Comedian Michelle Garb is helping to soften the stigma of having a mental illness by speaking about her experiences with both an eating and bipolar disorders, and bringing into view celebrities who have come out about their illnesses.
“I’m Going Mental: Mental Illness With a Dose of Humor” was Garb’s title for her mental illness and awareness presentation on May 1 in Kreider Hall from noon to 1 p.m.
With a few punch lines and various picture slides and sound bites, Garb’s presentation was more informational than humorous as she shared her experiences with bipolar disorder after saying that “26 percent of people have a mental illness.and some may have multiple diagnoses.”
Bipolar disorder is a combination of manic episodes and depressive episodes, which usually “gets diagnosed when you are between 15 and 20 years of age.”
“People who are bipolar may talk rapidly, have grandiose ideas, and drive recklessly.
Since there is no cure, there is medication that could help in lessening the high and low episodes of bipolar disorder,” said Garb.
Garb’s high energy during her manic episodes caused her to have sex with 10 men she met at a bar one night, “not all at the same time, and not all at the same place, they were just all at the bar the same night,” she said.
With sound bites and slides of her as a runner with a small fragile frame, Garb mentioned a mixed episode, where she would often run and cry at the same time.
Garb’s foot snapped during a race one day as her bones had become fragile from of her eating disorder.
On the flip side of her high-energy manic episodes, Garb would often get depressed.
“It’s a down feeling that doesn’t seem to go away, and you can’t just snap out of it,” said Garb.
When people are depressed they feel like they “can’t get out of bed, are so down that they don’t want to get back up, they’re sleeping too much or not enough, not eating enough or they’re eating too much,” said Garb.
People often get depressed but when it last weeks, months, or even years, it becomes chronic depression.
1.5 million Americans suffer from mild or chronic depression, 6.7 percent suffer from major depressive disorder that affects the mind, body and thoughts.
If depression remains untreated, it could become severe and people may become suicidal and have suicidal thoughts.
“If someone mentions suicide, you need to take it very seriously,” said Garb.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death of people 15 through 24 years old.”More people die from suicide than from homicide each year,” said Garb.
Garb spoke of how friends or classmates can help someone that seems depressed or shows signs of depression.
If there is a drop in school performance, work, or if they say life isn’t worth living, or may be giving away prized possessions, are signs that suicide may be on their mind.
If someone is contemplating suicide, “they should call 1-800-SUICIDE to talk to people that can help, or take them to the emergency room. Don’t make fun of them, but to try to help and try to engage them in other activities and don’t minimize how they feel,” said Garb.
Garb spends a lot of time alone, but feels good when performing in front of people.
After getting her bachelor’s degree in communications she decided to wait tables and become a stand-up comedian.
After divorcing her first husband, she began to take the medication she now takes religiously and often talks to people on the phone to bring her down from manic episodes.
“It’s nice to see that someone could be so open,” said Juliet Bagoomian, 20, psychology major, after the lecture.
Garb is not the only one coming out about her mental illness. Several celebrities have gone public about their illnesses.
Courtney Cox Arquette, Kurt Cobain, and Marilyn Monroe suffered from depression.
Pictures of Britney Spears, Tim Burton, Jim Carrey and Ben Stiller showed up on screen, noting that they have all been diagnosed as bipolar.
Cameron Diaz and David Beckham were shown as having OCD and Mary Kate Olsen, Nicole Richie and Paula Abdul have all suffered from eating disorders.
Garb brought into view other illnesses such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic attacks, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
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