’re an inspiration but they’re wrong. The wrong inspiration. You’re not perfect Gabe. Is that what you’re saying?

Gabe: I’m saying that in the right light, all of us are fantastic, and in the right light all of us suck. You are the enemy in somebody’s story and you’re the hero in somebody else’s.

Michelle: And oh I’m an enemy in quite a few people’s stories because I’ve been called a faker many many times. This is actually a funny story that happened last night. My partner she kind of said, “You know, people like that are writing to you that you’re you know that you’re like I’ll recover and you live well with your schizophrenia and you’re so high functioning and all that. But you know, I live with you, and I experience you all the time, and you’re definitely schizophrenic.” I mean I think you would think the same thing Gabe.

Gabe: I work with you. You stay in my house, we travel the country. You are definitely insane. This has nothing to do with your schizophrenia. That’s actually very well managed. I think your personality is fucked up like I am. I think that we had to treat the schizophrenia so that we could get to your god awful personality that I do I know and love.

Michelle: I have a great personality.

Gabe: Would you be friends with you?

Michelle: Yes.

Gabe: Really?

Michelle: Yes.

Gabe: So if I started treating you the way that you treated me, you’d be cool, right?

Michelle: We are work buddies, Gabe. We are work buddies. That’s the difference.

Gabe: So if I started acting at work the way that you act at work, you’d be cool with that?

Michelle: We would have a great time at work.

Gabe: We’d never get anything done you have never met a deadline ever.

Michelle: That is not true. Thursday deadlines. I finished them on Thursdays the Thursday deadline I do it.

Gabe: How many times do I have to remind you?

Michelle: It doesn’t matter, it gets done. This doesn’t matter because some things get mailed to me late and it comes to me late or after the fact. And you know, don’t make me call “mis-management” again and then you get to cry again because I said somebody mismanaged a project and then you’re gonna throw a hissy fit. I was the manager! Now everyone’s going to yell and me because I was the manager. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.  Whiny little Gabe, whiny little Gabe, I’m the manager.

Gabe: So this is your management style? To call me whiny little Gabe?

Michelle: Listen, I manage myself. I own my own business and I’m the only employee so says me.

Gabe: Because you got fired from 11 jobs.

Michelle: Eight!

Gabe: I just want to make sure I understand this correctly. The woman who got fired from eight jobs is telling me that I’m not good at running a business?

Michelle: I never said you weren’t good at running a business. I said you sent me a project that said rush rush rush rush rush and you had scribbles on a piece of paper and half the information.

Gabe: That is true. So there you go. There is an example of where in general as the email that you once got so succinctly put it why do you work with Gabe? He must be very organized. Of the two of us, I am the more organized one. Would you agree with that?

Michelle: Yes, you have the most organization.

Gabe: All right. But that example that you just gave was an example of me being completely disorganized and completely fucking up, right?

Michelle: Yes.

Gabe: But I’m still the more organized one even though I made a mistake and that’s your tie in to the social media issue right here. You are an inspiration, Michelle. But being an inspiration to somebody doesn’t equal perfection. And just because other people find your story inspirational, doesn’t mean that you have self esteem.

Michelle: I guess that’s true because like I get this message about my WebMD video. You getting a video also gave me incentive to expand into the digital realm. Pass on the knowledge that I’ve discovered. I’m not blazing a trail. People like you have done that. I’m just trying to beat the path to make it easier for others. Thank you again. I’m blazing a trail. Gabe, do you feel like I am a trailblazer? Because this person on Instagram did.

Gabe: We don’t really have to discuss whether you’re a trailblazer or not because to that person you are. You know, success is an opinion. Some people are like listen I think that I am very successful because I make minimum wage. And I have a subsidized place to live and they’re very happy and they’re not lying. Other people look at that and think that’s failure and they’re not lying either. Some people believe that if they don’t live in a ten million dollar house they’re worthless. People think that success really just has some sort of definitive meaning, and it doesn’t.

Michelle: I don’t know. Whenever I answer an email and.

Gabe: You seem to be saying that you can’t be an inspiration unless you feel like an inspiration. Just like with the word success where people say that they can’t be a success unless they meet their definition of success. And that’s really my point. The definition of success changes from person to person to person to person. What you find successful I may not. It doesn’t make you wrong and me right. You’ve decided, Michelle, that you’re not an inspiration. So you think that somebody that thinks you are an inspiration must be wrong. You realize you both can be right?

