Speaker 0 00:00:04 Have you ever wondered what goes on in the mind of someone who is completely disconnected from reality? Is it really possible to live in normal life? After being diagnosed with a mental illness? Don't like fi was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1987. He was just 19. When he started a pretty lucrative career as a commercial deep sea diver in Singapore, he was living history. Five years later, he was living a nightmare piecing in a psychiatric ward, trapped in a world of illusions, delusions, paranoia, and depression. He was convinced his life was over and even tried to make sure of it with a fist full of sleeping pills. But it's what ultimately led him to build himself back up into a happier, more resilient person. Now he is the author of the book to cry a dry tear. He is a retired CEO of Manheim media, which published as said magazine, the award winning magazine, which encouraged people affected by a mental illness. Bill has traveled across North America to bring hope by sharing his struggles and triumphs with illness so that people living with mental illness can see for themselves that living a full rewarding, happy life was still possible after diagnosis. I welcome you, bill McPhee.
Speaker 1 00:01:23 Welcome to freewheeling with carton. This podcast shares stories of people with various disabilities and shines a new light on accessibility topics. Our goal is to knock down barriers so we can roll through life a little easier and build a community to do this together. Please rate and follow this podcast or text card at (470) 588-1215 with comments and suggestions. We welcome you on your journey towards inclusion for all. And now your host Carden Wyckoff global disability advocate and wheelchair warrior.
Speaker 0 00:01:54 All right, welcome back to another episode of freewill with carton.
Speaker 2 00:01:57 I have bill McPhee here and he's going to talk today about schizophrenia and mental health and how we can be better advocates and just help out in the space. So welcome bill. Thank you for joining us today. Thanks card and no problems and good to be here.
Speaker 0 00:02:16 Tell me a little bit about your journey with schizophrenia. Um,
Speaker 2 00:02:20 I read a, uh, just a little blurb about you, where you were jet-setting all across the world when you were younger 18, 19, 20 ish, and your whole world totally changed. So I'll share my story with you. So basically I'll go back as a childhood mental illness friend and my family, my mother was basically bipolar, but at the time it was just called manic depressive. And even before that, it was just kinda, mom's getting sick again kind of thing. And it always seemed that my mom was always in the hospital. It was really a, uh, nah, I wouldn't say I had a bad childhood, but I didn't like the fact that my mom was always in the hospital and sick. Um, but basically, yeah, so, so my mental illness ran in my family. However, I never dreamed that one day I'd be diagnosed as a friend yet, and I was always kind of goal orientated.
Speaker 2 00:03:21 And what I did is, uh, I always loved the water. I was always in the water growing up in Ontario, Fort Erie to buy it by the Lake Erie and the Niagara river that goes into Niagara falls and always had, uh, playing in the water. So I ended up getting my scuba diving certificate and I liked that a lot. So to make a long story short, I ended up going in when I was 18 to Seneca college for underwater skills program, basically that's a commercial diver. And when I was 19 years old, I was on a, uh, on my 19th birthday. I was on a plane on the way to Singapore to look for work in the diving field, in the partial diving field. And, uh, that's, uh, a long story and it's in itself, but basically I did get a job and I worked for a company called Ctech international, which was so contracted by marathon oil.
Speaker 2 00:04:14 And I worked on the drill ship in the South China sea or year doing two weeks on the rig. And then a week off, back in Singapore where my home base was. So that was very exciting, but I came back to Canada. I got home sick, I guess, for after a year. And I came back to Canada and I did all jobs. And that what happened was that then when I was 24, I got a girl pregnant and I suppressed that. I didn't share that with, with anybody. But what happened is that I was kind of looking for forgiveness and I started to dive into theology and then a lot of weird things started to happen where I'd actually see words float off the page and expand it can drag. And I would see faces in my wall, my bedroom wall, and I became very, very paranoid.
Speaker 2 00:05:08 So what was going on there, which I didn't know is that I was coming down with symptoms of schizophrenia, but the nature of schizophrenia is that you don't know that you're ill and therefore, you know, I hope to work, not show up for shifts, call off sick, different things like that. And that lasted for around six months before it was actually picked up by the police because I was basically naked in the street in the dead of winter. So, so, uh, so basically from there I was hospitalized six different times and lived in big group homes. I had a suicide attempt and I spent five years on the couch dealing with a deep, deep, dark depression.
