Margaret Trudeau: Quitting pot eased mental illness
Quitting cannabis has been an
important part of her recovery from mental illness,
Margaret Trudeau said Monday at a press conference in
Vancouver for the Canadian Mental Health Association's
upcoming Bottom Line Conference.
who suffers from bipolar disorder, spoke openly with
reporters about her experience with depression and the
effect of her long-term marijuana use.
"I loved marijuana. I was a hippie in
the '60s," Trudeau said with a laugh.
"I started smoking at a young age. I
took to it like a duck to water. Strawberry Fields
Forever and all that."
Trudeau, who will be the keynote
speaker at the Vancouver conference on March 7, said one
of the difficulties in seeking help is the stigma
associated with mental illness.
There can be a consequent tendency to
"isolate," said Trudeau.
It is not uncommon for sufferers to
self-medicate with alcohol or marijuana, she said,
rather than reach out to family and friends or seek
"Marijuana can trigger psychosis,"
said Trudeau. "Every time I was hospitalized it was
preceded by heavy use of marijuana."
Trudeau was hospitalized three times
for mental illness.
Her first hospitalization followed the
birth of her second child, Alexandre, while she was
still married to Pierre Elliott Trudeau and living at 24
Her most recent hospitalization
followed the deaths of her son Michel, and Pierre
Trudeau. Although she has suffered from mental illness
for 35 years, it was not until the most recent
hospitalization that she was diagnosed with bi-polar
While delivering a message of hope,
Trudeau admitted recovery isn't easy.
"It's hard work. It takes maturity
first to comply with the pharmaceutical. There's the
feeling that it is taking away from your creativity,
your spark. My doctor said 'No Margaret, it's your
disease that's taking away from your spark.'"
Part of the hard work for Trudeau has
been completely giving up the use of marijuana,
something she once thought made her feel "wonderful."
"I miss it," she said of the pot-
smoking. "It is a daily struggle. If it's around, I just
don't stay around.
"I have found a spiritual
replacement," said Trudeau, who studies
Buddhism and the teachings of the
Spirituality is just one cornerstone
of a healthy lifestyle that includes eating well and
remembering that "your mental health is just as
important as your physical health."
Trudeau said one of her aims is "to
get people to start talking about mental health more
openly. It should be a conversation over the kitchen
table," she said.
Trudeau wants people to know that "you
can change the course of a depression if you catch it
She advocates "recognition, acceptance
and compassion" as the three fundamental elements of the
disclosure and recovery process.
What she wants anyone suffering from
depression or mental illness to know is, "There will be
light." She has found it herself.
Trudeau, who is a committed advocate
for mental health, will speak further on her own journey
through mental illness at the conference in Vancouver.
The conference, which is sponsored by
Great West Life, focuses on mental illness in the
For more information go to