Homelessness, Addiction and Recovery: Inside Margot Kidder's Battle with Mental Health

While Margot Kidder is best famous for her repeated purpose as Lois Lane in a strange Superman films, she will also be remembered for her prolonged and bold conflict with bipolar disorder, once famous as manic depression.

The singer died during a age of 69 on Sunday during her home in Livingston, Montana, PEOPLE reliable on Monday. Her means of genocide is unknown.

“The existence of my life has been grand and wonderful, punctuated by these peculiar blips and burps of madness,” Kidder told PEOPLE for a cover story in 1996, not prolonged after her final reported manic episode, that left her homeless for a time.

In a same interview, Kidder called a occurrence “the many open freak-out in history,” adding, “I was like one of those ladies we see articulate to a space aliens on a travel dilemma in New York.”

While a four-day disappearance was her many highly-publicized episode, it was not a initial time she had done headlines given rising to inflection as Lois Lane in 1978’s Superman.

There were addictions and recoveries, husbands and divorces, a series of boyfriends (including Superman III costar Richard Pryor and former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau), episodes of weird function and an automobile collision that left her broke and partially inept in 1990.

Margot Kidder in Superman (1978)

Kidder told PEOPLE that a base of many of her problems — that she pronounced enclosed “mood swings that could strike over a building” — was bipolar disorder. The illness affects over 9 million Americans and causes those who have it to oscillate between overjoyed highs and unfortunate lows, according to a National Institute of Mental Health.

She was initial diagnosed with a condition by a Los Angeles-based psychiatrist in 1988. But, questionable of medical opinion, Kidder refused to accept a anticipating — or to take lithium, a endorsed treatment.

“It’s unequivocally tough to remonstrate a manic chairman that there is anything wrong with them,” Kidder told PEOPLE. “You have no enterprise to sleep. You are full of ideas.”

But in 1996, when a mechanism pathogen incidentally deleted a discourse she had been operative on for years, Kidder pronounced she “went from unequivocally unsettled to comprehensive delusion.” She flew to L.A. to see a mechanism dilettante who told her that a files could not be recovered.

While watchful for her lapse moody during a airport, she became convinced that her initial husband, author Thomas McGuane, and a CIA were “trying to kill” her because her discourse was absolute adequate to change a world. She saw agents and assassins everywhere. “I know you’re looking during me!” she told PEOPLE she shouted during a passersby during a airport.

Still in a airfield during 3 a.m., she spoke with a TV organisation from WBIR in Knoxville, Tenn. “My ex-husband has hired people to kill me,” she pronounced she told them. Anchorman Ted Hall after told PEOPLE: “I could see there was no plot. It was so sad. She was dirty, tired.”

Margot Kidder in 1990.

By then, she had thrown divided her purse since she suspicion there was a explosve in it. Later, she attempted to take a cab yet didn’t have adequate income for a trip. She attempted to use her ATM label outward a airfield yet suspicion a income appurtenance was about to explode. “I took off running,” Kidder told PEOPLE.

“I slept in yards and on porches in a state of fear,” she added. By a following afternoon, Kidder had done her approach downtown, a stretch of some 20 miles, and was taken in by a homeless male named Charlie who gave her preserve in his card shack.

He “took such implausible caring of me,” Kidder told PEOPLE. “I was cold. we was hungry. we was shocked over belief. He stayed with me and hold me.” She had mislaid some caps on her front teeth, that she cemented behind in place with Krazy Glue. “When you’re carrying a manic episode,” she said, “you don’t always remember to container a Krazy Glue.”

The subsequent day another homeless male attempted to rape her, she recalled, kicking her in a stomach, attack her in a face and dislodging a final of a caps on her front teeth. Kidder pronounced she strike behind and remembers logic in desperation, “You’re a good person. You don’t wish to do this.” The male corroborated off.

Meanwhile, family and friends were frantic. When Kidder hadn’t returned from L.A., her representative John Blake called her usually child (with McGuane), Maggie Kern. Working with a L.A. police, Maggie done dozens of calls to friends. “I even tore detached my mother’s cabin looking for aged phone books,” Maggie told Barbara Walters on 20/20. At one indicate a military told Maggie that they didn’t know either they would find Margot alive. But her hermit John (one of 5 Kidder siblings), a Vancouver, B.C., inventor, never mislaid faith. “Margot is impossibly strong,” he told PEOPLE during a time. “She’s a survivor.”

Margot Kidder in 2010.

Three days after she was final seen during a airport, Kidder set off on feet to see her crony Shuster, a former Saturday Night Live author who had a home some 12 miles north of downtown L.A. Margot had hacked off her hair tighten to her scalp as a serve disguise. She spent a night in a motel room, organised for by some Alcoholics Anonymous members she had met in her wanderings.

