Below the Radar Transcript

The Power of Disability Part 1 — with Victoria Maxwell

Speakers: Paige Smith, Am Johal, Al Etmanski, Victoria Maxwell


Paige Smith  0:01
Hi, I'm Paige Smith with Below the Radar and you’re listening to The Power of Disability, with your host, community organizer, social entrepreneur and author, Al Etmanski. This is a six-part series of the Below the Radar podcast. The Power of Disability features interviews with special guests, centring the contributions of people with disabilities. Before we get to episode one with Victoria Maxwell, we have a short excerpt from last week’s conversation between Am Johal and series host Al Etmanski, in which Al shares the origins of this work and a bit of what you can expect from The Power of Disability series. I hope you enjoy!


Am Johal  0:39
Hi there, welcome to Below the Radar. Delighted that you could join us once again. We are lucky to have Al Etmanski with us today. He's going to be guest hosting a special series with us too. Welcome, Al!

Al Etmanski  0:53
Hey Am, nice to be with you. As they say in broadcast land, I'm a longtime listener of Below the Radar.

Am 1:01
Now you're going to be guest hosting a special series on Below the Radar. We're really lucky to have you hosting on the Power of Disability and wondering if you can set up this series for us and who you're going to be talking to.

Al  1:15
Well, thanks for the opportunity. And I really appreciate the platform that you and Below the Radar and your colleagues and SFU is offering. So, 40 plus years in the disability world, and I had to unlearn a whole lot of things that I thought I knew about disability. First of all, that it could be fixed. Or second, secondly, that it required a charitable impulse from society on behalf of people with disabilities, to the point where I arrive, where I recognize that and realize that, you know, people with disabilities are creators of the world that we live in. And that if we had ignored their contributions, we would not recognize the world we're in. The big difference is that most of those contributions are not acknowledged, or that the contribution of the individual is acknowledged, but not their disability. So in a sense, disability is written out of history in two different ways. So I wrote a book called The power of Disability. And, you know, there's 100 plus stories in there. And it's packaged as 10 lessons for surviving thriving and changing the world. But it doesn't do justice, you know, to what I had researched. There's hundreds and hundreds of phenomenal stories. So the podcast profiles, six, you know, of the more interesting people locally and internationally that I ran across in my research. And the point is to have the listener appreciate people with disabilities, as authoritative sources on justice, on political campaigning, on democracy, on citizen action, on art, on love, on sexuality, on social change, on astronomy, just about every aspect of all aspects of human endeavor endeavor. So, generally, that's the point of the power of disability as a framing. And the point of the podcast.

[music, singing: “Disease, disorder, what can it be? There’s no need for sympathy. Disease, disorder, epilepsy. There is nothing wrong with me.]

Al Etmanski  3:44  
Hello, I'm Al Etmanski. And this is the Power of Disability podcast, highlighting what history has overlooked the contributions of people with disabilities. Today's power of disability guest is Sunshine Coast's Victoria Maxwell. How are you? Hello, Victoria. Nice to see you. I am really looking forward to this conversation. You are an actor, storyteller, keynote speaker. I should add, funny keynote speaker. You're also a wellness warrior. Your specialty is an insider's experience of mental illness. And that's not all. You're a writer, a blogger for Psychology Today, I think 12 years now, is it or somewhere in that? Yeah. 12 years, 12 years, regular columns. You've also received many, many awards? I won't, I won't go into them all. But I like this one the national difference maker award? That’s a good one.

Victoria Maxwell  4:42  
I know. It is, it is. 

Al Etmanski  4:46  
We need a lot more of those right now.

Victoria Maxwell  4:48  
I know it's true. 

Al Etmanski  4:51  
Top 10 entrepreneurs with disabilities. I was not even aware that that was an award. I'm glad it's there. We need more of those, too. 

Victoria Maxwell  5:00
Yeah, we do. 

