This is a screen shot of me during the virtual book launch of the Navigating Bipolar Country anthology in 2022.
The anthology was published in February 2022, so this is the first anniversary of that official launch, and that’s why I wanted to write a blog post now. The virtual book launch last year was hosted by the Baie-D’Urfé library in my hometown. (Many thanks to librarian Chris Marsh for his support; he’s shown in the top row, extreme left, in the screen shot below.)
Some of the participants at the virtual book launch for Navigating Bipolar Country.
The event began with a brief introduction by Chris, and then we did an icebreaker in which people from outside the town said their names and which locality they’re from, and then those of us from Baie-D’Urfé introduced ourselves and said whether we live on the east or west side of town.
Next, I gave my “signature story”:
“I am a health professional who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2008 at age 51. In 2018, I published a memoir, Mad Like Me: Travels in Bipolar Country. Readers who emailed me were grateful that I had given voice to aspects of their own experiences with bipolar. Realizing that each affected person obviously has their own unique story, I decided to compile an anthology to share their stories.”
Next, I read excerpts from Part 1 of the anthology (contributions by people living with a bipolar diagnosis) and Part 2 (contributions by family members of affected people). One of the participants who has known me and my family for over thirty years then read the poem “My bipolar mother” by my daughter, Tami Hammond-Collins. Chris read something from Part 3 by a psychiatrist who treats people with bipolar. To conclude this part of the event, I read a few excerpts from the Preface that I wrote. (In future blog posts, I will quote short sections from various essays to give you a taste of what’s in the anthology.)
I then invited several participants who had already read the anthology and posted a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads to read their reviews.
In my conclusion, I said: “May we all feel more comfortable accepting the reality that mental illness is simply a part of life; there is nothing shameful about it! The more we learn and talk about it, the sooner people will seek the help they need. Let’s get the message out about the need for stigma reduction…”
Finally, we did a lucky draw for a door prize (a gift certificate from Amazon). Chris had put everyone’s names in a hat, and he drew one name. “But why are you giving away a gift certificate, and not a copy of your book?” someone asked. “You’re welcome to buy my book if that’s what you really want, but it’s entirely your choice!” I said. As it turned out, the winner said that she has a family member with suspected bipolar disorder, so she was only too happy to use her prize to buy a copy of Navigating Bipolar Country.
I really enjoyed interacting with the participants—even via Zoom—and having a chance to show off my new “baby.” This one’s gestation period was about two-and-a-half years and looking back I must say it was a rather challenging birth! (Following up with 42 individual contributors, many of whom were experiencing bipolar mood swings during the process, was not always easy.) But now the anthology is out in the world, and I do hope all the effort that everyone involved put in proves to be worthwhile.
If you’re interested in being considered for a second edition bipolar anthology (no commitments from you; no promises from me), please use the Contact form to email and give a summary of your situation and what you’d like to share in your contribution. I’ll gladly add your name to the waiting list!
Finally, if you’ve already read Navigating Bipolar Country, please use the comments below to let us know which contributions made the biggest impact on you, and why.