‘Stranger Things’ Star David Harbour Discusses Mental Health, Bipolar Diagnosis

David Harbour attends 2017 NHL Awards
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It may feel like David Harbour was an instant success, thanks to playing Jim Hopper on Netflix’s breakout show Stranger Things, but he had been kicking around the entertainment business for a couple of decades already. He was a recent guest on a podcast hosted by fellow Netflix star Marc Maron of Glow, and revealed something very personal. Harbour, 43, spoke openly about having been diagnosed with a mental illness at an early age.

“Here’s the interesting thing, which I’ve actually never truly spoken about publicly,” Harbour began. “… 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.”

The actor went on to discuss how he took drugs for the disorder, but, like many people who suffer from it, it was a struggle, as he went on and off of them and turned to other drugs at times to help. His experience was not unlike the late actress Carrie Fisher, who wrote about her own struggle with using drugs to self-medicate her bipolar disease in her best-selling book, The Best Awful. Luckily, the actor now has a regimen that works for him.

Prior to Stranger Things, he appeared in a string of successful films like The Equalizer with Denzel Washington, Revolutionary Road with Leo DiCaprio and Kate Winslett and Suicide Squad, among others, but had yet to take the lead. Now, with Stranger Things, Harbour’s success couldn’t have come at a better time because he’s finally in a good place to handle all that comes with being so famous, including being spoofed on Saturday Night Live.

In the podcast, Harbour also discussed the role spirituality played with his disease; while others may find yoga or meditation to help them, it seemed to be what would send him off the rails. Instead, he joked that he would prefer to eat a cheeseburger, smoke a few cigarettes and just hang out with people.

“Because like 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 shared.

The actor wants to give hope to others that may be suffering as well that you can find the right medications that will work for you and then have a great life, filled with success, which is why he is now speaking openly about it, including sharing news of the podcast on Twitter.