Podcast: Birthdays, COVID, and Reframing (Oh My!)
It’s that time of year again! That’s right — Gabe’s Annual Birthday Blog. Each year, Gabe looks back on the important events and lessons he’s encountered during the previous 12 months. But what events can he talk about when COVID came and stole the show?
Join Gabe and Lisa as they discuss the Year of Coronavirus and the good and bad that came with it.
(Transcript Available Below)
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About The Not Crazy podcast Hosts
Gabe Howard is an award-winning writer and speaker who lives with bipolar disorder. He is the author of the popular book, Mental Illness is an Asshole and other Observations, available from Amazon; signed copies are also available directly from Gabe Howard. To learn more, please visit his website, gabehoward.com.
Lisa is the producer of the Psych Central podcast, Not Crazy. She is the recipient of The National Alliance on Mental Illness’s “Above and Beyond” award, has worked extensively with the Ohio Peer Supporter Certification program, and is a workplace suicide prevention trainer. Lisa has battled depression her entire life and has worked alongside Gabe in mental health advocacy for over a decade. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband; enjoys international travel; and orders 12 pairs of shoes online, picks the best one, and sends the other 11 back.
Computer Generated Transcript for “Birthdays, COVID” Episode
Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you.
Lisa: You’re listening to Not Crazy, a Psych Central podcast hosted by my ex-husband, who has bipolar disorder. Together, we created the mental health podcast for people who hate mental health podcasts.
Gabe: Hey, everyone, and welcome to this week’s episode of the Not Crazy podcast, I’m your host, Gabe Howard, and with me, as always, in a sparkling good mood, Lisa Kiner.
Lisa: Today’s quote is from Jeremy Mortis, Age is not just a number. Aging is a collection of experiences and life lessons that give you wisdom.
Gabe: I think this is really the erosion of facts, because age is, in fact a number. The age of something is how old something is. It’s my car is seven years old. No, your car has wisdom. No, just,
Gabe: Seven years old.
Lisa: I think you’re taking this a little bit too literally; it’s supposed to be encouraging because people get depressed about aging.
Gabe: Right, it’s another example of a convenient lie is better than an inconvenient truth. People get depressed about it. So rather than tell them that they’re closer to death, we’ll tell them that they’re wise. Right, because old people are revered in our society. What was the last time
Lisa: Well, sort of.
Gabe: Some, like some woman was at the grocery store and she was literally taking up the entire aisle and stopping for no reason. And people were like, that’s some wisdom right there. Look at that.
Lisa: Well, but to be fair, if you’re 20 and you do that, people act a lot differently towards you than if you’re 80 and you do that.
Gabe: You have been doing this since you were 20. I remember when you said there was nothing worse than a middle-aged woman, and this gives me so much pride.
Lisa: What did I say?
Gabe: There is nothing worse than a middle-aged woman. They think they know everything. Their cult of motherhood, the cult of motherhood.
Lisa: That’s a different concept.
Gabe: The point that I’m making, Lisa, is you have never once looked at somebody older than you and thought that they were wiser.
Lisa: Well, one, I don’t think that’s true because obviously, if you’ve done something that I haven’t done, you have more information on the subject and.
Gabe: But that’s not based on their age, that’s based on their experience.
Lisa: No, but you’ve got to assume that people who are older than you have better odds.
Gabe: Really, that’s what you’re going with? You might be smarter, so I’m going to respect you? That’s
Gabe: Abdication of fact
Lisa: Ok, you’re getting way off topic, and I feel like you might be deflecting, and the reason why we’re going here today is it is time for Gabe’s annual birthday celebration. Happy birthday, Gabe.
Gabe: Ok, first off, it’s not a celebration.
Lisa: What would you call it?
Gabe: I don’t know
Gabe: Sure. Let’s go with tradition, see a little context before we get started. So, all the way back in 2014, when I was a blogger, I wrote a blog called I’m Bipolar and it’s my birthday. It was just
Lisa: He’s so good at titles,
Gabe: Yeah, I’m great at titles right.
Lisa: Just draws you right in, I want to read that right now.
Gabe: But people did and it was popular. And a year later I wrote another one. And then I don’t know how these things work out. It sort of became a tradition. So here we are. And I’m like, OK, well, I’m a podcaster now I want to do something surrounding my birthday. Lisa said, you know, you have your own show and you can pick whatever topic you want and boom, here we are. What will hopefully be the first annual I’m bipolar and it’s my birthday podcast series. Which started all the way back in 2014 as blogs.
Lisa: That is a change because in every other blog and I reread all of them for preparation for today, you actually say things like, well, I’m never going to do this again. This isn’t going to happen just doing this. Yeah. So, wow, you’re actually committing to do another one of these next year?
Gabe: I don’t know, I think it’s one of these, you know, the
Lisa: You’re not what we call a planner for the future.
Gabe: I’m not I have people for that.
Lisa: Yeah, I understand.
Gabe: You’re my people for that.
Lisa: Ok, so to sum up, the point is that your birthday tradition is to put something out into the world. Happy birthday.
Gabe: Yeah, by the way, happy birthday, the.
Lisa: Well, the reason why it’s extra strange, right, is our birthdays are only a few days apart. Does anyone wish me happy birthday?
Gabe: Happy birthday to you, happy birthday, unsung hero Lisa, happy birthday to you. It’s very meaningful because, you know, you made me do it.
Lisa: I feel like I’m going to have to edit that down, so you really should have said it faster.
Gabe: Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you.
Lisa: Oh, God.
Gabe: Happy birthday, dear unsung hero, Lisa, happy birthday to you. Get to the meat of it. Your idea, Lisa, to get this whole thing accomplished was that you were going to interview me
Gabe: About the last year. So I’m glad that you picked 2020. I want to summarize.
Gabe: I feel that a summary is needed, I turned 43 back in 2019. Christmas was decent. You know, January was pretty good. I don’t have any complaints about February, March on sucked. There we are.
Lisa: And that sums up the year. Yay.
Gabe: Thank you for tuning in to this week’s Not Crazy podcast, if you enjoyed it.
Lisa: I’m reading all your blogs, and when you read them back to back, it’s a little bit creepy.
