Navigating Gifts, Criticism, and Friendship While Managing Mental Illness


A Bipolar, A Schizophrenic, and a Podcast

Today, Gabe and Michelle share their insecurities and lament that they do not feel more successful. They discuss navigating their challenges, the importance of support, and working to help others through their platform despite personal struggles. Encouraging each other and their audience, they emphasize self-acceptance, perseverance, and the significance of striving for improvement in mental health advocacy. Join us as Michelle and Gabe share some of the things that inspire them.




Hosts of A Bipolar, A Schizophrenic, and a Podcast

gabe howard mental health advocate

Gabe Howard is a professional speaker, writer, and activist living with bipolar and anxiety disorders. Diagnosed in 2003, he has made it his mission to put a human face on mental illness.

He’s the author of Mental Illness is an Asshole and Other Observations and a popular podcast host. Learn more at

michelle hammer

Michelle Hammer is a mental health advocate and the founder of the mental health clothing and lifestyle brand Schizophrenic.NYC. She is known for her efforts to raise awareness and reduce stigma surrounding mental health issues, particularly schizophrenia. She is an NYC native featured in the WebMD documentary Voices, which was nominated for a Tribeca X Award at the Tribeca Film Festival. She has also been featured in media outlets such as ABC, NBC, and CBS. You can find Michelle’s newest Home and Living line at Home.Schizophrenic.NYC where she brings her artwork into practical home essentials.

Transcript for A Bipolar, A Schizophrenic, And A Podcast: Navigating Gifts, Criticism, and Friendship While Managing Mental Illness

Announcer: So, what did the bipolar say to the schizophrenic? You’re in the right place to find out. . .

Gabe: Welcome to the show, everyone. My name is Gabe and I’m bipolar.

Michelle: And I’m Michelle Hammer and I’m schizophrenic.

Gabe: And today we’re going to be talking about, well, frankly, how Michelle and I aren’t feeling too great. But before we jump into the topic, we want to remind you that if you want us to keep going, well, Michelle and I are willing to work for free. We have to pay the people around us. So please support the show by heading over to What’s what’s the thing?

Michelle: Yes it is Gabe,

Gabe: Slash support? and support the show. I’m wearing the official shirt. I just just I’m pointing at it. Which is stupid because this is a podcast, so. But I am wearing the official shirt.

Michelle: Woo hoo!

Gabe: Are you proud of me? Michelle.

Michelle: I could have. I can’t be any more proud of you, Gabe. You you have accomplished so much in your life. You are the best in the world, I must say. What can I say? That’s what I have to say.

Gabe: All because I wore the shirt that you designed.

Michelle: Yes, absolutely. I’m wearing a shirt I designed to. But also this is a podcast and you can’t see it.

Gabe: You never wear the shirts that I designed like that. That that pains me.

Michelle: I don’t know if I have one.

Gabe: But would you wear it if you did?

Michelle: No.

Gabe: No, no. Remember I gave you a copy of my book. I wrote a book Mental Illness Is an Asshole, just in case you didn’t know. And Michelle designed the cover. So? So first off, it’s a it’s an awesome cover designed by our very own Michelle Hammer. And I gave her a copy and I signed it, and I wrote, like, this really nice thing. And like, two days later, her mom sent me this real nice email about how Michelle gave her a copy of my book, and she really liked it. I was like, Michelle, did you even read the book? She’s like, I didn’t know my mom was going to thank you. And then Michelle got

Michelle: [Laughter]

Gabe: All angry because she’s like, well, I gave it to her. She should have thanked me. I was like, no, nobody cared about my feelings in that exchange.

Michelle: She liked the book, I mean, some why would you want the book to just sit on my shelf? Gabe, you want the book to just sit on my shelf and do nothing? I wasn’t going to read it. I don’t read books like that. Not like that, I think. I don’t read books in general, you know what I’m saying? There’s just

Gabe: That

Michelle: Too big.

Gabe: That is fair. And so this brings me to sort of my point on this, right? So I could look at it as I gave Michelle a copy of my book. Right, I wrote it, I worked hard on it, I was proud of it, and I wanted my friend to read it, and she gave it to her mother so I could look at that as an insult. That is that is one possible way Michelle rejected my book, but I could also look at it from another way, which is Michelle doesn’t read books, but she didn’t want the book to sit on a shelf like she said. So she gave it to her mother because she knew that her mother would appreciate it. And in that way, that’s very complimentary, right? I mean, I’m pretty sure if it was a sucky book, Michelle wouldn’t be like, here, mom, my idiot friend wrote a stupid book that sucks. Take it. So, the choice is mine. Right? To to how I look at it. Now, I want to be honest. I think Michelle knows how I look at it.

Michelle: Well, I’ll have you know, my first roommate also wrote a book, and he gave it to me. And I said, here’s a book, mom. I don’t want it.

Gabe: So. So you give all the books to your mom, which

Michelle: Now.

