Margaret Trudeau – Changing My Mind

Navigating through early adulthood is hard enough without having your every move scrutinized by the press. Now, imagine being one of the most famous people in Canada by the age of 22, while silently struggling with a mental illness that has complete control over your emotions. This is how Margaret Trudeau lived for 30 years of her life. As the wife of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau and the mother of our current prime minister Justin Trudeau, Margaret has been in the limelight for the past 50 years. She first opened up about her battle with bipolar disorder in 2006, an illness that affects her emotions and her rational thinking. Margret Trudeau’s memoir Changing My Mind sheds light on this illness, and it allows readers to get a glimpse into the life of one of Canada’s most influential women. Margaret’s experiences illustrated in her memoir show how Canada is a nation built upon compassion and self-actualization, one where we can learn from our mistakes without the fear of permanently damaging our reputation.

From dancing and singing on tabletops at formal events, to leaving mid-interview on live television, every decision Margaret had made was filtered through an ill mind. Margaret states in her memoir that often, “the Canadian public opened their newspapers to a feast of scandalous stories about the disgraceful antics of Pierre Trudeau’s mad, exhibitionist wife.” She was terrified of losing her family and tarnishing her reputation. But she was also terrified of the unknown illness that was compelling her to make decisions on a whim. Bipolar disorder is life consuming, but Margaret lived though the damage it did to her, and she emerged victorious from the battle. She was diagnosed in early 2006, and she made the parlous decision to inform the public just a couple months later. Luckily, she was met mostly with praises and support from her fellow Canadians, which goes to show that we as a nation value compassion.

Margaret Trudeau’s most significant contribution to Canadian identity is her openness about her struggle with mental illness. Bipolar disorder was not classified as it’s own mental illness until 1980, and even after that it was not widely talked about until closer to the 2000’s. Despite the fact that the illness was relatively unknown, once Margaret was able to explain that her decisions were not made while she was in a lucid mind, her past behaviour was excused. She worked hard to earn back the trust of the people of Canada. The fact that she was able to apologize for her actions shows how resilient she is, and the fact that Canada as a nation accepted her apology shows how open minded we are, and how we value honesty and respect.

After reading this memoir, I was amazed at how Margaret was able to overcome her struggles with bipolar disorder, and how despite facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles, she continued to fight. Now that she is receiving treatment for her illness and is able to think clearly, she has been a consistent supporter of the Canadian Mental Health Association. She is striving to educate others about mental illness in the hopes that no one else has to suffer in silence the way she did. She is an extremely inspiring Canadian who we should all look up to for the reasons I’ve highlighted today, along with many more that are illustrated in her memoir. Margaret Trudeau exemplifies Canada’s core values and beliefs such as self-actualization and honesty, and I believe her legacy will be one of resilience and strength. She worked hard to change her mindset, which led her to help change the way in which Canada perceives mental health today. What do you want to change?

In Depth 6

Ciao! It’s so hard to believe that this will be my last blog post before in-depth night! I have learned so much in the past four months, and I cannot wait to be able to present everything!
The month of April was… chaotic, to say the least. Between adventure trips, dance competitions, girl guide camps, and coming down with strep throat, I have had very little free time. That being said, I managed to meet up with my mentor twice. I have found that the more I progress into this course and this new language, the more I value my time with my mentor. Last year, I needed less meetings with my mentor as the time went by, as once I learned how to play the basic chords on the guitar, the rest was just practice. However, with Italian, I am continuously learning new information, and my mentor has been such an incredible person to rely on for good feedback. During our first meeting, we focused on talking about my pronunciation. I have mentioned in previous posts that I struggle with the accents on letters, as they make different sounds in French, which I have been fluent in since the age of 8. My overall pronunciation is good, though my mentor seems to think that I still sound too French when I speak. We worked on pronouncing individual letters, as well as sounds, words, and sentences. I have memorized a list of rules for pronunciation, and I am working hard to apply them to the language.
During our second meeting, I was unfortunately still a bit sick, and I did not have much of a voice. Instead of working on pronunciation, or speaking much in general, my mentor taught me some very helpful tricks for writing in Italian. While my speaking is improving every week, I have not worked much on spelling. My mentor asked me to spell certain common words, and she gave me some tips on how to know what letters to use based on short vs long sounds, harsh bs soft consonants, and the emphasis in the word. I am more of a visual learner than an auditory learner, so I have been taking lots of notes. But during this meeting, I was able to do more than just copy a word off of a screen; I was able to hear a word, or a sentence, and piece together the sounds to spell it out. I am really proud of this, and I would consider it my biggest accomplishment so far!
In Edward de Bono’s How to Have a Beautiful Mind, de Bono talks about concepts and how they can help to clarify facts. One of the biggest concepts I talked about with my mentor was emphasis. In Italian, the emphasis in the word makes a huge difference on the meaning. If you emphasize the wrong syllable, you could accidentally be saying kingdom instead of spider, or mile instead of wife! Emphasis is used to clarify words and meanings, but it is a concept that is hard to grasp. There are rules you can follow, but there are many, many exceptions. My mentor did an amazing job of explaining the role of emphasis in the Italian language, and how if used properly, it can greatly improve my pronunciation.
In a later chapter, Edward de Bono talks about alternatives. While meeting with my mentor, we had to come up with an alternative plan for our second meeting as I had lost my voice. We had originally planned on working more on my emphasis and accents, but we emailed back and forth to come up with a better plan. We ended up deciding on writing, which was so beneficial to me, and I’m really happy we were able to communicate effectively enough to set that up. We talked about some other potential solutions such as reading an Italian children’s book or watching an Italian cartoon, but eventually we decided that writing would be the best idea as I have not had as much practice with it. I was very grateful that my mentor was willing to help me with this on such short notice.
For my learning centre this year, I am planning on having a tri-fold display board with some greetings and expressions written on it in Italian, with the pronunciation written underneath. I want to be able to teach a couple of words to everyone who comes to my station. I am going to be focusing on common sentences, greetings, and expressions for in-depth night, as I want to pass along my knowledge to others! I will personally be focusing on my pronunciation, as that is what I will be helping others with. I am also hoping to include some Italian books, music, maps, and food samples for everyone to enjoy! I hope everyone will gain a better sense of the Italian culture, and I hope that I will persuade them to continue learning this beautiful language!
I am extremely excited for in-depth night this year, and to continue to develop my Italian! As this is the last blog post until in-depth night, addio!