Gabe: It’s depressing, is what it is.
Lisa: Yes, it is, yes, it is, but that’s your fault. The first one is quite positive. Oh, looking forward to another year of stability with bipolar disorder. Downhill after that. What changed? Why is the first one positive and then after that, you’re just nothing but doom and gloom on every birthday?
Gabe: Obviously, I wrote these all a year apart, but when Mental Illness Is an Asshole and Other Observations got published, the publisher decided to put each one of the articles next to each other. So rather than reading them a year apart, or if you reading them online, reading one and then having 51 other blogs, they’re literally back to back to back.
Lisa: It’s interesting to read them back to back, it’s a different experience.
Gabe: And when you read them back to back, you really do see the
Lisa: The themes.
Gabe: The themes come out. I remember in one of them I said I hate my birthday. And then when I turned 40, I wrote, you know, I’ve never hated my birthday until this year. That clearly contradicts. What the hell? Am I a flip flopper? Am I a hypocrite?
Lisa: No, you’re remembering the past through rose colored glasses, strangely, because every single one you say things about, well, this year was worse than last year. Last year was so good. Everything before now was good. Things only turned to shit this year. But you say that every year.
Lisa: You only apparently find joy after the fact or you’re looking back with a completely different perspective than you had at the time. It’s a little bit weird and kind of disturbing and sad. Mostly sad.
Gabe: If you haven’t checked out Mental Illness Is an Asshole and Other Observations, you can, of course, get it on Amazon. You can also go over to gabehoward.com and grab it. But it’s very interesting. I, it was painful not to update this. It was painful to look at what is basically just blatant hypocrisy on the page come through. But I agree with Lisa. I think it’s an interesting look into the, into my mind, a mind that is somewhat compromised. Even though I’m in recovery and I have treatment, I still am who I am and I still have bipolar disorder and anxiety. And that, of course, comes with all the symptoms, you know, mania, depression, etc. And to read these things back to back really showed me that there’s so much work to do. I think that was one of the silver linings that came out of the book, because as you remember, Lisa, I wasn’t very sold on the book. I don’t know. I just.
Lisa: You lost enthusiasm for the project. Publishing something just takes much, much longer than you think that it’s going to. And you lost your enthusiasm before you were done.
Gabe: I just thought it was arrogant to sell a book of stuff that I wrote because why who would want this? I just I thought, why would people pay for this? This doesn’t make any sense. I’m really glad that the publisher saw value in it. I mean, it worked out great. I
Lisa: You should all go by it right now.
Gabe: Thank you, Lisa.
Lisa: You’re welcome. The very first blog was positive, but after that they went downhill. And in some of them, you do sum up your accomplishments from the previous year. So let’s do that because we’re going to start happy here. So what are your accomplishments from the previous year, Gabe? Share with our listeners.
Gabe: Not many, I mean, COVID really just kind of wrecked everything, I suppose a big accomplishment that I have that I think that everybody listening should give themselves credit for is a worldwide pandemic did not stop me. It didn’t stop Lisa, it didn’t stop my friends, my wife. It didn’t stop anybody listening to this podcast. And as much as I want to say, well, it did stop me, it prevented me from doing the following things that I wanted to do. Yeah, it prevented a lot of people from doing a lot of things that they wanted to do, but it didn’t stop us. Forward. momentum was made. It is true. I didn’t get a lot of things that I wanted. And frankly, I didn’t get many things that that I needed. But I got enough. Right?
Gabe: I got enough.
Gabe: I pushed forward enough. I do want to pat myself and all of my listeners and all of our fans and all of our friends and family. And you, Lisa, I want to give you credit, because we are still standing. I’m still standing in spite of a worldwide pandemic.
Lisa: It’s been a difficult few month.
Gabe: It’s been a horrible few month.
Lisa: Well, it’s more than a few months now I.
Gabe: Remember when we thought it was going to be like two to four weeks?
Lisa: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Back in June, I read this article that said, hey, this is going to be like September 11th, where even after the immediate aftermath is over, there are lasting repercussions that will continue in American society forever. And I thought, oh, my God, that is so profound. Yeah, well, here we are. Now it’s November.
Gabe: This pandemic has really been what it’s like to be diagnosed with a mental illness. This is the example that I want everybody to use with their friends and family that don’t understand because this really bad thing happened, right? We were all sitting around in the middle of March and somebody said, listen, there’s a global pandemic, which is very analogous to listen, you have major depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, psychosis. Right. Like that’s a global pandemic is really bad news. Can we all agree on that?
Lisa: OK, so the analogy so far is they’re both bad news. That’s where we’re beginning our analogy, Gabe.
Gabe: Thank you for repeating exactly what I said, but calling it a summary, yes, that is what happened.
Lisa: That’s what a summary is.
Gabe: But it’s not. You used my exact words. Yes, everybody got bad news. But much like getting a severe and persistent mental health diagnosis, we all thought, OK, we’re going to buckle down, do what’s needed. This is going to be over before we know it.
Gabe: Right. That’s.
Lisa: I did not have faith in this analogy, but I see where you’re going. OK, never mind. I take back my previous skepticism.
Gabe: Yeah. Yeah, the whole world was like, I understand what a global pandemic is, yeah, no, you don’t. Just like I understand what bipolar disorder is. Yeah, no, you don’t.
Lisa: Yeah, good analogy.
Gabe: And we all buckled down and started doing the right things. Right. We’re like, OK, well, we’ll just do this for a couple of months and it’ll be fine. But then the treatment changed. I’m from Ohio, full disclosure. And the first treatment was, hey, social distancing. And then the next treatment was we’re going to close down restaurants. And then the next treatment was, hey, we’re going to close down salons and fitness centers. And then the next treatment is we’re going to close down all the malls. And it’s just like I don’t.
Lisa: We had a complete shutdown here in Ohio.
Gabe: Yeah, and.
Lisa: It lasted for about six weeks.