Gabe: Which sort of

Michelle: Well,

Gabe: Validates

Michelle: That.

Gabe: My. This isn’t a compliment theory.

Michelle: No, I just, I don’t know, I wanted to pretend like my my mom really wanted the book.

Gabe: Okay. Did she like that book?

Michelle: Because I didn’t want my roommate asking me, like, did you read my book yet? Did you read my book yet? I was like, you know what? My mom was really interested. So I lended her the book and she’s going to have it first.

Gabe: I. Okay, back to my point though. Sincerely. How should I look at it? Should I look at this as a compliment, or should I look at it as an insult?

Michelle: Well, if anyone’s going to read that book, it’s my mom.

Gabe: Okay, let me ask it in a better way. Michelle, when you did it, were you complimenting me or insulting me?

Michelle: I wasn’t insulting you. I was giving my mom your book. She wanted your book.

Gabe: But you also said that you gave her a shitty book. You just give your mom all the books, don’t you?

Michelle: But you know what she did with that shitty book? She gave it away.

Gabe: Does she still have my book?

Michelle: Yes. She still has your book.

Gabe: Hey. You know, it’s hard, right? It’s hard sometimes to admit that sometimes things just aren’t about you, right? A gift given is a gift received. The reality is, it’s none of my business what Michelle does with the book. Once I gave it to Michelle, it was her book to do with as she pleased. But it is hard to step back from those moments. And I am very fortunate that I could ask Michelle, hey, was this a compliment or an insult? Why did you give it away? What’s the reason that I could get some, some, some real understanding which which assuages my assuages? Is that a word? Assuages

Michelle: Is assuages

Gabe: Assuage?

Michelle: Assuages assuages assuages.

Gabe: This is I just

Michelle: Privileges.

Gabe: It helped tamper down my feelings of worthlessness or insignificance. So I hope, if nothing else, you see the value in having a conversation like this. I mean, Michelle and I certainly have have been known both to talk things out and end up in a good place and to not talk things out and end up in a bad place. Unfortunately, the bad places we don’t necessarily always get to model on the podcast.

Michelle: Not so much.

Gabe: No, not so much. Not so. People need to follow us around. Like, my goal in life is that people just follow Michelle and I around with cameras and miked up like a reality show, like A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Reality Show. It could be based in New York. I mean, I’m not. It doesn’t have to be based in Ohio.

Michelle: So if you are a TV reality show producer, holla at your boy and girl. We’re so ready to go to restaurants to drink Diet Coke. It’ll be really interesting. And then we’ll go to where Gabe, our reality show would be so boring. What do we do?

Gabe: Are you okay? I just I just want to make sure that I understand this correctly. You think that locking Gabe and Michelle in a van and sending us, like, across country and filming it would be boring.

Michelle: You just said it would exist in New York. So what are you talking about?

Gabe: That’s true. I sort of expounded on the idea. I think we should start in, but I don’t know. The fish out of water. Gabe in New York, Michelle being the hardened New Yorker, right? You’ve got the bipolar and the schizophrenia angle. You’d definitely have to do things to, to, to stoke conflict.

Michelle: Okay. So, okay, let’s go on tour. We’re going to go on tour. Gabe. Bye bye. Those like, like bus or like, like a camper van. Buy a thing like that. Okay. Buy that.

Gabe: You want me to buy it?

Michelle: But, Gabe, it’s an investment in your future.

Gabe: In my future. You’re the more popular one. Everybody loves you more.

Michelle: I don’t know why I’m more popular than you, Gabe, but it is funny with the Instagram comments because they are like going in on you. They don’t like you at

Gabe: They

Michelle: All

Gabe: Hate

Michelle: On Instagram.

Gabe: Me.

Michelle: It is hilarious. Those Instagram

Gabe: They hate

Michelle: Comments

Gabe: Me.

Michelle: That you’re getting, they’re called. They’re like, why are you still talking to this guy? I was dying at that. That was so funny.

Gabe: So so Michelle asked me how I

Gabe: Should take that. Know I’m being like real

Michelle: Right.

Gabe: Sincere, right? Like, I read this and I think I should quit. Like like you hear them, they’re like, you suck. Why are you talking to this guy? You’re better without them. Why are you doing a podcast with him? He’s garbage. He’s gaslighting you. He’s a liar. I just

Michelle: People

Gabe: You’re.

Michelle: On my Instagram don’t understand this podcast. The people on Instagram don’t understand this podcast that we go back and forth and banter all the time because they see me talking all positively. Yes, schizophrenia. You can get through it. It’s, you know, you got this. You can totally do it. Yeah, I live great. Da da da da. And then we’re bantering and you do throw some insults at me and they’re like, how dare you insult my inspiration? I watch my inspiration all the time. She helps me with my family. And this man is insulting her. How dare he insult my inspiration on Instagram.

Gabe: But how come when you insult me, nobody cares.

Michelle: I don’t know. I guess your followers don’t have Instagram as much. They just hear you on all your all 12 podcasts that you’re on.

