Canadians fell in love with Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s beautiful and high-spirited bride when he brought her to the world stage as the youngest First Lady in the history of the country.
But the situation wasn’t as rosy as it seemed. Plagued by mood swings and unprepared for public life, Margaret became increasingly isolated at 24 Sussex, as her depression alternated with bouts of mania. As her behavior became more puzzling - even to Margaret herself - she did her best to mother her three young sons and stand by her husband. She finally broke down soon after their marriage dissolved.
As time went by, Margaret achieved a fragile stability, remarrying and bearing two more children. But the tragic loss of her son, Michel, in a skiing accident and the passing of Pierre Trudeau a few years later were too much to bear, and Margaret became severely ill.
After years of struggle to find the right doctors and the right treatment, Margaret has rebuilt her life once again. At 62, she is a vibrant, happy, and healthy woman who is an inspiration to us all.
Also included in Changing My Mind are essays by three of Canada’s pre-eminent mental health professionals who explore some of the treatments available to patients today.
©2010 Margaret Trudeau (P)2012 HarperCollins Canada
Margaret Sinclair and Pierre Trudeau met in unlikely circumstances and spent hours talking. Margaret was barely through highschool and Pierre was in Canadian government and nearing 50 years of age. He became Canada’s Prime Minister, and he and Margaret began dating. Finally, when she was about 21, they married. There was almost a 30-year gap in age between them. Pierre was a dignified and charismatic prime minister. Margaret was fun-loving, a flower child of the ‘60’s. This caused them much trouble as a couple. She was involved in many things that brought embarrassment to Pierre. They had three sons together, and finally Margaret left Pierre. For several years, Pierre had custody of the boys and Margaret spent time with them. During this time many embarrassing things happened. Finally, after over 20 years, Margaret was finally correctly diagnosed as bipolar. By this time she and Pierre were divorced, she had married another man, and had borne two more children. Only after she started seeing psychiatrists and neurologists who understood her mental condition did she begin to get better. This is the book of the lessons she learned, namely, that she had to “change her mind” by giving it adequate nutrition, exercise, and supportive friends and family members. The worst of her depression occurred when one of her sons was killed in a skiing accident. She learned that it was important to find the right medications, (lithium didn’t work well for her) and to seek positive support for herself from friends and family. She learned that she had to go through similar stages of grief as do those who are facing dying. In her case, the denial phase lasted quite a while and she blamed everyone else for her problems. But Margaret came out of all of this a balanced and strong and articulate person with a lot of things to say about mental illness. The major thing, she explained, in a few words. An author writing a book on bipolarism wanted her to endorse the book; its cover said “Depressed: get over it.” She told the woman this was wrong. That you don’t ever get over your pain, but you move on. So it isn’t “get over it”, it’s “get on with it.” An excellent book with three essays at the end by doctors she knew who worked with her on her bipolar condition.
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