Gabe: Right, but it didn’t happen immediately, right? Once again, I got diagnosed with bipolar disorder and I got a treatment and I’m like, that’s it, that’s going to solve this problem. And then I just kept getting worse and worse and worse and taking longer and longer and longer. Just like the global pandemic, we were all diagnosed with a global pandemic and we all thought that we knew what it was, even though we didn’t. And then we got the first treatment. We’re like, great, it’s going to be over in four to six weeks, which it wasn’t. And then we got another treatment. We’re like, no problem. It’ll be over in four to six weeks after that. But then it wasn’t over. And then we got another treatment. And then all the people around us, they started giving us their opinions on the global pandemic, even though they weren’t qualified to do so. You know, when you get a mental illness, suddenly everybody around you becomes a psychologist, a therapist, a psychiatrist. Just like suddenly in the global pandemic, everybody became an infectious disease expert. All these people just popped out of the woodwork to tell you what you were doing wrong, managing the global pandemic.
Gabe: Where? Are you qualified for this? No. Just like with mental illness. Hey, what do you do for a living? I dig ditches. Oh, OK. But let me tell you how to manage your severe and persistent mental illness with all of the confidence as somebody who went to medical school. You want to know what I have learned this year? I have learned that people will way overstep their bounds with way too much confidence. And if somebody tells you that something is going to be over in four to six weeks, they are lying. From now until the end of time. If I ask somebody a question and they’re like four to six weeks, bullshit. I’m just going to scream bullshit and run out of the room. Yeah, because four to six weeks means a year and it’s still not over and we still can’t agree. And stigma is everywhere. Stigma surrounding global pandemics is everywhere. If you wear the mask, you’re a sucker. If you don’t wear the mask, you’re a sucker. If you do wear the mask, you support, I don’t even know what’s going on anymore.
Gabe: See? See the analogy, Lisa?
Gabe: See how the world wide global pandemic and severe and persistent mental illness is exactly the same? So I’m so looking forward to turning 44 in this environment. I can’t
Gabe: Even have a party. Where’s my
Lisa: There’s so much going on there, just so much.
Gabe: I’m calm now.
Lisa: That is a good analogy in that when you were first diagnosed with bipolar disorder, we all thought, OK, you’re going to need to treat this, you’re going to get your treatment under control, and then things will go back to being exactly the way they were yesterday or
Lisa: A few weeks earlier.
Gabe: That’s what I was waiting on.
Lisa: You’re going to take these pills, you’re going to get yourself all regulated. And in a couple of months, we’re going to be back to where we were before this diagnosis. We will be back to normal. And of course, that didn’t happen. And every single new thing that came down the line, we thought, all right, this is the one. I mean, yeah, the last thing didn’t work. But this is going to be the one where in a few months we’ll be back to normal. Oh, that second thing didn’t work. Well, the third and we had complete faith every damn time. We never once said, you know, the last five times this happened, we did not go back to normal. We still believed that’s what was going to happen. That is a good analogy in the idea of it’s just this ongoing thing and you keep thinking that the next step is going to be the one that ends it. But the reality is things never went back to normal. We did that thing where you have a new normal. You never did go back to the way that you were before diagnosis.
Gabe: I feel like what you’re saying is that things are just different now.
Lisa: Things are different now. You never did go back to what it was before. This was a profound change in your life. Nothing was ever the same again. Excellent analogies all around.
Gabe: Don’t forget all of the people coming out of the woodwork to tell you that you’re doing it wrong and they know best despite having literally no experience or education or formal training whatsoever.
Lisa: Not as good of an analogy, but not bad. Also true. Yes, it was amazing how many people popped up to say, well, you know. Mostly to tell you that mental illness was bullshit. Occasionally to tell you about some treatment, some random person they know did that was miraculous.
Gabe: Really, you don’t you don’t see this as analogous to the global pandemic, really?
Gabe: There’s been no treatments being offered that were miraculous, that turned out to be complete bullshit proffered by anybody? You can’t think of anybody standing at a podium saying, shine sunshine on it, put bleach on it, hydro cordo quill will fix it? Really, you can’t you can’t think of anybody offering bullshit treatments that they wanted the world to follow that they themselves did not take when they got sick? Really? Nobody? You can’t think of nobody doing that?
Lisa: I feel like
Lisa: I’m talking
Lisa: And you’re interrupting
Lisa: Me, and
Lisa: I’m having trouble getting
Lisa: My thoughts organized here.
Gabe: Nobody? You can’t think of nobody?
Lisa: And you’re not helping.
Gabe: All right. Go on.
Lisa: A lot of people who were offering advice. Yeah, their advice was stupid. They had no experience with this. And it was mostly along the lines of mental illness isn’t real, suck it up. But then there was another wave of people that offered advice of, OK, mental illness is definitely real. And here’s what my second cousin’s friend’s roommate did and it completely solved it for him. So obviously this is going to be perfect for you as well. A large number of those were just stupid, acupuncture, colloidal silver, the various vitamins. But even the ones that were actually real, like, he does the following medication regimen. He does the following type of therapy. Those were actually good advices sort of in that, hey, that’s something that actually has a chance to work. But not everybody with bipolar disorder is the same. Not every piece of advice is equally valid for everyone. I don’t see that as being quite as analogous as you do. For example, other countries have a lot of opinions about how America should be solving this problem and most of them have solved it. So it’s not exactly the same.
Gabe: There are no perfect analogies, I’m not trying to say that the global pandemic and being diagnosed with a mental illness is exactly the same, that would be ludicrous. But the commonalities are there.
Lisa: They are.
Gabe: It’s serious. People die, but also some people get better. You know, that’s often been a criticism of mental health advocacy, right? This Oh, why are we so worried about it? Most people live well. Well, yeah. And then we ignore homeless people. Then we ignore really, really sick people that don’t have insurance because everybody just keeps trotting out Gabe Howard. Look, Gabe is fine. I guess it’s not that serious. I am well aware that some people use my success as a reason not to help extraordinarily vulnerable people.
Lisa: Yeah, OK, that’s a good analogy, all the people who are like, I got COVID and I’m fine, I never had any symptoms. I’m fine. Yeah, OK, good analogy.