Speaker 3 00:05:51 Yeah. And as a young adult, when you're trying to figure out yourself and your life, you have all of these things that are happening to you and your mind and you can't really control it. What are those thoughts that are running through your mind? Because you have, you know, all these other things that you can't really control.
Speaker 2 00:06:10 Absolutely. Well, if I can go, uh, explain a little bit more about schizophrenia. People think that schizophrenia is like a split personality or something, but the actual word means split from reality or basically being out of reality. And it's funny, you have basically three legs to, it is one that it's genetic. Another thing is biochemical. And another thing is that it's stress related. So I had all those things, obviously mental illness ran in my family. So there was a genetic point and then the stressor of getting this girl pregnant and then thirdly, the chemical unbalance. So that's all that, that, that, that came at once. So those were the three legs of schizophrenia and actually schizophrenia affects one out of a hundred people in society. And yeah, very common. And in general, in general, uh, one out of five people will have a mental illness, whether it be schizophrenia, depression, OCD, anxiety, you know, bipolar. So mental, mental illness is very, very common. And it's not talked about, it's talked about a lot more now than when I was younger, even when my mom was going through bipolar. So, but, but the field of psychiatry is still a relatively new field when it comes to medicine.
Speaker 3 00:07:32 Interesting. And you were talking a little bit about the, you were in different homes. What is a group home for those who don't know, I'm not familiar with that.
Speaker 2 00:07:40 Yeah, sure. So a group home is basically where through a counselor or something, if you're not doing well, they will basically assign you to a group home that is a home that might have, you might share that home with six or seven other people that have schizophrenia or mental illness, and then it's supervised by staff. So there might be like seven people there and it's a big house, but it was bad. And it didn't function well in, in that situation just because I was always looking for something better. I was looking for, you know, for something better. I mean, I can remember being in one of the homes and I overheard them out of meetings, say, well, Bill's going to be the role model kind of thing. And my self esteem was so low and my confidence was so low that I said, God, if I'm the role model, then we're in pretty bad shape kind of thing. You know what I mean?
Speaker 3 00:08:37 Right. And a role model almost. Was it almost like being a Guinea pig?
Speaker 2 00:08:42 Well, not necessarily. Maybe. So it just seems though, uh, I guess people saw more, more potential than what I thought I had and everything like that and is true. I mean, it was very difficult, but I got to tell you a, I was very fortunate because I was hit with schizophrenia at age 24. So I had my social skills that I've developed. I've I've had, I had a work ethic. I worked, I was social lots in relationships, but it's very difficult when people are hit when they're, you know, 14, 15, 16. And that is because they don't have their social skills develop. They may be not even at a job to go back on and different things like that. And usually they say that women tend to do better with schizophrenia than men because women are usually hit with it a little bit later than men. And, and they have, they have their education or a career that they can go back to where, and that's was my case. I was fortunate that I was hit at 24 instead of that 16 or 15 or something like that. And in a normal thing. And usually it hits between say 15 and 25, but there's always exceptions to that. But it's, and schizophrenia is known as youth greatest disabler because of that, that's the time that it actually hits between 15 and 25.
Speaker 3 00:10:10 And were you the only one in your family that had this, you said it was, there was a genetic component to it. I mean, did you feel isolated? Were you alone facing this?
Speaker 2 00:10:20 Yeah, well, you know what? My mom earlier had had bipolar in the family, so there's the addicts there. And um, yeah, my brother, I think my brother had some, some mental health issues as well, but, uh, no, uh, you know, it's just like, just like, you know, cancer runs in families, high blood pressure runs in families. Diabetes can run in families and unfortunately mental illness runs in families, but you know, pardon wonder one of the main things. The main difference is between physical illness and mental illness is the following. I really don't like it when people say, Oh, well, well, mental illness is just like a physical illness where say if you had diabetes or something like that, you have to take insulin. And, and that, but the real difference is, is, is pardon in with mental illness is that if, if I fell down and I broke my arm and my bone was sticking out of my arm and there's blood all around, my brain would say, bill, you broke your arm.