Al Etmanski  5:01
The Mental Health Commission of Canada, also named your keynote, that's just crazy talk is one of the top anti stigma interventions in the country. And I want to get into that conversation later on. But first of all, welcome. I'm so glad that you're on this podcast. And I'm just happy to be talking to you. Let me start by asking how is your pandemic going?

Victoria Maxwell  5:32 
I love that question. Now, instead of people are saying how are you? How's your pandemic going? How's it treating you? I feel really fortunate. It took a while to sort of, I guess the word is pivot, and also supplement my mental health. I took a bit of a slide for a couple of months in the beginning. But I feel like I've found my sea legs. And one thing that it's brought is it's really asked me to find other ways to offer my services. So not just virtual conferences, but other services that I didn't really know that I would be able to offer. So that's been really good. And it's really given sort of new life to my career.

Al Etmanski  6:19 
What's an example of some additional services or supports that you've moved into?

Victoria Maxwell  6:27  
Well, there's quite a few, it's quite surprising. Some is that I'm starting to do storytelling instruction again. So I've done some workshops, but now I'm actually creating a training program. So people can start to learn how to tell either their mental health story or just any particular important story to them, which I think is important in terms of the disability community, because we don't we don't hear people's disability stories very often. I mean, I think in some ways, we hear more people's stories about mental illness of which is a psychiatric disability. But we don't often hear a lot of, you know, other kinds of stories like Crohn's disease or chronic fatigue, or, you know, it may be anecdotal here and there. So I think it's really important to have a platform for that and to be able to empower people to do it with elements that really make it effective. And then I'm starting to do peer support work with mental health coaching, which I'm really excited about. I took a four-month training, and I was doing it before but I really wanted to get some good sort of good education behind it to validate what I know, new skills and things, so. And peer support, for listeners who don't know, is really when someone who has a similar experience is helping someone else along their journey and probably help isn't the right word. It's more support. work. And then mental health coaching is a little bit more directive, where it's helping people reach goals and, and things like that.

Al Etmanski  8:00  
So I'm interested in where this began. And you know, I've described some only some of your achievements and your the awards services that you offer, but how would you? How would you describe yourself as a person as a human being? Who is Victoria Maxwell?

Victoria Maxwell  8:22  
I was gonna say, in a nutshell, and I was gonna say, okay, maybe that's a bad choice of words. But that's probably part of it, is I feel like a humorist, someone who likes to make people laugh, but not just for the sake of laughing for a way of having people reflect, which I think a lot, I don't do stand up comedy. But the kind of comedy I do, I think, ideally, makes people think, and I use a lot of irreverent humor. And I would say, I have a really strong empathy for a lot of people's struggles for a lot of people who are the underdog, or people who are in very vulnerable populations or positions, and I come from a very privileged position. I'm a middle aged, university educated white woman in Canada. So I have not faced the other barriers that a lot of people do. And even though I have a disability, and I've gone through trauma, I had a lot more resources open to me. So I'm aware of that. And I do my best not to take it for granted. And also not appropriate other people's experiences, or speak for them. But ideally, give them a platform to speak from. And how else would I quirky, quirky, and feisty.

Al Etmanski  9:50  
Okay, as an example of irreverent humor, was that your mention of maybe you shouldn't have used in a nutshell?

Victoria Maxwell  9:59 
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I mean, it's just sort of like that, like, I used to do this presentation with a nurse practitioner, around mental health. And I used to start it, and I used to joke saying, so we're doing a nuts and bolts version of mental health 101. And she's the bolts, and I'm the nut. And, you know, in some people, I mean, and I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and psychosis and anxiety a long, long time ago. And there's, this is not meant to diminish or undermine people's struggles, of course. And if you'd asked me to joke about it, when I was first diagnosed, I would have probably slapped you in the face, as my parents would have as well. So, you know, they say, in comedy, timing is everything, and it's true. So I think it's still sometimes not, you know, I know that I can still offend people, even though I'm talking about myself. And I'm laughing or making jokes about the cultural lens that we have on it, the inadequate kinds of things that we have services and, and experiences that I have, and other people have. Partially because when people laugh, their guard is down. And then it's like, it's like being able to feed somebody, right? So you make them laugh, and you stick the medicine in, and then they don't go, Oh, crap, I swallowed it, and then they then then they sort of have to digest in some way. And so to me, that laughter can sometimes be through irreverent humor, because it reflects things in a very different way. Sort of like how thejester, you know, did it in old time court, right, where they point out the emperor who doesn't have clothes, or they say things that can't be said. And that's the role.

