Supergirl Star Chyler Leigh Opens Up About Bipolar Diagnosis

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Supergirl actresses are proving to be… well, super lately. Less than two weeks after Melissa Benoist opened up about experiencing intimate partner violence at the hands of an ex, her costar, Chyler Leigh is getting real about a mental health diagnosis she is “ready to speak up about.”

“I didn’t get diagnosed with bipolar disorder until I was 27-years-old,” the actress, who plays Supergirl’s sister Alex Danvers on The CW show, said in a video for Be Vocal Speak Up. “Like many people with a mental health condition, I felt like I didn’t deserve to tell my story, so I remained silent. Today, I’m at a place in my life where I am ready to tell my story. Bipolar disorder is a chronic illness and it takes work to live well. So now, I take medication and I stay mindful of how I’m feeling and how I’m thinking and acting.”

Chyler, who is now 37-years-old, has been on The CW show since 2015 and was formerly best known for her role on Grey’s Anatomy playing Lexie Grey. On the Be Vocal Speak Up website, she talks about the years before her diagnosis when she “experienced intense cycles of mania and depression.”

“I would have major swings up, everything about me super-charged: I would act recklessly; I would sleep only two hours a night; I felt like I couldn’t stop moving and that I couldn’t think rationally,” she wrote for the site. “And then I’d swing down, getting so depressed that I could barely move or talk. It was debilitating. During my lows, I would also get bouts of irritability – so much made me angry or annoyed. Everything was magnified. I was just feeling so out of control, and for a long time I was self-medicating with alcohol so I could be numb.”

Chyler’s Supergirl sister also struggles with mental health difficulties. Melissa has been open about experiencing depression and anxiety attacks since she was in her early teen years. But Chyler is far from the only celebrity to be open about having bipolar disorder. Other celebrities, like Kanye West, Demi Lovato, and Mariah Carey have spoken out about how they cope with the disorder.

As Chyler said, “It took me years to realize that my diagnosis doesn’t define me and that it’s possible to live well with a mental health condition.” She hopes that being open about her diagnosis can help others who are struggling know that their voice is important, too.