Gabe: All 12. I’m on 12 podcasts

Michelle: You’re

Gabe: Now.

Michelle: Like on every podcast. Gabe, if you have mental health podcast, Gabe’s on it.

Gabe: I’m on four.

Michelle: Gabe

Gabe: I

Michelle: Is

Gabe: Host

Michelle: On

Gabe: Inside Mental

Michelle: Your podcast.

Gabe: Health, I host Inside Bipolar. I’m the co-host of Inside Schizophrenia, and of course, I am Michelle’s. I don’t even know what I’m. I’m Michelle’s whipping boy on A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast,

Michelle: [Crack]

Gabe: Which, of course, you’re listening to right now.

Michelle: [Crack] [Crack] [Crack]

Gabe: But Michelle, you haven’t answered my question when I read stuff like that, how can I not be hurt by it?

Michelle: You know, I’m writing a book, Gabe. No, I’m writing a book.

Gabe: Oh, no.

Michelle: I’m

Gabe: Okay.

Michelle: Writing a book.

Gabe: It’s going to be one of those episodes.

Michelle: It’s more of a visual book. It’s a visual book. Mostly. I’ll send one to you. But if you want a gift to somebody else, do it. But you’re not going to gift it. I know you’re not.

Gabe: I’m not, I’m not. I treasure what my friends give me.

Michelle: I saw you once throw out a Christmas gift from someone.

Gabe: All, I throw away a lot of Christmas gifts. I am most likely to reject Christmas gifts.

Michelle: So then obviously you don’t treasure everything, so shut up.

Gabe: Well. But. But if they made it, I would. This is this garbage people bought. I think there’s a big difference between something that was created. You know, if my mom made me something, I would keep it. But when my mom goes to Walmart and buys me garbage that’s on sale and it’s on sale for a reason, I really wish my mom would understand that the reason that it’s on clearance is because nobody wanted to pay full price for it, so it’s garbage. You gave me garbage, and then people get mad that I get rid of it. And they’re like, I knew you were going to throw that away. Then why’d you buy it for me? So that’s my next question. Michelle, you’re not doing a good job of this. I have now told you, like 19 things. I’m also bad at math. I’ve told you like, 19 things that hurt my feelings. And your response to them was you made whipping sounds comfort me, I am sad.

Michelle: I have to comfort you. You’re a grown man.

Gabe: Oh, Michelle.

Michelle: You know. Do you need a weighted stuffed animal? Because I got a weighted stuffed animal from Exceptional Heroes.

Gabe: Those are stupid.

Michelle: It’s very nice. They sent me a weighted stuffed animal. It’s lovely. You can check my TikTok for the unboxing. You can get a discount on their website.

Gabe: Aww, Michelle did you just try to throw in a sponsor post there? Mm-hmm I knew it. How do you feel about it if they weren’t paying you?

Michelle: They didn’t pay me. They just gave me a discount and a free weighted animal. Stuffed

Gabe: Upbeat

Michelle: Animal.

Gabe: That that’s that that that that’s payment. You know that’s payment, right? That’s how payment works.

Michelle: The stuffed animal?

Gabe: They. They gave you something in exchange for something.

Michelle: Gotcha.

Gabe: You know that, right? The look of confusion on her face right now, as she slowly realizes that they just bought her off for like a discount. Like, oh my God, wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. Are you saying that I could negotiate with you right now? I’d be like, hey, Michelle, I need some really high level graphic design work, but I’ve got a stuffed animal with a rock in it. Can I just give that to you? And you’ll just do all my work for me? You’ll be like, yeah.

Michelle: It wasn’t much work. It was one video game, so shut up.

Gabe: You.

Michelle: It barely got any views. It barely got any views. I feel so bad. I feel so bad.

Gabe: Hang on, hang on. Let’s get back on task. Right. But you said something there. I’m a grown man, so I should comfort myself. Is that reasonable? I’m

Michelle: No.

Gabe: Not being, like, mean, but is that a reasonable thing to say to somebody when they’re having, like, emotional issues or depression or they’re suffering?

Michelle: Of

Gabe: Oh, you’re

Michelle: Course

Gabe: A grown man. Get

Michelle: Not.

Gabe: Over it. I

Michelle: Of course

Gabe: Know you’re kidding,

Michelle: Not.

Gabe: But but clean it up. Say

Michelle: All

Gabe: Official

Michelle: Right,

Gabe: Shit.

Michelle: All right, all right, all right. You want to hear good things about yourself, Gabe? You.

Gabe: I mean, I do

Michelle: You

Gabe: Like good things about

Michelle: Travel

Gabe: Myself.

Michelle: Around the country with your speeches, and you even went to England and Oxford. You’re very talented. You are a great podcaster. That’s why you’re on. Sorry. Three podcasts or whatever for

Gabe: There’s four.

