Saturday, 15 October 2016

High Tide Low Tide Book Party & Fundraiser

Sunday, November 6, 2016 / 1-5 pm EST

BLUE / 650A Congress St, Portland, Maine /

Join transatlantic best friends Martin Baker and Fran Houston for an afternoon of music, readings and fun, to celebrate their new book, “High Tide, Low Tide: The Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder,” and raise funds for Maine-based mental health nonprofit Family Hope (

“We thank all our friends who have come together to make our book, our event, and our way of looking at mental health a different way of being in the world.” (Martin & Fran)

About the book
We all want to be there for our friends, but when your friend lives with mental illness it can be hard to know what to do, especially if you live far apart. In their new book, “High Tide, Low Tide: The Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder,” Martin and Fran share what they’ve learned about growing a supportive, mutually rewarding friendship between a “well one” and an “ill one,” no matter how far apart you live. Their motto: No one is too far away to be cared for, or to care.

About the Authors
A successful electrical engineer until illness struck, author and photographer Fran Houston has lived with bipolar disorder, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia for over twenty years. Fran lives in Portland, Maine, and is passionate about making invisible illness visible. Three thousand miles away in the north-east of England, Martin Baker is an ASIST trained Mental Health First Aider and Time to Change Champion. A member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Mind, and Bipolar UK, Martin is also Fran's primary support and lifeline.

Facebook event:


Sunday, 9 October 2016

Mental Health Awareness: It's Everybody's Business

Last week I was honoured to participate as a speaker in the annual “It Takes A Community” forum organised by Maine Behavioral Healthcare. This year’s theme was social media and mental health. It is a topic close to my heart. My best friend Fran Houston and I live 3,000 miles apart, and have recently published a book sharing our experience using social medial and the internet to grow a strong, mutually supportive friendship between, in Fran’s words, a “well one” and an “ill one.”

Amongst other topics, the panel discussed people using social media to share their lived experience, whether as part of their personal response to illness, to help others living with similar conditions, or to participate in the wider movement challenging mental health stigma and discrimination.

Many, Fran included, share openly. Others are quite frankly too busy getting through one day to the next. Many have learned the hard way what it costs to raise their heads above the parapet. Or maybe they feel it is not their responsibility to enlighten a world that seems determined to misunderstand, misrepresent, and mistreat them. I agree it is neither realistic nor fair for society to expect those living with illness to challenge stigma alone, as I expressed in my closing remarks to the ITAC forum:

It isn’t just about sharing the stories of those who have mental illness or are living with that themselves. It’s about the families, the friends, all the rest of us sharing our stories of what that means to us and those who are dealing with this stuff. Because in terms of countering stigma it’s not the responsibility of those living with mental illness to convert the rest of us. We are all in this together. It takes a community. We’ve all got to step up to this.

Yesterday, my wife Pam and I arrived at our holiday cottage in the English Lake District. Talking with Pauline, the lady who owns the cottage, the conversation turned to the book Fran and I have recently published. Pauline was very interested, and there followed a genuine and open conversation during which Pam shared her own experience—described in the book—with stigma and discrimination.

This is what it takes. Connection. Conversation. Courage. The courage to say: “This is how it is for me.” To ask: “How is it for you? How do you feel, hearing my story?”

Why does all this matter? Because mental illness is hard enough to live with, day in day out, without society (which is to say, you and me) piling stigma and discrimination on top. Because people die from that. Because one in four or five (depending on how it is measured) live with mental illness. That means one in four or five of your family (yes really). Your friends. Your workmates or classmates. Your congregation, your fellow commuters on the subway, bus, or train. There is no us and them. There is only us. Be part of the conversation. Make a difference.

As Fran says at the end of our book:

There are many like me who live in invisible institutions of stigma, shame, and silence, the walls build by others from without, or by ourselves from within, Dismantling those walls invites connection. Be the gum on someone’s shoe who has one foot inside and one foot outside. Stick around. It may not be easy but you can help someone make a life worth living. Maybe even save a life. One little bit by one little bit. A smile, a wink, a hello, a listening ear, a helping hand, a friendship all work together to interrupt the grasp of illness.

