Netflix Star David Harbour Hopes To Help Others By Talking About His Mental Health

"I was diagnosed as bipolar."

Actor David Harbour, who plays Chief Jim Hopper on the Netflix series Stranger Things, recently opened up about his experience with mental illness in the hope of helping others who may be struggling. The topic, which Harbour says he's "never truly spoken about publicly," came up on comedian Marc Maron's WTF podcast this week. 


Last year, Harbour revealed in an interview with his alma mater Dartmouth that he started drinking as a teenager and continued into college. "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," Harbour told Maron, according to People. "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 went on to share that his parents placed him in a psychiatric hospital. "I have one thing to say about the mental asylum ... Really, really not as fun as you think it is," he said of his time there. "You do have a romantic idea of it … and it just ends up being sad and smells like s—."

The actor also shared his experience taking medication for his condition, explaining, "I've been medicated bipolar for a long time. And I've had problems going on and off. I've had a struggle, going on and off the medications."

He added that his mental illness has consistently been connected with spirituality, which has affected his coping methods. "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," he said. "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."

"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," Harbour wrote of his interview on Twitter. 

The actor clearly cares about his fans. Earlier this year, he posed with a high schooler for her senior photos, and later agreed to officiate a fan's wedding

Harbour joins fellow Stranger Things star Shannon Purser in speaking candidly about mental illness. Last month, Purser opened up about her struggle with OCD, depression, and anxiety. Other stars who have recently spoken about their mental health include Paramore's Hayley Williams and singer Ariana Grande.

Cover image: Kathy Hutchins /


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