Michelle: I guess you’re right because I mean when I email people back, anyone that emails my main website I e-mail back, and I write my name, Michelle. People get very excited when they realize it’s me emailing them back and then I’m like why are they so excited that it’s me emailing them back? It just it’s weird to me when people get excited to talk to me because I don’t know why it’s so good. But you’re saying success success inspirational success. What is the top of success? Because I never think it is, success doesn’t have a limit. It goes on forever and ever and ever and forever unless you’re Beyonce. But she never stops either.

Gabe: One time when I was giving a speech and I walked up to the podium and I gave my speech and everybody clapped. You know just like they always do. It was good, it was a good speech. I was very happy. I always walk off the podium and I tell people on the stage that you know I will meet you up front for questions. And a woman walked up to me and she asked if she could get a selfie. And I said of course. And she stood next to me and she held out her phone to take this selfie and she goes I’ve just never met a celebrity before. And I looked at her and I said, “Oh honey, you still haven’t.”

Michelle: Wow, that’s so funny.

Gabe: I don’t consider myself a celebrity. I don’t. And it would be ridiculous of me to consider myself a celebrity. But I talked to this woman and she’s like look I’m a huge fan of the show. She also asked where Michelle was? She was one of the first people when I got there to ask where you were. She doesn’t care if we have a gabillion listeners or one listener. To her, we’re very meaningful and that’s all that matters. My favorite band in the whole world did not sell 20 million copies. I don’t even think they sold 50000 copies, but I love them. They’re a local band in Columbus, Ohio, called Watershed. They’ve released about nine albums, they’ve been active for 25 years. They all have day jobs. You should check them out at WatershedCentral.com. They are absolutely amazing.

Michelle: Shameless plug. Shameless plug.

Gabe: But, yeah, they never made it outside of Ohio. You’ve probably never heard of them, but they’re still my favorite band.

Michelle: I’ve never heard of them. Never never never never never.

Gabe: Absolutely. So listen and think about sports. When you want to.

Michelle: Now you talk about sports, Gabe? You always cut out everything I say about sports.

Gabe: No, I cut out everything that you say about lacrosse, but let’s talk hockey. You live in New York so if you were a hockey fan you would probably say that your favorite team was the.

Michelle: The the Rangers. The Rangers.

Gabe: Yes, because you live in New York.

Michelle: Right.

Gabe: I live in Columbus. So my favorite hockey team is the Columbus Blue Jackets. You realize that the only reason that both of us gave those names is because that’s where we live? We literally have the favorite team that is geographically located.

Michelle: I feel like I could like The Islanders too, Gabe.

Gabe: That’s true. You have two choices. That’s right. You’ve got it easier than the rest of us.

Michelle: I don’t even see how this relates, Gabe? We are talking about inspirational people and now we’re talking about hockey. Nobody wants to hear about hockey.

Gabe: It relates because the only reason that you like either The Islanders or The Rangers is because that’s your lived experience, your lived experience as a New Yorker. You’re supporting the home team. The reason that I like the Columbus Blue Jackets is because I’m supporting the home team. We can try to figure out which one of us is right and which one of us is wrong. Or we could acknowledge that we’re both right. So to go back to social media, you’re saying that people read your social media and come to the conclusion that you are somehow amazing. Let them!

Michelle: Let them? Just because everyone was thinking I’m amazing I should just let them? I think it’s my own issue of understanding that I guess I’m kind of cooler than I think I am.

Gabe: I think that in some ways you’re much cooler than you think you are. And in other ways, yeah.

Michelle: I’m less cooler than I think I am? Gabe, I know for sure that I’m much more cooler than you.

Gabe: That’s fair. But how hard is it to be? Really? I want to be clear, the contest that you’re bragging about winning is that Michelle Hammer, who is a pretty young woman who lives in New York City, is cooler than an overweight 43 year old from Ohio?

Michelle: You’re just on my coattails, Gabe.

Gabe: Why don’t you go beat up a toddler and declare yourself the heavyweight champ?

Michelle: Just one sec, we need to 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.

Gabe: And we’re back talking about social media, feeling like a fraud, Michelle being an inspiration, it’s kind of all over the place at this point. Michelle, bringing it back to social media.

Michelle: Bringing it back to social media?

Gabe: Be honest. Do you ever put the bad things on social media? Like all the mistakes that you’ve made or the people that you’ve hurt, or the fight that you’ve gotten into? You know when you curate your social media, don’t you stick to the inspirational and positive things?

Michelle: Not always. I mean, when the ridiculous lady yelled at me at the market about being a liar I started tweeting about it because I felt like tweeting about it. Sometimes I like screen shot like nasty comments and put them on Twitter as well. And then my good buddy Rachel Star Withers will go on my Instagram and start tweeting and start messaging them back and stuff like that.