Gabe: I don’t know anybody with COVID do you know anybody with COVID? Geez, that sounds a lot like I don’t know any mentally ill people. Do you know any mentally ill people? Or my personal favorite, you know, the only people who need to worry about this are people who are already sick or who are old. Yeah. Jeez, that sounds a lot like, you know, the only people that need to worry about mental illness are people who are in harm’s way anyways or come from broken homes or a lot of trauma.
Gabe: One, that’s not true. It’s not only old people or immunocompromised people that are dying of COVID. People have died from COVID that are perfectly fine, then got COVID. And yeah, it didn’t go their way. Just like there are people who come from great homes. Remember, my mom and dad love me. They’re not alcoholics who beat me every day. They’re perfectly fine people who did the best that they could. Their son just happened to have bipolar disorder. Jeez, what happened to that whole the only people with mental illness are people whose parents beat them or? We tell these things to comfort us.
Lisa: You are really good at analogies, you’re really pulling in a lot here that I did not see coming, so yay on that. We could talk for days about COVID and we have, as has everyone probably in the world. We need to bring this back to your birthday, OK? The blogs always had a thing of your accomplishments. And what you’re telling me is that not a lot going on in your professional life this year because of COVID, but you did still have some banner events.
Gabe: Sure, what were they?
Lisa: You were invited.
Gabe: I launched Not Crazy twice
Lisa: Exactly. And you got a new co-host.
Gabe: I got two new co-hosts. I launched Not Crazy with the great Jackie Zimmerman, and then COVID just trashed it. And then I got another co-host, the great Lisa Kiner, who didn’t want to do it, but said, fine. You know, just, that really describes this year for me. It’s fine. This is what I have. It’s fine. It’s not that things aren’t going well. Lisa, I love working with you, but let’s be honest, the enthusiasm for the project was lacking. It was fine.
Lisa: At first or now? Because I’m very enthusiastic, look, listen, I am radiating enthusiasm at this point, Gabe. I am so enthusiastic, but of course nobody is asking me about my accomplishments, even though it’s actually my birthday, too. But that’s OK. I’m not bitter.
Gabe: Lisa, what were your accomplishments this year? Go ahead and divulge things about your personal life that you can later cut out because you think your parents are going to hear it and not like it.
Lisa: It’s not just my parents. I just don’t feel like I should share so much on the Internet, so it was clearly a genius idea to become a podcaster.
Gabe: I just want people to know that the reason that I don’t ask Lisa questions is because I do ask Lisa questions and she cuts them out later because she’s uncomfortable sharing.
Lisa: You knew this about me in advance. All those people, all those years who ask you your telephone number at the register, there’s no reason for these people to have my telephone number. That is unnecessary.
Gabe: No, I think that this is just indicative of another way that I feel and have felt this year. I’m not trying to attack you. I love you. You’re my bestie.
Lisa: I love you too. Pay attention.
Gabe: But you know damn well that you do this. You know damn well that
Gabe: You’re feigning the oh, I can’t get a word in edgewise.
Lisa: I’m not feigning.
Gabe: I want everybody to know Lisa Kiner has no problem sticking up for herself. Remember,
Lisa: Oh, yeah, of course.
Gabe: This is the woman that tricked me into treatment and single handedly beat up bipolar disorder for me. And
Gabe: Now she’s like, oh, I can’t beat Gabe. Really? You can take on the illness in my mind, but you can’t beat its host?
Lisa: This is so sweet, these are like such nice things that you’re saying. You’re off topic, though.
Gabe: I’m not off topic. This has been my year.
Gabe: The annual birthday bipolar blog was always about the year.
Gabe: Everything that I’ve said has happened this year. I don’t think you understand how my blogs go.
Lisa: So you don’t have a lot of professional things to tell us about this year, like many people, you’ve been slowed by COVID. Well, but there’s plenty of things happening in your personal life that have been excellent this year. Why don’t we focus on some of those?
Gabe: Ok, I almost murdered my wife.
Lisa: COVID has been difficult with the staying at home.
Gabe: I want everybody to know, not literally.
Lisa: Does that really need to be said?
Gabe: Listen, I don’t want somebody listening to this and be like, oh, the man with bipolar disorder was almost violent, that tracks. Once again, it’s sad that it needs to be said. But, yeah, look, I love my wife very much, but I never intended to spend 24/7 with her. My wife has had to work from home and on one hand, I’m very lucky I could be isolated and alone. I have many single friends that they would be so pleased to be annoyed by a roommate or parents or a spouse. I really do get it. The grass is greener on the other side, I think, man, I wish I lived alone right now and my wife feels that way too. I’m not telling her anything that she doesn’t know. We’re not hurting each other’s feelings here. We’re just, we’d work all day and then at the end of the day, we’d come together and we’d share our war stories, we’d vent to each other. The saga of our idiot coworkers are just, those were our favorite reality shows. All those shows got canceled.
Lisa: I feel like most of your coworkers are geniuses, I just, I don’t know if you are aware of that.
Gabe: You know, in the age of Healthline.com, I’ve gotten some amazing coworkers that really help disguise the annoyance of the coworker that I had before Healthline. I’m not going to do names here, but my previous coworker, she was very difficult. She’s still difficult. But now, because of Psych Central selling to Healthline.com, I now have more coworkers to sort of water the previous annoying coworker down.
Lisa: And we’ll be right back after these messsges.
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Gabe: Hey, everyone, we’re back discussing my birthday.
Lisa: You know, now that I think about it when I said, list your professional accomplishments, how come the first thing you said wasn’t, Oh, you and I got on a podcast? How come that wasn’t the very first thing out of your mouth? And also that happened in March.
Gabe: Oh, my God.
Lisa: Oh, my God, we triggered COVID.
Lisa: Not really.
Lisa: Careful. You’re going to get some sort of Internet conspiracy theory going.
Gabe: Well, that’s not hard these days.
Lisa: Well, the day that I was on a date and the man said to me, hey, did you know that Henry Kissinger created the AIDS virus in a lab? And I thought, wow, no need to date you anymore, but.
Gabe: You know, my favorite part of that story, though, it was another month before the two of you broke up.
Lisa: He was hot.
Gabe: I’m not faulting you.
