May 5, 2006

Ex-wife of Canada’s Trudeau admits mental illness

By Louise Egan

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Margaret Trudeau, once wife of former
Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, revealed on Friday that
she secretly suffered from bipolar depression for many years,
hiding her illness from the public in a life she called a "long
tunnel of darkness."

"This is not an easy thing to do," Trudeau told a news
conference at the Ottawa Royal Hospital, her voice shaking.

"To step forward and tell the world that you suffered from
an illness that impacted your behavior in a very public way."

The one-time hippie flower child captivated Canadians when,
at age 22, she married Prime Minister Trudeau, a man 30 years
her senior.

For the next few years, she charmed and shocked with her
unconventional style -- often interrupting protocol or
under-dressing at formal affairs -- but her outbursts were
always put down to youthful rebelliousness.

Now a young-looking 57, Trudeau described how her
fairy-tale romance with a dashing prime minister turned hellish
when she fell into post-partum depression after the birth of
their second son. "My life has been a roller-coaster ever
since," she said, blaming the disease for ruining both her
marriage with Trudeau and her second marriage.

"Living at 24 Sussex Drive (the prime minister's residence)
was a very lonely, long tunnel of darkness for me, and coupled
with pressures of public life, while trying on my own to manage
the symptoms of bipolar depression was terrifying," she said at
the launch of a fund-raising campaign for a new mental health
research center.

Trudeau had hinted in the past at suffering from depression
and her brief stay at a Montreal psychiatric clinic is well
known to Canadians. But this was the first time she publicly
admitted to being mentally ill.

Bipolar disorder, or manic-depressive illness, is
characterized by violent mood swings between depression and

After leaving her first husband, Margaret Trudeau embarked
on a jet-setting life and was rumored to have had affairs with
various celebrities. She later remarried and fell out of the

Trudeau said she refused to recognize her condition or seek
help until her youngest son, Michel, died in 1998 in an
avalanche, followed by Pierre Trudeau's death two years later.

"I now have my life back after years of struggles," she