Inspiring Hope in the Bipolar Community

By Joanne M. Doan | Feb. 10, 2017

 

When bp Magazine launched in 2004 at NAMI’s 25th Anniversary Convention, it was a pioneering publication—the only one of its kind to serve the millions of Americans experiencing bipolar disorder. Thank you to our beloved Carrie Fisher—who agreed to be interviewed for our premiere issue’s cover story, when bp Magazine’s journey began.

“A magazine on bipolar? What are you going to talk about?” These were questions we heard often. We responded that our goal was to empower those living with bipolar disorder and to bring them together.

When we first started, a member of our editorial panel said that he wanted to be able to read bp on the bus and “not look crazy.” Yes, stigma was alive and well back then. Our intention was to create a magazine that looked and felt mainstream on any newsstand.

Today, bp continues to be the only publication of its kind, providing accurate information and inspiration on living well with bipolar disorder. Its online companion, bphope.com, is a hub for our extraordinary community.

Now we can proudly say that our Winter 2017 edition will be our 50th issue! This is a huge milestone for any magazine and definitely for one that focuses solely on bipolar disorder. It’s been a long journey and, like our bipolar community, we have weathered many storms.

Providing a Safe Place

Our bipolar community—people who have lived with bipolar for years, the newly diagnosed, caregivers and health care professionals—are the backbone of bp Magazine and bphope.com. We continue to listen and learn about the courage it takes to face and accept a bipolar diagnosis and we take to heart the stories about the triumphs and setbacks.

One of the best things about having a strong-knit community like ours is having a place of acceptance. In an age where people with bipolar are still hurt by stigmatization, visitors to bphope’s forum and blogs help and support each other in a safe, understanding place.

In many ways, the continued stigma and shame surrounding mental illness is astounding. It’s incredible how much research about stigma exists now—the fact that it’s needed is puzzling, but it also shows us where we’re at. Studies tell us that conversations about mental health are getting easier and more common.

We know that the more celebrities who publicly discuss their diagnosis, the better. bp Magazine is grateful to Richard Dreyfuss, Stephen Fry, Demi Lovato, Kay Jamison, Patty Duke, and Maurice Benard, who have graced our covers. Their star power has helped “normalize” bipolar.

Spreading Awareness

Thanks to our friends at NAMI across the country, there’s been a lot of progress in bringing bipolar out of the shadows. As Bob Carolla, NAMI Senior Writer and founding member of bp Magazine’s editorial panel, has said: “There is greater public awareness that bipolar exists and is a medical condition. People still don’t necessarily know what it means, but starting a conversation around it today is much easier than before and there’s greater access to accurate information.”

As we move beyond our 50th issue, it is our hope that bp Magazine reaches more people, letting them know that they are not alone.

 

Joanne M. Doan is the publisher of bp Magazine and esperanza Magazine, both groundbreaking publications dedicated to those living with bipolar, anxiety and depression. In 2016 she received the Folio: Top Women in Media Award in the Entrepreneurs category for meeting the challenges of growing a pioneering publication for this readership.

Comments
Kiana
My sister is bipolar and is off her meds, this extended episode is the longest she's been off her meds. I am terrified that something awful is going to happen. She has attacked people, been arrested, 51/50'd and they just let her right on back on the street without actually helping her. I am at my wits end... I honestly don't know what I can do. Every time I call they tell me she's an adult and threatening someone, not taking her meds, having a mental illness is not illegal... As long as she's not endangering/harming herself or anyone else they can't do anything. REALLY???!!! I am beyond frustrated and scared for her!!! She's going to cross someone that doesn't know she has a mental illness and then what?
3/3/2017 8:05:24 PM

Geri
It does seem as if mental illness is one of the last areas where prejudice is quite acceptable. Just the mention of the words provokes fear and judgement in the mind of listeners. My 10-year-old son was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, and I am very careful in the way I express his issues and struggles. People need to earn my trust, and I need to know who has my back. Those whom I tell should consider themselves as having earned a spot in my "inner circle". They readily ask about my son, offer help, and just listen. In the past, I believe most dealing with this illness in some manner did not even have that "inner circle" as a support system. Bless you all who are similarly situated. It's not easy, but we grow in ways we never would have. Stay strong through all the peaks and valleys, and everything in between.
2/26/2017 9:15:43 PM

Regina Dunn
I agree with Lydia Dorman. Something has to be done. Our mental health system *****s. My daughter is released from the hospital way too soon because of the insurance company and they want you to rely on outpatient , but there is nothing there and no help. We have to do something.
2/22/2017 8:51:06 PM

Trudy Hibler
A few years ago, I confided in a person I was growing close to at Church about my condition. Well, I probably overwhelmed her. I confided about my condition, a recent hospitalization, and I just wasn't in good shape at that time. She never came back over and openly avoided me at Church. So, what did I do? A handful of years later...four years ago, in fact...I began telling everyone I knew about my condition (and I left it at that). I also started a blog. Oh, and I told everyone on FB about my condition. Yep. I did all that. And you know what? The support has been tremendous. I even had several friends refer friends to me to help them find resources and to give them someone to talk to who understands their challenges. "Please, he's pretty depressed. Could you talk with him?" were the types of requests I received. And more private messages than I could count on FB thanking me for being open because either they, too, had bipolar disorder, they had depression, or someone they love has one or the other. I was not expecting any of this. I shut my blog down as I dealt with some turmoil, but I'm preparing to relaunch it. We NEED publications such as this and both pb magazines. But more than anything we need to advocate for ourselves and, when and where possible, need to lift up others who are struggling. We're all in this together.
2/22/2017 7:02:47 PM

Martha
Lydia,
I hear you loud and clear. I keep asking the same questions. I am trying to figure out how to correct this tragedy. We have to advocate for ourselves and our loved ones. Some states and communities are better than others, but none addresses this problem. I heard the same argument about homeless individuals having a right to their substance abuse and mental illness and therefore sleeping outdoors in the snow and rain and freezing weather. Please contact me if you want to do something about this, marttay@mail.regent.edu
2/16/2017 7:16:20 PM

Lydia Dorman
Well we will see
2/15/2017 9:27:56 AM

Lydia Dorman
Americans it's time to step out of the closet and help bipolar families and bipolar As a caring parent my hands are tied today trying to help my son who is manic I am a registered nurse and I am tired of hearing mentally sick people have their rights to be in an abnormal state that when left without medication are allowed to roam scream murder and whatever until someone other than their families finally decide to do something it's time for families to come out of hiding Mental illness is a sickness. It's not an embarrassing trait yes it is a sad diagnosis but if we all get together and have Nami take another look and help families who care about the ones they love but have no way to help their loved ones by allowing them to enter act for their care when they are non compliant with medicine and find help. America this has gone on long enough and it will only worsen. A nurse Mother in the United States of America
2/15/2017 9:26:27 AM

Dawn Denise Fletcher
Looking for resources and insight.
2/14/2017 8:27:36 PM

Peggy
thank you for making me aware of this magazine. There is hope and it is what I need to get me through this rough weekend supporting my daughter who has bp disorder
2/13/2017 12:51:56 AM

Glenda Claytor
Thank you!!!
2/10/2017 12:38:39 PM

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