Momentum Podcast: 233
Mental Illness Or Misdiagnosis
by Alex Charfen
Last week, I had massive, overwhelming anxiety. Here's why, I was sick. I was actually sick from before the 1st of July, until about Saturday or Sunday, so over seven days.
I've been diagnosed with more things than I can count. I share this freely because I want to reach anyone who has been labeled like this. When you look through out history at the people who have changed the world, they're just like us.
Full Audio Transcript
I'm Alex Charfin, and this is the Momentum Podcast, made for empire builders, game changers, trail blazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers, and creators of all kinds, those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum, so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Sure. We pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, and rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny. We define it. We don't understand defeat, because you only lose if you stop, and we don't know how.
While the rest of the world strive for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority, the few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future, and instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters, clearly the most important people in the world, because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive evolution, and we always will be.
Mental illness or misdiagnosis. A couple of weeks ago, I spoke at a conference called Voice & Exit here in Austin, and I was given 12 minutes to present the room with my argument, my thesis, like what I see in the world. It was a TED-like conference. In fact, it was billed as a cross between TED and Burning Man, but don't worry. There wasn't any drugs, at least that I saw. During my presentation I shared what I often share, that as a kid I was different, and was in special education, and then in gifted education, and I was confused and felt alone and like a party of one. I've been diagnosed with depression, and anxiety, and social disorders, and Aspergers, and ADHD, and ADD, and autism, and all kinds of other things.
When I speak, I share those openly, because I want to reach anyone in the audience who's been given one of these labels by an industry I'll talk about in a second. I want to finish this story first. See, after that presentation, something happened that recurs over and over again when I go out and speak. I had a guy walk up to me, and he said ... After I was shaking hands and taking pictures with people, he gave me a little space, and I could tell he wanted to talk to me. After I was done with the person I was talking to and then next person who was there before him, I turned, and I said, "Hey. What's up, man?" He said, "I just wanted to let you know how much your speech meant to me, because to see someone who's been diagnosed with autism on stage at an event like this, sharing what they've created, made me feel like I could do it too."
I turned to him, and I said what I say any time I am given the opportunity that an entrepreneur opens up about a diagnosis or judgment that they've experienced. I told him, "I want you to understand something. That diagnosis you've gotten, that diagnosis has grouped the symptoms of brilliance and been made to look the wrong way, because people like you and I are different than the rest of the world. We have higher sensitivities and different abilities, and we don't grow the same way or talk the same way. We don't do the same things, but when you look throughout history at every single person who changed the world, they were just like us. So, the next time you feel different, or alone, or isolated, or confused, I want you to remember that that it your drive. Everyone in history who matters to be remembered, everyone who you remember is just like us."
He did what almost everyone does when I share that. He immediately had tears in his eyes, because for so many of us it's the first time that anyone has ever acknowledged that everything everyone's ever said is wrong with you is exactly what's right with you, and what is your brilliance, and what creates who you are. There's a reason that people like you and I get diagnosed like this. There's a reason why you've probably heard something about your kids. There's a reason why you keep hearing about entrepreneurial families getting diagnosed. There's a reason why we feel this way, because what happens is for people like us, we are highly sensitive, highly reactive, evolutionary hunters.
The millennia before us have fine tuned us to be insanely different human beings. Every one of us is unique. We have sensitivities and reactivities to different things, and when we are in a situation where there is high pressure and noise, we either fight or flight, because we have been programmed to do exactly that. When we get into that place, when the noise gets high enough, when we don't have what we need, when we can't get help, when we allow the pressure to go too high, that is when we look broken, because when we're in full constraint, physiologically almost immediately we are exhausted. We're fatigued.
When you can't get what you want, when you can't move forward, when you are held in place, you tell me what it feels like. When the world starts closing in around you, first your body fatigues almost immediately. Then cognitively you fatigue. You have a hard time making decisions. Then chemically you fall apart. We feel the chemical, anxiety, depression, frustration, anger, whatever it is for you. There's reason our tribe survived. It's because every hunter wasn't the same. Look at the world, and everything in it they we experience today was created by one of us, but look at the difference in what the outcomes were.
See, we're that small part of humanity that is hardwired not to be like anyone else, that is created to be unique, different, and a party of one, an asynchronous learner with asynchronous development, meaning that you learn different things at different times. Einstein failed algebra twice and went on to become one of the greatest mathematicians in the history of the world. It doesn't matter what they've said about you. When it comes to those diagnoses, we can say a lot about them. This DSM-5, the book from the American Psychiatric Association, who I will not hold back my level of distrust and disdain for this organization, that every 12 years or so publishes another book about everything that is broken with human beings, and about 70% of the researchers and doctors involved in taking symptoms that exist in the world and voting on diseases are getting money from drug companies.
Every single issue of the DSM, from three, to four, to five, I have them on my shelf, because I want to know what the enemy is doing. Every issue creates more labels, and more diagnoses, and more challenges, and problems, and ways of telling you you are an evolutionary hunter experiencing constraint, and you better get back into momentum, but see, what happens when they find one of us out of momentum, when they find us in that moment of weakness, when we look depressed, or frustrated, or anxious, or confused, and they say, "Hey. I can make it all go away," that's what that entire industry is built on.
You don't need to listen to me. The DSM-5 that I just told you challenges me in the way that it was created. I'll read a quote from a researcher. "The real problem now is almost the complete lack of openness about the DSM-5, the methods, the progress, the timelines, and the products, the way it was created." This is a quote from Dr. Allen Frances, who was the editor of the DSM-4. The psychiatric community, in and of itself, cannot agree on these things, yet when we are given a diagnosis, it can change our lives indefinitely. So, for those of you who have found solace in being told what was going on, for those of you who have felt like it calmed things down to know that you had ADD, or ADHD, or any of those things, for those of you who are attached to your diagnosis, I apologize.
