Linda Hamilton, in her most famous role, fought her way out of a psychiatric ward. She’s known to play uncompromising characters who are tough and rugged. On the other side of the screen, she’s a fighter and always will be a fighter. The biggest battle she’s ever faced has been her mood disorder, bipolar.
Linda was diagnosed in her 40s and calls the years between 20 and 40 as the “lost years”. From the age of 23 to 30 she desperately tried to understand the nature of her mood swings.
Like Carrie Fisher, Linda Hamilton never really knew her father, although in this instance he was killed in a car accident when Linda was young. Linda’s father also had a suspected mood disorder. Her behavioural problems began at a young age. Her parents remember her beating a dog with a stick when she was five years old. She was an identical twin, and didn’t like resembling someone else, resulting in rebellion and attention-seeking behaviour. It was during this time she experienced excruciating aloneness.
As Linda began her career in Hollywood, she tried to combat her depression through alcohol and drugs. She describes her experience of manic phases:
It’s an amazingly brilliant time. You don’t need sleep. I think I existed on four hours sleep a night for four years. Sleep doesn’t seem necessary. You wake up feeling great. But it’s not all great feelings. A lot of the raging that I did I think was the manic part of my disorder. The capacity for fighting, war, taking everything on, taking too much on, overachieving and then raging because my system was so depleted.*
She emotionally abused her husband Bruce Abbott. Her marriage to director James Cameron ended in an expensive divorce. Her depression was so severe that sometimes she could not get disturbing images out of her head, like her children suffering harm. This powerful feeling was associated with the post-partum depression she was experiencing after the birth of her second child. Cyclical thought patterns and emotional volatility followed her around wherever she went.
“It was always all about me, when I would get that unwell,” she says. “I would go into argumentative rages. But I suffered horribly.” *
Exercise is an incredible key to feeling well. But for people with mental illness, taking care of the body is not an automatic thing. The mind is in such chaos it’s hard to come up with a plan. So to people like us, it’s more important than ever to follow a regimen. *
Linda did seek therapy and help during this time, however a proper clinical diagnosis and appropriate medication was not given to her. She succeeded as an actress despite battling a mental health condition. Linda has great insight into her struggle and this interview with Larry King serves to underscore the painful truth of mental health sufferers, that no one can see into your brain to acknowledge the pain, strife, psychic tension and ache that goes on there. A psychiatrist once told me that when you break your leg people can easily gather around and offer sympathy, not so for the mental health sufferer, sometimes this further exacerbates painful feelings of isolation and loneliness.
I just find it strange that in this world everyone is so easy to talk about the superficial, you know, and how people look and what they do to their faces but like no one is really having the dialogue about what’s going on inside of them. And I think that I hid my symptoms pretty well for most of my life but it was still a raging war going on.*
After she was diagnosed with bipolar she realised that medication was essential for managing her emotions and getting her life firmly back on track. The need to be a good parent and role model for her children inspired her to continue treatment.
She stuck to her medication regime and gave up alcohol. She now adopts a holistic approach to healthcare for the mentally unwell. She knows that a structured sensible and balanced approach is critical for proper recovery from mental health; it’s worth noting that when she started taking anti-depressants she didn’t initially stick with them. Like many people who have bipolar, once they feel better they stop taking medication. In the interview with Larry King she mentions needing to pay attention to certain side effects with medications as they can result in weight increase.
Because people are not able to care for themselves. They don’t make regular checkups with their doctor. They medicate with alcohol and too much food and because of those lifestyle choices, you know, they’re dying sooner. So, I really wanted to get out and address that and offer some common sense approaches*
It’s also important to point out how people can help if their family or friends are suffering depression. We know that a lot of people who research answers are often loved ones looking for an answer. A person who is very sick sometimes lacks all capacity to look for answers. Linda’s friends affirmed their love for her and didn’t condemn her bad behaviour.
We’ll leave this article with an excellent quote, here’s Linda’s parting advice to those who are struggling to get better:
Her best advice? “Never give up on yourself. Reach out for help. Find like-minded (people) who can offer wisdom.”*
We totally commend Linda’s forthrightness, honesty and perseverance. She is an inspiration for so many others and we wish her the best for the future which just keeps getting brighter and brighter for her.
How Linda Hamilton Beats Bipolar
Exercise – As you can see by Terminator 2 exercise is important to Linda, she recognised that she used to be an exercise junkie which was not serving her. She now still exercises regularly but has part of a holistic health plan
Medication – Linda finally accepted the bi-polar disorder, her compliance with medication ensures she is on the right track and her moods are much more manageable
Destigmatisation Even though is was slightly inadvertent, Linda has become a spokesman about confronting disorder. Her interviews with Larry King and Oprah Winfrey are recommended for further reading. She open, candid honest and raw about her journey, struggled and how she’s gotten her life well back on track
Structure – Linda focuses on having a balanced and structured life. Driven by needing to be the best mother she can be to her kids.
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