Michelle: Whatever it is. I forgot the number already. You’re an accomplished man. You’re very, very tall. Tall is an accomplishment.

Gabe: Really? So I won I won biology.

Michelle: Your dog is friendly and nice. Your dog doesn’t bite people. You know what I’m

Gabe: That

Michelle: Saying?

Gabe: Is true. My dog does not bite people.

Michelle: Your house is gigantis gigantis.

Gabe: You only think that because you live in New York. It’s like 2500ft².

Michelle: Your house is gigantic.

Gabe: That’s only huge in

Michelle: What

Gabe: New

Michelle: Are

Gabe: York.

Michelle: You talking about?

Gabe: But it’s only gigantic because you live in New York, in the Midwest. It’s a medium house.

Michelle: But I didn’t grow up in an apartment. I didn’t grow up in an apartment. I grew up in a house.

Gabe: Well, yeah, but a house on Long Island.

Michelle: I am not from Long Island. What are you talking about?

Gabe: Oh, I thought I. Where where are you from?

Michelle: West Chester.

Gabe: Oh, I apologize. You know, here’s the thing. You have never lived in New York City, yet you tell everybody you’re from New York City, and then you look down your nose on people who live in new Jersey but work in New York City who say they’re from New York City. Aren’t you just doing the same thing as them?

Michelle: I currently live in New York City.

Gabe: You live in Astoria.

Michelle: I live in Queens, which is part of New York City.

Gabe: I don’t even know where you are.

Michelle: Queens. I live in Queens.

Gabe: But your address when I mail you shit is Astoria.

Michelle: Astoria, Queens.

Gabe: I thought it was Astoria in New York?

Michelle: Queens is a county. It’s one of the five boroughs. Do you know the five boroughs? Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island. The Bronx, did I already say that?

Gabe: You know, I used to think that the reason that people from New York were so angry was because there was like 8 million people on top of each other. But I think the reason that people from New York are so angry is because they really don’t know where they’re from, because everything has 8000 names.

Michelle: It’s one of the five boroughs of New York City. Queens. Astoria, Queens is a section of Queens. Queens. There’s all different neighborhoods, like in Brooklyn. There’s many neighborhoods in Manhattan. There’s many neighborhoods. But you just say Manhattan that’s considered Manhattan would be New York, New York. Yet I live in Queens and outer borough of New York City of Manhattan. Queens is a borough of New York City. I live in New York City. I don’t know why you’re so confused.

Gabe: Okay. But we’ve been doing this episode for a while here, and every time I tell you something that bothers me, you kind of dismiss it and push it aside, and then you’re like, I know that’s not right. And you do know it’s not right. Just just for the audience. This is just the kind of thing that that that happens one when you’re recording and two, when you don’t know what to say. But I have to say the the most animated that you got was that I got where you lived wrong, and then you showed some, like, real emotion that, hey, there’s a part of me that you, my friend, got wrong. And I don’t understand why you do that, that’s like a that’s like a superficial thing, right? Who gives a shit if I don’t know where you live? I always make it to your house. Right? I get off the airport, I get onto the subway, I take an Uber, I show up at your front door and we make happy. Right? But I don’t understand why. When the microphone is on and I say, tell the people some things that bother you. Tell the people some things that make you depressed, sad. Some things that get to you, that things that get you down. The things that you struggle with. And you’re just like nothing. I am awesome. That’s so untrue.

Michelle: The things that I struggle with.

Gabe: Yeah. What’s something you struggle with?

Michelle: I mean, I need to be more successful. I need to be more successful. I got to get my stuff, my clothing and everything I have to get. I just I need more brand awareness, I need more PR, I need more photo shoots. That’s what I really need. I need more investors. I need more money. I need more sales.

Gabe: Okay. But but yes, yes. I think everybody relates to the idea of needing to advance in their career, needing more money, etc.. But. But what? Like what makes you sad?

Michelle: What makes me sad is that I’ve been doing this for so long, and I never thought I’d be at this point and still be so unsuccessful.

Gabe: But why do you think that you’re unsuccessful? You have a podcast that has survived years in spite of our best efforts to kill it. But people literally donate money to hear us. That’s how much they like the work that we do. People pay you to rep their brand. People pay you to speak both virtually and on stages all across America. You are by every measurable definition, successful, but you don’t seem to feel successful. Is it just that no matter how much you have, you always want more? Is it because you don’t realize how successful you are? What? What is? What is converging to make you feel this way?

Michelle: A lot, a lot of things. It’s like, you know, I have family members, my cousins and all that stuff. I see how well they’re doing and I compare myself to them. Everyone seems to be doing really well, doing better than me. I compare myself to other advocates. What they’re doing, what I’m doing, what what what else can I be doing? I just I’m one of those people like, you know, I always running back. I was an athlete. I wasn’t just an athlete. I wanted to be the best athlete. I needed to be the best defender on my team. I needed to be able to crush everyone that came towards me. I need to be the best at what I do when I’m doing it. I don’t like not being the best person and I don’t know what the best is because that’s not measurable. I need to set more measurable goals and I don’t do that. I need to be the best, which is the worst thing that you can possibly think because the best has no end.

