Recovery Stories: Bill MacPhee

by Christina Bruni Patient Expert

I'm returning at HealthCentral with more Recovery Stories like I used to publish about a year or two ago.
My goal is to give a voice to individuals who might not have a voice.

Here's Bill MacPhee in his own words:

When Christina Bruni called me I was thrilled to talk to her. She used to be a columnist for my publication, SZ Magazine. I have had many positive comments regarding Christina and she is a great person. I met Christina in New York while we were on a panel together, and we had a chance to go out to dinner together.

The reason Christina contacted me was because she was aware that my book had just been published "To Cry a Dry Tear: Bill MacPhee's journey of hope and recovery with schizophrenia" and she asked me to write about it. This is what I have to say:

My name is Bill MacPhee, and I am the CEO of Magpie Media Inc. which is a publishing company based in Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada. We publish two wellness magazines: SZ Magazine which covers schizophrenia and Anchor which covers depression and bipolar.

In 1987, at the young age of 24, I was diagnosed with schizophrenia. I was hospitalized six different times, lived in three group homes, and had a suicide attempt. I spent five years stuck on the couch; I was very sick and going through a depression. However, with the right medication, support from family and friends, my life turned around. Today I am married, have three children, and my publishing company. I consider myself to be a recovery expert. My definition of recovery is: "when you would not want to be anyone other than who you are today." It is not just for people with a mental illness but it stands for everyone.

"To Cry a Dry Tear: Bill MacPhee's journey of hope and recovery with schizophrenia" is an autobiography that takes you through my life, and if you ever wondered what goes on in the mind of someone who is out of reality, this is the book that will give you a vivid understanding.

In this book, I have shared many of my original nursing notes, as well as my psychiatrist notes. I take you through my positive symptoms: paranoia, delusions and hallucinations, as well as describing my deficit symptoms such as lack of motivation, energy, joy and having a blunted affect all while dealing with depression. I enter into my turning point, and come out triumphant to share with you that there is life after mental illness.

The last 20 years I have been trying to fight the stigma of schizophrenia by educating, speaking and writing about stigma, which I call the Great Wall of Stigma. For the next 20 years I am focusing on changing the name of schizophrenia, which our 2014 Winter Issue explains the whole concept and this year I embarked on a North American tour to promote the book, as well as sharing my anti-stigma campaign "Change the Name and Stigma." To learn about it you can go to Stop the Stigma.

I have accepted the fact that for the next 20 years I plan to do a lot of travelling, speaking engagements, and doing a lot of media interviews. It is so important to get the message across that The Great Wall of Stigma must come down. When people hear the word schizophrenia they automatically think of people like James Holmes, the Colorado movie theater shooter, John Hinckley who shot President Reagan, or Vince Li who decapitated a person on a bus in Manitoba. The fact is that these cases are built up because of sensational media portrayal.

Changing the name to MacPhee Syndrome is a leap into the right direction however, I am aware that it sounds very self-serving but the pros of changing the name to MacPhee Syndrome far outweigh the cons. I am a text book case and I suffered with both positive and negative or deficit symptoms. I went off of my medication, like 80% of people with schizophrenia will do. I had a suicide attempt, which 50% of people with schizophrenia do. I have dealt with weight gain, self-esteem and confidence issues, as well as losing my job, friends, house, and financial security. It is not as if I fell out of bed and hit my head and came up with the idea.

They talked about changing the name 20 years ago and they are still talking about it now. As a man of action, I have decided to put a movement together and make the talk a reality. The bottom line is that the Great Wall of Stigma must come down, and it begins here.

His book is available on Amazon.

Christina Bruni
Meet Our Writer
Christina Bruni

Christina Bruni wrote about schizophrenia for HealthCentral as a Patient Expert. She is a mental health activist and freelance journalist.