Embracing the Journey. Guest Blogger Martin (Marty) Baker: Author of Gum on My Shoe: One Step at a Time with My Bipolar Best Friend

marty with frannie 2014


Like many of the friends I’ve met on the internet, Marty charmed me with his commitment to helping those with bipolar disorder, especially his friend Fran. I asked him to write about his experiences as a friend of someone who has bipolar disorder and how it has changed his life. You can read more about Marty in the bio below, and of course there are lots of links, because if you are a mental health writer, you need to know Marty!!


Embracing the Journey  by Martin Baker

“You’re stuck with me now, Frannie.”  “Like gum on my shoe!”

People are always interested when I say I’m writing a book called Gum on My Shoe. What’s it about they ask? I say,  “It describes my friendship with Fran who lives 3000 miles away. Fran has bipolar disorder. She gets depressed, manic sometimes and is frequently suicidal. Despite the distance, I’m her main support.” 

I wonder if you can guess some of the responses I get:

“Gee that’s rough on you!” “I couldn’t do that!” “She’s lucky to have you!”

I always reply in the same way: It’s not rough on me at all, our friendship is a giving, loving and very rewarding two way street. You might find yourself in a similar situation one day, don’t sell yourself – or your friends – short! And yes, Fran is lucky. And so am I, to have her in my life.

Recently someone asked a  different question – one that was easier to answer, “What gifts does your friendship bring you?” I could tell she understood how and why I get so much from being friends with someone who has bipolar disorder.  Being friends with an “ill” person is challenging. Of course it is! But it’s also powerfully rewarding, life-affirming — and  joyful.


What gifts does my friendship with Fran bring to my life?

We’ve been friends now for three years, and we’ve journeyed together through  mania, depression and debilitating fatigue, with suicidal thinking a more or less constant companion. Fran’s said many times she wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my support: “We live 3,000 miles apart – and I would not be alive without you.”

But our friendship has never been a burden. I’ve learned so much, and I’m still learning. I’m learning about tears, laughter, despair and the courage it takes to live an honest life. We share life’s ups and downs — and an occasional beer — like all friends do. We meditate together and  I’m also exploring mindfulness and other life-skills. I’ve taken courses including Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) and Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST).

I’m learning I can make a difference and that I have a voice and a reason to use it. I’m meeting some amazing people.

I’m embracing the journey. One step at a time.


PS:  I’m in the writing process for Gum on My Shoe and will let Julie know as soon as it’s published!







About the author

Martin Baker (“Call me Marty”) lives in the northeast of England. It’s a writers’ household. His wife writes historical fiction and their son is working on a fantasy novel. A Mental Health First Aider and a member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Mind, and BipolarUK, Marty is passionate about raising awareness of mental health issues. He is active online and runs the social media for Gum on My Shoe. In May 2014,  he completed a zip-line challenge for the UK homelessness charity Crisis and will complete a 10 kilometre walk in September 2014 in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society. As a ‘virtual walker’ he will accompany co-author Fran Houston on the annual fundraising walk for NAMI, in Portland, Maine. Marty and Fran are currently seeking an agent for their non-fiction book Gum on My Shoe: One Step at a Time with My Bipolar Best Friend.




 Links:             The Gum on My Shoe Website and Blog    ****    Twitter    ****      LinkedIn   

Please feel free to email Marty and let  him know what you thought of his blog.  martin.baker    @    Hotmail dot com. 

You can find Martin’s Facebook pages under Martin Baker and for the book Gum on My Shoe. His Goodreads page is under the name Marty Baker.

marty bw


A note from Julie: Wait! There’s more! Marty is having a contest on his Gum on My Shoe website where you, dear reader can win books from mental health authors, including myself and fellow guest bloggers Gayathri Ramprasad and Sherry Joiner. Here is the link and here’s a pic of some of the books offered. The contest goes until Sept 30, 2014, so you have plenty of time to enter. Marty is quite a mover and shaker when it comes to getting the word out about mental health management. Thank you Marty for all that you do!






3 comments to Embracing the Journey. Guest Blogger Martin (Marty) Baker: Author of Gum on My Shoe: One Step at a Time with My Bipolar Best Friend

  • My husband has committed to sticking it out with me on my journey to happiness. I often wonder why as well. Why would he put himself through this? He always replies to me by listing of all of my wonderful qualities. He too can see that in this darkness can be found beauty and a relationship even more rewarding than he thought. Please please check out my blog, I want to start more conversations about this illness and how healing is pissibke! Happybipolarlife.com

  • Amy

    Same here, Melody. I can’t figure out why my husband of 21 years not only sticks around but refuses to ever leave no matter what! He walked in the room when I had just finished reading this post and asked me what I was smiling about. I told him thanks for being gum on my shoe (or am I gum on *his* shoe?). I don’t know but I’m glad he sees beauty and joy in me when I can’t see it in myself.