From the day of its launch, 23rd of May, 2013, it has been some journey. There’s an interesting back story about the launch that I must share with you. The whole concept, initial execution and thought process behind this initiative came from Puneet Bhatnagar. A dear friend and Mentor, Puneet had come across my writing on my personal Blog. That post about my ordeal of surviving Bipolar Disorder had sort of set the chain of ideas rolling in his fertile brain. He was convinced that I needed to take this to the next level. At that time, I thought a Group on Facebook would serve the purpose. He had different ideas. He was clear in his mind that we needed a global and and scaleable platform.
He coined the name BipolarIndia.com, set up the website in its initial skeleton avatar and we were ready to roll. Somehow, it so happened that I just couldn’t get the first post or article off the ground. After waiting patiently for a few weeks, he called me up on that day (May 23rd, 2013). He said to me firmly, it was now or never. Whatever ideas I had gathered must be published, perfecting them could follow later. I remember that I finally published the post at 2.15 am!
Then there was no stopping us. A look at the analytics and stats revealed that although people were visiting the site in the thousands, more than 85% of the audience was initially US based. Although this did reflect that we had a global base, ideally the skew needed to be tilted more in favour of Indian readership. That is where greater awareness needed to be created.
It took a couple of years before the first responses from India showed up in the form of comments and questions. And then there was no looking back. In stigma hit India, where Mental Illness is a taboo subject, people began openly sharing their challenges. A few even ventured further to share their stories in the form of contributory posts~ all very well received, for how well do stories connect!
There have been quite a few milestones along the way. Five important among them ~
- We held the first World Bipolar Day open Event in Mumbai in 2016 (followed up by similar events in 2017 and 2018). This had participation from all corners of India. These are probably the only such events held by a peer community in India.
- Our Peer Support Group Meets teed off in Mumbai two years ago..again a first in India. Peer Support Meets have a great morale boosting impact on the participants and even improve compliance. What began as a meeting of three people in Mumbai has now spread to major cities of India, viz, Delhi, Chennai, Bengalaru and of course, Mumbai.
- Highly reputed Medical Professionals (Psychiatrists & Psychotherapists) have offered their support Online and Offline as well. They have been speakers and panelists at all majors Events conducted by us.
The Peer Support Group branched out as an all India WhatsApp group avatar whereby Bipolar afflicted members, caregivers and medical professionals interact. This has become an effective crisis aversion platform~ members notice and nudge members who appear to be on the edge. Of course, it is a great way to spread knowledge.
- We have recently tied up with The Minds Foundation who are doing fabulous work in the area of creating Mental Health Awareness, especially in rural India. The aim is to come up with joint initiatives and events for the common purpose that binds us. A few more organisations from the realm of wellness have also approached us for collaborations.
Hopefully, we have managed to inform and inspire. And just maybe, transform a few lives.
The exciting part is that although we have covered substantial ground in these years, vast opportunities lie ahead of us.
Let’s Walk Together…