Patty Duke bluntly recalls one of the lowest points in her life -- an Oscar-winning actress in her 20s, living alone, drowning her unhappiness in good Champagne and wine.
Eventually no amount of Champagne and wine could numb her, so she turned to hard liquor.
"My best friend was the bottle," Duke said. "And that's also when I started having indiscriminate sexual encounters. ... These are things I never in my life dreamed I would be saying out loud about myself. But I say them, because they happened."
The actress, now 64, will share her story at the Omni Fort Worth Hotel on Tuesday at the 23rd annual Jim Bradshaw Memorial Stars in Recovery Luncheon.
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The event is hosted by the Recovery Resource Council¸ a nonprofit that promotes substance abuse education and treatment.
Duke, who lives in Idaho, has traveled the speaking circuit for more than 25 years, talking about her diagnosis of bipolar disorder at age 35 and her journey through treatment.
Mental illness and substance abuse often go hand in hand, she said.
"When we finally recognize that something is wrong, we usually try to medicate with either drugs or alcohol," Duke said. "In my case it was alcohol and, of course, it only exacerbates the situation.
"You feel good for the moment, but the consequences are still coming."
Duke, who won an Oscar at 16 for her role as Helen Keller in 1962's The Miracle Worker, has written two bestselling books. Today, she is married and, with treatment, said she lives "a balanced life."
She described her life before her diagnosis as a "a roller-coaster ride that went on for years." The former star of The Patty Duke Show recalled spending three to four months in bed after the show's cancellation in 1966. "The only reason I got up was to use the bathroom or attempt suicide," she said.
When she was 35, a doctor diagnosed her with bipolar disorder, which causes manic and depressive mood swings. She said her reaction to the news was joy because "that meant what was wrong with me had a name, people knew about it and there was treatment for it."
Duke's local appearance comes as many cash-strapped states, including Texas, are reducing funding for social programs, like mental health and substance abuse treatment.
Duke said she shakes her head at such cost-saving strategies.
"Someone with an undiagnosed mental illness, for example, is going to wind up needing more expensive social services down the road anyway," she said. "If you can help turn them into productive, healthy people, they're working and paying taxes."
Despite the difficulties she faced in life, Duke said her visit Tuesday wouldn't depress people.
"My goal is to leave a positive message and empower people to go get the help they need," she said.
Alex Branch, 817-390-7689