David Harbour is opening up about his mental health. In a candid interview on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, the Stranger Things star revealed his parents admitted him to a mental asylum before he was diagnosed as bipolar.
The actor also related how spirituality and his manic episodes were linked, explaining that he found religion about a year and a half after getting sober.
“I actually was in this Catholicism thing. … I was 25, and I actually did have a manic episode, and I was diagnosed as bipolar,” Harbour explained. “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.”
Harbour said he was writing a lot and thought he had “all the answers suddenly.” He was not on drugs, explaining he “realized I don’t really need them.”
“I have a capacity to see ‘the elves’ in the corners of the room if I really allow myself to go there. Yeah, so I was actually — by my parents — taken into a mental asylum for a little bit,” he said.
“And I have one thing to say about the mental asylum,” he added. “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. No, but you do — you have a romantic idea of it … and it just ends up being sad and smells like s***. And the other thing was boating. I just recently went out on a ship in open water, and I’d read Moby-Dick a million times, and it really is not as sexy. It’s very similar to the mental asylum experience.”
Harbour was then diagnosed as bipolar.
“That’s when actually the drugs came in,” he said. “I’ve been medicated for bipolar for a long time. And I’ve had problems sort of going on and off. I’ve had a struggle, going on and off the medications.”
He also found some of his manic episodes to be linked to spirituality.
“The funny thing about my particular brain or mental illness is every time I’ve had an episode like that it’s coupled with spirituality,” he said. “Generally, people are like, ‘I need to meditate more’ or ‘I need to get into yoga’ … and I need 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, and I’m like ‘completely present,’ it’s like I’m out of my mind. So if I write the self-help book, it’s going to be like, ‘Sit on the couch and play some video games.’”
Harbour tweeted a link to the podcast, encouraging people to listen to the portion where he talks about his mental illness.
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
— David Harbour (@DavidKHarbour) June 5, 2018
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