Gabe: So just to make sure that I understand this correctly, you either win the Super Bowl or you suck . . . the end.

Michelle: And I think even people that win the Super Bowl, maybe they’re maybe, who knows? Do they think they’re the best? They’re probably thinking, you know what, we won. Maybe I didn’t do that. Well, this game I could have done better because even the guys that sat the bench during the Super Bowl, they also won the Super Bowl, but they didn’t play. Would you be happy?

Gabe: See, I think about that. And you remember how you brought up that? I went to England, right? And I went to Oxford. You

Michelle: Yeah.

Gabe: Know, the thing that keeps getting me? I was on a panel. I wasn’t good enough to be invited alone. Right. They invited three other mental health advocates. So the four of us shared the hour and a half and answered the questions and did our speaking thing right. So if I was a celebrity, you know, Albert Einstein former president Bill Clinton they weren’t on panels. They got to go alone. Mother Teresa, she didn’t she didn’t have to share the stage with three other nuns. Right. So so there there’s a way for me to diminish my speaking engagement at Oxford, the fact that I was part of a panel and not good enough to be all by myself. So, is that reasonable? I mean, it is true, you know, Albert Einstein got to be alone and Gabe had to share with three other people. So am I wrong to feel this way?

Michelle: I understand what you’re saying because you’re not alone. You’re on a panel. But I would still give you credit because you’re still at Oxford. You know. I would say also panels can be much less stressful, so they’re almost easier to do.

Gabe: See, and that’s the other thing. Like my mind goes back the other way. I think it’s very reasonable to do a panel because Gabe Howard is not a draw. Right? My name is not a draw. You know, I’m not famous. You know, Albert Einstein, former president Bill Clinton, Nobel Prize winners, etc. people want to come out to see just them where I, as a non-celebrity, people want to come out and hear from thought leaders. And this is why we got such a big crowd. This is why it was on their YouTube, etc. So they know what they’re doing. They’re not wasting their space. They’ve literally been doing this for centuries. So I think about that for a moment and I’m like, okay, well, I’m not offended, but why did the thought pop in my head in the first place? But I don’t want to delve into that. I just wanted to make that example. To ask you a question. Michelle, how many people with schizophrenia know sincerely? Like, just just ask yourself how many people with schizophrenia are operating on your level? You live alone, right? I mean, I know you live with your partner, but I mean, you don’t you don’t.

Gabe: You don’t live with family. You don’t live in an assisted housing. You live on your own. You started a business years ago that is still turning a profit. I recognize that you’re not a millionaire. You’re not selling your stuff in Walmart, but you get steady orders. I have seen you out in New York selling this stuff. You make a profit every time you go out. People love your stuff. You have art installations in some very cool places where people paid you thousands of dollars, I would argue. How many artists do you know that have that level of success? Right? There’s so many artists that can’t get a dollar for their work, let alone have an installation in a corporate lobby somewhere. And you do. I recognize it’s not the amount of success that you want, but you do acknowledge that by any objectionable measure. It’s an incredible amount of success, both for an artist and for somebody living with schizophrenia and frankly, just for a person in general.

Michelle: Yeah, I mean, you you are right. The fact that I actually people buy my artwork is such a compliment, because that doesn’t happen to many artists at all. So that that is a huge accomplishment, because when I first started my brand, I wasn’t selling my artwork until my friend noticed it and was like, no, you need to sell it. So I brought a piece of my artwork to the market the next day, and it sold. And I was like, what just happened? Somebody just bought my artwork, which just happened. My mind was just blown, blown. And that’s why I started doing I just started doing it. I started selling more artwork, and then people licensed my artwork companies. I got it once, a $5,000 order for my artwork.

Gabe: Right. Do you know how many artists? Again, not schizophrenia people. Do you know how many artists would kill for that? There’s artists right now that are like, well, I got $25 at a church bazaar for my painting. I spent I spent $100 on materials. So I lost money. That’s just an awful lot of success, but but you I understand the desire to want more. I’m not even against it, but I, I do wonder, Michelle, if you and I, in our quest to have more. Don’t acknowledge what we have.

Michelle: I believe that’s probably true. We don’t realize what we have.

Gabe: How do you think we can go about that? Let’s brainstorm some ideas. Right. Like like. Yeah, this is the worst example I have. But I knew somebody that that that hiked like some path that was like 300 miles long. It was this ridiculous hike, you know, through mountains, etc. and it was like 300 miles. And one of the things that he said kept him going is that every day but before, you know, they packed up camp and headed out again. They would say how far they’ve come. So, you know, they do day one and they’re like, all right everybody, we’ve gone ten miles and we have 290 miles left and when he when he felt like, oh my God, I can’t do it, they’d hit a milestone. The first hundred miles are done. The first hundred miles are done. Oh, wow. That’s amazing. Still have 200 miles left. But that that was very motivating to him. Now, unfortunately in our case, we don’t we don’t know where the ending point is. And it’s a little more difficult to measure how far we’ve come. But I, I think we probably could learn something from that motivation. Those morning meetings that the, that the, the hikers had with their hiker leader who, who pointed out how far they came before they talked about how far they had to go, what would be an equivalent for us.

