Actress Jenifer Lewis Talks About the “Darkness” Of Her Mental Illness

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By: Krystle Crossman

Actress Jenifer Lewis is known for many things. She is known for her bright and infectious personality. She is known for her many roles on television sitcoms such as Meet the Browns, Girlfriends, and Strong Medicine. One of the things that the 57 year old actress is opening up about that she is not known for is her struggle with bipolar disorder.

Lewis was diagnosed in 1990 with bipolar disorder. She has been going through intense therapy for 17 years and has been on medication for 10 years. She is opening up about her struggle in the hopes that she can help others who may be suffering from the same disorder. She says that before she was diagnosed she had been overwhelmed with grief from her father’s death. This can be a major trigger for bipolar disorder.

Lewis said that she didn’t end up seeking out treatment from a professional until three years after her father had passed. One of her girlfriends had found her lying on the floor screaming. At first it was hard for her to accept that this was her life. She didn’t want to think about having a disorder like this and was in denial about it. She says that when you have bipolar you always seem to find yourself at the center of all of the drama. She also said that you ask yourself questions all the time such as, “why am I always depressed?” or “why am I so angry with people?”.

Often times people who have a mental illness have a stigma placed upon them and people feel that they are fragile and should be someone to be wary of. This is of course not true but society views mental illness as a very taboo subject so when someone who is in the public eye comes out and says that they have a disorder and shares their experience it is a very brave thing. Hopefully what Jenifer has learned from her struggles can help someone else with theirs.

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4 Comments

  1. Thanks Ms.Lewis, I am glad you are dealing with your mental health issues. Mental illness is just like a physical illness we must take care of ourselves. Thanks for speaking out. I love your acting and please continue.

  2. Bernice Wilson on

    Very courageous and I applaud Ms.Lewis too often this very important topic and illness is never discussed or treated..Hopefully now it will get the attention it desparately needs..

  3. Thank you for your honesty and insight on this
    Disorder…. i pray that you will stay in good company
    and good spirits
    i will be on the lookout for any new artistic works
    that you will be a part of…peAce

  4. Much admiration and praise. In addition to a counseling practice, I also work on an in patient psychiatric unit and teach at one of our local universities. My experiences tell me there is something wrong with all of us, myself included. I like to call myself controlled crazy. A lot of us just have not been clinically diagnosed.

    Millions of Americans are on some type of antidepressant, antipsychotic, or antianxiety medication. Add those of us who self medicate with alcohol, weed, and other substances. Throw in the shopaholics, gamblers, sexoholics, controlholics, brokeoholics, baroholics, clubholics, makeupholics, bragaholics, relationshipholics, and others.

    Why a stigma continues amazes the hell out of me.

    No one is insane all the time, just as no one is sane all the time.

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