After 17 years of therapy and 10 years of being medicated for bipolar disorder, actress Jenifer Lewis says she's no longer hiding her mental illness from others. Jenifer talks with Gayle about sharing her battle with bipolar disorder on The Oprah Winfrey Show and about her movie Dirty Laundry , a film about family, tolerance and hidden secrets.
Jenifer was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1990, but she says she knew for years that something was wrong. After sharing her story on The Oprah Show , Jenifer says she received hundreds of calls from people thanking her for coming forward. Jenifer says she deals with her mental health issues every day, but she's happy with her life thanks to true self-love. "You have to look in the mirror … and say—before you can go or grow into anything—you have to say you love yourself," she says.
In Dirty Laundry , Jenifer plays the aunt of a gay man who comes back to his hometown for an important visit, but is scared to come out of the closet. "This film is about acceptance and love and it is important for the [African-American] community, and it is a story that has never been told," Jenifer says. Part of the movie's theme—secrets and dirty laundry—is something Jenifer says she can relate to. "Bipolar is dirty laundry because it's what people slide under the rug," she says.