Marrying Bipolar – Q&A with author Natasha David on suicide and mental illness.

By Lauren – Gold Coast Mum


“It is a very lonely life, especially being the partner of someone who has mental illness”.



Marrying Bipolar
, written by 42-year-old Sydneysider Natasha David, is the intimate - warts and all - account of a wife’s struggle to understand the events in her husband’s life that would eventually lead to their marriage breakdown and… his suicide.




I first met Natasha in 2000 in my first year working as an IT journalist, when we worked together briefly.
I recently stumbled across her story - her journey with her husband through their denial of his undiagnosed mental illness, his suicide - and now, news of her upcoming book release.

I felt it was important to share this story, as I believe it is a topic that will resonate with many women.


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National Mental Health Commissioner, Lucinda Brogden, will speak at the launch of Marrying Bipolar on Friday 1st April, 2016 at Dymocks’ flagship store in Sydney.

The parallels between Mrs Brogden and Ms David’s personal experience are truly remarkable.

Each of their husbands attempted suicide on the same winter day – 30 August 2005 – Natasha’s husband would not survive his attempt.

Mrs Brogden’s husband John, at the time NSW Opposition Leader, has opened up a national discussion around mental health and suicide.

Mr Brogden is currently the Chairman of Lifeline and Chief Executive of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.


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Q&A with Natasha David, author, Marrying Bipolar:

Please tell us about the book/background:
The book begins with my partner (at the time my boyfriend) attempting suicide very early in our relationship. It is told with that point of view throughout the early years, his year experiencing the effects of a Psychotic episode, and finally culminates in our relationship breakdown and his suicide at the end of winter in 2005.

We had both battled with denial of his undiagnosed mental illness, a gambling addiction, and many other stresses that finally took their toll on the relationship. Despite my love and attempts to understand his condition, in the end nothing could save him from his demons.

Tragically, his story is not an unusual one. In Australia, around 2,100 people commit suicide every year; up to 12% of people affected by mental illness take their own lives (compared with an average of 1.7% for the whole population), and suicide is the main cause of premature death among people with mental illness. But the effects of suicide are even more far-reaching. Its impact on those left behind is frequently devastating and lifelong.

My experience watching my husband struggle with the complexity of mental illness, has led me understand the deadly role denial has to play, for both sufferers and partners. I also address my own search of ways to address denial of my own depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.




Why was it important for you to tell your story?
I didn’t realise it at the time, but I was still carrying a lot of stress and grief from not telling my story. I felt I couldn’t (or shouldn’t) be open with the details, and that people expected me to get over it as quickly as possible and get back to my normal, happy self. Of course, looking back I realise nobody wanted that at all! It was my own expectations and it would have been so difficult for my loved ones to watch me struggle with myself.

It was important for me to tell it for my own sake first and foremost. However, since the very first blogpost, I have had people connect with me and thank me for giving them insight into mental health and suicide issues, as well as many emails of thanks from those going through the same thing (sufferers and partners) who have told me that my story helped them feel less alone, or helped them address the issues.

The one email I received from someone who said my blog helped them realise they had to start taking their medication again was worth all the risk I thought I was taking of potential public ridicule or backlash (which has never once happened).

How do you hope the book will help others/raise awareness?
I hope this book will help others recognise mental illness is real.
I also hope it will articulate the forgotten sufferers – the partners and carers of those suffering from mental illness. It is a very lonely life, especially being the partner of someone who has mental illness, as you don’t have someone to depend on quite often. So your mental health needs are often neglected.

Why is it a must-read?
It is a first-hand account, written in the first person. I don’t hold back - it is warts and all including my own contribution to the marriage breakdown. I have had feedback from many people who have received advance copies, that is a “page-turner”.
All of which is rather flattering and a relief that it is not just a story, but a well-told one.

In your experience, what are some common misconceptions when it comes to mental illness/gambling addiction? How can family/friends help?
A common misconception is that the person can just “snap out of it”.
I have heard these comments from various sources whether it be relatives, friends or workplaces.
It can be borne out of simply not knowing what it feels like to experience mental illness.

Because you can’t “see” it, like you would a broken leg or someone obviously diminishing from cancer, mental illness is so often misunderstood as it all “just being in your mind” and that willpower is enough to deal with it.
Quite often it’s misunderstood by sufferers who simply want to be “normal” – hence resistance to getting a proper diagnosis, or ceasing medication when they feel better. Which sends them back down the spiral staircase of the illness again.

