The authors, Martin Baker and Fran Houston met online in May 2011. At the time Fran was living on an island in Maine, USA, and Martin in Newcastle upon Tyne in the North of England. Fran suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and bipolar disorder, and now, in a way, Martin is a long distance carer – in that he cares about her. His caring shines through in the easy, flowing writing style, as he tells the moving and powerful story, taking us into Fran’s world of bipolar, in particular.
And that’s what makes this story so remarkable – the fact that Fran lives in the USA and Martin is in England.
It’s a story that simply had to be told; appealing, as it surely will, to every single person suffering from bipolar, to every single mental health carer, and to everyone who has absolutely no connection with, or an interest in, this completely misunderstood and feared ailment.
The reason why? Because it’s a human story told told in human terms, which skilfully sweeps aside the dark myths surrounding bipolar.
High Tide, Low Tide is well structured, well written, and, even though I’m a veteran mental health campaigner, had me thinking long and hard about how people suffering from bipolar actually live with it.
My only slight quibble, and this is a purely personal point of view, is that the introductory explanations run to too many mini sections - with titles such as Preface, Introduction, Why This Book Is Different , Key Messages, and Perspective and Language – before we get to the real meat. But that meat, when we start to devour it, is filet mignon all the way, and fully deserves the five stars I’ve given it.
I was particularly taken with an early comment from Fran: “Don’t worry about me, care for me,” which Martin says is one of the first things he remembers Fran telling him, and he feels it is as relevant today as it was then.
Structured in three principal sections: “Be Who You Are,” “Do What You Can,” and “Embrace The Journey,” each one contains a number of solid gold nuggets of wisdom, which truly mean something to people involved with bipolar – either as sufferers, or as carers. Such as “Care but Don’t Crowd. Share but Don’t Pollute,” “Being A Haven,” and “Wellness and Illness.” By its very nature bipolar, with its episode of mania and depression, has both positive and negative implications, and these are explored accurately and skilfully, and above all, show the human costs of the ailment.
Exploring what bipolar is and what causes it, we are taken on a journey almost into Fran’s mind, looking at what bipolar “labels” mean and don’t mean to her…along with the physical symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia.
This may all sound dark and depressing. But it isn’t. This is a book about friendship, overcoming adversity and the incredible long distance relationship between two truly extraordinary people. It’s well documented, well researched, and contains important source material and contacts for anyone needing assistance with the subject matter which is so often misunderstood.
I was honoured to be given a free pdf copy of this remarkable book for my review. Overall, the unique relationship between Fran and Martin makes fascinating and moving reading. Five stars for every single aspect of it.
Buy "High Tide, Low Tide: The Caring Friend's Guide To Bipolar Disorder" on Amazon UK:
and on Amazon, in The States: