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Stephen Fry says he felt ‘guilt and shame’ after attempting suicide: 'You feel such a fool'

Author diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 37

Sarah Young
Thursday 14 May 2020 11:06 BST
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Stephen Fry has opened up about the “guilt and shame” he felt after recovering from failed suicide attempts.

The 62-year-old has publicly addressed his mental health issues in the past, revealing that he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 37 and has tried to take his own life on multiple occasions, most recently in 2012.

Now, Fry has spoken out about the process of recovery and how he managed to bring “colour” back into his life.

Speaking on the Art of Change: Nothing Concrete podcast, the former QI host described how it feels to experience suicidal ideation.

“Inside you, you just do not see the point of anything. Nothing has flavour or savour. Nothing has any meaning. Everything is just hopeless,” Fry said.

“There’s no future. There’s no sense of anything ahead of you. And you have to hope something will stop you. In my case it was just failed attempts and waking up in a hospital.”

He went on to discuss the complicated emotions he experienced during the recovery process, including feeling like “a fool”.

“In your recovery, in the fact you realise people are kind enough to forgive you, because you feel such a fool and you feel you’ve done it to them – all the guilt and shame that comes from an attempt on one’s life that’s gone wrong – and it’s in the recovery, it’s when you suddenly find that flavour, and life has colour again,” Fry explained, before crediting Ludwig Van Beethoven’s classical music with helping him at the time.

“Beethoven is a perfect example of someone who brings that colour back to you quicker than almost anything else and that’s a sign you’re back,” Fry said.

“There is a healing quality to it that helps...when combined with not drinking too much and walking and eating properly and the other things that supposedly help one’s mental health.”

This is not the first time Fry has spoken about his mental health struggles. The author become a major proponent for mental health awareness, exploring bipolar disorder in the 2006 two-part documentary Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive and was named president of mental health charity Mind in 2011.

He also previously opened up about the way in which bipolar disorder affects his life during an episode of Fearne Cotton’s podcast Happy Place.

“There was and still is, and I still feel it occasionally, a danger of becoming sort of professionally mentally unstable, and that’s what I am, that’s who I am,” he said at the time.

“I’ve always viewed it’s not who I am. It’s a condition I live with. I’m always prepared to talk about it, but there’s also a danger, because I do live with this condition.

“I’m not going to kid myself that it’s cured because it isn’t, that if I keep picking at the scab, it’s not going to be good for me. It’s not going to be good for my mental health.”

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