Lisa: He was stupid hot. OK, I mean, seriously, this guy was so hot, I don’t know why he was so dumb and it wasn’t immediately evident how stupid he was. I mean, you had to, like, kind of like talk to him a little bit. But to be fair, you didn’t have to talk to him that much to get to the Henry Kissinger AIDS thing. God, that guy was hot. Anyway, going back.
Gabe: No, no, I want to say just one quick thing about the bonding of Gabe and Lisa, because the number of stupid people that I dated because they were crazy hot, it’s just a phenomenal number. Because I just I really hate stupid people. And then I met Lisa and we bonded over this mutual hatred of willful ignorance and stupidity. And then both admitted to each other that, look, we’ve dated crazy hot people who we just did not like. And I think this was a big moment in my learning about feminism, because I thought that women were above that. And you were like, why on earth would you believe that?
Lisa: That women are above dating hot guys?
Gabe: That are stupid.
Gabe: No, no, I knew that women liked hot guys, I just I thought that if the man was stupid that women like you would be like, I’m not dating you. You’re dumb.
Lisa: Speaking of birthdays, as I’ve gotten older, I, well, of course, now I’m married, so I guess it’s irrelevant. But as I got older, I did that less and less. You know, hot people kind of a dime a dozen, but people that you can stand to talk to, much harder to find and more attractive.
Gabe: Another moment in the great Lisa and Gabe courtship
Gabe: Is when I asked Lisa if I was hot and she said, Oh my God, intelligence is so sexy. I said I meant physically and you’re like, you know, smart. Just the way that you think is so amazing. I’m like, once again my physical appearance and she’s like, you know, your personality.
Lisa: So attractive.
Gabe: Oh, the charisma that you exude. I didn’t press it after that, but I’m pretty sure you said I was ugly.
Lisa: I do not remember this conversation
Gabe: Does any of that sound wrong to you?
Lisa: That does sound like something I would say yes,
Gabe: Yeah, yeah.
Lisa: And I maintain smart is incredibly sexy. Yeah.
Gabe: And you know what else is incredibly sexy?
Lisa: My husband.
Gabe: Sexy. Really, we got to bring Viroj into this?
Lisa: Who is super smart, and hot.
Gabe: You know, he’s going to listen to this episode and he’s like, why? Why did you pull me into this?
Lisa: I just felt like I should.
Gabe: Kendall always tells me, Kendall is my wife, and Kendall is like, why did you drag me into your fight? Like, No, I want you to keep your codependency delusional podcast bullshit over there. Like, keep it over there. Don’t drag me into this. And to tie it back to my birthday, that’s been the year. She has been drug into more things this year because we both work from home and I have been drug into more things. See it used to be when Kendall would get in a fight with a coworker, by the time we got together, it’d be hours old. She had time to think about it, process it, form the narrative, maybe get resolution. That hasn’t happened this year. And it’s made it very difficult. I hear her on the phone and then I walk downstairs and she starts telling me about it. And I, I sort of feel obligated to listen. Or something bad will happen that I want to rant about, rave about, bitch about whatever words you want to use. But rather than it be finely tuned at the end of the day, Kendall’s watching it in real time. We’re experiencing it together. These things never hit Gabe and Kendall together before. They always hit us separately and then we would use each other as support at the end of the day. I don’t like this.
Lisa: Nobody likes this, we all want to get out of the house, Gabe.
Gabe: I don’t like it.
Lisa: You’re not alone, you’re not special. Everybody
Gabe: I don’t like it
Lisa: Wants out of the house.
Gabe: I want out of the house.
Lisa: I need concerts and live entertainment to come back.
Lisa: I’m so bored.
Gabe: Yeah, that’s the other thing. What do we talk about? You know, Kendall and I used to talk about sporting events, concerts. We used to go to festivals. We love festivals, the vendors, the local artists, local music, local comedians. Kendall and I loved this. For one, it’s amazing. And two, it’s relatively inexpensive. You know, the arts festival in Columbus, Ohio, is free. We would meet all of these local artists. We’d see this beautiful art and we would go with Lisa and Lisa’s husband.
Lisa: We go every year. I was disappointed when it was canceled this year.
Gabe: The most amazing thing that happens is, Lisa, we have differing tastes on art, so I would look at this this piece of art and I’d be like, that is incredibly beautiful. And Lisa would be like, that is hideous and ugly. Keep it out of my house and.
Lisa: No, you would say, oh, my God, isn’t this amazing, this is great. I must have this in my house right now. And I’d be like, yeah, it’s all right. It looks like something you’d see in a motel.
Gabe: And then Lisa bought what can best be described.
Lisa: I have amazing taste.
Gabe: As a medieval weapon, it’s made of steel?
Lisa: Oh, yeah, I enjoy sculptures. I like that.
Gabe: It’s large and heavy. In her old condo, it hung above her fireplace. She just recently moved. So we don’t know where this 17th century medieval weaponry will be, but it’s not. It’s a sculpture. It’s a metal sculpture with, I don’t know, about 60 points. That’s not an exaggeration. It has 60 sharp metal points.
Lisa: It’s a starburst.
Gabe: No, it is the thing that you use to defend the princess when your castle is being stormed.
Lisa: No, it’s just pointy, it’s just a pointy sculpture.
Gabe: You grab a hold of it with both hands, and in Braveheart, they fought off all of the invading knights. It will pierce armor people.
Lisa: It’s beautiful and probably the most expensive thing in my house.
Gabe: It weighs as much as Lisa.
Lisa: It does not. It’s pretty heavy, though, we had to go to a lot of trouble to hang it.
Gabe: It weighs a metric ton, you carry it with a horse and you joust with it, she likes it because she thinks it’s in Braveheart.
Lisa: No, I like it because it’s beautiful, but of course, the best sculpture is the one I have that looks like a bird and is made out of garden equipment.
Gabe: It looks like a rooster. She named it Warner.
Lisa: Doesn’t look like a rooster, just looks like a bird.
Gabe: Looks like a rooster.
Lisa: I do have eclectic decorating taste.
Gabe: But we didn’t get to do that this year. I never realized, Lisa, how meaningful these disagreements were. I want to let the audience know they were never like angry disagreements. Lisa doesn’t actually care how I decorate and I don’t care how Lisa decorates, this is.
