MICHELLE HAMMER

Michelle Hammer is a Schizophrenia Activist and spends her time passionately fighting stigma. She is an NYC native featured in the WebMD documentary Voices, which was nominated for a Tribeca X Award at the Tribeca Film Festival 2018. Michelle was diagnosed with schizophrenia at 22 after a misdiagnosis of bipolar at age 18. At 27, Michelle decided to use her artistic talents and fearless personality to do something that could benefit the mental health community. In May 2015, she founded a mental health-focused clothing brand. Schizophrenic.NYC is a clothing brand with the mission of reducing stigma by starting conversations about mental health. Michelle has also been featured in many publications such as Mashable, The Daily Mail, Stylist, and Buzzfeed.

Michelle is exclusively selling her personal artwork on Schizophrenic.NYC. Find it Here >

Watch Michelle’s Videos >

 “One in five New Yorkers has a mental health issue, but people don’t talk about it because of all the stigma.” Michelle Hammer is one of these New Yorkers, and she is living with a mental health illness called Schizophrenia. The symptoms of Schizophrenia can be roughly divided into three types: positive, negative, and cognitive. The positive symptoms add unwanted behaviors, such as delusions, hallucinations, and disembodied voices. The negative symptoms take away from normal behaviors, resulting in lack of emotion, motivation, or social activity. The cognitive symptoms diminish the mind’s faculties, making it harder to focus or process information. Schizophrenia is different for everyone, though. For Michelle, Schizophrenia means voices. She sometimes hears voices on the street and starts talking to them. Before she started taking medications, there would be two voices constantly battling in her head: a negative, pessimistic voices, and a positive, optimistic voice. Other times she would have repetitive thoughts, constantly flooding her mind with chaos. In her childhood, she thought that her mother was trying to kill her, and when she went to college, she thought the same about her best friend. Schizophrenia meant living with constant fear, paranoia, and loneliness. Michelle did not seek help because she was afraid that the entire world was out to get her. Many New Yorkers struggle with the same issues, and not just with Schizophrenia.

        However, nobody talks about mental health – because the issue is shrouded in stigma and ignorance. Michelle is sharing her story to change this fact. For people living with mental health illnesses, Michelle has this piece of advice: be honest. Realizing that she had a problem and seeking help was the hardest part of her journey and the best thing that ever happened to her. Being able to identify the problem is much more reassuring than it sounds, and once she found the medications that worked for her, Schizophrenia was no longer an illness that detracted from her daily life – it was an integral part of her identity, one of which she was proud. People who do know that they have a mental illness are often afraid to seek help because of shame or fear of judgment. However, medications can significantly improve daily life, and not taking them is only to one’s own deficit. In Michelle’s own words, “if you try hard enough and you really want to fix it, you can.” Avoiding help also perpetuates negative stereotypes. The homeless schizophrenic is an all-too-common stereotype concerning mental health, and the biggest difference between them and Michelle is that Michelle was able to seek help. Telling the world that one has a mental illness opens up the discussion of mental health, and demonstrates to the world that mental illness is nothing more than a physical affliction and that people living with such illnesses are just like everyone else. If a person living with a mental illness themself cannot accept themself, then how can the rest of the world do so too? This is the premise of Michelle’s clothing and accessories line – to get people to not only be open about themself but proud of it too.

Michelle is exclusively selling her personal artwork on Schizophrenic.NYC. Find it Here >

Watch Michelle’s Videos >