Since people with bipolar disorder often have high levels of energy and creativity, it may not surprise you that there are many famous bipolar celebrities. You’ll find that some of these famous people with bipolar disorder find success with medication and therapy, while others, sadly, do not.
Actors with Bipolar Disorder
Carrie Fisher, an actress most famous for playing Princess Leia in the Star Wars movies, has many film credits to her name, as well as several books. In 2008, Fisher wrote a book entitled Wishful Drinking, which translated into a solo show on Broadway in 2009. In this production, Fisher revealed her personal battles with bipolar disorder, alcoholism and drug abuse.
Patty Duke, actress and advocate for bipolar disorder sufferers, wrote two books on this condition: Call Me Anna: The Autobiography of Patty Duke (1988) and A Brilliant Madness: Living with Manic-Depressive Illness (1992). Duke’s untreated bipolar disorder may have played a role in her three failed marriages, spending sprees, suicide attempts and eventual inability to get out of bed. She finally began lithium treatment in 1982, which, she says, saved her life.
In 2006, Richard Dreyfuss, star of Jaws and American Graffiti, revealed his decades of suffering from bipolar disorder. After receiving a diagnosis and beginning lithium treatment, this famous bipolar artist’s life was greatly enhanced, allowing him to end his addiction to illegal drugs.
Musicians with Bipolar Disorder
Many famous bipolar celebrities are found in the world of music, as well. Singer Rosemary Clooney (1928-2002) spent much of her early adulthood years in the throes of bipolar disorder. Regardless of the success of her songs, such as “Come On-a My House” and “Mambo Italiano,” Clooney’s rages and depression contributed to a failed marriage to actor Jose Ferrer and an addiction to sleeping pills and tranquilizers.
Following the assassination of her friend, Robert F. Kennedy, Clooney was hospitalized in 1968 and underwent intense therapy for many years. Upon her release in 1977, she wrote an autobiography â€” This for Remembrance â€” exposing her battle with bipolar disorder. Clooney died in 2002 from lung cancer.
Another famous bipolar celebrity may have been Kurt Cobain (1967-1994), the troubled lead singer of the band Nirvana. Although Cobain never discussed this illness, he exhibited many classic symptoms of bipolar disorder, such as substance abuse and periods of productivity and high energy. After his suicide in 1994, his cousin, a registered nurse, claimed that he’d suffered from bipolar disorder. While we may never know if that was indeed his diagnosis, many signs point to this condition.
Bipolar Lives. (n.d.). Patty Duke: Bipolar disorder. Retrieved August 10, 2010, from http://www.bipolar-lives.com/patty-duke-bipolar-disorder.html.
Mabe, C. (n.d.). Richard Dreyfuss navigates the highs and lows of bipolar disorder. Retrieved August 11, 2010, from http://www.disaboom.com/movies/richard-dreyfuss-navigates-the-highs-and-lows-of-bipolar-disorder.
Reintegration Today. (2004). From Napoleon to Kurt Cobain: Cultural legends with bipolar disorder. Retrieved August 11, 2010, from www.reintegration.com/userimages/fall2004.pdf.
Setoodeh, R. (2008). Being Carrie Fisher. Retrieved August 11, 2010, from http://www.newsweek.com/2008/12/18/being-carrie-fisher.html.