Lisa: Overall, your decorating is fine, just really bland.
Gabe: OK, first off, what I want to say, I can’t because this show is PG-13, but it starts with an F. It just it starts with an F, lady. My decorating is phenomenal. And all from local
Gabe: Oh, I hate you so much. This stuff is missing. And on all of these adventures, we’ve discovered all of these things that we just didn’t even know existed. I did not know that you could make a bird out of metal garden tools and then paint it, I don’t know, teal, blue and orange. This thing is ugly.
Lisa: And purple. Teal, blue, and purple.
Lisa: It’s awesome, I love it, I’ve had it for years, it’s gorgeous.
Gabe: Lisa is right, it is so ugly, it is flipped over into beautiful, it’s like those hideous dogs that are now cute. That’s what’s happened here. But we don’t have that. Lisa and I haven’t been able to discuss this at all because we didn’t go get new material to discuss. It’s the same way with my wife. It’s the same way with my friends. That’s what I remember about the last year. I used to think that all of these conversations were wasteful. They were just minutia that you used to fill your day. That’s the biggest thing that I’ve learned, that all of these boring, pointless conversations are actually the bedrock and the cornerstone and the foundation of your most meaningful relationships. I would give anything to spend an afternoon discussing what art I find beautiful that Lisa finds hideous.
Lisa: You know, this is an excellent point you’re making, it does always seem like these were random things and who cares? Because you have to fill the space. But you’re right, it is the stuff of life.
Gabe: It’s not even just the stuff of life, it’s not small talk, right? With a stranger. How are you, Gabe? I’m fine. What are you doing? Oh, I’ve got some errands to run. Well, what do you think of the weather? You don’t talk about how you hate each other’s clothes or art or taste or. That’s the kind of conversation that you have with your best friend. That’s the conversation you have with close family. That’s the conversations that you have with your spouse. And we just don’t have a lot of things to discuss right now because.
Lisa: Nothing’s happening.
Gabe: Yeah, because nothing’s happening. And we’ve gravitated toward things that frankly are not good conversation starters. You know, we spent more time complaining about politics. And listen, I think that political discourse and political discussion is extremely valuable. Disagreement does not equal disrespect. And knowing what’s going on in the world is I feel the responsibility of every American. But you’ve got to have a balance to that. For every 20 minutes that you spend complaining about the government, you should spend an hour discussing something that’s beautiful. You’ve got to have this balance. And unfortunately, politics didn’t slow down one iota. Everything else did. The counter balance has been disturbingly missing. All we can do is complain about what we’ve lost. And nobody is spending any time on anything that’s beautiful because there’s just not enough. You know, I joked, Lisa introduced to Gabe and Kendall the show Schitt’s Creek. We’d never watched it. We had no idea it existed.
Lisa: My husband found it randomly.
Gabe: Yeah, I’m serious when I say this, Schitt’s Creek saved my marriage. I’m not kidding. My wife and I binge watched all six seasons and my wife and I just loved it. And it was new. And because Lisa found it recently, that allowed us to discuss it, you know. What do you think of this episode? Well, I saw it this way. Well, I didn’t see it that way. And once again, for this brief, like six-week period, this minutia was back.
Lisa: Well, this is why the whole world stopped for Tiger King, because we were all in the perfect position to need something to talk about.
Gabe: Yes, yes, and if I learned anything this year, it’s that all of these little things that I take for granted. Well, that was a wasted day. I didn’t accomplish anything. It turns out that no, what I accomplished was actually amazing. I do have trouble connecting with people. I think the average person doesn’t understand me at all. And I often feel alone, even in a crowd of people. I feel alone and I question my value to society or the people around me. I question whether or not I’m doing any good. And there’s so many external factors. You have a podcast and you put your story out in the world. Some people think that that’s brave. Other people think that that’s arrogant. Some people think that you’re helping further a discussion about mental illness. Other people think that you’re bragging and oh, you think you’re so important that people want to hear your stupid life? What’s wrong with you? I’m constantly bombarded with this and I gravitate toward the negative.
LISA: You do. You do.
Gabe: If 100 people tell me they love me and one person tells me they hate me, I will follow the guy who hates me around and try to figure out why.
Lisa: You will. It’s really disturbing.
Gabe: It is. It’s depressing and the problem is, is that this past year, the 100 people have been gone because they’re taking care of themselves, they’re taking care of their families. They’re all trying to survive, just like all of us. Now, there’s just this constant negativity and nobody’s arguing about who’s artwork is bland, whose artwork is medieval weaponry.
Lisa: It’s beautiful, I’m telling you.
Gabe: And it may well be.
Lisa: Viroj likes it.
Gabe: Ok, well, that doesn’t help. Viroj is the most boring person we know. Your defense that it’s not bland.
Lisa: Again, Gabe, boring men hold down jobs, and that’s super sexy.
Gabe: You say boring, I say stability. I just
Lisa: To be fair, Viroj, you’re right, does not, in fact, have good taste. But we both like it. That’s the point.
Gabe: I love the felt tiger in your bedroom.
Lisa: Viroj found it, yeah, the amusing part is we paid like three dollars for the picture and then spent substantially more to get it framed.
Gabe: You overpaid for the picture. You know, all of these articles, they all end with something that I’ve learned. Some way that I feel that I have evolved in the last year, something to take away. And even sometimes that take away is not very flattering to me.
Lisa: Of the seven, five of them are negative.
Gabe: But they’re constructive. Constructive criticism for dear old Gabe. A hard look at my life, what I wish that I could remember, lessons that I wished I’d learned, the lesson that I’ve learned is that no time spent with your friends is wasted.
Lisa: Ok, that’s a good one.
Gabe: No time spent with your loved ones is wasted. We’re all sitting around trying to evaluate whether or not the time was efficient or good or well spent. It is. It just is. I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times that I met you for lunch. And we’d sit there and talk for two hours, usually over tortilla chips and salsa. And I think, oh, well, that was two hours. I’ll never get back. You know what a waste, right? Like.
Lisa: Thanks a lot.