I don't want you to feel that way. I just want to provide a possible alternative that maybe you're an evolutionary hunter that hasn't gotten into the level of momentum needed, so that we can see your real strengths and your real ability. I want to leave open the possibility that if you obsessively lower pressure and noise in your life, some or all of those symptoms will go away. The people around me would tell you I'm asymptomatic 99% of the time. What is that? At the end of the day, there's so many diseases now it's almost impossible to remain asymptomatic. If you read the DSM-5, you would laugh at some of the things these idiots have some up with.
More people today are on some type of psychological medication than in any time in medical history, and the percentages are increasing double digits, because the entire Psychiatric Association has become a mill to create diseases to allow pharmacology companies to create products to be able to apply them to those diseases. Some of the biggest areas of challenge in the DSM, where near 100% or straight up 100% of the researchers involved are involved with the drug companies, is in exactly the places where drugs are the first line of defense, because if you see a psychiatrist, within minutes you can get a prescription for any of the symptoms I've described.
If you're anxious, or frustrated, or confused, or overclocked, or having trouble sleeping, or feeling slowed down, or feeling depression, or not feeling well, or any of those things, they will write you a prescription and start messing with the chemicals in your head, when what you really are is an evolutionary hunter that needs to obsessively lower pressure and noise. Shut out anything that isn't giving you momentum. Make those symptoms go away. Increase the protection and support in your life. Tell the people around you what's really going on for you. Let them know what's happening. Put your feet on the ground, and ask for help. If you ask for it genuinely, in a real way, you will get it. If you lower the pressure and noise in your life and you increase the protectio and support, your strengths and abilities will show. If you do these things, you will make your greatest contribution.
You do not have to believe me. The evidence is throughout history that anyone, anyone who does these things can change the world. Helen Keller shouldn't have been able to do anything. Richard Branson couldn't even read the financial statements that his company put out. Up to this day his level of dyslexia is so high, he does most of what he does through oral communication. When you look at my friend John Morrow, John runs an over million dollar business. He doesn't just have a team that runs that business. He has a team that runs every single aspect of his personal life, including getting him dressed, because John can only move his face, yet he's one of the most well known bloggers on the planet, and he's running a growing company and changing people's lives.
So, it doesn't matter what disorder or diagnosis you have, especially the big ones, the ADD, and autistic, and Asperger's, and ADHD, and bipolar, and chronic depression, and all of those, because here's what I can tell you about working with the most successful people in the world. Screw the DSM. Every single person I've worked with that moves the world around like puzzle pieces has every bit of those symptoms. They've just learned how to cope and deal with them. They have obsessive schedules. They have lowered pressure and noise in their life. They have people around them that help them. They don't expose themselves to what the normal person in the world does, and their strengths and abilities have gone through the roof, and they lean into where they feel momentum. That's why they're doing what they're doing, and you can too.
So, it doesn't matter what anyone's told you about who you are, and what you're capable of, and what your limitations are, because here's the reality about the world. We only evaluate people for deficit. The DSM-5 has over 1,000 pages. It pales in comparison to StrengthsFinder, which is arguably the most well known book on human strengths that is about 120th its size. See, in the world today, we have a deficit based evaluation system, where we only look for what's wrong with you. We never make the assumption that on the other side of that coin could be a strength that they world has never seen, but the fact is history has proved it. So, it doesn't matter what they've said, and it doesn't matter how it's felt, and it doesn't matter where your limitations had been.
I want to present to you that there's an entirely different reality where they don't exist, and if you're willing to lean into your strengths, and follow the contribution equation, obsessively lower pressure and noise, increase protection and support, allow the strengths and abilities you have always known you have to show, and you will make your greatest contribution, because here's why I know that guy teared up when I told him how I saw him. It's not only for the first time that he had the recognition of feeling like there might be something different about who he is, like he's not broke, like he's not alone, like he's not the only one, but I know that for him and for you that message is not just one of recognition, but it's one of confirmation, because you have always known that in the back of your mind that voice you share with no one has whispered to you that you are meant for more.
You will be more. You will do more. You will create more, and you will make things better, and change the world, and leave your debt in the universe. So, don't let anyone ever tell you different. If anyone wants to put a label on you that says you can't, I want you to understand something. There is one label you need to know, entrepreneurial personality type, throughout history the most important people on the planet, because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive human evolution, and we always will be. When you lower pressure and noise, it makes you able to help another entrepreneur with protection and support. The contribution equation works. When you allow people to help you, they have bigger outcomes in your life, and you and I all go forward faster together.
This week, take a minute and encourage an entrepreneur. Tell somebody they can. Tell someone you're proud of them. Tell someone that you're impressed with what they've done. Tell someone something about them that will move them forward, because two things will happen. It will give you momentum, and it'll do the same for them, because we are that part of the human tribe that is meant to be moving forward, creating new outcomes, working through the cognitive dissonance of not accepting things the way they are, so that we can change the world. That is who you are.
I want to take a minute today to thank every veteran who's listening to this podcast. I never served in the military, but I feel like every American owes their unconditional respect to those who did. Today, on Memorial Day, I want to share with you my gratitude and my thanks for your service, because you made a commitment that I didn't and wouldn't have made, but without that commitment, we wouldn't have the privileges that we have. I want to honor and respect you. To everyone who's honorably served, thank you.