Michelle: I really have no idea, because that’s why I say that. I just take it day by day by day. Everything is day by day by day. You know, I try, I try not to set all these goals because I don’t want to miss a goal and then get upset about it. I really just like, go day by day. I got an Instagram message from the guy that I used to pop up with years ago about a new market opening down in the West Village, and he sent me it. I look at everything and then I go, can I get a discount? You know? And he’s like, for you, of course. So we’ll see about that market opening and seeing if that one does pretty well. So, you know, it’s really day by day because tourist season comes and goes and meeting people comes and goes. So I take it day by day by day by day by day. You never know what’s going to happen.

Gabe: Okay, remember, I’m looking at you. Be brutally honest when you start one of these pop ups or or speaking events or or anything, do you picture yourself? This is at the beginning. So. So when it first starts, do you picture yourself having a successful day or a failure like like in that moment? Right. It’s just they’re getting ready to open the doors or you know, the market is getting ready to open. It’s the start of it. Right. So you haven’t seen any customers yet. You haven’t sold anything yet. Nobody’s even walked through the door. You’re just sitting there. You take a deep breath. Do you say my name is Michelle Hammer? And I’m going to sell a lot of stuff today, and I’m going to rock out this speech and I’m going to blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Or do you say, my name is Michelle Hammer and I’m probably going to fail. Nobody’s going to buy anything and I suck. What is your mantra in those moments before everything starts?

Michelle: Oh, I think I’m going to do a good job.

Gabe: So. So you you have a, it sounds like you have a very positive outlook when you get started.

Michelle: Yes. Yes. Of course.

Gabe: Well. That’s fantastic.

Michelle: Let’s say you got to be. Let’s say you got to be. You got to. I mean, especially if I’m at my pop up shop and I’m doing sales, I got to be in a great mood to have chats all day long. That’s what you do when you do sales. You use chats. The thing for the speeches is I’m I’m anxious for the speeches, but I find sometimes my energy like that makes it actually a better speech when it works like that. And the biggest, the hardest thing for the speech is just remembering the speech.

Gabe: The one thing I love about Michelle is it I. I’m really fond of saying, learn all the rules and then figure out which ones you can break. Early on, Michelle tried to memorize her speeches because she saw all the other speakers memorizing the speech. And I’m trying to to to tell your story, but eventually you realize that you just couldn’t do it. So you started taking note cards on stage and papers on stage and your phone on stage. And I remember when I first met Michelle, I thought to myself, that’s a real weakness, right? You should you should memorize it. I just I sort of felt like that was as part of the job of being a speaker. But then I saw how the audience reacted to Michelle. They didn’t give a shit. They they honestly did not care that she was holding notes. They didn’t care that she was holding a paper. They didn’t care that she was holding a phone. They it didn’t bother them even one iota. And I thought, that’s like really amazing. Because Michelle turned what could have been perceived as a negative into a real positive. And I’ve always wanted to share that story with you, because I think you remember in the early days of you and I working together, I tried to get you to get rid of the notes and you were just like, no, I can’t, it’s not an option for me. And you really owned that confidently. And because you own it confidently, the audience honestly doesn’t care. And I think we need more of those moments in our life that maybe it’s not ideal. I’m sure that you do wish that you could memorize it and didn’t need the notes, or the phone, or the note cards, etc., but you can’t, so you just don’t give it any more thought and move on and then you slay.

Michelle: Yeah, I do have one coming up and I’m really trying to memorize it for this one. I’m really trying to memorize it. I’m going to do it. I’ve done it before, so I’m going to do it.

Gabe: I like that you’re always striving for improvement, but I it really sounds to me, Michele, like you’ve got a pretty good handle on it. So where where are the failure points for you? What causes the weak moments? I mean, you and I have have exchanged some some pretty brutally honest text messages with each other about how we do feel like failures and how we are worried about our continued existence and, and and even just, just, just I want to lay it all out for our audience, even how we’re jealous of the success of other advocates. We’re still happy for them and proud. I want to be very, very clear. We’ve never tried to drag anybody down. We’re super, super, super happy for their success, but we’re also a little jealous that it’s not us or that we didn’t get invited to the panel, or we’re not there with them. I think that’s human, but I’m not going to lie and say that I’ve never seen another advocate on a stage and thought, I wish that was me.