Al Etmanski  11:51  
You mentioned, timing is everything in humor, or comedy. Timing, I think, is everything in dance as well. I know that because I don't have that timing. But what I sleuthed out about you is in your history that you actually danced with John Travolta.

Victoria Maxwell  12:11  
Oh my god, you've done your research.

Al Etmanski  12:13  
Is that right? Okay, so what was the song?

Victoria Maxwell  12:17  
Oh, God, well, it wasn't really. It was if this is the thing, and people don't even believe it. Because the whole scene was cut out of the movie. It was a movie from ages and ages ago. Look who's talking 2, but ironically, I still get royalty checks. And I've probably made more in royalties than I did. And then one day on the set, which is ridiculous. And so it this at the time when we were filming, there actually was no song we just were choreographed and they were going to put the song on top of the soundtrack on top of the film. And it was quite a bad sort of written scene. It was Kirstie Alley's character’s nightmare of John Travolta's fantasy. So it was this really strange thing so Kirstie Alley was having a nightmare that her boyfriend or husband was having sort of all these women falling on him and it was based on, I can't remember if it was Zeffirelli’s, one of his movies and so they had all the archetypes and I happened to be the the healer archetype but I was dressed as a 1960s nurse almost like a Benny Hill nurse for those of you who are old enough to know who Benny Hill is. Anyway and so we just, I danced with him for about you know, I don't know, three minutes or something and I was so intimidated I couldn't believe this what I had to do. Yeah, so.

Al Etmanski  13:38  
Well, I'd like to do a whole series with you on the actors you've known, I know you've also encountered Johnny Depp etc. so.

Victoria Maxwell  13:46  
Very small parts like that. Like I'm the sort of like the little peewee person with a bigger name so they’re very short sort of you know moments and stuff.

Al Etmanski  13:56  
So Victoria, from the ridiculous or playful to the more of the sublime, what would you describe is the biggest challenge that we as a society are facing right now? What would your take be on that?

Victoria Maxwell  14:13  
In terms of mental health specifically? Or disability specifically?

Al Etmanski  14:18  
Or societally, just what you...

Victoria Maxwell  14:22  
Oh I think probably a lack of willingness to see each other’s side, you know. Extremism. And I mean that also, I mean we've seen it in the political arena but I also think most people think of you know why can't the far right understand the far left? But I also think it's about those of us who are in the middle trying to understand people's extreme views because there's always a reason for people's behavior and it's usually to keep themselves feeling safe and I think the more that we can do that and doesn't mean that we have to agree with it just because I can acknowledge it or validate it. Validating doesn't mean agreement, it just means being able to go, okay, I see where you're coming from and I think that has... When I think of it, the first thing that came into my head was the opiate crisis that we've got in Canada and I was just thinking this morning that we have mental health awareness month. We have mental illness awareness month. We have black history month. I don't know if we have drug awareness or addiction awareness month and it has probably, maybe besides psychosis and schizophrenia, probably the heaviest stigma around..  I read this really great article by, I think it's Philip Moscovitch? I can't remember his name, but it was a Globe and Mail from two years ago and he interviewed a woman who had a mental illness and she was a health professional but she wanted to remain anonymous. And she said that you know she talked at these events and she said she stopped doing it, because she sort of felt like she wasn't the voice that needed to be heard or seen and she said that, you know, she can, she puts herself together. She's white middle class, but a lot of the people who are not being served properly wouldn't even be allowed into those events and I'm conflicted to some degree. Like I feel at times, like not that I'm necessarily a token mentally ill person but I'm I sort of am the comfortable person and I guess I’ve reconciled that with myself by saying okay if there can be any door open for people right that allows them to start talking about what they don't want to talk about oh that's okay I'll do that I'll be part of “the medium will be the message” but what we really need to also address is the serious mental illness that exists and not ignore that people that it's on a continuum recoveries on a continuum and there are some people who have such chronic mental illness that they need the support and it's getting whitewashed by all this mental health issues or mental health awareness and I think that's very important that we need to talk about that people who have schizophrenia or bipolar disorder that's really treatment resistant or severe sometimes they aren't able to live on their own sometimes they aren't able to work and it's not in order to exacerbate stigma but it's to give a more realistic picture So that we understand the urgency of services that we need and where the research money can go and where funding can go. Because I often get concerned that anti stigma programs are good, but we actually need programs that meet people where they are and who need them. And I think we're, I think we're failing a lot of people. I think we're failing a lot of people.

