Welcome to Crazy and the King!!
Oct. 27, 2022

CATK NDEAM TAKEOVER: Disability Solutions' Amanda Burris

CATK NDEAM TAKEOVER: Disability Solutions' Amanda Burris

In our final CATK NDEAM Takeover, Torin is joined by Amanda Burris, Director of Sales at Disability Solutions.

In our final CATK NDEAM Takeover, Torin is joined by Amanda Burris, Director of Sales at Disability Solutions. As Amanda put it in a post recording message to Julie, "Torin got real. Or shall I say got me to get real real." - A skill we all know the King to have.

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Production and Music: DJ Cellz


0:00:01.0 Torin: We've been about this work: Diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, shared through the voices of a White woman and a Black man. We bring lived experiences. We have pursued D&I progress for most of our professional lives. We use Crazy and The King to cover news, tips from colleagues and host incredible guests. Listeners, count on Julie and I to transparently drive the conversation. We thank you for rocking with us. Check it. Julie, kick off the show.




0:00:40.3 Torin: So this is our final episode of our first time doing a Crazy and The King takeover. Now, I know I came in a little bit different because, see, Julie would normally say, "Welcome to Crazy and the King". She's got a slow, real cool intro, and then I come in with all this energy, and I'll always hit her with something like from left field, something... She never knows where I'm going to come from, it's always something from left field. So today, we're gonna do it a little bit differently. We're gonna start all over again. We're gonna kind of stay here, but we're gonna start all over again. And my co-host is going to say "Welcome the Crazy and the King", and then I'm gonna hit her with something from left field because I wanted to feel like J and I are rocking. J is off doing her thing, gallivanting in Europe, and I'm here holding it down, and happily holding it down for our last episode of the October Crazy and The King takeover. But Amanda, I want you to kick us off real quick.


0:01:57.2 Amanda Burris: Alright. Well, welcome to Crazy and The King.


0:02:02.3 Torin: No, no, no, no, no, no.


0:02:03.1 Amanda Burris: No?


0:02:05.0 Torin: No, no, no.


0:02:05.6 Amanda Burris: No?


0:02:06.4 Torin: We're gonna do it again. We're gonna do it again. We're gonna... See, sometimes I get to do this with Julie. I get to... But see, Julie will cheat. Julie will stop the recording, and then she wanted to be just perfect, so she'll stop the recording and we'll start all over again, and then listeners, they don't get to hear this good juicy B-roll, what do you call it, blooper version. And that wasn't even a blooper, it's just that I'm challenging you digitally to do it again. I'm just gonna challenge you digitally to do it again, just one more time.


0:02:38.2 Amanda Burris: Welcome to Crazy and The King.


0:02:41.6 Torin: And so, I gotta tell you, Amanda, I am extremely happy that you stepped up and said you would co-host and rock with me during this Crazy and The King takeover. We're not gonna tell people just yet why you were sitting in during the month of October, National Disability Employee Awareness Month, but we are gonna tell people a bit about who you are. So again, thanks for rocking with me and being my co-host. Who is Amanda Burris?


0:03:12.0 Amanda Burris: Oh, well Amanda Burris, from a work standpoint, I'm the Director of Sales at Disability Solutions, I love my job. Personally, I'm an advocate for people who live with disabilities, whether they're invisible or visible. I love my husband, live out in Spokane, I have two beautiful dogs, Bunny and Jet, and I love my life.


0:03:34.0 Torin: You say you love your husband?


0:03:35.0 Amanda Burris: I love my husband, he's a good man.


0:03:37.0 Torin: What's his name? Let's give him a shoutout. What's his name?


0:03:38.0 Amanda Burris: David Burris. He's fantastic.


0:03:40.7 Torin: That's right. We give him a good shoutout. We give him a good shoutout. Yes, yes, yes. Spokane, Washington. How long have you been out there?


0:03:49.8 Amanda Burris: Going on five years this February.


0:03:52.6 Torin: Where did you move from?


0:03:54.0 Amanda Burris: Seattle, Washington.


0:03:55.0 Torin: Okay. So you've been at upper northwest for a while now.


0:04:00.0 Amanda Burris: Yes, yes.


0:04:01.0 Torin: Pretty country, right?


0:04:01.9 Amanda Burris: Yeah.


0:04:02.8 Torin: Good stuff.


0:04:02.9 Amanda Burris: Beautiful out here. Beautiful.


0:04:04.4 Torin: So, Let me hit you with this curve ball from left field. I'm of the age where I don't really remember Spirit Week in high school. Do you remember Spirit Week in high school?


