Margaret Trudeau on the Time of Her Life
Margaret Trudeau has written a new book,The Time of Your Life ... about enjoying a joyful old age. She is seen here in Harper Collins office downtown Toronto. (Colin McConnell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Here, Margaret Trudeau on family, aging, mental illness and the content of her new book
Sounding as girlish and spirited on the phone as she looked in the photos we remember from the ‘70s, Margaret Trudeau talks about life, her family, mental illness and the content of her new book, The Time of Your Life: Choosing a Vibrant, Joyful Future.
At 66, Trudeau seems to have found the sweet spot, revelling in grandmotherhood, her independence and her job as a speaker and advocate for understanding and treating mental illness. Nevertheless, there was a profound undercurrent of poignancy in her conversation.
Here’s what she had to say about:
Even though she wasn’t thrilled about being known as “the wife of…,” she could become the only Canadian to be “the wife of one” Prime Minister and “the mother of” another Prime Minister.
Already, she says, about one out of three people who come to her book signings want to talk about Justin. But she’ll stay out of his political life.
“It’s just not my turn. It’s his generation’s turn. And I don’t want to be inside that horror of an election campaign, the desperation of political machinery. I don’t want any part of it. I would be Justin’s Achilles heel, just like I was Pierre’s. I can be helpful if necessary. The kind of advice that I can give Justin —I do have a good memory, so he sometimes reaches back for me to help him understand some things his dad went through, what his dad envisioned.”
Aging and Appearance
Her Love Life
In her book, she writes, “I yearn for intimate companionship, but I have no interest in younger men, nor do I wish to take on the challenges of a new relationship with an older man…to be perfectly frank about it, I don’t want to be anyone’s nurse.”
She also writes that she finds the option of online dating “a comforting form of insurance,” and that her online profile might read:
“Twice-divorced mother of five and grandmother to seven with a colourful past seeks a new man in her life. Must not behave in any way old or like a “fuddy-duddy,” though must be age-appropriate. I am no cougar.”
Just writing about that has brought a response.
“I have so many gentlemen wanting to be my friend on Facebook. I don’t even open up Facebook because I’m terrified. I ask women who are in happy marriages and love their husband, ‘If darling Joe dies, would you consider remarrying?’ And they say no. I ask men the same question, they get a sorrowful look and say, “I’d need time to get over my loss…’
“Of course, they’re going to go for younger women.
“We don’t need husbands if we have financial freedom. But I remember what it felt like to be swept off my feet. I don’t want to be in a marriage but I’d like to be cherished and adored and romanced and comforted and encouraged, and a little extra on the side.”
“Having bipolar disease, untreated for many years, was my secret. When I finally did give in and accept that I needed help, all the doors opened for me to live a consistent, reliable, happy life.
Now I try to make people understand that the finest families — intelligent, compassionate people — are not able to fix the deep emotional turmoil of mental illness. It requires a disinterested qualified party.
I also really support pharmaceutical treatment. I had a very specific chemical imbalance in brain function, that triggered to depression or manic behaviour. It’s the mania that’s so destructive and must be treated.”
“I’d be flinging up into mania with a rush of dopamine that would not allow me to have second sober thoughts. I became notorious, running off with the Rolling Stones — other women in other situations might run off with the guy at the 7-11. It’s a symptom of the illness: excessive libido, wanting fun, play, it’s trip.
With depression, you can learn how to turn thoughts from negative to positive with cognitive therapy, to walk on the sunny side or to carry an umbrella.
It was the mania that hospitalized me, took away my money and my self-respect and caused the deepest crisis in my mental history.
The trigger for me (to get help) was this extraordinary grief over the loss of my son and of Pierre. Instead of shrugging it off as in the past, I was finally mature enough to understand that I had to go through the process: a complete rebuilding of the way I thought, the way I reacted to life.”
“I’d never make a bucket list — if I’m open today, tomorrow will follow. It’s more a list of the things you no longer want to have in your life, to not have to deal with, to be able to grab this new freedom of aging. It’s questioning how deep your loyalty is to the life you have, how much change you could handle. It’s important not to be frightened about change. Because change is not an option. It’s inevitable with aging.