Ep 19: Does Being Quirky & Unique Mean You’re Mentally Ill?



It’s often postulated that people with unique skills, artistic abilities, or phenomenal talents must have a “touch of mental illness.” Thinking differently, they reason, is mental illness and, in order to be so unique, one must clearly think differently.

Gabe’s personal fictional hero, The Mad Hatter, is often credited with responding to Alice’s questioning whether or not she had gone mad with the answer, “I’m afraid so. You’re entirely bonkers. But I will tell you a secret. All the best people are.” (Mr. Hatter, of course, never said this, but rather Alice’s father . . . And only in the movie version.)

Is mental illness the same as madness? Are people who are different and interesting also mentally ill? If so, is mental illness actually a good thing? How do Gabe and Michelle feel about people co-opting mental illness to describe talent or unique in thought and action?

It’s a complicated conversation, so listen in to this episode to found out!

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“I would not give schizophrenia to my worst enemy.”
– Michelle Hammer

Highlights From ‘Is Quirky Thinking Mental Illness’ Episode

[1:00] Is mental illness a super power?

[5:00] Is mania positive or negative and why Gabe is not dead.

[7:00] Gabe & Michelle put things into perspective.

[11:00] Michelle’s brutally honest assessment of her career issues.

[15:00] Gabe brings up The Mad Hatter – and his famous quote.

[19:00] People don’t understand the horrors of mental illness.

[21:00] How we turned negative mental illness symptoms into positive ones.

Meet Your Bipolar and Schizophrenic Hosts

GABE HOWARD was formally diagnosed with bipolar and anxiety disorders after being committed to a psychiatric hospital in 2003. Now in recovery, Gabe is a prominent mental health activist and host of the award-winning Psych Central Show podcast. He is also an award-winning writer and speaker, traveling nationally to share the humorous, yet educational, story of his bipolar life. To work with Gabe, visit gabehoward.com.

MICHELLE HAMMER was officially diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 22, but incorrectly diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 18. Michelle is an award-winning mental health advocate who has been featured in press all over the world. In May 2015, Michelle founded the company Schizophrenic.NYC, a mental health clothing line, with the mission of reducing stigma by starting conversations about mental health. She is a firm believer that confidence can get you anywhere. To work with Michelle, visit Schizophrenic.NYC.

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