Gabe: Then again.

Michelle: Mostly I try to keep it cool. I try to make it look fresh, I know how to make it trendy to make it look awesome because I do have awesome photos. I have awesome stuff. I know how to make things look cool, but I’m not going to like you know share an ugly photo. That’s stupid.

Gabe: But why not?

Michelle: Why would I share an ugly photo. That’s dumb.

Gabe: But that’s my point. Every single photo you look at and you make sure that you look smiley, adorable, pretty, sexy, whatever you’re going for. If the picture does not portray that, you don’t post it. The person looking at it thinks that you’re inspirational and awesome and cute and cool because all they ever see are examples of inspiration, awesome, and cool you know as well as I do that you’ve taken a bad picture.

Michelle: Of course.

Gabe: You just don’t post it.

Michelle: Right.

Gabe: So what I’m saying to the people that are looking at it you’re asking why they think that you’re an inspiration because you only show them inspirational things and you said well I show them negative things when people make bad comments about me I post those. Yeah, but you post the bad comments and then you rising to fight it. You show yourself rising above it and fighting and pushing away the haters and beating down the trolls. You look more amazing when people insult you, not less amazing.

Michelle: I guess, I suppose the haters the haters gonna hate no matter what. But I think I have more lovers than haters.

Gabe: I would say I listened to the hyper-sexuality episode. You have a lot of lovers.

Michelle: Oh, shut up, asshole.

Gabe: One time I got an email. I got an e-mail from somebody who said some pretty hard things and I cried. It actually reduced me to tears and I got up and I went and talked to my wife and I showed her the e-mail and she’s like Oh Gabe. But she understood why I was so upset and I couldn’t sleep that night. So the next day was really rough because I had to go to work, so that sort of compounded. Pretty much from the start of that e-mail for the next four or five days it was really, really bad. It was not a good mental health time for Gabe. And then I got over it and I was fine. And this is the first time that I’ve ever spoken of it and I’m leaving out a lot of details on purpose because that’s my point. I never posted that. I didn’t post, “Got a hard e-mail, cried a lot.” I’ll post that somebody called me a bipolar asshole, or that I’m a faker, or that Michelle is a bitch. I’ll share that and I do try to share when I’m having trouble sleeping or when I have depression or things like that but I still curate it to make sure that I only talk about it after the fact.

Michelle: Yeah.

Gabe: If that makes sense? I’ll be like you know I was depressed last week but now I’m doing great so I don’t even post about it in the moment. I post about happiness in the moment, I post about success in the moment, but I post about things that sort of went downhill, I post about them after it’s over and I’ve already sort of risen back up and I know that you do that too. Even if you don’t do it intentionally, you do it.

Michelle: I do. I mean.

Gabe: We all do.

Michelle: I do post a quote that says you know from Mean Girls don’t let the haters stop you from doing your thing.

Gabe: Michelle, have you ever met anybody that inspired you? That you thought was particularly awesome and then after you met them, the shine was kind of off of them? There’s an expression that says you should never meet your heroes.

Michelle: My hero? I’ve never met a hero of mine. I’ve never met Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Gabe: Now I had this really awesome teacher. And I’m not going to say their name but I had a really awesome teacher in school and I just remembered them just so incredibly fondly. When I was a child and when I became an adult I met this teacher. I met them as an adult and then they were just an adult and I was an adult. I was well into my thirties when I met them and I realized that you know this teacher was an incredible teacher and I had great memories of them but man. Man, I wish I didn’t meet her. For real, because they were crazy.

Michelle: Whoa.

Gabe: Absolutely crazy. Well I still think that they are an incredible teacher but yeah I don’t want to be this person’s friend for shit. So now what do I do? I think this person is not a good person like to be friends with, but I think this person is a great teacher. You can be a mental health inspiration and you can also be you know god awful and annoying and other things. You can be two things, Michelle. Everybody can.

Michelle: I guess. I guess is the whole thing is like you know recovered schizophrenic. I’m trying. Michelle recovered schizophrenia and everything like that but I don’t want people to get the impression that I don’t suffer as well. I do a struggle a lot but I feel that it doesn’t always come out that way and I like that I am an inspiration. But I don’t want to give false hope to everybody. I don’t want like all of these questions are what meds are you on? All that stuff you know how can I how can I help somebody be just like you? And like I can try to help and everything like that but just because I am who I am and the appearances that I give and how I can talk to people it doesn’t mean I don’t go home at night and pace through my living or go back and forth and I take my medicine and then I can finally go back to bed.

