David Harbour Gets Candid About Bipolar Disorder, Reveals His Parents Sent Him To A ‘Mental Asylum’

“Stranger Things” actor David Harbour is opening up about his struggles with mental health.

Speaking candidly on Marc Maron’s “WTF” podcast, Harbour talks about dealing with anxiety, self-hatred, mania, fear, and sobriety, revealing he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 25 after being committed to a psychiatric clinic.

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The 43-year-old actor says his early mental health issues were related to his preoccupation with spirituality.

“Here’s the interesting thing, which I’ve actually never truly spoken about publicly. I actually was in this Catholicism thing … and I was sober for like a year and a half, I was 25, and I actually did have a manic episode and I was diagnosed as bipolar,” he says.

Harbour says his spiritual “connection” was actually a mental breakdown.

“I really had, like, a bit of a break where I thought I was in connection to some sort of God that I wasn’t really in connection to. It was like I had all the answers suddenly,” he explains, adding that he didn’t need drugs to see “the elves in the corner of the room.”

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It was then his parents brought him to a psychiatric facility.

“I have one thing to say about the mental asylum,” Harbour continues. “I’ve romanticized two things in my life and both have fallen short. One is being in a mental asylum. Really, really not as fun as you think it is. You do have a romantic idea of it … and it just ends up being sad and smells like s***. And the other thing was boating. I recently went out on a ship in open water, and I’d read Moby Dick a million times, and it really is not sexy. It’s very similar to the mental asylum experience.

“The only thing that defines a ‘crazy’ person and a ‘normal’ person — because you can seem very normal as a crazy person — is they’re convinced they’re sane. Crazy people are convinced they’re sane. It’s incredible.”

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Harbour says he’s been medicated for his bipolar disorder for “a long time” and struggles with going on and off medications. Now, Harbour has discovered what works for him after a bipolar episode: “Eat a cheeseburger and just, like, smoke cigarettes and hang out.”

The actor encouraged his fellow bipolar sufferers who feel ashamed of their diagnosis or parents of a bipolar child to listen to his conversation with Maron.


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