Most of all, I found in my experience it’s misunderstood by many health care professionals. It’s starting to get better, but not quickly enough. We need better access to treatment, more affordable treatment options and remove the stigma attached to tax-payer funded treatments. Many will not claim their treatments on Medicare as it will have future implications for insurance premiums as well as employment options.

Friends and family can help by asking “are you okay” and meaning it. If you think someone is suicidal the toughest but best question to ask is “are you having suicidal thoughts.”
You might not want to hear the answer, but it might just save a life.


Author Natasha David.





When/how did you come to write this book?
I was sitting at one of my dear friend’s kitchen in 2012, discussing how I was still experiencing anxiety and the aftershocks of the difficulties from my marriage and his suicide. I felt I was still trapped by my patterns of behaviour with relationships, and felt I was going around in circles.
The sharpness of grief had gone by then (it was 7 years following his death) and I had done a lot of work on myself, but I still felt there were subconscious patterns keeping me from completely trusting that I would find love again.

My friend very lovingly said that I was still holding onto my story, and that it wasn’t allowing me to move forward, and suggested I write my story.
It started out in blog form, only published it to my friends on Facebook (a closed group at the time), and from there it took on a life of its own.
Another dear friend (who I met via blogging circles) added me to a Writers Group on Facebook, and Anna Grist (author of The High Heeled Guide to Enlightenment and publisher of a UK Publishing imprint) read my blog in its unfinished form, and suggested her company publish it. They offered me a contract, and I accepted it in rather a daze!

At the time, I hadn’t considered publishing it at all, and it would be another 3 years before I decided that I would.
How has this experience (the marriage and tragedy) changed you/your life path?

I have been irrevocably changed by my experience. I don’t intend to get married again, I still carry that fear of being “tied down”. I am lucky enough to have a partner that understands, respects, and loves me for who I am and accepts that I will have unusual reactions to relationship areas that many consider “normal”.

It also has had a wonderfully positive effect in that once I made the decision to live (I had acted on suicidal ideation myself which is also detailed in the book), I didn’t do things by half measures! I attacked life, and just explored every avenue towards attaining peace and happiness I could try. It took close to 7 years to achieve, with the final culmination being able to write the book itself.

Advice/tips for others who may be experiencing similar circumstances:
Be 100% brutally honest with yourself and your partner and face what you fear the most. There is no use trying to outrun your demons, they will always catch up with you, and the results are likely to be more catastrophic the longer you run.

How long did it take to write/publish?
I wrote the blog/book in 6 weeks from start to finish! Once I made the decision to write it down it just poured out of me.
At times, I felt like it wasn’t really me writing it at all.
It took a lot longer to make the decision to publish. Three years!
I was scared about putting myself and my story (especially my husband’s story) out there into the larger world. I wanted to make sure I was respectful of my husband, his family and our marriage.
Once I finally decided to publish (and under my own name), it was like another weight was lifted. I revised some of the chapters to refine the message and that was it!

What are your future plans (eg additional books)?
I am planning on launching a podcast at Mental Health Awareness Week (October) called “Demystifying Mental Health”.
It will have 12 episodes and will cover all aspects of mental health including “What is X” (eg: depression, bipolar, anxiety, etc), healthcare options, mental health in the family/home/community, and much more!

I am also writing a second book called “There’s a Witch in my Garden” for children ages 7 to 10, which is based on my childhood growing up in a large house that was converted into apartments by my grandfather and had all my aunties and uncles living in the different apartments.
There is a message underneath the adventures that you should never assume things about other people or situations just by appearances alone.


Marrying Bipolar author Natasha David.


Marrying Bipolar is published by Soul Rocks, UK, which is an imprint of John Hunt Publishing.
Advance copies are available at www.marryingbipolar.com
You can also connect on Facebook.

The Marrying Bipolar book launch is being held at Dymocks Sydney (George St) on Friday April 1st, 2016.


(The book launch date has been carefully chosen, as it will mark 16 years since their wedding).



Is this a topic you’re familiar with/ have first-hand experience in?

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1 comment

  1. Keep on blogging! It’s getting through the tough times that make you stronger and then the good times will follow, keep writing about your experiences and we should all pull together.
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