Books·Canadian

Changing My Mind

Margaret Trudeau tells her story of depression and journey to well-being in this memoir.

Margaret Trudeau

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 behaviour became more puzzling — even to Margaret herself — she did her best to mother her three young sons and stand by her husband. Finally, she 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. (From HarperCollins)

Read an excerpt | Author interviews

From the book

"There's something different about Margie," my parents would sometimes say to others as they tried to fathom my behaviour as a child. My father and mother couldn't put thier fingers on it, had no name for it, but whatever it was set me apart from my four sisters. My siblings accepted things, and I didn't. 

There was a ferocity in young Margaret Joan Sinclair. Growing up in Vancouver in the 1950's, I was often capricious and temperamental, quick to laugh, even quicker to feel despair; prone to flailing my arms, pouting and crying when things didn't go my way or I thought something was unfair or I was bullied by my sisters. I often felt raw and thin skinned — absurdly so. And I couldn't bear to think of people in pain. My Mother would say, "Margaret, how are you going to get through life if you take things so badly?"

To put it mildly, I was a drama queen — but that phrase falls far short of capturing what assailed me then. I was a quicksilver girl who saw every leaf on every tree. For me, there was no middle ground between sinking and flying, and once I was into my early adult years, my roller coaster got wilder and faster: I seemed to rise and fall with the same reckless velocity. I wince at some of the things I did as the young wife of Canada's fifteenth prime minister, Pierre Elliott Trudeau.


From Changing My Mind by Margaret Trudeau ©2011. Published by HarperCollins.

Author interviews

Shelagh Rogers speaks with Margaret Trudeau about her new memoir.
Michael Enright interviews Margaret Trudeau about her memoir "Changing My Mind."

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