Be open and honest, with your friend and others you meet. Judge not, for misunderstandings abound. Acceptance, understanding, and kindness can pave another way. Let’s.


World Mental Health Day

The World Health Organisation recognises World Mental Health Day on 10 October every year. This year’s theme set by the World Federation for Mental Health is psychological first aid and the support people can provide to those in distress.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

We Wrote a Book!

Writing a book—a book like ours at least—isn’t about the book itself. Not really. It’s about connections. I have my copy of High Tide, Low Tide beside me this morning as I sit at my favourite table at CaffĂ© Nero, and thus far I’ve had two conversations sparked by it.

Neither conversation resulted in a sale, but each resulted in an opening of heart between me and the other person. And it’s not just since the book has been published, although that certainly helps. Throughout its four year journey from inception to realisation, our book has brought me and Fran into contact—into connection—with folk we simply would not otherwise have met.

Some call it networking. Some call it platform building. It is both these things, and much more. It is what happens when you find your feet on the right road (what Spock described to Kirk as one’s “first, best destiny”) and open oneself to what the journey may bring. I have learned a few things.

  • Not everyone you meet is supportive. Most are.
  • Not everyone is open to the changes the journey brings in you. Most are.
  • Not everyone can see that your dreams do not threaten them. Most can.
  • Not everyone in your life at the start of the journey will stay the distance. Most will (and how many more!)

We wrote a book! If you are reading this (whether you buy a copy or not!) we’re glad you stuck with us, or found us along the way, or were here all along. Whatever, we are glad you are here!

High Tide, Low Tide: The Caring Friend's Guide to Bipolar Disorder is available at:,,, and Barnes & Noble.



High Tide, Low Tide: Facebook Launch Party

Join us both and a host of friends on Saturday October 1 for the Official Launch Party for our new book, High Tide, Low Tide: The Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder. We hope you are as excited as we are!

The Facebook event will run between 1pm and 5pm Eastern Time (6pm through 10pm in the UK) on Saturday October 1.

Stay tuned to the event for specific details and times as they emerge!

We could not have brought our book into the world without the encouragement, support and love of you all. Please accept this invitation as a small token of our thanks and appreciation.

High Tide, Low Tide: The Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder is published by Nordland Publishing and is available now at and

Marty & Fran


Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Fran Opens Her Copy of High Tide, Low Tide


Fran shares her excitement as she opens her copy of our book, High Tide, Low Tide: The Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder.


The Thing about Depression

You can muddle along for years. Literally. Sometimes you manage to crawl out of the pocket of darkness and feel what you imagine must be happiness. But it tends not to be sustainable. Circumstances happen. Situations. Set backs. Knock backs. A large mallet to hammer you back into the ground for daring to pop your head up. How dare you! You miserable no good at anything wretch!

The world often seems like a place I’d rather not be anymore. It’s a struggle to remain—much harder. The rules aren’t fair, for one thing. And this thing people call ‘caring’, ‘love’ ... what 53 years has taught me is that lip service has come to have more value than active demonstration in a language the person affected can translate into meaning.

And people are scared. They’re scared of depression in others. How do you bring a person up from rock bottom without somehow feeling responsible for the aftercare, which means time—which is precious. And weighs heavy.

But the worst part of depression is the isolation. You cannot talk to anyone about how low you’re feeling without them feeling that they either need to wash their hands of you altogether, just in case you stain them, or feeling that they need to cover their own backs. Notify authorities to step in “for everyone’s sake”, so the buck is passed on, and not square in their hands. BUT, to a depressed person, that threat (for it is one) is enough to make them clam shut.

And there lies the problem. Now they are well and truly on their own with it all, while the well meaning words whoosh past their ears without ever sinking in.

Maya Hayward


Sunday, 28 August 2016

Cover Reveal for High Tide, Low Tide: The Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder

The long wait is over! We are proud to reveal the awesome cover for our book, High Tide, Low Tide: The Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder.

We hope you are as excited as we are!

High Tide, Low Tide: The Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder will be published by Nordland Publishing, October 2016.

Marty & Fran