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Tuesday 25th October 2016

Stephen Fry's manic depression

12th October 2006

16032006_sad_face.jpgBetter known as a comedian, actor, author and film-maker Stephen Fry investigated the reality of living with his bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression. In the two-part BBC programme, screened in September, he spoke to celebrity sufferers including Carrie Fisher and Robbie Williams, as well as people talking frankly about the impact the condition has on their lives, their experiences and treatment.

Recounting in detail his own experience of the condition, he recounted his suicide attempt after walking out of a hit West End play more than a decade ago, and his continuing severe mood swings. He recounted childhood memories, being expelled from school and being sent to prison for fraud.

Over the course of the two programmes, Fry considered issues of medication, self-medicating and other treatments including the controversial electric convulsive therapy (ECT). But despite the suicidal thoughts and self hate, Stephen Fry concluded, along with other sufferers, that he would not push a magic button to take his bipolar away, instead thinking positively of sharing a condition with a number of great men and women with symptoms which suggest bipolar, including Ernest Hemingway, Van Gogh, Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath – despite many of them ending their own life.

Speaking recently to an audience of psychiatric students and practitioners at St Andrew's University, he said one of the aims of the programme was to reduce stigma associated with mental health problems.


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