Al Etmanski  18:21  
This, you mean, this really gets at the area of systemic change. And as you've described it, there's this tension between identity and solidarity. Yeah. It doesn't have to be a contradiction. It doesn't have to be polarized, it can be reconciled. In many ways, we're all learning how best to do that. And to keep our eye on what's important that really, that needs to be changed, even in the short term. I think you tweeted out just a couple of days ago, I'm just going to read it here, Victoria, that antidepressant prescriptions for new people have increased by 20% this year, and that notwithstanding that, psychiatric medication is not enough. We are in a you said hashtag mental health, hashtag crisis. I mean, you've begun to describe it. But can you describe what you're seeing or hearing or sensing about this crisis?

Victoria Maxwell  18:24 
Yeah, I mean, I would imagine, every one of your listeners is experiencing some sort of uncertainty and increased anxiety. But it's all different degrees of it. And I think if there is any kind of positive that can come out of this is that people who may not have had even thought about their mental health, or anxiety or depression, are now experiencing maybe what it's like for some of us who have lived with it in debilitating ways. And because it's coming so much more to the forefront. But the crisis, I think, what's apparent to me is that our almost only line of defense that's accessible to people, most people is prescriptions, and that sometimes not even available to some people. But if it is, that's often all they get. And studies and research have shown more, over and over that the combination of some kind of counseling in some kind of prescriptions if it's necessary medication, because it's sometimes not gives the best outcome. But it's not just short term therapy, where you get five sessions, if you have, you know, extended benefits with your work. And sometimes people aren't working, so they don't have any benefits. So I've been an advocate for this. And I don't think it'll, I don't know if it'll happen in my lifetime, but in turn in terms of universal health care, the idea of universal mental health care, so that counselors can be available on an ongoing basis, just like your GP would

Al Etmanski  21:19 
This idea of universal mental health care, is an elegant description of the direction we should be going in. And I'm, you know, I'm paying attention to some of the international conversations. They're saying, people are saying that depression is the number one source of disability in the world now, and that there has not been a major investment.

Victoria Maxwell  21:45  
That ratio, you know, the comparison of how much money goes towards Cancer Research versus depression. It's just inadequate. Absolutely.

Al Etmanski  21:57 
So maybe this is a blessing of COVID. Or what I like to say the corona mindset is that it's now apparent, it's clear, and in the mindset that will get us out of this pandemic is probably a mindset that can help us, you know, address this issue of securing a universal mental health care. And your statement, you made a statement that on the surface, it just seems to me... Oh, I mean, I had to read it three or four times, and I realized how profound it is. It's one of those statements that's simple but profound. And you said, recovery shouldn't be a possibility. It should be an expectation. And even to have, you know, that's the driver. That's the motivation in it and I don't know how long you had to work to come up with that. But to me, that's a really elegant framing of, you know, of the moonshot of putting somebody on the moon or whatever it is, it's Do you want to speak a little bit more about that? The determination behind that?

