Stephen Fry On Mental Health: “It’s Not Who I Am. It’s A Condition I Live With”

By Victoria Kim 03/28/18

The revered British comedian opened up about living with bipolar disorder on a recent podcast.

Stephen Fry

British actor, comedian, and mental heath advocate Stephen Fry has a great support system, a healthy routine, and many adoring fans. But as with most recoveries, it’s important to stay vigilant.

“There was and still is, and I still feel it occasionally, a danger of becoming sort of professionally mentally unstable,” said Fry, who is partly beloved for his candor about living with bipolar disorder.

“I’ve always believed it’s not who I am. It’s a condition I live with,” he told Fearne Cotton on her podcast Happy Place. “I’m always prepared to talk about it, but there’s also a danger, because I do live with this condition.”

Fry acknowledged that he’ll never be “cured”—but that it is possible to keep it at bay with a balanced lifestyle. “I’m not going to kid myself that it’s cured because it isn’t—that if I keep picking at the scab, it’s not going to be good for me,” he said. “It’s not going to be good for my mental health.”

In a 2013 essay, Fry responded to the outpouring of support he received after publicly discussing a suicide attempt. “I won’t go into the terrible details of the bottle of vodka, the mixture of pills and the closeness to permanent oblivion I came,” Fry wrote.

But he survived, and made some changes with the help of his “magnificent psychiatrist.” He confessed, “I used to think it utterly normal that I suffered from ‘suicidal ideation’ on an almost daily basis.”

Many years after receiving a bipolar disorder diagnosis at age 37, the now 60-year-old Fry is aware of his triggers, surrounds himself with assistants and agents who support his mental health, and keeps a sense of humor about it all.

His work with Mind helps maintain this balance. Part of the mental health charity’s work involves connecting people with its network of about 135 local chapters (“Local Minds”) across England and Wales. This sense of community is critical when it becomes too easy to detach from the world, Fry says.

“It’s so easy to hate the outside world, to hate yourself, to hate everything around you, and to feel no future, no purpose, and that’s where a connective band of people who have an understanding of it is incredibly important,” he said.

Given the shame, guilt, and embarrassment attached to the stigma of mental illness, being able to relate to others can only help.

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr