A Bright Future
Born and raised in Fort Erie, Ontario, Bill’s first career evolved from what initially began as a favorite childhood pastime: swimming. At the age of 19, Bill was working in Singapore as a commercial scuba diver on oil rigs in the South China Sea. The future looked bright for a man already living his dream.
But five years later, Bill was living a nightmare.
Pacing a psychiatric ward, trapped in a world of illusions, delusions, paranoia and depression, Bill was out of reality (in psychosis); he was 24 years old and diagnosed with schizophrenia.
The diagnosis provided an explanation for his erratic and dangerous behavior, but it also spelled the end of Bill’s life as he knew it. He lost his friends, his home, and his will to live. He spent five years lying on his parents’ couch, watching TV and contemplating ways to commit suicide. He tried once. After six hospitalizations and time spent in three separate group homes, Bill knew something had to change if he ever wanted to triumph over the disease and regain control of his life.
With the help of medication, therapy, and the support of his family and a new network of friends, Bill took slow but steady steps on the road to recovery. He embraced new opportunities by volunteering and getting involved with community projects. He took an interest in local politics and sat in on regular town council meetings held at the local public library.
It was there that Bill noticed a book that would change his life: “101 Ways To Start a Business With Little or No Capital.” Intrigued, he paged through the book and was drawn to a story about a woman who, before the advent of VCRs, set up three separate television sets to watch three different soap operas each day. She then started a newsletter for her working friends to keep them updated on the story lines of each. The concept sparked an idea for Bill.
Within a year, Bill launched his business, Magpie Publishing Inc., and published his first Canadian issue of SZ Magazine, a quarterly magazine intended to bring hope and information to people affected by schizophrenia. In 2003 he added a U.S. edition of the magazine.
Since Magpie’s debut in 1994, Bill has prided himself on his work as a mental health advocate to help those who struggle with schizophrenia, just as he once did. In addition to producing SZ Magazine, Bill travels throughout North America to give inspirational talks about how he pulled himself from the depths of depression to become the successful businessman, husband and father he is today. Bill is also the focus of Canadian film maker Mark Ashdown’s 2009 film, Life After Mental Illness: The Story of Bill MacPhee, which not only highlights Bill’s life with schizophrenia, but the stigma attached to the illness as well.
Bill’s Awards and Achievements:
- 2012 National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare's Mentorship Award- 2nd Prize Recipient
- 2011 Kaiser Foundation National Awards for Excellence- Media Reporting
- 2009 Transforming Lives Award (Center for Addiction and Mental Health)
- 2007 Ontario Psychiatric Association Theodore Allen Sweet Award
- 2005 National Alliance on Mental Illness New York State Distinguished Media Award
- 2005 FAME (Family Association for Mental Health Everywhere) Award
- 2004 National Alliance on Mental Illness Lionel Aldridge Award
- 2002 Golden Jubilee Medal of Queen Elizabeth II
- 2001 Niagara Entrepreneur of the Year Award
- 2001 Canadian Mental Health Association Media Award
- 1996 Lieutenant Governor of Ontario’s Community Action Award