0:04:18.0 Amanda Burris: I remember a lot of things in my life and yes, I do remember Spirit Week.


0:04:23.0 Torin: So, did you participate? Did you do the things that they asked you to do in high school, or challenged you to do, or allowed you to do?


0:04:32.2 Amanda Burris: I played sports, and so on days where you wear sports stuff, I did that in PJ Day, but some days I definitely didn't participate in.


0:04:40.0 Torin: Okay, alright. So let me try to make this story fairly quick. When he listens to this, he's going to absolutely get me, but this is about my youngest king. So, this... One of the days that they had Amanda, for Spirit Week was anything other than a book bag, anything other than a book bag. So he had to bring something that he could carry his books in outside of a book bag. Originally, he wanted a Target shopping cart. We saw a couple of Target shopping carts sitting at one of the lights by the intersection and he was like, "Dad, hop out, put it in your truck, let's use the Target shopping cart." I considered it. He talked about it with his mom. His mom was like, "Absolutely not, absolutely not, absolutely not." Cool. So we try to make some concessions. I went up to Home Depot. I said, maybe Home Depot would give me a shopping cart. Home Depot said, "No, because if anything happens in the school, we don't wanna be liable. But we love the idea, so we're gonna give you a wheelbarrow," brand new wheelbarrow, Amanda. So they gave me the wheelbarrow. Long story short, I was out of town when he needed it and I had the biggest vehicle, wheelbarrow wouldn't fit in the other vehicle, so we had to go with an alternative. Here's the alternative. We get him a brand new construction or commercial mop bucket. He goes to school dressed up like a janitor.


0:06:16.0 Torin: And it is such a hit that he ends up making posters. And you know how you have class king or school president, whatever these little... Not little, but these things are. My king puts up posters and he says, "I'm running to be janitor of the year." Put the QR code on, put a picture of him dressed up as a janitor, had his books in the mop bucket, had a real mop. I mean, when I say it was good, it was good. When I say I'm bragging, it was good, so much so that people were like, "We love this." Amanda, you know, he got in trouble for putting those pictures up?


0:07:04.7 Amanda Burris: Why?


0:07:06.6 Torin: Well, I won't go into all the detail, but they actually gave my man one hour of in-school suspension. And so I sit back and I share that story because, yes, he was attempting to have fun, I could see if they were upset and said, "Well, we gotta take the pictures down because we can't show favoritism towards you and the creativity that you have. We wanna be consistent. If someone puts up a racist or homophobic message, or if someone puts up something that may be a bit political or what... We just need to be uniform." If they would have said that to him, I would have said, "You know what, got you. That's good."


0:07:54.3 Torin: But the reasons they came back and corrected him, scolded him, if you will, and placed him in in-school punishment caused me pause, and not so much so that as a father, I feel like I need to go up to the school, or as a black father, I feel like I need to go up to the school, and I say that for distinction, but I feel like it was a lesson for the adults and leadership that you have to do a better job of communicating your messaging and making sure that when you are holding a person accountable, that you are staying specific to the issue in which you are holding them accountable and you're not bringing in a whole bunch of outside influences and extra stuff that absolutely makes no sense. But the reason I tell the story is because Julie and I, we always use our podcast in part as a historical reference point. And I want him to be able to look back years from now and remember historically, he caused a little bit of creative ruckus at his high school. You know what I mean?


0:09:05.4 Amanda Burris: Yeah, I... Well, when you told the story, I was like "Man, that's so creative," and then to hear... Well, I think there's definitely better ways to have gone about that, and I think that schools need to be thinking about that. Inclusion is inclusion, but we also need to enhance creativity, and there's a fine balance, and I agree, there's... Has he done things that causes him to get suspended before on this path? No. Like, "Warning... Let's have a conversation," but the right message.


0:09:31.0 Torin: Absolutely. And speaking of creativity, some of us listen to music, and I saw this piece around Spotify which says that Spotify is set to post a bump in users and revenue. Now, are you a Spotify user?


0:09:49.1 Amanda Burris: I am.


0:09:49.2 Torin: So playlist, like is there a favorite genre for you? Do you have some curated playlist? Do you do your playlist in a way of helping you with workout, helping you with your diagnosis? Tell me how you engage with Spotify.


0:10:03.8 Amanda Burris: It's changed over the last, I would say, 10 or 12 years. I've got playlists that I made way back when, in fact, one of them popped up yesterday and I was like, "Wow, this was kind of sad music about 10, 12 years ago." And then I also pick up some of my favorite artists like Tom Petty, and then let that kind of curtail afterwards. And I also like that Spotify has learned me, and so they've introduced me to new music, and so I let mine just kinda go.