Margaret Trudeau – Changing My Mind

1. “Pierre invoked the War Measures Act and ordered mass raids and arrests but said that he would not deal with terrorists.”

I had heard about this act before, but I had no idea Pierre Trudeau was the one who implemented it. The fact that such a huge decision had to be made so quickly and under such stressful circumstances is both terrifying and inspiring; Pierre had to act fast under immense pressure in order to help as many citizens as possible. On a much smaller scale, this is similar to my life, as I have had to make tough decisions in the past in a small time frame. A recent example of that would be on the kayaking trip this past weekend, when we were facing some very rough weather conditions and had to work together to quickly come up with a solution.

Pierre decided against bargaining with the terrorists, as he believed that the loss of two people would be better than the release of dozens of political prisoners. This shows that he believed in protecting innocent civilians rather than saving two politicians. Now, we have similar values, though they are not exposed as directly.

2. “Husbands were not allowed to be present at the birth in those days at the Ottawa Civic Hospital.”

This passage really stood out to me because my dad’s family grew up in Ontario, and for the birth of one of his brothers, neither him nor his father were allowed into the hospital room. I thought it was uncommon for that to take place, but after reading about it in this novel, I realized just how different things were back then.

This shows that in the past, specifically in the 1970’s, women and men were still treated very differently. Now, it is commonplace for men to be present at the birth of their child, which signifies an advancement in both women’s rights and gender equality.

3. “He picked me when I was nineteen (…) Pierre also thought that because I was so young, he could mould me into the kind of person he wanted me to be.”

This passage explains how Pierre Trudeau ‘picked’ Margaret Trudeau when she was very young, not based on how well they connected, but based on her age and her physical attributes. This reminds me of how in Romeo and Juliet, their relationship was based on physical attraction, and it was intense very quickly before coming to a violent end. Pierre and Margaret’s relationship ended similarly.

This shows that, like the previous passage, women’s rights were far less developed just 60 years ago. Divorces were much less common, but that means that women had to put up with a lot from their husbands. This also shows that women did not always have a choice when it came to relationships. Today,

4. “For the first time in my life, I was using my name and my curious status as a celebrity to some important end.”

This passage talks about how Margaret went to Africa three times to help to build water wells in communities there. This resonated with me as I have actually applied to go to Kenya to do the same thing next summer. I am very interested in helping the world in whatever ways I can, just like Margaret, who recognized that her celebrity status could influence people and decided to use it for the benefit of others.

Margaret began her trips to Africa in 2002, when they were not as common as they are today. She inspired people across the country to help others, something which has greatly influenced Canada’s identity today.

5. “I wanted to warn women that in the world of patients, women who are mentally ill lie at the very bottom of the pile, frequently not treated for their physical ailments.”

This passage was interesting to me because I am interested in health care, and mental illness is a growing sector of that. I am aware of the unjust imbalance between how physical illness is perceived and how mental illness is perceived, and I believe that Margaret should be praised for helping to spread the message.

This statement was written within the last ten years, so not much has changed since that time. However, within Canada and throughout the whole world, mental illness is continuously being talked about more and more. There is much more awareness now than there was even two years ago.