Diagnosed in 1990, Jenifer says it took four years for her therapist to convince her to take medication. "My whole thing was, 'Oh, honey, I need my edge. I'm Jenifer Lewis. I need my edge. You can't take that away,'" she says. "But I got tired. Being bipolar is exhausting."
It took some time and patience to find the right dosage, Jenifer says, but it hasn't destroyed her edge. "Sometimes the personality, which I have a big one, can break through the medication," she says. "You can be even. … You can function in whatever way you want to on medication."
Jenifer says she's sometimes tempted to stop taking her meds, but she received a strong reminder of how important it is in 2005. She happened to be in Rome when Pope John Paul II died. Because there were so many people flying in and out of the city, she had trouble getting a flight back and was without her medication for four days. "I took it when I got home. But I didn't know I was in a manic state and I went out and bought a $2.3 million mansion on a whim. I didn't think anything about it," she says.