Gabe: It’s a very difficult balance. You’re absolutely right. I want people to know that I live well and that I have a normal life and that I love my life. But I also don’t want them to have an unrealistic expectation of what recovery looks like. Recovery doesn’t mean 100 percent symptom free. Recovery doesn’t mean never crying uncontrollably or never having you know mania or hypomania or depression or being symptomatic. It doesn’t mean not going to the doctor. It means all of those things. And sometimes we have a tendency to only talk about the great things that we’re doing in our lives because that’s where we want to put our focus. We want to put our focus on the great things we don’t want our audience, whether it be on social media or on this podcast, to think that we don’t suffer like they do because we do suffer like they do and we did suffer like they do. And if the only place that you’re looking at what recovery looks like is on somebody’s Facebook page, you’re gonna be disappointed because Facebook is fake.

Michelle: Maybe six months ago or so I was an at an ad board at a pharmaceutical company.

Gabe: All thoughts and opinions are her own.

Michelle: Yeah. And when I first got up, I read a little thing about myself and there was like me and some psychologists, psychiatrists, whatever and we go to lunch and this guy whose name might have been Bob or it’s not Bob I don’t know. Let’s call him Bob. Bob comes up to me and stays near me during lunch and he just decides to turn to me and say, “Well you’re not really a suffering schizophrenic. You’re kind of a really bad example of a schizophrenic cause you don’t really suffer.” Now I’ve never been more offended. He said I’m not a suffering schizophrenic and that I’m a bad example of a schizophrenic person? Because of what? He experienced me for three hours and he told me that I am not a good example. I’ve never been more offended, and I was so angry the whole rest of the Ad Board. I gave him dirty nasty looks. I tried to interrupt everything he was trying to say. Everything he said I said I don’t agree with and I hated him. And then I told my connection there in an email that he incredibly insulted me and I never want to do anything with him ever again. And they recently sent me a letter if I want to you know maybe do any more stuff with them sign this and that. Yes. So I’m still good with that company. But Bob which who was maybe but if his real name, he’s a dick.

Gabe: But there is an example. He looked at three hours of you and made a determination.

Michelle: Yes.

Gabe: Oh then I will just read social media and make a determination. I need people to think broader. Please don’t think that we’re talking about just Michelle’s social media or just Gabe’s social media. People have a tendency to do this always. I have talked to so many people that are just like well I see my friends on Facebook and they’re doing so much better than me. Yeah anybody can do better than anybody on Facebook. Are you kidding? I can make myself look better than Bill Gates on Facebook. He’s still the third richest man in America. I think he’s OK but I think they made dinosaurs in the movies. Dinosaurs still aren’t real. I don’t want to say that it’s fake because people aren’t being fake but it’s curated. That’s what social media is. It’s in our control. It doesn’t mean it’s true. It doesn’t mean that it’s fake. But don’t make decisions based on it. And certainly don’t compare yourself to others. Other people’s success is not the same as your success. Michelle desperately wants to be a famous artist. If I became a famous artist tomorrow, I’d be miserable. So you know that that’s just the reality of it. It doesn’t mean that Michelle’s goal is bad.

Michelle: So, if other people are finding inspiration in me, I really need to find the inspiration in myself and believe in myself, really.

Gabe: That’s incredibly true. When you’re alone with your thoughts, you better believe in yourself because you’ll be the only one there.

Michelle: It’s true.

Gabe: Michelle before we hop off any final words?

Michelle: I believe I am a true inspiration and you can keep telling me that.

Gabe: Those are your final words? You’re so humble. Now humility really comes through with statements like that. Thank you everybody.

Michelle: Now I’m just saying silly things. It’s all good, people. I love everyone.

Gabe: Obviously, if you want to say nice things to Michelle you can hop over to a schizophrenic.NYC. You can buy any of her designs, her art, her clothing. It’s really really cool. If you love me, you can go to GabeHoward.com. I did write the great book, Mental illness is an Asshole which is available on Amazon, as is everything. But it’s also available signed with free stickers at GabeHoward.com. Please if you liked the show share it on Facebook, tell everybody that you know, share it on Instagram and social media. Write a letter to your grandma, tell her what a podcast is, explain it to her, give her all of the tools that she needs so that she can listen as well. We do really well in the mom and grandma demographic, right?

Michelle: I believe so. Gotta love those moms and grannies.

Gabe: Did you say, “I love the moms and grannies?”

Michelle: I love moms and grannies.

Gabe: Thanks, everybody. And we will see you next week.

Michelle: 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.

Podcast: What’s So Inspirational About a Bipolar and a Schizophrenic?