Speaker 2 00:11:21 You have to get to the hospital, you got to get a cast on it and everything like that, you got to get treated. But the problem is with mental illness, is that because it affects the brain, the brain doesn't know it's sick. And so that's why physical illness and mental illness is different because illnesses such as like bipolar schizophrenia, Schizoaffective being paranoid, we really don't realize that we are well, we feel that way because our brain is broken and the brain brain doesn't know that it's sick. And another name for that basically is a lack of insight. We have a lack of insight of our illness.
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Speaker 2 00:14:41 Yeah, yeah, exactly. Like that. That's, that's the thing it's uh, yeah. And I thought, well, my second book in a second, but, um, that's right. So this girl heard voices every, since she was little, but she didn't know. And she thought everybody heard voices. And why wouldn't you think that? Why would you, how could you kind of self-diagnose that you're hearing voices back at six and seven years old when, when everybody else is, you think are the same. And so, yeah. So, so, you know, people can go on having illness and not knowing, and that's very common,
Speaker 3 00:15:15 Right? And so it's like, as if you think that this is normal and your brain doesn't know that it's ill, but it is experiencing illness. But if it's happening at such a young age, when you're still trying to figure out who you are as a person and those social skills, as you're talking about, it's like, you don't know what is and what isn't normal.
Speaker 2 00:15:36 Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. So that's a, that's a hard part. I mean, you mentioned the second book, the second book I'm writing is called, uh, uh, well, my first book is called to cry, a dry tear, bill Murphy's journey of hope and recovery with schizophrenia. And the second book that I'm called that I'm writing is called over the edge and back. And what it is is about people who have had attempted suicide, but however, are living lives that they enjoy now. And it's going to be a little bit of a, uh, a cultural flavor to it where I'll be examining suicide in the West than in the, uh, middle East and I, and then in the far East as well.
Speaker 3 00:16:15 And what have you found, or are you still in the works of writing?
Speaker 2 00:16:19 Yeah, we're in the works. Uh, my first profile was a person, uh, uh, way up North, uh, a first nations person who, uh, had a suicide attempt. And then now we're working with, uh, a girl in Vancouver that had schizophrenia and that, and she had many attempts. You heard voices. Um, a lot of, uh, most of her life, uh, telling her to that she was no good and to kill herself and different things like that. And then right now we're just actually looking for a couple people in India to do a couple of profiles. We're looking for somebody in, uh, uh, Mumbai and then we're wanting to get somebody in new Delhi as well. And then we have other countries that we're going to take people, uh, examples from there as well.
Speaker 3 00:17:04 What do you think that you're going to find?
Speaker 2 00:17:06 Well, I think what you'll find is that, uh, that there's different reasons for, for suicide. One, obviously you might think that their, that depression is, is key to all of them, but not necessarily because there's, uh, people who are driven in the Colts and things like that, that, that commit suicide, or there's a lot of accidental suicide. For example, I had a legitimate suicide attempt where I, where I tried to ODI. But earlier on in my illness, I was walking, uh, against traffic on a highway and cars and trucks were swerving around me. And if I was going to be, if I was hit or killed, uh, in that situation, work hard truck hit me. People would think, Oh, well, bill went out on the road and committed suicide. We're in fact, I didn't want to die. It was my illness that brought me onto the road that would have killed me.
Speaker 2 00:18:02 So people would have thought that that was a suicide, but in fact, I didn't want to die. It was just because of my sickness. And so, so that, so there, so there's suicides that look like, uh, that somebody might might've wanted to commit suicide, but it was just their illness who basically made them succumb to suicide. So there's things like that. And then there's also protests people who, who are up for a pause or really what they think is a major and a cause. And, you know, you hear about people setting themselves on fire or something like that for, uh, for a certain cause. But for the majority with depression, people think it's the only solution. They think that, uh, that's the only thing that they can do to solve the problem. Everybody you met, just, I just want to mention one other thing about the suicide is that a lot of times people think that people who commit suicide are very selfish or, um, you know, they're not, they're not thinking of their loved ones and everything like that, but I gotta tell you when people are dealing with suicidal ideation, it's a battle.
Speaker 2 00:19:10 It's a war. It's no different than a soldier being on the front line and being in battle shooting and everything like that, that their enemy, because when we are suicidal, we're in a battle. And unfortunately when soldiers are in a battle, sometimes they don't come home. And same with when we're suicidal in a battle as well. We don't come home as well, but it's not a, it's not a selfish thing. Uh, people are, have real anguish and pain and, um, and they're in a battle. And so therefore, you know, somebody asked me, well, is it a sin to commit suicide? And absolutely not. Absolutely not. Uh, because we're fighting a battle and sometimes we win and sometimes we don't.
Speaker 3 00:19:58 Wow. That's, that's pretty powerful. Um, what is it like? I mean, I know that you're talking about, you're fighting this battle in your mind. How do you take that next step to overcome that? I mean, I guess this is going to be part of your book, right? Obviously these don't want to die.
Speaker 2 00:20:18 Obviously I live a high quality of life. I like my life. I enjoy my life. And, uh, no, and that's why I continue to take medication for, for my schizophrenia, because I want to remain in reality. If I went off my, if I went off my medication, probably in six months time, my mind would start playing tricks on me again, and then force me and, and who knows what kind of delusion I could be in, but I'm, I like my, I like my life and I want to keep it that way. So therefore I, I stay on my medication.
Speaker 3 00:20:52 Good, good. And you alluded back to three different types of mental illness. You said schizophrenia, paranoia, and then skitzo a front end or something. What are those three?
Speaker 2 00:21:06 Well, I'll I'll so I'll just, I'll just kind of explain it because with schizophrenia, you have, what's known as positive symptoms and negative symptoms, and sometimes people think, Oh, they hear the word positive, all positive. That must be good. That's good. But basically what it is is that with schizophrenia, positive symptoms are added to your personality. That shouldn't be there. For example, if you hear voices, if you're paranoid, if you're delusional, if you hear voices, if you hallucinate or have illusions, both things are added to your personality. That shouldn't be there. They're therefore they're called positive symptoms. And usually a lot of a, for a great deal of time, positive symptoms can be controlled for a lot of people by medication. They can get you back. Your reality, negative symptoms or deficit symptoms with schizophrenia can be a lack of motivation, a lack of joy, emotional bluntness, emotional blandness. All of these things are, are lacking from our personality, but should be there. And they're not, and that's why they're called negative or deficit symptoms. And sometimes the deficit symptoms can even be more debilitating than the positive symptoms,
Speaker 3 00:22:26 Right? Because a lack of motivation is very different than like you were saying voices or something else. Where would you say that you could treat the voices with your medication, but a lack of motivation is more of, I guess, a self-drive
Speaker 2 00:22:48 Yeah, exactly, exactly. A card. And that's exactly right with the positive symptoms medication. Consider that a lot of times though, voices, a lot of times voices are the last symptoms that go sometimes hard to get rid of voices. A lot of people still have voices that they seem to be the hardest thing to get rid of. But, um, as far as the negative symptoms and the lack of motivation and that, Oh, it's totally like that. You, I mean, just to give you an example, I mean, I can remember, uh, I'd be just lying there on the couch. And, uh, my brother, my brother was a police officer and he was a very fit and worked out all the time. And, and that, and here I am laying on the couch doing nothing basically. And my poor old mom is out shoveling the driveway of snow and everything like that.
Speaker 2 00:23:39 And, and my brother can understand, well, you know, why don't you go to the gym or something and Arnold sports and Hagar, or why don't you follow up your mother with the shoveling of snow and things like that. But there's just nothing in you to really, to really, uh, fight brides. Very, very hard to do that. Um, and, uh, and, but with my turning point, and I'll share that a little bit later, my drink point, but to be on the couch and just lethargic and not moving it's it's, it's like that. And, and there is no motivation. And to tell you the truth, Carly, what I found out throughout the years is that there is no such thing as motivation. All there is, is discipline and habit, discipline and habits, and nothing is going to motivate you, but you have to have the discipline to do something. And then you have to have the habit to stick to it. And so that's what I say all the time. And one of the ways of trying to do that, we've all heard of the Nike slogan, right. Just do it. I think I improved on that card and you know, what my improvement is, just do it now, you know, now, and that's a, that's a procrastinators, uh, a solution right there. Just do it now.
Speaker 3 00:25:01 That's great. You mentioned your brother was a police officer and then the other imagery of someone walking out on that highway against traffic, knowing that they probably shouldn't be there with the world right now. There's obviously a lot of police brutality going on. And that's very top of mind, especially in the United States. How do you feel that we should solve that issue for police officers addressing individuals who are experiencing signs of mental illness?
