|STEPHEN FRY CHOOSES NOT TO MEDICATE OUT HIS 'CREATIVE HYPERMANIA.'|
Q: What's your own experience of having bipolar disorder?
Stephen: I approach it from the point of view of one who suffers, according to a psychiatrist at least, from cyclothymia which is sometimes called 'bipolar light'.
I take that to mean I have most of the benefits of hypomania, a slightly less psychotic form of energy, vitality and exuberance and some, one hopes, creativity.There are certainly spending sprees but happily very little promiscuity. That's just my good fortune in this regard.
Q: Do you take medication?
Stephen: I'm fortunate enough not to be medicated or, so far as I can tell, need medication. But the idea that once you start on medication and each time you go off it you seem to get worse is a very grim one. It really is a very serious condition
STEPHEN FRY: 'MY LONG BATTLE WITH MANIC DEPRESSION'
Owen Gibson, media correspondent
The Guardian, Friday 21 July 2006 07.16 BST
Eleven years after he walked out of the starring role in a West End theatre production and fled the country, Stephen Fry has spoken of his battle with manic depression for a new BBC2 show he hopes will break the taboos surrounding mental health.
In The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive the comedian, actor and author talks of his struggle with bipolar disorder and interviews others who have the condition.
"Eleven years ago in the early hours of the morning I came down from my flat in central London," he says, recalling the period immediately after he walked out on the play Cell Mates. I went into my garage, sealed the door with a duvet I'd brought and got into my car. I sat there for at least, I think, two hours in the car, my hands on the ignition key. It was, you know, a suicide attempt, not a cry for help.
Instead he fled to Europe, saying he "really believed" he would never return to England.
"I drove to the south coast and took a ferry to Europe. I just knew I couldn't be at home. I really believed I would never come back to England. I couldn't meet the gaze of anyone I knew."
After later returning secretly to evade the press furore about his whereabouts, he was diagnosed as bipolar.
"I'd never heard the word before, but for the first time, at the age of 37, I had a diagnosis that explains the massive highs and miserable lows I've lived with all my life," he says.
"There's no doubt that I do have extremes of mood that are greater than just about anybody else I know. The psychiatrist in the hospital recommended I take a long break. I came here to America and for months I saw a therapist and walked up and down this beach. My mind was full of questions. Am I now mad? How have I got this illness, could it have been prevented, can I be cured of it? Since then, I have discovered just how serious it is to have bipolarity, or manic depression as it's also called. Four million others in the UK have it and many of them end up killing themselves."
On returning to his old school, he said: "In hindsight my symptoms really surfaced here, but the problem was, to almost everyone, they just looked like bad behaviour. I was nearly expelled from prep school, I was nearly expelled from here."
He says: "When I was about 17 ... going around London on two stolen credit cards, it was a sort of fantastic reinvention of myself, an attempt to. I bought ridiculous suits with stiff collars and silk ties from the 1920s, and would go to the Savoy and Ritz and drink cocktails."
Fry re-examines his life in the light of his diagnosis, speaking to his former schoolmaster and discussing the first time he tried to kill himself, at 17.
He also speaks to others in the public eye who have battled the condition, including the comedian Tony Slattery and the Hollywood actors Richard Dreyfuss and Carrie Fisher.
Slattery spoke of his own breakdown: "I rented a huge warehouse by the river Thames. I just stayed in there on my own, didn't open the mail or answer the phone for months and months and months. I was just in a pool of despair and mania."
Unveiling BBC2's autumn season, its controller, Roly Keating, said Fry, who had approached the broadcaster with the idea for the programme, "talks about his own experiences with incredible candour and bravery. It is a totally misunderstood condition which a lot of people don't like to talk about because of the taboo around mental health," he added. "He does it with humour and empathy and proves he is also a very good listener."
Other highlights of the new season include the return of Extras, the comedy from Stephen Merchant and Ricky Gervais, the creators of The Office. Andy Millman, played by Gervais, finally hits the big time with his own TV comedy but the reality does not match up to his dreams. Celebrity cameos in the series include David Bowie, the Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe, Chris Martin of Coldplay, and Ronnie Corbett.
A new comedy from Armando Iannucci, Time Trumpet, looks back on 2007 from the future featuring aged versions of current celebrities, including Tony Blair, David Beckham and Jamie Oliver.
In drama, a two-hour film from Abi Morgan, the writer of the Bafta award-winning Sex Traffic, explores the personal and political impact of the Asian tsunami on Boxing Day 2004.
The historian Simon Schama returns for his first big series since The History of Britain with Power of Art, an exploration of the stories behind the making of eight masterpieces.
- OTHER FAMOUS PEOPLE THOUGHT TO HAVE BIPOLAR DISORDER.
- Kurt Cobain(Nirvana)
- Richard Dreyfuss
- Patty Duke
- Carrie Fisher
- Stephen Fry
- Mel Gibson
- Ernest Hemingway(a famous writer)
- Edgar Allan Poe
- Richard Rossi
- Jean-Claude Van Damme
- Linda Hamilton
- Robert Calvert
- Jenifer Lewis
- Robert Shuman
- Burgess Meredith
- Ben Stiller
- Tim Burton and Joshua Logan(film directors)