0:10:30.9 Torin: Yeah, so you said something, you said it showed you a list from 10 or 12 years ago, so... I don't use Spotify. Nothing against 'em, I just don't use them. So do they have like an algorithm or something, like if you clicked on an old song from the 19, I don't know, '60s or '70s, it triggers them to say, "Oh, wait a minute, she listened to this a decade ago"? How does that work?


0:10:57.0 Amanda Burris: I think it's a couple different things, the type of genre music that you listen to. So you listen to Pearl Jam, White Stripes, Regina Spektor, and they're all on some playlist, when you end up playing that playlist and that playlist ends, Spotify is like, "Oh, she likes this kind of music. I'm gonna play her these artists," and so then you get inundated with new music. So it's got a little bit of a combo.


0:11:20.5 Torin: Yeah, and so that's what my young king did. He actually just put his headphones on, he told me, he was like, "Hey Dad, you may get a call this afternoon from the assistant principal, and here's the scenario." He looked at me, I looked at him, I smiled, he smiled because he knew, as long as the King is cool, then he's cool, and put his headphones on and he started listening to his music.


0:11:45.2 Torin: But Spotify is looking at a bump in user and they said they feel like users and revenue going up is suggesting that there's a bit of resilience around consumer spending. Now, I'm not suggesting, Amanda, that people are going to keep their eye on Spotify and whether or not people continue to use, but the point is, if we are on the verge of a recession or something that is going to hit the economy in a way that is a bump or catastrophic, I believe a whole lot of people are gonna be listening to music because we need all types of escapes from some of this negative news.


0:12:28.2 Torin: Speaking of negative news, there are some out there who continue, I mean, they absolutely continue to beat the drum that being woke is not good, and that some happens to be one of the individuals who in 2019, 2018, '19... '19. '19. I'm sorry. Who in 2019, 2020 started to complain about diversity training in the federal government. That person is Christopher Rufo. And if you have been listening to our podcast for any period of time, you have heard Julie and I talk about Christopher Rufo.


0:13:11.5 Torin: I'm not giving out his Twitter handle. You can find him on your own. But this cat continues to beat down and challenge positions around diversity and inclusion, and in this instance, it's woke capitalism. He, Amanda, is going after organizations that are "showing up" in the public sphere as woke. Another way to talk about it is the acronym ESG, Environmental, Social and Governance, ESG initiatives. What's your feeling around people and/or corporations, because they are separate, but made up of one, if you will, what's your position around being woke, or woke capitalism?


0:14:09.8 Amanda Burris: That's an interesting question. I actually remember when I very first heard the term, and it was when I started working at Disability Solutions, although I think that personally, from a woke perspective, I guess I've been woke my whole life. I think that personal privileges and personal freedoms are personal freedoms and that comes down to humanity, and if the core of humanity and those freedoms aren't protected, then what do we have.


0:14:32.0 Amanda Burris: Now, from a corporate perspective, it's interesting, there's been lots in the headlines around corporations having to make some decisions, whether it's considered woke or not, and I think that we need to be making decisions from a corporate perspective that are truly inclusive, really normalizing people's individuality and what makes them unique, but I think that the company has to want to do that.


0:14:56.6 Amanda Burris: I can't tell the CEO of the pillow company and who's not maybe a woke person that he has to go do that. He runs his own company. But I also think that people who want to be employed and want to have personal freedoms and choices and to have an inclusive environment, they can go find a company who's doing those right things.


0:15:13.2 Amanda Burris: And so I think that there's... It's a very interesting place right now for that. And that term "woke" for me... People are always gonna find something to pick on somebody about. Why can't we just look at it as we're trying to be inclusive for everyone? It doesn't matter what your race, gender, ethnicity, sexual preference, orientation is. We should be inclusive, and corporations at their heart should start with thinking about protecting it, but also creating a space where employees feel that they can bring them true selves to work. So that's how I feel.


0:15:44.1 Torin: No, I absolutely appreciate that. I'm curious, you are... How long have you been with your employer?


0:15:52.2 Amanda Burris: A little over three years this past July. Yeah.


0:15:55.0 Torin: Got it. So you mentioned that you learned of the term at Disability Solutions.


0:16:01.9 Amanda Burris: Yeah.


0:16:02.4 Torin: So I'm wondering, just as you peer back in your professional history, have other employers celebrated the month of October, National Disability Employee Awareness month? Have you been employed with any other entity where they saw this month as one of importance and tried to do some things to highlight people from the disability community?


0:16:27.9 Amanda Burris: No.


0:16:28.3 Torin: Never?


0:16:31.1 Amanda Burris: Never.


0:16:31.6 Torin: Were you aware of it before you joined Disability Solutions?


0:16:34.5 Amanda Burris: No.


0:16:35.7 Torin: Interesting. Not so much.




0:16:41.6 Amanda Burris: It shouldn't be a surprise.


0:16:43.6 Torin: Yeah, it's not one... It's not a surprise. I just did that for sound effect. Let me see if I can replicate that. Interesting.


0:16:49.7 Amanda Burris: Yeah. [chuckle]


0:16:50.0 Torin: No, it's not. However, we're gonna talk about why you are here co-hosting with me on this beautiful, beautiful afternoon. So let's take a quick break, and then we'll come back into the episode to talk more about who you are, how you show up. And you mentioned a moment ago that full self and how we can do a far better job of allowing that fullness to come out in others that we are working with. So we'll be right back.


0:17:23.1 Torin: Alright, so look, our conversation today, of course, is with my co-host Amanda Burris. She is responsible for some of them things, some of them things at Disability Solution. So just real quick, put it inside like that Twitter format, what is it that you do inside of Disability Solutions and why did you decide to join me today as co-host?


0:17:51.2 Amanda Burris: I'm actually gonna reverse that.


0:17:52.3 Torin: Okay.


0:17:53.2 Amanda Burris: So we talk about the why and then the what idea of Disability Solutions. I joined you today, one, to talk about my invisible disability, which I am a person who lives with Bipolar 1. And about 12 years ago, over a period of two years, I experienced about three manic episodes. And I then led to finding that there's not a lot of resources for mental health. It's getting better. I think the pandemic has allowed to shed a light on mental health 'cause more people experience that from an isolation perspective.


0:18:30.0 Amanda Burris: But prior to that, like mental health to me was a four-letter word and I would never mention it to my employer. And I was working at employers when I went through a couple of my episodes. And so about eight or nine years ago, I ended up starting some advocacy groups, did some peer-to-peer coaching, but also went back into the employment field, sales and marketing that I was in, and that led me down the path to find Disability Solutions, and I reached out to my fearless leader, friend, mentor, and she ended up hiring me to do sales. And so what I do isn't sales. What I do is beat down the doors of DEI professionals, talent acquisition to say, "Hello, we're here and we deserve a voice and we deserve a platform." And when I first joined Disability Solutions and you talk to these employers like disability was like 10, right?


0:19:25.6 Amanda Burris: Like, "That's got legal implications. We don't wanna talk about that. There's not that many people in my company with disabilities." And what we've actually seen is a growing progress. With George Floyd's murder, we saw diversity taking a different tone, but at the same time, disability started becoming part of the conversation because we're also in the middle of a pandemic. And so I'm out there telling DEI leaders and talent acquisition leaders and compliance people that it's not about a checkbox, it's about making sure that we're normalizing, creating programs, a culture of trust. Because me as a person with a hidden disability, I don't have to tell you unless you're creating a place for me that is a platform, but not necessarily just a platform, but that you're allowing people with disabilities to join the workforce and not live with fear that they're gonna get fired if they say that they live with a disability, that they're gonna be looked down on, that they're gonna have to have conversations that they don't want to have. And so that's why I do what I do, and that's what I do every day.


0:20:28.6 Torin: Let me ask you, you mentioned in your introduction you had three episodes, manic episodes. Put a timeline on that. How long ago was that?


0:20:39.3 Amanda Burris: Yeah, absolutely. My first episode was February 11th of 2011. I then had a follow-up episode in 2012 in April. And my last episode, which is celebration, is gonna be 10 years ago this December. So over a period of about two years.


0:20:56.9 Torin: So I wanna pull the covers back on that a bit and I wanna learn something here. I wanna learn something. So this is not an episode where I went down a rabbit hole of doing a bunch of research because I wanted to be present rather than reading off a litany of questions, so to speak. And I felt... I feel living through your experience is a different type of learning. I can always get to the questions and some of the data points on websites, as can our listeners. I wanna learn through conversation. So when you say three episodes, first being 2010, 2011-ish, the last one being almost 10 years ago, are you suggesting... Are you saying to our listeners that prior to '10 and after '12, '13, there were no instances of your Bipolar 1 showing up in a way that was visible to people around you?


