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  • Eleven years ago I was starring in a new play

  • in this theatre in the West End

  • after just three performances I walked out

  • In the early hours of the next morning

  • I came down from my flat in Central London to this lane

  • I went into the garage

  • sealed the door with a duvet I brought

  • and got into my car

  • sat there for at least I think two hours in the car

  • my hands on the ignition key

  • You know it was a suicide attempt not a cry for help

  • I drove to the south coast and took a ferry to Europe

  • I just knew I couldn't be at home

  • couldn't be in London couldn't be in England

  • I really believed that I would never come back to England

  • Runaway Stephen Fry broke the silence last night

  • to reveal the torture he's been suffering

  • They're all are worried that I've committed suicide

  • That's the awful thing

  • but after a week I secretly returned to England to this hospital

  • and to a doctor telling me that I was bipolar

  • I had never heard the word before

  • but for the first time at the age of 37 I had a diagnosis

  • that explained my massive highs and miserable lows

  • I lived with all my life

  • No doubt that I do have extremes in moods 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 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 is also called

  • 4 million others in the UK have it

  • and many of the seriously ill end up killing themselves

  • So I have decided to speak out about my mental illness

  • and it is a mental illness

  • I wanted to talk to others who have it

  • about what triggered it in them and how it took over their lives

  • and I wanted to find out answers to what still worries me

  • Was I diagnosed correctly?

  • and I am now getting better or worse?

  • Let's start with a remark made by a Hollywood producer to me

  • You do not have to be gay or Jewish to get on here. just bipolar

  • He meant, of course, larger than Life furiously energetic, endlessly creative

  • Manic types do well in Hollywood, in all of show business for that matter

  • Euphoric heights and crickling lows seem to go with the territory

  • and don't attract the stigma found everywhere else

  • Since my own diagnosis, I kept working and found ways to cope

  • But I also kept quiet about my condition

  • Now I want to speak out and fight the stigma

  • and a to give a clearer picture of a mental illness most people know little about

  • Visiting my old friend Carrie Fischer

  • known to the world as Princess Leia in the Star Wars movies

  • She is on the edge of sanity. you know she's constantly...

  • not mad enough to be committed

  • but not sane enough to lead much of a normal life

  • When you're galloping along at a great speed

  • it is better than any drug you can ever take

  • God, if you will is saving your parking spots

  • Songs are being played on the radio for you

  • You're just so enthusiastic about everyone

  • and everyone must be enthusiastic about you

  • and it is just come along, I have a great idea I have this unbelievable idea

  • Let's go to India

  • Then you start going way to fast

  • You're faster than anyone that you're around

  • It's not fun You are on the phone far too long

  • You not getting any sleep

  • Nothing is going fast enough for you

  • Come on, keep up with me you guys, come on

  • And even if it's not true that you're more talented when you're manic

  • you feel like you are

  • Yes, what is half the battle

  • I am standing on rocks

  • flaming speeches to the world You know, I have a lot to say

  • I have messages from deep space in fact

  • and I stayed awake for 6 days and I did lose my mind

  • A this friend of mine says to me

  • Does your doctor know that you behave this way?

  • then we sort of have an argument

  • and I cry for four hours and I am unable to stop

  • and I know there is something wrong with that

  • I called the doctor when I go in and I see her

  • you know we were talking

  • and I am laughing and I am spinning around in chairs

  • and the doctor says

  • That is the diagnosis, that's bipolar that is manic depression

  • Carrie had years of living with such extreme moods and feelings

  • before she got that diagnosis

  • She has got it bad, you know

  • It is not a rock star or film star's accessory

  • it is a real mental condition and

  • she has to live with every single day of her life

  • She is on medication. You have to picture what she be like if she weren't

  • A medical expert told me almost half of those suffering from manic depression

  • aren't diagnosed at all

  • It frightens me to think of people having symptoms like Carrie

  • and not knowing what's wrong with them

  • I'm told that it's an illness

  • that's surprisingly difficult to pin down to achieve a diagnosis

  • now I am diagnosed bipolar and bipolarity is a disease of the brain

  • So a brain scan will surely reveal a sign of what I have

  • The research being carried out here at Maudsly Hospital in south London

  • compares normal brains with bipolar ones like mine

  • Here, we're at the beginning of the brains - Oh my Goodness.

  • I just grab the front of the nose and then scroll back

  • That's my face actually

  • You see your chubby cheeks, there - My little chubby cheeks

  • but by looking at a sample of slices from a brain

  • you can't tell or can you, whether someone is bipolar

  • When it comes to bipolar looking at a single subjects structural scan

  • would not give you that diagnostic information at this stage

  • Is there anything you see in my brain that

  • leads you to the view that I am bipolar?

  • No. I think there is a very short answer to that

  • Thus yet no brain test that can diagnose bipolarity

  • but I have being hearing talk of a bipolar gene

  • To find out more I have come to have my let my DNA tested as part

  • of the world's largest research bipolarity at the University of Cardiff

  • They have 2000 participants already and now 2001

  • Do I get my wollypop now?

  • This is your DNA - My DNA, thank you so much

  • O, it is so attractive. I knew it would be Beautiful, isn't it?

  • So which way now? - Ok, we go up to look at the Sequenom

  • You know is must be good just from the name It's fantastic

  • Welcome to the Sequenom, Mr. Bond

  • What we have found is that if you simply compared people with bipolar disorder

  • against people without, controls. We don't actually see any overall difference

  • Unfortunately the press as you know, they'll publish reports

  • saying "The bipolar gene" or whatever

  • That is completely incorrect

  • There will be many genes that are involved in bipolarity

  • So at the moment there is no clear-cut test to show if someone is bipolar

  • How them do you tell?

  • How was I diagnosed all those years ago?

  • Well a psychiatrist simply asked a lot of questions about my behaviour and my feelings

  • Here in Cardiff Nick uses the same process but involving 200 questions

  • that carefully build up a picture of a persons life history of manic depression

  • We developed a scale When I find out information from you

  • I'll tell you where you score on our scale

  • Looking back times when you think perhaps

  • it was something a bit out of the ordinary

  • unusual, caused a problem or you needed treatment

  • Well, I suppose the first time I needed treatment I think I was 14

  • In hindsight my symptoms really surfaced here

  • The problem was for almost everyone was that they looked like bad behaviour

  • I was nearly expelled from my prepschool I was expelled from here

  • It is very strange revisiting a place where one was so intensively alive

  • as to be almost in a constant state of edginess

  • and I suppose what man call mania now

  • because I cut games. I was so often alone.

  • Wandering around on the roofs

  • I think I used to crawl all over the roofs for a mixture of risk

  • and power when you're looking down on people

  • The effect of my behaviour was cause to make me unbearable really

  • a show-off a loudmouth

  • completely impossible to handle disruptive

  • See, thin, I may never been a good looking boy

  • but I was once thin!!

  • Meeting my old housemaster and his wife

  • insures an uncomfortable reminder of past crimes

  • like given permission to go to London and then not returning

  • We went to see films We went just to the cinema

  • One of which was the Clockwork Orange

  • That's right

  • Your father thought

  • O my God,of all films that he might have seen

  • I was consumed and gripped by it