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Book Share - High Tide, Low Tide

High Tide, Low Tide - The Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder By Martin Baker and Fran Houston

How Can You Be a Good Friend, When Your Friend Lives with Mental Illness?

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. Transatlantic best friends Martin Baker and Fran Houston share what they’ve learned about growing a supportive, mutually rewarding friendship between a “well one” and an “ill one.”

High Tide, Low Tide: The Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder offers no-nonsense advice from the caring friend’s point of view, original approaches and practical tips, illustrated with real-life conversations and examples.

Support your friend and celebrate each other, whether you live on the same street or oceans apart. Learn the key skills and attitudes you need for a successful caring friendship, and strategies to support your friend through episodes of mania, depression, and suicidal thinking, whilst also taking care of yourself.

Why This Book Is Different

Many books describe the impact of mental illness on those who are ill and those who care for them. None, however, perfectly match the needs of friends who want to make a difference but are unsure what to do. Autobiographies shed light on what it means to live with illness but offer little in the way of practical guidance. Workbooks educate about symptoms and treatments, but they tend to be generic in approach, and are aimed at the person who is ill. “Friends and families” books focus almost exclusively on partners and close family members. Crucially, given that friends and family often live far apart, no current titles describe how to support someone who lives at a distance, whether in another town, state, or country.

We hope our book will inform and inspire you. There are no steps you have to follow, or things that are guaranteed to work under all circumstances. Illness, especially mental illness, does not work that way. What works is having a framework of trust and commitment, and a menu of approaches, suggestions, and options you and your friend can explore together. Connection is vital, whether you live on the same street or on opposite sides of the world. No one is too far away to be cared for, or to care.

- Excerpt from the Introduction to High Tide, Low Tide.


“As someone who has suffered from debilitating depression, and now writes about mental health, there is one question I am nearly always asked by those who come to my talks and workshops. What is my advice for those who are caring for someone with a mental illness? What is the best way to be a true and supportive friend? I’ve often thought if only there was a book I could recommend. Martin Baker and Fran Houston have now written just such a book.”

—From the Foreword to High Tide, Low Tide: The Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder by Rachel Kelly, author of Black Rainbow: How words healed me—my journey through depression, Walking on Sunshine: 52 Small Steps to Happiness, and (with Alice Mackintosh) Happy Kitchen: Good Mood Food; Ambassador for SANE and Rethink Mental Illness.

“Friendship soothes the soul and provides hope for people with bipolar disorder and yet the illness creates unique challenges to the friendships we so desperately want and need. Marty and Fran specifically address these challenges in this bright, uplifting and brutally honest book. Filled with stories and practical tips, there is more laughter than sorrow as the reader learns to cultivate a loving, kind and caring friendship that transcends the illness and creates a lasting bond.”

- Julie A. Fast, author of Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder, Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder, and Get it Done When You’re Depressed.

“Marty and Fran are best buds who have an unbelievable story of friendship, resiliency and what it means to have someone in your life who says ‘I hear you and I am here for you.’”

- Cheryl Ramsay, Community Development Specialist, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Maine.

“A deeply honest and detailed account of two people’s journey as friends, which reminds us that mental illness doesn’t change what friendship is all about: being there for those we love.”

- Bridget Woodhead, Director, Traincon. Certified Mental Health First Aid instructor.

“Extraordinarily well-written and powerful. I know from my own personal experience with friends living with mental illness, that meaningful two-way relationships are a key factor in attaining life balance and recovery. This is a very important book and could be helpful to many people.”

- Anne Pringle, Member of Board of Trustees, Maine Mental Health Partners 2009–2015 (Chair 2010-2012); Past Chair, “It Takes a Community” initiative, Spring Harbor Hospital and Maine Mental Health Partners; Former Mayor of Portland, Maine

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 Fran’s primary support and lifeline.

Find out more via the Website and blog

- or via social media:

YouTube: Gum on My Shoe

High Tide, Low Tide: The Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder (Nordland Publishing, 2016) is available from Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, and selected booksellers.

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