Victoria Maxwell  23:00  
Yeah, that's the feistiness, right? And I also want to preface it, that recovery is relative, depending on whatever your recovery means to you. And to me, it's about the quality of life. So, you know, whether it's, you know, living in a group home, living independently, working full time employment, not working, you know, as long as there's a sort of a sense of meaning and sense of self efficacy to some degree, and connection, is what I mean by recovery. And I guess, this is where I see that I was so fortunate that I, the psychiatrists that I worked with, that really helped me, there was no question about recovery. So when I started speaking about my story, I sort of was a bit surprised. And when I don't understand like, Don't doctors expect people to get well. And I realized that not with mental health, like it's slowly changed now. But most people got the message of saying, you know, you've got a severe chronic illness, you're not going to be able to work, you won't be able to, you know, have a lot of difficulties, stress wise in your life, you're going to have to be very careful. You know, you're not going to be able to do certain things, as opposed to looking at the strengths and saying, Okay, so this is some of the stuff that you're going to deal with. But let's leverage all your strengths. And I think that's where it comes from, where instead of it just being this sort of vague possibility that maybe it gets mentioned that that's the goal. And you can even clarify, like, What does recovery mean? So the person that's in treatment has a say in saying that just doesn't have a say, but directs it? And is self determined around saying, I'll say, what would you? How would you like your life to be? What would you like? And how can I support you best? So it's driven. And I think that comes back to the comments that we were talking about, or the what we were talking about in terms of the systemic change is that it's nothing for us without us. And a lot of times the people who were asking, are not the people who need the service. So it's one thing to maybe include me but we've got people that are on the Downtown Eastside, living in SRO. You know, there's a reason why camps keep popping up, even when there's SROs available, because there's a different culture. And it's not that I don't, you know, it's not about not keeping people safe. But it's about saying, finding out what works. I listened to something on CBC today. And it was this, this really great interview with a woman that had dealt with heroin and meth addiction. And she's lived in this SRO for 10 years. And she says, that's where she fits in, right, she belongs, she has a roommate she knows, and so the supports, like, and the interviewer asked, What would you, what would help, you know, what would you want? And she said, I'd like a dog. And that's the kind of thing that makes people have meaning in their life. It's not the fact that we think that they should, you know, have a different kind of housing situation. And so I could go on about that. I get really passionate about making sure people have a voice to say, what's what's important for them, especially with mental health and addictions, because there's also the side of involuntary commitment. And I was involuntarily committed twice, and it saved my life. And I know many other people had horrible experiences with that. And understandably, where you are not treated well, where it's extremely traumatizing. People are separated from their children. So anyway. So there is a different, a different tone with mental illness because you, at times when I was in psychosis, I was not making decisions that were healthy for me, I was putting myself in danger. And I could reconcile afterwards that I needed to have a different kind of guidance in order to be safe.

Al Etmanski  27:23  
I know you're doing creativity training, as well as one of these new supports or services that you can offer. And I think my wife and I were in the audience the first time you performed as the Bipolar Princess, right. That part of your story. This goes way, way back to the first kickstart. Yes, yes. And the response was overwhelming. I mean, you had the audience in the palm of your hand, laughing, loving and learning, learning along with you. And so I mean, you've become quite proficient at engaging in culture, and engaging in the story that's out there. And shifting it. Flipping it. And so we have a lot to learn from you. And so I wonder, you do want to talk about that a little bit. And I mean, the story about how you got to become the bipolar Princess, and whatever. I mean, there's a long story attached to that. I don't know if you want to share any of that. And it involves your running down the street without any clothes. So yeah, maybe you could just give a little taste of, you know, of this discovery you've made and the intentionality you bring to storytelling.

Victoria Maxwell  28:47 
Right? And are you talking more about sort of my, my sort of journey of diagnosis to getting into telling my story? Yeah, I'll try to give a Coles notes version. So there was a long history of mental illness, my family and I dealt with different kinds of things that were never really acknowledged or not necessarily acknowledged, but identified very early. And eventually, I had a building crisis, from the time I was starting to go into university, which is often very common for people when they're beginning to have signs of mental health issues, sort of late teens, early 20s. And I was dealing with anxiety and an eating disorder, depression. But it wasn't completely disabling me. And so anyway, so I, eventually my depressions, when I graduated, were getting worse and worse. And because of the genetic vulnerability I had, because of circumstantial stuff, where as an actor finances were unstable, things like that we're working hours, and also trauma that in my past, it all came into a perfect storm. And I guess the part that I don't talk about frequently, but I realize a lot of people do relate, is I was so because of the nature of depression, it was, I had lost a sense of meaning for life. And I was often very suicidal. And so I sought out meditation, this was probably 20 years ago, to find literally, to find enlightenment, because I thought if you know, somehow enlightenment means I disappeared, but I still stayed on the earth, I had, my pain would disappear. And so I went to a meditation retreat, but I was not prepared for the intensity of it. And I have a tendency, just temperamentally, that when there's a lot of stress, I disassociate and if trauma comes up really, really fast, or also just the intensity of meditation, I can go into psychosis. And so within that meditation time, I went into what could be called psychosis. But at the same time, I had some really profound spiritual experiences. So any of the people listening, if they know Kundalini Yoga, I had a Kundalini crisis, you know, energy going through my body seeing things, but I was very blissful. It wasn't sort of the frightening visions that some people have in hallucinations. So anyway, so fast forward, it took because of that, I wouldn't accept that I had a mental illness, I felt that it was a spiritual crisis. And it wasn't until I met a psychiatrist and a nurse who really listened to me, and could allow me to hold this sort of paradox that you can have a mental illness as well as aspiritual crisis. And so that's when I finally sort of accepted help. And that really was a five year period, I was in and out of hospitals. And with that, I was running down the street naked looking for God and a psychosis. And that was the second the last one that wasn't even the one that actually gave me the wake up call. And so when I finally got stable, I was able to go back to work. I didn't go back to work as an actor, I went as a receptionist for some stability, but I still really needed something creative. And so at the time, I hadn't heard many stories. It was only celebrity books that I had read or the really tragic sort of faces in the newspaper. So I started writing, and I went to the kickstart festival and had half of my show done, and just did a reading of it. And the response was a surprise. For me, very overwhelming. It was like I had two invitations to go to like another province and to England and all this stuff, and I was just stunned. And I just realized how much people wanted to hear what it was like and so this was way before anybody was talking about it and so I started to write more and I wrote my first show “Crazy for Life” and then I wrote another one about getting back to work and then I wrote another one about dating and then I wrote another one about family and secrets and stigma and started presenting and touring them at communities and conferences and did crossover across north american and did some international work but  not a lot. And it was both incredibly exhilarating but also very liberating for me because it was like I was sharing the secret that I had been ashamed of that a lot of people are ashamed of and it just lightens people's loads so much and I think what it does is it gives people some hope that okay we're not alone. We can get through this together.

Al Etmanski  34:01  
Thank you. It's a great story and I encourage the listeners to follow up with you on these performances and more of your writing. I wanted to get at, you and your husband, Gord, have been together now for 20 years and your most recent Psychology Today post is, and I love this, “Is there love after the psych ward?” And then you proceeded to give some tips for mental illness and marriage that I think makes sense to me generally, yeah, and you know your tips involved a number of things but as you describe it, Gordon met you first yeah not the illness. This question of relationships and when one partner may be a caregiver or is in danger of becoming a caregiver and and preserving the you know if I can put it this way the sanctity of the relationship and the context of potential caregiving whatever it seems to me is really important to understand. So I mean I guess the short question is, is there love after the psych ward? That we know there is, but maybe you have some comments on that but also could you talk a little bit about this question of potential enmeshment that is not as positive as it could be.