Michelle: Now. Yeah. That’s true. I mean, I think I just have to stop comparing myself to myself, to others. Just stop comparing myself to others. It’s not necessary. I don’t have to do it. I live my life. You live your life. They live their lives. Do my thing. If people want to talk to me, they’ll talk to me. People want to talk to somebody else. They’ll talk to somebody else. You can learn from other people. You know. You don’t have to be jealous. Learn. Take advice, take steps, see what they’re doing right, see what I’m doing wrong. That’s how I want to look forward to it because I’m sick of comparing myself. Don’t compare. Learn from it.

Gabe: There’s a famous quote that says comparison is the thief of joy, because you’re always going to be able to find somebody better. I am I am positive that if somebody hired me to give a $50,000 speech, I would just be over the moon. I’d be like, oh my God, this is the greatest ever. But we routinely hear about people getting $100,000 speeches, $200,000 speeches. I mean, ex-presidents get a quarter of $1 million to give speeches. Ex-senators $150,000. I mean,

Michelle: Michelle Obama charges $200,000.

Gabe: Exactly. So how fast would I go from. I was paid $50,000 for a speech. And this is the greatest thing ever to. Somebody else got 200,000. So I guess I’m not the greatest.

Michelle: Exactly, exactly. You and I are never satisfied, so we just need to stop that right now because it’s absolutely ridiculous. Stop comparing ourselves to other people. We need to stop. We are us. We do us. We do our thing. We’re going to stop comparing ourselves to other people because it’s just stupid. It’s stupid.

Gabe: But. But that’s easier said than done. I mean, it’s it’s like walking up to somebody who eats nothing but junk food and say, just eat healthy. It’s like walking up to somebody who’s never exercised a day in their life and say, hey, just join a gym, right? Like I recognize that it is, in fact, good advice to eat healthy and to get more exercise. But telling somebody, oh, well, just stop doing that and do this better thing instead. That’s sort of disingenuous, right? It’s not

Michelle: There

Gabe: So easy to do.

Michelle: Are so many people that wish they could have what you have. Do you realize that?

Gabe: Do you do you realize that there’s so many people that wish that they could have what you have?

Michelle: Sometimes. Not all the time,

Gabe: Some.

Michelle: But sometimes sometimes.

Gabe: Sometimes.

Michelle: And I’m trying to I’m trying to acknowledge that more.

Gabe: You are right, I am also trying to acknowledge it more. But it’s it’s hard. It’s hard because I’m not necessarily where I want to be. I don’t I don’t feel like I’m reaching enough people or I’ve made a big enough difference. And it and it’s not just about fame or accolades, don’t get me wrong. It’s it’s a little bit about that. I mean, everybody wants to earn a living and wants to be respected. And I love validation, probably more than the average person. But sometimes I just don’t feel like I’m making a difference. You know, I started in this industry 15 years ago with this idea that I was going to make life better for people living with bipolar disorder. And when I look at like the suicide rates, when I look at the homeless rates, when I look at the incarceration rates, they’ve either stayed the same or gotten worse. Which makes me think that my advocacy over the last 15 years just hasn’t done much. And that that makes me feel that kind of makes me feel worthless. In fact, the only thing that’s gone up over the last 15 years is the number of of psychiatric medications that have been prescribed. But it hasn’t. It hasn’t led to a decrease in hospitalizations or incarcerations or homelessness. And the suicide rate is largely stayed the same. But you would think 15 years worth of advocacy would have made a dent. And I don’t just mean mine, I just mean there’s a lot of games out there that have been around. There’s a lot of Michelle’s. And why aren’t we making a difference? Why is nothing changes that? That weighs heavily on me and I can’t decide if that’s reasonable or not.

Michelle: I think things have changed. I think a lot more people are being more open about mental illness and not keeping things on the inside as much as they’re used to.

Gabe: I think people are much more open about mental health.

Michelle: Yes.

Gabe: I think mental illness is buried even more.

Michelle: You think?

Gabe: Oh yeah. Yeah. The the number of people that are willing to talk about like depression, anxiety. That number is definitely exploded. Way more people are willing to talk about being overwhelmed, emotional cry depression, anxiety, things like that. That’s absolutely, unequivocally yes. Yes. But people with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are still afraid. People suffering from psychosis are are still afraid. And that’s why the homelessness and our incarceration rates are going up. Because they’re still not they’re still not able to get the help that they need to be a preventative factor in homelessness and in incarceration or less than ideal interactions with law enforcement or first responders. We still have a lot of work to do there. And Michelle even you, you know how difficult it is to live openly with bipolar and schizophrenia. It is much easier to live openly with anxiety.

Michelle: Yeah. That’s true.

Gabe: So again, I don’t mean to be a downer about it, but I do feel that it might be a little smart to be aware of this. I do worry about people that are like, oh well, things are better. Do you have any data to support that? Nope. They just are. I sort of see that as like rose colored glasses and burying your head in the sand a little bit. So sometimes I think that maybe I’m not pessimistic. I’m a realist. I’m not a downer. I’m just looking at the facts and responding appropriately. But most of the time it doesn’t serve me because like you said, people would love to have a podcast like you and I have. I mean, look at the number of people who want to be guests on this podcast. They don’t even want to host it. They just want to be guests on it. Which, by the way, next week we’re going to have a super cool guest. So stay tuned for that.

