David Harbour Talks About Being Hospitalized and Medicated for Bipolar Disorder

The 'Stranger Things' actor revealed he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when he was 25 years old, after his parents committed him to a mental institution.

David Harbour
Image via Getty/Steve Granitz
David Harbour

Stranger Things actor and social media superstar David Harbour spoke out about his struggles with mental health and his bipolar disorder diagnosis for the first time during an interview on the podcast WTF with Marc Maron. As People reports, Harbour revealed he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when he was 25, after his parents sent him to an institution for a mental “break” that involved a twisted sense of spirituality.

Harbour’s reveal comes as more and more high-profile celebrities—including Gabrielle Union, Dwayne Johnson, Bryson Tiller, Kevin Love and DeMar Derozan are speaking out about their mental health. In the past few weeks, both Mariah Carey and Kanye West have spoken about having bipolar disorder.

Harbour, 43, told Maron he had “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,” when he was 25. “It was like I had all the answers suddenly,” Harbour said. “I actually did have a manic episode and I was diagnosed as bipolar.”

“I realized… that I have a capacity to see ‘the elves’ in the corners of the room if I really allow myself to go there,” he continued. “So I actually was, by my parents, taken into a mental asylum.”

Harbour asked Maron if he'd ever been to a similar place. “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," Harbour told the host. "Crazy people are convinced they’re sane. It’s incredible.”

Harbour said he's been "medicated bipolar for a long time. I’ve had a struggle, going on and off the medications.” He says every episode has been accompanied with spirituality. He says while people turn to meditation and yoga to find balance, he needs to "like, eat a cheeseburger and just like, smoke cigarettes and hang out.”

“Because the minute I get close to that—what I consider a flame—of like ‘the answers’ and the mysticism, it’s like I’m out of my mind,” he said. “So if I write the self-help book it’s going to be like, ‘Sit on the couch and play some video games.’”


Harbour later took to his Twitter to promote the episode, stressing that he acknowledges how “pedestrian” it is to have some sort of mental health issue. He added that he spoke about his own experiences to help those who feel ashamed of their diagnosis or for parents who worry their bipolar child “won’t be able to make it.” 

With a lot of laughter and acknowledgment of how pedestrian it is to be a part of the tribe nowadays. If someone you love still suffers shame about a diagnosis, or a fellow parent worries that their bipolar kid won’t be able to make it, our @WTFpod could soothe. Last 30mins❤️ https://t.co/hUjExm2ukg

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