Victoria Maxwell  35:28  
Yeah, the best of relationships can be codependent anyway without knowing it and even with the best of intentions, but when there's an illness or a condition I think it can be even more difficult to like you said make sure that you protect the sanctity of the relationship so that gordon I are husband and wife first not caregiver and patient or caregiver and person that's needing support but how do you do that when I was really really ill like when I went into a psychosis I needed god to be there for me and I think one of the ways is what he does very well is lets me know when you know he has reached his capacity and where he knows that I need to be leaning on other people more and that also means having in place prior to a crisis, a really wide support network that includes both health professionals and social connections so my social network is big enough is sort of like when you're on a trapeze and that and the the net is huge right so that no matter where you fall you're going to be caught and not one person has to catch you it's not like where you're you know diving off the high high tower and you're trying to get into this little tiny barrel because there's a lot more risk with that right and so although I would say being on a trapeze I'd be really scared to and so I make sure that I have you know I have two friends who I can really really talk to, well probably three friends where I can have very meaningful conversations that can give me a lot of good support. I have a psychiatrist. I have my counselor at the mental health team. I have my GP. I have online resources that I go to. I have my work which is one of my support things. And so gord and I did get into a pattern where we were sort of becoming each other's therapist almost I think this can happen in anybody's relationship. But it's easier to slip into when there is a chronic condition. And so we've sort of had to step back and recreate the container and understanding. So where is it that that becomes problematic, and we're both pretty aware of it now. And it's sometimes uncomfortable to unpack and untangle. But the fruits of it are really wonderful. So any of the discomfort or awkward growing pains really makes it worth it.

Al Etmanski  38:30  
In my current book, The Power of Disability, and I'm honored that you allowed me to profile you in there. It has 100 profiles of powerful disabled people around the world past and present. And you also allowed me to excerpt rules for making fun of mental illness. And I just wondered if we could end this podcast with you offering the listeners? Let's put it this way, the top number one rule. Can you remember them?

Victoria Maxwell  39:01  
Yeah, I think I can, you can even correct me if I'm wrong. It's sort of a, one that goes almost for any kind of humour or comedy, that if you have a mental illness, and you want to make fun, and use humour, you are allowed to, if you don't have mental illness, it's totally off the table. It's just like, if you're Italian, you can make jokes about being Italian. If you're not Italian, you're never gonna make jokes about that. And so to me, that is probably the number one and probably the other one is like it's I'm not laughing at people. I'm making jokes about the situations I have gotten into. Did I get number one or two right?

Al Etmanski  39:50  
Seems like a good place to start and a great place to end this conversation. Victoria, thank you so so much.

Victoria Maxwell  39:59  
Oh, you're welcome. It's always a pleasure to talk to you, so thoughtful.

Al Etmanski  40:04  
It's been wonderful. And just for the listeners, we will have more information on the Victoria's website, on the Below the Radar website, and you can get details of your services, support, the old ones, the new ones, you can sign up for your regular bulletin, you can book her for your next conference zoom or not.

Victoria Maxwell  40:28  
And if you’d like to see the show, I have downloads available for really reasonable and if people aren't able to afford them, just tell them to contact me and we can work something out. 

Al Etmanski  40:40  
So beautiful. Thank you. And for the listeners. If you want to read more about the power of disability check out check out my website, also on the Below the Radar website and check out my latest book. I think you will understand what I mean by this subtitle after listening to Victoria Maxwell today, “The Power of Disability: Ten Lessons for Surviving, Thriving and Changing the World. Thanks again, Victoria.

Victoria Maxwell  41:10 
Thank you.


Paige Smith  41:18  
This has been part one of The Power of Disability, a special six-part series of the Below the Radar podcast. Check back next Thursday for the second instalment. This series is curated and hosted by community organizer, social entrepreneur and author Al Etmanski. The theme music for The Power of Disability is “There is Nothing Wrong with Me, Epilepsy” by Todd Oseki. The production of this series is supported by SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement.

[music, singing: “Disease, disorder, what can it be? There’s no need for sympathy. Disease, disorder, epilepsy. There is nothing wrong with me.]

Transcript auto-generated by and edited by the Below the Radar team.
April 22, 2021

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