0:22:10.0 Amanda Burris: Oh gosh, I mean, I'm a good actor. I would say that I probably started experiencing different things, whether... But you also don't know in teens, whether that's teens going through puberty or it's actually a teen having some type of... And I wouldn't say it was a manic episode, 'cause I had no manic episodes until 2011. And in fact, there wasn't even any indication of that up until that moment. And so there were definitely depression. I dealt with different depression and different isolated incidents. And in fact, I was diagnosed and provided medication that wasn't good for someone with Bipolar 1, 'cause we've come so far in psychiatry, we're learning more, and a lot of your typical anti-depressants aren't good for somebody with Bipolar 1. It can cause them to actually have some of those suicidal thoughts.


0:23:01.6 Amanda Burris: And so for me, there were some diagnosis, but it was literally at 29 years old, I mean... And it affected everyone around me. Nobody knew anything. And nobody knew how to support it. They didn't know what to do as it was happening. And so there was a lot that was learned from my friends and family and community about how to support somebody who is going through that, but also even furthermore, how to support someone as they're getting healthy and coming out of that and allowing them to be individualistic and not think about the Bipolar 1 as being the person. So there was a lot that was learned.


0:23:39.8 Torin: So when this... And I'm assuming, if you are highlighting these three episodes, these three were the more or most intense. These three were the most, if you'll allow me, disruptive. These three...


0:24:05.4 Amanda Burris: Oh yeah.


0:24:06.0 Torin: Were the ones that were the most pronounced. So as best as you can remember, how did you feel? Because you juxtapose it with, "I'm a young teen and yeah, I was a little depressed, but I don't know if I'm just going through girl things, puberty, not feeling pretty enough, got a couple of pimples on my face and I don't like that, you know what I mean, the boys are not talking to me, the girls are not talking to me, and the cheerleaders don't like... " All of the things that we go through in high school. You understand? All of the things that we all experienced in high school and handle a little bit differently, you set that stage perfectly. So when these intense episodes appear, what's going through your mind?


0:25:04.4 Amanda Burris: Oh, well, when it was happening, I mean when they...


0:25:08.9 Torin: Perhaps, post. Maybe I should say, postly, when you got to look back... I don't wanna use the word or phrase rather quickly, but when you were in a position where you said, "Okay, I'm feeling different, I'm thinking and operating differently, let me look back on what happened," what went through your mind?


0:25:26.7 Amanda Burris: Well, first, my episode was triggered by being laid off by an employer. I did find a job within that employer, and then I decided to leave that employer. And for me, one of the things that was a trigger was how I was feeling about art and music, and a couple of months later, it was not sleeping for seven days, not thinking you need to eat. And it was pretty grandiose thoughts, not only about myself, but universe, that had to do with things like music, love, life. I was at the high of my game. I will tell you that as hard as it is to... I never want to go back, but I'll tell you the most beautiful moments that I've experienced in my life in all honesty was in those manic moments. So what goes up must come down. And so if you go that high and for that long, and my episodes did include where I was...


0:26:34.3 Amanda Burris: What do they call it? 51-50? You go in for seven days and then... Or three days and you're there for three weeks. So I had in-person care and out-person care, and I had a lot of care during that time. But what happens is, what goes up must come down and when you come down, that's the hardest part, because you then realize what your diagnosis is, you then realize what you are and what everyone has seen, and you now have to go forward, and you have to create a new path, and you have to realize who your true self is. 'Cause if you were something for 29 years and all of a sudden you're told that you're something else, then who are you really? And I think that there was definitely a loss of identity, which is why I cycle through two episodes fairly close together after the first, because you don't wanna be who you are when you get that diagnosis, because it's that hard. So anyway, I think that that covers...


0:27:34.9 Torin: Talk about going up. What does that mean? When you say when you go up high and you say these were some of the most beautiful moments, can you be a bit more illustrative? I mean, what does going up mean? I understand that if I'm using some sort of a drug and I have a high. When you say, "I love who I was in these moments," do you feel like you are someone different? Do you feel... Or are you able to document that your work performance is extremely better, you're more creative? What does going up mean to you, for you?


0:28:09.8 Amanda Burris: In those moments, I heard music in a different way that I never heard music before, just the different levels in music. One of the first things that I did was January 1st of 2011, instead of going to a New Year's party, I decided to paint a wall, painted clouds, and then wrote in the clouds and broke everything down. But I think that the person that I was playing for, I would say from 10 years old when my parents got a divorce until I was 29, was a different person than who I actually was. I was trying to put on the face of something that I wanted to be, but that wasn't who I was. And so when you say creativity, that was the biggest enlightenment, like art and music. And I wanted to play the guitar and I wanted to get up and I wanted to sing in front of people.


