By Joanne M. Doan
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.
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.
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