Born in Liverpool, Martin Baker earned his Bachelor of Pharmacy degree at the University of Bradford in 1983 and completed three years’ postgraduate research at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London. Despite this academic background, Martin had no practical experience and little relevant knowledge of mental illness until a chance encounter online in 2011 brought enlightenment—and a new friend. His transatlantic relationship with American writer and photographer Fran Houston has taught him what it means to live with illness, but more importantly what it means to be a good friend. Fran has bipolar disorder, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME) and fibromyalgia. Despite living three thousand miles away, Martin is Fran’s primary support and caregiver.
Inspired to expand his boundaries, knowledge, and experience, Martin is now engaged in the wider mental health community. Certified in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) and the internationally recognized Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), he is a member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Mind, and Bipolar UK. He is a member of Stigma Fighters and the NoStigmas Project.
His Collected Poems: 1977-1984 was published in 2008. Written with co-author Fran Houston, High Tide, Low Tide: The Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder inspires and informs others who support a friend with mental illness. In their latest book, No One Is Too Far Away: Notes from a Transatlantic Friendship, Martin and Fran demonstrate that mental illness needn’t be a barrier to meaningful connection; indeed it can be the glue that holds people together.
Martin lives in the north-east of England with his wife and son.
Author website and blog: www.gumonmyshoe.com