Speaker 2 00:25:35 Well, it definitely, yeah. I mean, uh, I mean, definitely, uh, that, like, there's been a few cases in Canada as well, where, where there's been shooting by police officers of the mentally ill and things like that. And, uh, I think more understanding and more deescalation of situations that are, uh, you know, firing bullets. And, and I, I think we need to have to have deescalating tactics. I don't think that we should be, you know, defunding our, uh, unfunding our, our, our police, but we should have more things into, you know, deescalation and, and control, because I know that here in Canada, like one people who are mentally ill are picked up by the police, the police officers have to stay at the hospital or whatever for a long time, like six, seven hours. Both of them just they're with a patient and, and that's not good resources to use. And so, yeah, so there definitely needs to be more deescalation, uh, with the mentally ill. But, but the truth is that the truth is pardon is that when I was, when I was delusional and everything, the truth is somebody who is delusional. You really don't know what's going on in their mind. You really don't. Some people can be dangerous. And at points I was driving erratically. I was dangerous in my delusions. And I just thank God that I didn't kill anybody in my delusions, but easily see how something like that could happen.
Speaker 3 00:27:08 How would you want them to approach you or treat you if you were in those delusions?
Speaker 2 00:27:16 Well, you know, yeah. I can remember being picked up by the police actually twice. And, um, and the one time I distinctly remember that officer said, you know, we're going to take you, we're going to take you back to the hospital and everything like that. And he said to me, he said, are you gonna come peacefully? Are you gonna, are you gonna do I need to put the handcuffs on you actually? And I said, no. I said, I realized I need to go to the hospital. I just kind of want to go home. And so he put me in the back of the car without handcuffs and took me to a hospital. The first time that I got picked up when I was, uh, you know, the coldest night of the year and I was naked underneath the street, light is three light. Um, these police officers came and they, they, they took me away.
Speaker 2 00:28:03 But what was going through my mind, I thought I was a new prophet or a Christ or something like that. And I thought these police officers were coming out to take me away, to crucify me here, to denials, to murder me. And you mentioned the fear, the fear you might have when you're being drug away to be taken somewhere. And so that was a little bit more forceful. I don't, because I was scared. I didn't know what was happening. And, but again, to hear, right, when you are delusional, God only knows what's going through your mind.
Speaker 3 00:28:37 Police officers don't know either they only ever you're doing now lashes and the cryings and the whatever you're speaking.
Speaker 2 00:28:48 Exactly. So tired. And what I like to do is if you don't mind, I'd like to share people with my turning point was how I basically making the world better place. Yeah, absolutely. So, uh, so when I was very ill, um, you will, you're always thinking in the past, if I were, if my parents would have been smarter, my mom might have had a different job where my dad just an education, or if I put a study this or did better in this class and everything, we're always thinking about that. And I remembered where a grade seven teacher said to me, she said, you know, bill, if you don't learn how to write properly, you'll never amount to anything in life. And what you meant about writing was my penmanship. I had very poor penmanship. So what I did is I literally said, I said, I'm going to prove to somebody that I can do something.
Speaker 2 00:29:35 And what I did is I phoned up for your literacy foundation. I said, listen, I know how I, I know how to read and write in that, but I want him through my penmanship. So basically Martha came, came over, but it was Mark to give me menship lessons. And Martha was gone denier college for social work. And she was also the executive director of the big brothers and big sisters. And she was also a volunteer at the literacy foundation. So Martha came by and we would, um, dependency exercises, you know, once a week. And, and because of those negative symptoms I had, I would say, Oh my God, you know, Martha's coming tonight. That means I gotta wash my hair and brush my teeth and shave these things that are difficult to do with negative symptoms. But Martha would come over. And then Martha said, one day, she said, bill, you know, I know you're not doing much, which was an understatement.
Speaker 2 00:30:28 And she said, but I go to the college. So why don't you, why don't you sign up for a course and I'll drive you. And I thought, Oh my God, sign up. For course, that means I got to wash my hair and brush my teeth and shave all these things that are difficult to do. But I signed up for a photography course and I didn't enjoy it. I still had that lack of joy, but I went through the motions. I bought a camera, I did the dark and stuff. I went on the field trips and all that. But to do that, the next thing I know is that Martha's on the phone. And Martha says, you know, bill, I'm the seventh group person, chairperson for the Scouts, beavers and Cubs, and we need a treasurer. How would you like to be our treasurer? I thought, Oh my God, that means another day at a wash my hair and brush my data.