0:28:55.2 Amanda Burris: And singing actually became the best therapy for me. I do a lot of karaoke. I sing with my dad every Saturday night since the pandemic came on on virtual Zoom. But music was actually the thing that grounded me, and then allowing me to kind of be able to move forward and gave me hope.


0:29:15.6 Torin: So what does coming down look like? And it's so interesting, we started talking about Spotify and your playlist. Now there's an attachment to your response there and I can absolutely see you probably have a robust library of beautiful playlist. But what does coming down look like? Does coming down suggest for you, again, and I keep saying for you, because while I know that Bipolar 1 is in a large number of individuals across the globe, I believe everyone interacts and experiences it individually. So what does coming down look like for you? Do you not wanna do music? Do you not wanna do karaoke? On a different subject, they say that Brittney Griner's attorney wanted to take her a basketball while she's in prison over in Russia, and she said no. She said, "I can't think about touching a basketball right now because it's too painful." So, what does coming down look like for you?


0:30:28.5 Amanda Burris: The first time I slept for about three months afterwards, like couldn't get out of bed. And when I say three months, it was like 20 hours a day. My brain, I use every piece of serotonin and any type of chemical and I released it and it popped off and now I have to rebuild. And so, there's gaps in my resume as a result of that. And I would say that some of the other things that I had to do was sit down and color, cross-stitch. I needed to keep myself busy, but my brain... I needed to find a new balance. I needed to find a new way of thinking and moving forward and slowing my brain down while at the same time, keeping myself busy 'cause I wasn't working. Coming down for me too was realizing that I didn't want to be always the center of attention. I didn't wanna be the life of the party. I had to make different choices of friendships. I had to make different choices of work and work environments. For a while, I worked jobs where I was an executive assistant and a mortgage assistant, 'cause being an assistant was easy. I can do what someone asked me to do.


0:31:43.6 Amanda Burris: And it was also rebuilding my own confidence when I came down, 'cause that was the hardest part, was seeing through this tunnel, 'cause I felt like a canary in a coal mine. And so... Yeah.


0:31:57.7 Torin: Are you in any support groups?


0:32:01.4 Amanda Burris: I have a very good family and friend network now, but I was. I mean, I relied on... I had a great psychiatrist, a therapist. I also use Sound Mental Health, which is out in the Seattle area. When I came home from an episode where I ended up in San Francisco, which is a whole another story for another day Torin, Sound Mental Health actually gave me a grant 'cause I didn't have healthcare. So they made sure that I received the means, and I was in a support group there. And I also came back before I moved out here a couple of times and spoke to people who were going through a similar experience as me. As someone five, six, seven years later who'd come out of that and how important those support groups were for me, because I had thought that I was alone, but there's other people out there who experience things like me. And in fact, I think it's 2.5% of the population, six million people who experience Bipolar 1, and there's also Bipolar 2 and depression as well.


0:33:00.2 Torin: Yeah, I was looking at that number, the National Comorbidity Survey Replication, or their acronym is NCS-R. They said an estimated... You said somewhere about as 2.8% or so, roughly, 5.7 million adults diagnosed with bipolar every single year. Now, I'm assuming there is definitely a distinction between Bipolar, Bipolar 1. Am I safe in saying that, or is there not a distinction?


0:33:30.9 Amanda Burris: For Bipolar 1, you have experienced one or more manic episodes. I think it... I believe it's seven days or more, which oftentimes relates to some of that, not sleeping, not eating, usually needs hospitalization and other therapy supports to be able to calm down. And then Bipolar 2, that's where you're in a more depressive state. You will have manic cycling, but you don't actually have that hypomanic episodes that you'll see in Bipolar 1.


0:34:03.6 Torin: So it says at least some 4.4% of adults will experience being bipolar in their lifetime. And when I saw that number, it struck me as, "Wow." So I asked about the support groups for a reason because I know that leading and supporting, developing an individual, keeping, retaining an individual in the workplace that has been diagnosed is a thing. I don't know how to intensify, quantify, qualify that it's a thing. I just know it's a thing. And why do I know it's a thing? Because my father was bipolar. I know it's a thing because my father lost employment and lost out on opportunities because of his being bipolar. I don't know if he was Bipolar 1, Bipolar 2, I just know he was bipolar. I know that he used to hide his vodka under the kitchen sink in a brown paper bag inside of another container. It wasn't the original liquor bottle that it came in. It was in another container, in a brown bag under the sink, as if we wouldn't find it.