Gabe: I don’t mean it mean, I just I would think of all of my honey do list, all of the chores, all the stuff that I had to do for work. And I was like, oh, I just wasted like two or three hours in the middle of the day. And then all the restaurants closed,
Gabe: Remember? And they were closed here for like ten weeks.
Lisa: That was a real problem for Gabe, that was the thing he really missed the most.
Gabe: All of a sudden, I was like, that was not wasted time, you know, venting to my friend, listening to my friend, exchanging ideas with my friend, just sitting there drinking a Diet Coke and eating chips and salsa with my friend. It turns out that it had an extreme amount of value that was only recognizable once it was gone.
Gabe: It kind of reminds me of that coworker that everybody thinks is lazy until the coworker goes on vacation.
Lisa: Gee, has that ever happened to you, Gabe?
Gabe: No, I never once thought you were lazy, I thought you were irresponsible.
Lisa: Thank you. I think. That’s a little bit backhanded, but anyway.
Gabe: It should be a lot backhanded, I’m sad that you didn’t pick up on that.
Lisa: The other theme that runs through all of your birthday blogs is this idea that your life did not turn out the way that you expected. One of them actually says 20-year-old Gabe would look at me and be ashamed.
Gabe: I don’t know what 20-year-old Gabe is going to think of 44-year-old Gabe. It is an interesting thing, 20-year-old Gabe had really high expectations. Twenty-year-old Gabe did not expect to be twice divorced. Twenty-year-old Gabe did not expect to have all of these mistakes and regrets. 20-year-old Gabe fully expected to have six children and stay in the same job and really just garner respect from people. I think that 20-year-old Gabe would be most disappointed in the fact that I’m so easily dismissed. 20-year-old Gabe put a lot of value on integrity and commanding respect. While I feel that I have integrity, I don’t feel like I command respect. I’m so easily dismissed. I’m so easily ignored. I sit on so many panels where, well, we should probably get the patient’s voice, I guess.
Lisa: A lot of tokenism.
Gabe: I don’t think that 20-year-old Gabe ever thought that Gabe was going to be the token guy in the room? You know, I don’t think I would have known what tokenism was. It’s very probable that I would have sat on these boards and commanded a great deal of respect and talk about all the good that I was doing and have been completely unaware that I was marginalizing people because I would have seen things so much from my perspective. I’d like to think that I would have been open to listening. But, you know, 20-year-old Gabe had pretty high expectations and was awfully arrogant. I don’t want to paint myself as a bad guy. I don’t want to paint myself as somebody who was unkind or uncaring. But there was a lot that I didn’t understand. And being in this position has really allowed me to see the plight of marginalized people, because in some ways I’m a marginalized person. I do think that seeing the world for what it is has value. But, you know, ignorance is bliss. I don’t know. Is the truth better or is respect better?
Lisa: The truth is always better. That’s why you take the red pill. The truth is always better.
Gabe: I sometimes I wish I could take the blue pill, Lisa.
Lisa: The reality is better. Truth has its own intrinsic value, there’s no need to debate this.
Gabe: The truth does have its own intrinsic value, but in The Matrix where the blue pill red pill comes from, there was the guy that sold out all of his friends to be put back in The Matrix and just live happily ever after because he just couldn’t take it anymore. Now, that guy was evil and he was wrong and he was a murderer. But if we’re arguing the philosophical basis of, look, I was going to live happily ever after. I don’t know. It’s one of the things that makes the movie interesting for me. And while I’m so glad that they never made any more, I mean, the single standalone movie was really enough.
Lisa: I loved The Matrix, it was so ruined by the following movies, so ruined.
Gabe: What following? There was no following. I took the blue pills.
Gabe: I understand that truth has its own intrinsic value and I am inclined to agree with you. And I’d like to believe that I’ve done a lot of good. But you and I both know that in most of the circles I run in, people don’t give people like me the credit for that good.
Lisa: You’re talking about how 20-year-old Gabe would feel about this, et cetera, what 20-year-old Gabe expected, but everybody always acts like there’s a time before diagnosis that you didn’t have bipolar disorder. You had bipolar; you just weren’t diagnosed. You were never mentally healthy. You always had bipolar disorder. You just were untreated. So, 20 year old Gabe didn’t know he had bipolar, but he did. And he did not expect that to ever change. He did not expect those symptoms to ever go away. He expected to always have that same internal state of the fluctuating mania and depression, the suicidality, the racing thoughts. None of that could have been pleasant. And twenty-year-old Gabe expected that to continue for the rest of his life because he thought that was normal and just the way humans are. So, when you say that twenty year old Gabe would be disappointed in the outcome now or he expected the following things that he didn’t get, well, yeah, but look at this amazing thing he got that he didn’t even know was out there. I know you’re speechless. A profound point. I know.
Lisa: You got to admit that you are more comfortable now in your own brain and you’re certainly happier because you’re no longer suicidal. So there you go. Twenty-year-old Gabe thought he would remain suicidal for the rest of his life. I don’t see how that’s not a major, major increase. He did not know that this level of wellness existed that you have achieved. You can’t tell me this isn’t better than when you were constantly thinking about suicide. And twenty-year-old Gabe didn’t even know that that was a possibility. Maybe you are imagining professional success, a large family, lots of children. But that would always have been overlaid with the racing thoughts and the wanting to die.
Gabe: I can’t argue with your logic, but I think you have to understand that 20-year-old Gabe was kind of a jackass.
Lisa: I know.
Gabe: You know, he was depressed, but he was also manic and grandiose. And I just I think maybe I just don’t want to get in an argument with him.
Lisa: You always use your birthday as a time to look back and in one of your blogs, you write the ghost of bipolar past win. You use this time to look back and say, oh, I didn’t do this, I didn’t do that. I’m so sad. I wanted this. I didn’t get that. Why? Why is that the thing that you do? Why is it not the looking back on wow, I never knew that you could just sit on your couch and not think about dying. That is so awesome. How come that’s never your thought process?
Gabe: I’m pessimistic by nature. It’s a fair question and it’s a reasonable question, and it’s one of the reasons that I always like to write these blogs all by myself and not involve you, because I don’t like to be challenged on my stupid thoughts. It’s hard to get out of the habit, right. I’m sincere when I say that I am better off today than I have been probably at any other point in my life. And I do recognize that logically, intellectually, I know that to be the case, but I don’t feel it.
