Mariette Hartley - Actress - Advocate

from About Bipolar Disorder

Going public about being bipolar was "wrenching"

In August 2003, Mariette Hartley was hired by GlaxoSmithKline, manufacturers of Lamictal, to let people know that their lives can return to balance if diagnosed and bipolar disorder is treated properly.

Mariette Hartley co-founded the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Her father committed suicide in 1963. Her mother attempted to take her life shortly afterward. She lost an uncle in 1959 to suicide. In 1998, she lost a beloved cousin who struggled with bipolar disorder. Needless to say, her family history is filled with manic depression.

Suffering as a young teenager from hypersexuality and social anxiety, Mariette began drinking at age 14 and was "clearly an alcoholic from the beginning," she told USA Today. Sobriety, much later, eventually brought on suicidal depression.

Mariette was diagnosed with severe depression in 1994 while experiencing a suicidal episode. The prescribed antidepressants sent her into mania. That, she says, was when she realized that something else was going on. But even then she was diagnosed with ADD first, before finally being correctly diagnosed as having bipolar disorder.

She is quoted as saying "Bipolar disorder is something that is mine, and it is very difficult to talk about. Breaking this silence has been really wrenching for me; I went into a kind of depression wondering if I really wanted to talk about all this. I finally decided that education is more important."

Mariette Hartley's film career started with a leading role in the film, Ride the High Country (1962). During her long acting career she has performed in almost every venue. Well-known for her Polaroid Camera commercials with James Garner, she won an Emmy for her appearance in a 1978 installment of The Incredible Hulk with Bill Bixby. Her warm voice and attractive but not pretty appearance have allowed her to play a wide variety of roles.

Besides her acting career and educating the public on bipolar disorder, she is also the mother of two children, a daughter and a son.

A final quote from Mariette Hartley: "If you are on the right medication now; for God's sake stay on it and don't change," she said to USA Today, "but if it doesn't seem to be working, then go to a doctor and find the right one for you."

Mariette Hartley index page