0:35:35.9 Amanda Burris: Right.


0:35:37.2 Torin: So I ask about the support groups... Are you hearing or have you heard of other challenging stories around how people need to be supported in the environment, how they've found breakthrough and been able to be welcomed in professional environments and things run smoothly? Can you give us a couple of examples, either that you heard or of your own?


0:36:15.2 Amanda Burris: I'll say my own, to start with, and it wasn't until I came to Disability Solutions that I chose to disclose that I live with a mental health disability or the mental health disability that I had. And I did that probably about six to seven months into my employment with Disability Solutions with Julie. And it was important for me to share that with her. I was gonna be publishing an online article and wrote something, and I really wanted her feedback for that. 'Cause she shared with me certain personal things and I wanted to make sure that I was doing due diligence to the support that... To offer other people who live with Bipolar 1. And at that time, it was very comforting, and I think it helped her also be a better leader and manager and support system for me from an employment space.


0:37:15.0 Amanda Burris: I also have a near and dear friend of mine who's on the Seattle area. When she went out to look for employment, she was very honest about her own bipolar diagnosis. We were in a kind of a support group for each other before I left Seattle. And her employment has flourished and they're able to work with her and provide her the schedule and the means, but also the schedule every day that allows her to be successful. And so I think that there's ways that it can be done well. But what I will say Torin, is unfortunately from an employment perspective, I mean, when I was very first diagnosed, I think we've come a long way in the last 12 years, but they told me that one in seven people with my diagnosis would attempt suicide.


0:38:03.0 Amanda Burris: They also told me that I would most likely be on disability unemployment for the rest of my life. Oh, and that hit hard as somebody who needs work. And they also, in the hospital that I was in, they also told me that people with my diagnosis have a really hard time keeping their jobs because of their diagnosis. And so I also think that as we think about some of those supports, we also need to make sure that employer organizations are prepared to help people, not just with bipolar, but any type of mental health disability, and understand how to guide them in the right way to be able to get help for themselves. And in worse case scenarios where someone really does need help, you can dial 988. You can get somebody out there to help somebody when they aren't able to help themselves, which oftentimes people with Bipolar 1, when you're in a manic state and everything's so happy, you don't understand why everybody thinks something's wrong.


0:39:06.2 Torin: You raise so many points.




0:39:15.3 Torin: The suicide piece is a big point. The 988 is a nice point. I believe that's a fairly new number. Started earlier this year, if I'm not mistaken. I'm getting my days a little twisted. But that's a fairly new number. I don't know if there's a number like that in the UK, but that is a fairly new number. But the piece that you raise the most for me is in how people communicated with you and what you ran off for the most part were negative messagings, negative dispositions, negative vision for the life that you were going to pursue. And you are so vibrant and live...


0:40:09.8 Torin: And so, I'm thinking that part of that preparation that you mentioned in terms of the workplace, while we've come a long way, I think where we can be better is, yet again, in how we communicate, how we tell stories, how we are finding the frequency of support for the individuals inside of our organizations, that if we could at least approach it in a more promising way, we may have better outcomes in terms of engagement, productivity, retention, so on and so forth. Would you agree?


0:40:44.7 Amanda Burris: Yes, absolutely. And remember that a lot of mental health disabilities are invisible disabilities. And so it's not something that you can always see. And so we need to be more inclusive, but we also... For those who want to share their experiences, the more often time that I find that I've shared my experience, I find that for someone says "Me too." And it helps them to know that there's somebody else out there. And then that's also how you build that support system and that community, Torin.


0:41:16.9 Torin: Yeah. Final words, final thoughts. What is it that you would want people that are listening, what is it that you would want them to take away from your sharing, your living with bipolar, knowing that there are so many that are also living with bipolar, what would you want to leave them with?


0:41:42.7 Amanda Burris: Hope. I think that's the biggest one. Hope that tomorrow is a new day, that every day that you're taking care of your mental health and doing the right things for yourself and your experiences, you can get better and you can live a healthy life. And I think that's the most important thing that I could leave them with. But also know that if you want employment, there are employers out there who do want to support you and you do belong in an inclusive place that's hiring. And try. Believe it or not, the more you try, the better it gets. So yeah, how about that?


0:42:22.2 Torin: Hope. How about that? Hope. How about that? We'll be right back. Our Her Voice segment is where we amplify women that are making moves, women that... They deserve some amplification. They deserve being lifted up a bit. And Amanda, you have an interesting person. Share their name and why you chose to amplify them this week.


