Emmy-winning actress Mariette Hartley, well known for her Polaroid commercials with actor James Garner, went public with her bipolar diagnosis in an interview with USA Today. She was diagnosed in 1994 during a serious suicidal depression. She had a family history that included suicide; her father committed suicide in 1963 and her mother attempted suicide soon after. Hartley described herself as an alcoholic.
Doctors first thought she suffered from depression, but bipolar disorder is characterized by manic phases in which people feel heightened energy, creativity and productivity. People suffer extreme mood swings.
"Bipolar disorder is something that is mine. And it is very difficult to talk about it," Hartley told USA Today. "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."
Hartley worked with the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, which manufactured a medication for bipolar disorder, to help educate people about proper diagnosis and treatment. Hartley co-founded the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Hartley (L) and her daughter Justine pose upon arriving at the press opening of the Los Angeles production of "Kiss Me, Kate" August 24, 2001 at the Shubert Theatre.