Speaker 2 00:31:11 Then I said, okay, Martha come used to the meeting. Well, basically I went to that meeting and that was my turning point because I met Martha's husband. I met her children. I met theater who eventually I to play racquetball and squash with. I started to have help out with cup cars and Apple day and camp outs. And that, and what it did is it gave me a whole new social network of people who accepted me for who I was and not what I had. And that was truly my internal client, because now I said, well, all of my friends are, seem to be working and that needs to be the next step, the work. And I probably did so many different jobs going back and forth and everything. And it wasn't until 1994 or 1990, the three that I had the idea to start up a mental health magazine.
Speaker 2 00:32:03 And I started a magazine called Z magazine, which is magazine on schizophrenia and mental illness. And basically in 1994, I incorporated a company and I did that for 23 years. And now, now, now what I do, uh, today is, um, I, uh, I run a, I have a podcast called helping parents of mentally ill children. And I also have a Facebook group for the same name, helping parents of mental health children. And I do, uh, I have an interview. I have guests on my live broadcast that I do Sunday nights, uh, Eastern time live every Sunday night.
Speaker 3 00:32:41 Wow. Yay. That's so cool. And I'm actually listened to a number of those videos and it's been so fascinating to just learn about mental health, mental illnesses. You know, how can we be better supporters of each other, but also your turning point. It's that feeling of belonging and inclusion and acceptance. There's nothing better than people with disability is to finally find that community where people don't see the mental illness, they don't see the wheelchair, they don't see whatever the issue is. They just see you and your potential and what you can do to go forward. And I think, I mean, that's incredible that you found that so that you could go on and that gave you the motivation to then create that magazine. It's funny. I saw it. I heard you say Z, but I know in Canada, you guys say Zed. I was like
Speaker 2 00:33:37 More people in the States than in Canada for a week, to be honest.
Speaker 3 00:33:42 So as said magazine, I used to work with a lot of Canadians, so I'm very, very used to it. So yeah. So they can find you on your Facebook group and you put out videos, you interview people.
Speaker 2 00:33:58 Yeah. Yeah. So just my new website is under construction right now. But if you went to bill mcphee.ca uh, you could see the website. And like I said, if you go to Facebook, just searching, helping parents of mentally ill children, you'll find my group page. And I have over 400 teaching videos on YouTube. If you go to YouTube and just punch in bill fee. So if they get to my YouTube channel with over 400 teaching videos on mental illness,
Speaker 3 00:34:26 That's awesome. Well, I will definitely share that with all of our listeners. And did you have anything else that you wanted to share about just what you're doing?
Speaker 2 00:34:35 I just, I just want to tell people that it's very important to be persistent. We need to have persistence and keep on trying, because the more you try, something's bound to work out for you.
Speaker 3 00:34:47 Yeah. One last question that I wanted to ask with workplace accommodations, how could a work environment help you and support you? What kind of accommodations would you ask for?
Speaker 2 00:35:00 Yeah, I think, I think when we're dealing with, uh, the mental illness and voices and everything like that, I think a very calming and quiet environment I think is, is the best. Not, not where there's a lot of stimuli going on and as well, I always say that it's very important to live a stress free life and to live as simply as possible. And that's what I tried to do. I tried to live a simple life and I also tried to live a fairly stress free life. And I think, and I think that that is very important. And just, just to give you another thing is that, uh, my son, I said, when I got the girl pregnant, well, my, my son William, he's 34 years old on now and I also have two other children and I have a wife who's 18 and Hannah faith. Who's going to be 16 in November. Yeah, absolutely. I would say that there is life after mental illness. Absolutely.
Speaker 3 00:35:59 Well, great. Thank you so much, Phil. I really appreciate your time and your expertise and definitely direct people over to your Facebook group and your YouTube videos, because we can all learn how to be a better with just helping other people out with mental illness.
Speaker 2 00:36:15 Thank you very much. Pardon? Thank you.
Speaker 1 00:36:18 Thank you, friends for listening, please rate and follow this podcast or text card at (470) 588-1215 with comments and suggestions tune in next week for another disability topic.