Thursday, December 11, 2008

Financial Post: Margaret Trudeau to write about struggle with mental illness

Paul Gessell, The Ottawa Citizen Published: Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Mike Carroccetto, The Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA - Margaret Trudeau is writing a memoir, to be published in the fall of 2010, detailing her many years struggling with bipolar depression.

News of the forthcoming book was announced Wednesday by Ms. Trudeau's Toronto-based publisher, HarperCollins Canada.

Margaret Trudeau is writing a book about her struggles with bipolar disorder."The memoir, intended to guide and inspire others suffering from mental illness, will also describe in some detail how the Canadian medical system helped her and where it fell short," according to a statement from HarperCollins.

Iris Tupholme, vice president, publisher and editor-in-chief of HarperCollins, says the former wife of the late Pierre Trudeau will be offering "a very honest, very candid account" of her battle with a mental illness that affected her and those close to her.

"This is a brave and compassionate book - one that will remain an important part of the Canadian consciousness for years to come," Ms. Tupholme says. Ms. Trudeau, while the prime minister's wife in the 1970s, publicly acknowledged that she had sought psychiatric treatment for "severe emotional stress," but not until 2006 did she publicly describe herself as suffering from bipolar disorder. She has since lent her name and profile to educating the public about mental illness. Her efforts have been recognized. She won the 2008 Lectureship Award from the College of Family Physicians of Canada. She sits on the University of British Columbia's Mental Health Institute Executive Advisory Board and will receive the 2009 Humanitarian Award from the Society of Biological Psychiatry in May 2009.

Ms. Trudeau, 60, has written two other autobiographical books, both of a kiss-and-tell nature. Beyond Reason and Consequences dealt with her rocky marriage to Mr. Trudeau, the initial years after their 1977 separation and various romantic adventures after leaving 24 Sussex. The Trudeaus had three sons, Justin (currently a Montreal MP), Alexandre (a Montreal film-maker) and Michel (who was killed in an avalanche in British Columbia in 1998).

After divorcing Pierre in 1984, Margaret married Ottawa businessman Fried Kemper. They had two children, Kyle and Alicia. That marriage also faltered. Ms. Trudeau now lives in Montreal.

While still in Ottawa, Ms. Trudeau volunteered with various charitable organizations and frequently appeared in gossip columns.

In an interview in 2007, she said she wanted to help others who "feel so helpless they consider suicide because they don't think there's any way they're going to get off the (bipolar) roller-coaster."

There are, in fact, ways to get off that roller-coaster, she said.

"You can get off if there is good treatment and medical science has come a long way in the last 10 or 15 years to create drugs and therapies that really help you to achieve balance."

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