Stranger Things Star David Harbour Says He Was Once Committed to Asylum

Stranger Things star David Harbour is opening up about his struggles with mental illness. 

In an interview with Marc Maron for his popular WTF podcast, Harbour, 43, tells the comic that he battled anxiety, self-hatred and alcohol abuse before finally being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. 

During his mid-20s, he said he got sober and became spiritual, but then had a manic episode. 

  • "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," he said. "And writing a lot."
  • He said he did not take drugs at the time, adding, "I realized that I don't really need them, that I have a capacity to see the elves in the corners of my room if I really allow myself to go there."
  • Eventually, his parents had him committed, and the experience was brutal, he said. 
  • "And I have to say one thing about the mental asylum...really, really not as fun as you think it is," he joked. "You do have a romantic idea...and it just ends up being sad and smells like s--t. And the other thing was boating. I recently went out on a ship in open water, and I'd read Moby Dick a million times, and it's really not sexy, it's horrible. It's very similar to the mental asylum experience."
  • Harbour said that his confusion about the human condition ultimately led him to acting. 
  • "People were like, 'Haha, we're friends, we're friends! I love you!' And you'd just feel like, you hate that person," he said. "And then the question becomes, 'Why are you lying? Why do you have to lie?'...I was so fascinated by why they make the choices that they do, why they lock themselves into situations that they seem to not like, why don't people live the way they want to, what it is that they're doing? That led me to acting."