0:42:53.1 Amanda Burris: Her name is Zahida Qureshi. She's out of Pakistan. She is someone who lives with a disability and contracted polio very earlier, early in her life. Living in Pakistan, they didn't have wheelchair supports for her. Oftentimes as a child, she would crawl around on the ground. But that didn't stop Zahida from going out and getting a degree, and also starting up a non-profit organization for Society of Special Persons in Pakistan. It started in 2007, and over the last, almost 15 years, her and her team have delivered over 6000 wheelchairs to people like her in Pakistan so that they can live their lives in dignity and also have the freedom to be able to live their lives with dignity and the supports and access to tools like wheelchairs to be able to do that. So, I wanna give a big shoutout to her 'cause I think what she's doing is amazing. And it's important for us to think about disability on a global scale.


0:44:02.0 Torin: I like it. I wanna give a shoutout to Demi Lovato. I wanna do it to Mariah Carey. I wanna do Carrie Fisher. You may remember Carrie Fisher played Princess Leah in Star Wars. I wanna do it for Catherine Zeta-Jones, Selena Gomez. Those are the individuals that I wanna shoutout this week, and not because I want you struck by star power, but because I want you struck by the fact that those individuals are stars and they've been transparent about their hidden disability, that they are performing at an optimum level, and they also have a disability. I also wanna give a shoutout to Julie Sowash, my co-host and co-partner, as well as Amanda Burris for also being transparent this week and sharing her own personal travails and journey and triumph and tribulation, all of the up and down that she's had with her diagnosis. So Amanda, a shoutout to you and to your boss, Ms. Julie Sowash.


0:45:09.1 Torin: Let's close the show with Disability Twitter. You have one person, and then I have a hashtag. I wanna add a hashtag to Disability Twitter just forward this episode, not going forward, but just for this episode. What'd you highlight?


0:45:24.1 Amanda Burris: I highlighted André Picard and he ended up sharing about Air Canada and how they ended up ruining a woman's wheelchair that was worth $3000 and only comped her $300 for it. As a person who have been in the airline industry, I'd say that the airlines have a long way to go in supporting people with disability.


0:45:45.7 Torin: They absolutely do. We've had and covered a number of wheelchair ruin stories on airplanes or through baggage handling. My hashtag is Maid, M-A-I-D. M-A-I-D. Well, I gotta just tell you, Amanda, it took me some place where I wasn't expecting to go, so naturally, I'm looking for Disability Twitter, and then when I clicked on a link, this particular person, Mitchell Tremblay, he's on Twitter at @ODSPoor. He's on Twitter at @ODSPoor, and he actually used the hashtag M-A-I-D, because it stands for Medically Assisted Induced Death or something like that. And I'm bringing it up, and it's so germane to what you said a moment ago.




0:46:56.1 Torin: He has been on... He has lived for the last 22 years, and I'm not gonna read the entire letter, but if you go out to his Twitter page, it's @ODSPoor, he actually wrote a letter to the HUMA Committee up in Canada, and it is a full letter sort of documenting his life over the last 22 years, being on social services due to his disability. And the short of it is, he is so tired, disgusted, that he wants to die. And I was not in any way expecting to go there when I clicked on his tweet and everything. So I just raise it. I don't wanna... I don't necessarily want to end on that bad note, well, that note, if you will, but I do wanna say to folks, there's a reason why we do Her Voice.


0:48:09.2 Torin: There's a reason why we do #DisabilityTwitter in our show. There's a reason why we have made a very conscious effort to add these segments to Crazy and The King, because they are too distant, too far, too removed from our radars. I get it. We are all moving at 100 miles an hour and busy. We have obligations with work and family and personal life, self-care. I get it. I get it. But I am making a plea to our listeners that you are continuously checking on your friends, and not just your immediate friends, but try to get two, three layers outside of the ones you often talk to, that you are checking on your colleagues, that you are making donations to organizations that are trying to support other audiences, community groups that you don't really have a direct connection to. Can we just do something more that stretches our humanity? I don't wanna see tweets of individuals that are experiencing a life of needing support and just saying, "You know what, I'm done." So that is my tweet for this particular week. Amanda, do me a huge favor and close out this last episode of October for National Disability Employee Awareness Month of Crazy and The King.


0:49:52.6 Amanda Burris: Thanks for having me. Also, thanks for spending time discussing this today. Bipolar is a serious topic. Mental health is a serious topic. Anyone can live with it, at any point in their lives, short term, long term or life term. So on that note, everyone have a great afternoon.




0:50:12.6 Torin: See you.