Lisa: I can’t discount that, yeah, your feelings matter much more than logic sometimes. Your feelings are your reality. So, I don’t want to dismiss that outright. But you do see it, right? You do see.
Gabe: Oh, I can. There has never been a problem seeing it. It’s always been a feeling.
Lisa: Well, this is what CBT is for, you actually need to change your own internal thought processes and feelings.
Gabe: Seriously, are you telling me to go to therapy? Are you like, hey, Gabe, thanks for doing a birthday podcast, by the way, you should go to therapy? Like I never thought of that before. I’m going to just lose weight. I’m going to exercise more. I’m going to give forgiveness that I’ve been denying. I’m going to go skydiving, Rocky Mountain climbing, going to do something with a bull.
Lisa: I hate that song. I would not need to do all of that if I found out that I was terminally ill because I’m already a good person. I don’t need to get sick to suddenly realize I have poor morals. Also, why wasn’t he doing all this stuff before? I went skydiving. Why do you have to wait to find out you’re dying to go skydiving?
Gabe: I think it’s really just maybe an example of we put things off.
Lisa: You know how I live, like, completely not for the future ever? Boom, turns out I’m a genius.
Gabe: Yeah, yeah, when you can’t pay your mortgage, everybody agrees.
Lisa: Well, I have to admit, I do not have a fully funded retirement account, but my electronics are awesome.
Gabe: See, you always say that, but I have a fully funded retirement account and my electronics are all better than yours.
Lisa: Eh, matter of opinion. Also, that’s another thing I’ve really missed for the pandemic is traveling.
Gabe: Yeah, see, that’s what you should have gone with. You have shitty electronics, but, oh my God, you have so many stamps in your passport.
Lisa: Yeah, yeah, I will go with that.
Gabe: No, you can’t retroactively change it.
Lisa: Why not? Of course I can, I’m the editor.
Lisa: You’re always talking about how you’ve disappointed the expectations of 20-year-old Gabe, well, 20-year olds are all idiots. What about the expectations of 30-year-old Gabe or thirty-five-year-old Gabe or 40 year old Gabe? Have you met those expectations?
Gabe: I think that’s an incredibly valuable question, because 30-year-old Gabe was starting into recovery with bipolar disorder and thinking about stuff like buying a house, starting a business, getting a job, you know, just really reaching stability. But then, of course, we got divorced. And that was kind of a blow to my ego a little bit because I didn’t want to be divorced again. But then again, even through our divorce, I wanted to be in a stable relationship and I absolutely achieved this. It’s not a fluke. Kendall and I have been together for eight years. We celebrated eight years of marriage during a global pandemic. So, I feel this one is going to stick. So, yes, I think that 30-year-old, 35-year-old Gabe would probably be pretty damn proud of me.
Lisa: Oh, that’s wonderful.
Gabe: You know, he understood bipolar disorder. He didn’t know if I could make it. He’s kept the weight off. You know,
Lisa: Yeah, that’s a good point.
Gabe: Remember, 30-year-old Gabe was like, OK, well, you’ve got all the weight off. But, you know, there was always this big asterisk, like, look, everybody else we know that got this surgery, they gained all the weight back, dude. I never gained the weight back. I’m coming up on, what, year 17? And I’ve still kept the weight off. I bought the house. Hell, I, I even got the Lexus. I
Gabe: Remember, you know, that was twenty-five-year-old Gabe that wrote that Lexus on the board. And I got it, I got the Rolex. I got the stable relationship, I pretty much got everything but children which you know, many people who want kids don’t have kids. That’s not really outside of the norm.
Lisa: The dog is already quite the burden to Aunt Lisa.
Gabe: That’s very true, but, yes, I think that’s a nice reframe, Lisa. I love reframing.
Lisa: Love the reframing.
Gabe: As you know. I don’t know why my birthday gets me. I think it’s because I feel that I’m chronically behind and I’m running out of time. I feel that I’ve lost so much time that I’ll never get it back. I feel like I always have more to do. And I’m not getting closer. I feel like I should have been further along, that I should have done more. And some of that is comparing myself to others. I, I.
Lisa: Well, let’s talk about reframing, you keep saying, oh, failure, failure, failure, unhappiness, what would it take for happiness? What would you need to have happen? You keep saying, oh, I haven’t met my goals. You know, you don’t actually have any clearly defined goals.
Gabe: That’s not true.
Lisa: Maybe that’s why you’re not meeting them.
Gabe: My goal is to be happy.
Gabe: My goal is to, OK, you ready?
Lisa: I’m ready.
Gabe: Here it is.
Lisa: This is very, I’m writing this down.
Gabe: Step one,
Gabe: Underpants. Step two. Step three, profit, I have learned from the underpants gnomes.
Gabe: Lisa, thank you. Thank you sincerely for hanging out with me on my birthday. It’s a cool thing to do. It is very, very cool that we are only five days apart. So, I want to extend a heartfelt and warm happy birthday to you.
Lisa: Thank you, Gabe. Happy birthday.
Gabe: You know, Lisa, what you should have said is that five days is where all the wisdom is kept. You know, you never remember your quote.
Lisa: You’re better at that.
Gabe: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for listening in. My name is Gabe Howard and I am the host of the Not Crazy podcast. And I’m the author of Mental Illness Is an Asshole, which you can get on Amazon.com. But if you head over to gabehoward.com, I will sign it. It will be cheaper and I’ll include a bunch of show swag. You want Not Crazy podcast stickers absolutely free? This is the way. Just head over to gabehoward.com. If you loved the show, please subscribe. Also use your words and tell other people why they should listen.
Lisa: Don’t forget the outtake after the credits, and we’ll see you next Tuesday.
Announcer: You’ve been listening to the Not Crazy Podcast from Psych Central. For free mental health resources and online support groups, visit PsychCentral.com. Not Crazy’s official website is PsychCentral.com/NotCrazy. To work with Gabe, go to gabehoward.com. Want to see Gabe and me in person? Not Crazy travels well. Have us record an episode live at your next event. E-mail [email protected] for details.
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