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The powerful voice. The attitude. The smile.  All things that we recognize about Jenifer Lewis, even if we may not recognize her name. The well-known actress has been in many memorable roles and continues to thrill audiences. But after 17 years of therapy and 10 years of being medicated for bipolar disorder, actress Jenifer Lewis decided to stop hiding her mental illness from others.

READ: DMX Explains His Bipolar Disorder

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Jenifer was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1990, but she says she knew for years that something was wrong.  Jenifer says she deals with her mental health issues every day, but she’s happy with her life thanks to really loving herself.

“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.

One of the key triggers for her disease came 20 years ago when her father died.

“I was overwhelmed with my grief, unable to handle my feelings,” she says. “I cried and cried, and I started to scream. I wanted to be let out of the darkness.”

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