Michelle: I am so excited for them.

Gabe: I know we’re almost out of time, but I want to make sure that people know that they want to see more episodes. They can go over to and support the show. And of course, the whole reason that we’re doing a season four is because we have had just great support from people, and we want to read off their names now like we do in every episode. Michelle you got that list handy?

Michelle: I sure do. Bonnie Landini, Jeff and Sue Hammer, Frances D. Thayer, Leigh Harris, Ross Milne, Gregory Zarian, Ariella “Ari” Kadosh, Kathleen McKeon, Judene Shelley, Elmer Earley, Carolynn Ponzoha, Dr. John Grohol, John Humphrey, Sara Danner, Lisa Kiner, and Marilyn Knight. Well, Gabe, I think I think that, you know, we we just need to realize what we have and would stop, you know, looking down on ourselves because we we we we got it. We got so much more than we think we do.

Gabe: It doesn’t serve us. It doesn’t help us.

Michelle: Yes it does. We have so much more than we think we do. It’s it’s unreal. We really

Gabe: No,

Michelle: Are.

Gabe: I’m not looking down on ourselves. Doesn’t help us.

Michelle: Exactly. So we’re so just just like, come on, let’s go. Let’s do big things. You want to do something big? Let’s go. Let’s do it. You know

Gabe: What

Michelle: What?

Gabe: Do we do in Michelle? The reality people are going to call.

Michelle: What we’re doing. You know what? After this, after this podcast, I’m going to make a YouTube video. That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to keep working. Keep going. Why not? What what else am I doing today? Walking my dog? I she doesn’t have to go out right now. I’m going to keep going. I’m going to keep doing. I’m going to keep collaborating. I’m going to keep working. Because why not? Why not? Oh, I have to go to the post office too. But that’s okay. I got things to do. I’m good. Why not?


Gabe: Michelle pretend for a moment that somebody offered you an insane amount of money to be a motivational speaker, and they said to you, here’s what we want you to do. We want you to go out on stage, and there’s going to be a room full of people that are just like Gabe and Michelle, and you have one minute to give a motivational speech to motivate them to get up, go out and do well. All right. You ready? Michelle? Go.

Michelle: I would say, listen, listen here, you little bitches. Stop whining and complaining all the @&#$?&! time. Love yourselves, realize who you are, appreciate what you’ve done, what you’ve accomplished, and what you are going to accomplish in the future. And if you would just get over your lazy asses and stop crying all the @&#$?&! time, maybe you would actually accomplish the stuff you want to accomplish. Be happy. Stop comparing yourself to everybody else. You actually have done some really awesome stuff. You both have been all over the world making speeches. Both of you have done it. So shut up already. Shut up and just go and do something and stop complaining.

Gabe: That is killer. Michelle. I do like it when you call people names. For some reason I do find that extraordinarily motivational. Some people might not like to be called. What did you call them? Little little bitches? That’s. Some people might not like that. But for reasons I can’t understand, whenever you give me a pep talk that starts with Gabe, you’re a little bitch. Get off your ass. I actually do get off my ass. So I don’t know how our listeners are going to feel about it, but remember, Michelle’s nuts. I we really just can’t say it that that is that you should become a motivational speaker.

Michelle: Oh, maybe I will one day.

Gabe: There you go. Look forward and not back.

Michelle: Yeah.

Gabe: On that note, we are out of here. Thank you so much for being here. Wherever you downloaded this podcast, please follow or subscribe. It is absolutely free and you don’t want to miss a thing and do us a favor. Recommend the show. Share it in a support group. Share it on Facebook. Share it on TikTok. Share it on Instagram. Share it on threads. Share it on X. Just share the show because that is how we’re going to grow. My name is Gabe Howard and I’m an award winning public speaker and I could be available for your next event. I also wrote the book “Mental Illness Is an Asshole and Other Observations,” which you can get on Amazon, but don’t buy it there. Go over to my website and get a signed copy with some free swag. That website is

Michelle: And I’m Michelle Hammer and I own the award winning company Schizophrenic.NYC, which you can find at that web address. And you can follow me on Instagram and TikTok @Schizophrenic.NYC. You can check me out there, check out my website, find some fun stuff, love some fun stuff and bring it home to yourself.

Gabe: And we will see everybody next time on A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast.

Michelle: Reality show.

Announcer: You’ve been listening to A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. Previous episodes can be found on your favorite podcast player or by visiting Have comments or show ideas? Hit up the show at Gabe and Michelle are not medical professionals. This podcast is not a substitute for medical advice and is for entertainment purposes only. If you or a loved one needs help, please call, text or chat the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. That’s 988. Thank you for listening.

Navigating Gifts, Criticism, and Friendship While Managing Mental Illness