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Jenifer Lewis: How She Coped with Bipolar Disorder

Jenifer Lewis: How She Coped with Bipolar Disorder

Character actress Jenifer Lewis is astounding as the take-no-prisoners grandmother Ruby Johnson on ABC’s hit sitcom “Black-ish.”

But off camera, Jenifer Lewis was dealing with bipolar disorder. Read on…

Jenifer Lewis: How She Coped with Bipolar DisorderCelebNHealth247.com reports that Jenifer Lewis recently released he memoir, “The Mother of Black Hollywood,” which gets its name from the myriad roles in which she has played mom.

In the book Mrs, Jenifer Lewis touches on how she resisted the diagnosis at first and refused to take medication until a self-described nervous breakdown left her convulsing in sobs.

She felt as if she was a prisoner of herself, a hostage so to speak thanks to her untreated neurochemistry.

These days it’s a different story because Jennifer who admits “there ain’t no shame in my game” says, she “does the work.”

The 61-year-old actress takes her medication daily, was in therapy for nearly two decades, and still occasionally checks in for fine-tuning. She routinely hikes, does Pilates, and eats and drinks healthfully.

New York from Kinloch, Mo. native has worked steadily in theater, film, and television since earning her first Broadway role in 1979.

Jenifer opens up about her dealings with her bipolar disorder.

Mrs. Lewis explains:

When I was first diagnosed bipolar in 1990, I was, like, “What? Bipolar? I’m bicoastal, but what’s this ‘bipolar’?” [Laughs.] If you say, “Jenifer, you’re crazy!” hell, I always knew that. I’d heard, “Jenny, you’re crazy!” my whole life. [Laughs.]

And it was hard. It took me four years after my diagnosis to start taking medication. I thought, “I’m fine.” And in my work, in my one-woman shows, in particular, I used the mania to my advantage. Oh! That electricity onstage!

But afterward, offstage, I just got tired. I got so tired. The crying and I didn’t know why. It was a very dark place. But really, my therapist gave a name to how I’ve been all my life. . . . I wrote one of my one-woman shows about it, “Bipolar, Bath, and Beyond.” [Laughs.] You’ve got to work hard each day. There are no shortcuts to getting better. Or to anything in life. You absolutely have to work at it. Go to therapy. Take your meds. Take care of yourself. Don’t eat or drink alone in the dark. Live your life.

My therapist says, “You did it! You did it kickin’ and screamin’, but you did it.” But no one gets it right the first time. Or the second or third time. You’ve got to stay at it. You better get up and stay up. You’ve got to do the work.

Despite all the struggles, Jennifer is happy to still be here.

She goes on to say:

I’m so grateful. Life can still be hard sometimes, but I wake up with a smile. And I know what it’s like to wake up crying. Now, I find such pleasure in colors, in flowers, in children’s eyes. And I think, “Here am I.

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About the author

Pete Peter

Pete is a California native who has been in the entertainment industry for 20+ years. He is a journalist who covers music, festivals, events, interviews, movie premieres, sports, reality TV, fashion, health and more.