The subsequent day, Kidder told PEOPLE, “I was walking adult this unconstrained towering and had a different fulfilment that yet we was nude of all normal forms of identity, we was still me.” That impulse of relations clarity finally led to her rescue. Feeling reduction driven to hide, a singer took retreat in a backyard in Glendale, where she encountered homeowner Elaine Lamb and told her, “I competence not demeanour like it, yet I’m Margot Kidder.”

Tipped off by a 911 call from Lamb, a Glendale military found Kidder and took her to Olive View Medical Center in circuitously Sylmar, where she was placed underneath observation. She was after eliminated to UCLA Medical Center, and, 5 days after she was found, a decider ruled that she was no risk to herself or others and was authorised to leave UCLA.

To equivocate a press, Margot went to a rented residence on an island nearby Vancouver. There, her hermit John introduced her to bipolar author Jamison’s writings, and Kidder had a startle of recognition. “Finally,” Kidder told PEOPLE, “I was means to accept a diagnosis.”

That fulfilment was a prolonged time coming. Although she hid it from teachers, relatives and peers, Kidder was already experiencing bouts of suicidal basin and peculiar flights of imagination as a teenager. At age 14 she swallowed a handful of codeine pills since a beloved had dumped her. “It never occurred to anyone to send me to a shrink,” she said. “I was only a teen with a damaged heart.”

Margot Kidder and Jay Leno in 1996

Another time, she became preoccupied with a hunger tree, desiring that if she could stand to a tip and spin around it quick enough, she would somehow “become one” with it. “I’ve always called it ‘keeping a monsters in,’” she told PEOPLE of her demons. “I knew it wasn’t socially excusable during a high propagandize dance to speak about a time we got homogenized with hunger cones.”

Always a healthy performer, Kidder added, “I suspicion in behaving we could let my genuine self out and no one would know it was me.” Around age 21, she began observant psychiatrists for her mood swings yet never devoted their approaches. “Trying to assistance someone who suffers from a excess of feeling by enlivening them to let out some-more feelings is absurd,” she said.

In 1990, when she was operative on a TV series Nancy Drew and Daughter, an automobile collision left her legs partially paralyzed. A behind operation for a herniated hoop in 1992 easy her ability to walk, yet she still has a rather flat-footed gait. More than $600,000 in medical bills gathering her into bankruptcy, however, and a pain led to an obsession to pills and alcohol. She after assimilated a 12-step group. “If we felt myself starting to go manic, I’d get drunk. Better dipsomaniac than crazy,” Kidder told PEOPLE.

Still, Kidder did take some honour in aspects of her disease, observant that Lord Byron, her favorite poet, and author Thomas Wolfe also had bipolar disorder. “When we listen to Beethoven’s Ninth, we get pleasure,” she said. “A manic-depressive gets rapture.”

The biggest present of her recovery, however, was an softened attribute with her daughter, that Kidder had seen in a past as her “bottomless good of grief.”

“Nothing was ever fast for Maggie. Manics run by a lot of money, so there was no financial security,” she said. As for romantic stability, she added, “I was defeat by husbands a mile a minute.” When Kidder spoke with PEOPLE in 1996, she pronounced that she and Maggie had reached a new and improved place in their relationship.

Margot Kidder in 1985.

Yet even in recovery, Kidder had to do things her possess way. “I hatred lithium since it works only underneath a spin during that it is toxic,” she explained. She was helped, she said, by Canadian acupuncturist and therapist Elena Crippen, and was perplexing Depakote, an anti-seizure medicine that has had some success treating bipolar disorder.

With a assistance of her friend, actor Russell Means, she also explored Native American herbal remedies. “I’m not observant it’s all over,” she certified during a time. “I’m observant this is a settlement of my life. In 3 years we competence be carrying another wig-out. we have no idea. we only have to accept a fact that this is me, or we ain’t gonna make it.”

Fortunately, a treatments started to work, and Kidder never gifted another part like she did in 1996. Speaking about her struggles with mental health in a 2012 speak with CBC, Kidder said, “It’s aged news. we flipped out about 17 years ago now and still we have people in airports going, ‘Are we ok?’ And it’s arrange of honeyed and touching yet during a same time we wish to go, ‘It was 17 years ago!’ ”

She added, “I feel unequivocally propitious that we got a kind of assistance that we did. And it was perfect luck, it positively wasn’t any luminosity of mine. we got people who didn’t insist we got unperceiving to a gills with a lot of mind narcotic things that fundamentally spin we into a vegetable. [They] taught me how to get improved naturally. So we feel really, really, unequivocally sanctified by that.”

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