Black. Female. Bipolar Disorder.

Black.  Female.  Bipolar Disorder. A story that is long overdue.

Nina-“I can’t even describe it…It was  like his d**k just talked to me”

Josie-(with a dazed look) “What did it say?”

Nina-(whispering loudly) “Ninaaaa”


-The cab scene from Love Jones

The conversation between Nina and Josie in the cab is one of my favorite scenes from Love Jones.  This conversation is the epitome of “girl talk”, in my opinion.  Josie, who was my first hair crush, was played by Lisa Nicole Carson.   She also starred in Ally McBeal and ER and also had roles in Jason’s Lyric, Eve’s Bayou, and Life. Sadly, Lisa would disappear from the spotlight.

A week or so ago a friend sent me a link to an Essence magazine article.  It was a story about Lisa Nicole Carson aka Josie opening up about her mental illness.  The article will appear in the July issue of Essence, just in time for Minority Mental Health Month.

Lisa opening up and speaking candidly about her mental illness and how it has affected her life is HUGE!  Today we see more articles, more new stories, and more about mental illness in the mainstream media, but the sharing of her story is different.  The sharing of her story is important.  The sharing of this story is necessary.

Many of us have heard of and know a little bit about bipolar disorder.  In the hit Fox series Empire, it was revealed that the oldest son, Andre, had bipolar.  While it should have been praised that mental illness in the Black family was a part of the storyline, there were many debates about the accuracy of the symptoms displayed.  The Essence magazine article doesn’t leave room for debate.  It is Lisa telling Lisa’s story.  It is not a story of her being seen out looking disheveled, or being arrested on assault or drug charges.  This is the story of a woman who took the time to learn about her illness and is still standing strong.

Mental illness in the Black community is not discussed often enough in our homes.  We know if high blood pressure runs in the family.  We know what kind of cancer our aunts and uncles may have passed away from.  We know that grandma needs her insulin because she has diabetes.  We don’t discuss the uncle or cousin that “wasn’t right”.  That family member is the one we don’t discuss.  That is the family member we are often ashamed of, despite the fact their illness was beyond their control.  The more of us that speak out about what it is like to live with or even love someone with a mental illness, the greater chance we have of decreasing the stigma.

Lisa discussing her experience since her diagnosis may give many people hope.  When we see someone that looks like us overcoming what appears to be a huge obstacle, it gives us the confidence we can too.  I have no doubt there will be several people that will read the article and be inspired.  Some people may question why she chose to discuss it.  Was it for the media attention?  Maybe. Did she feel compelled to share? Possibly.  A combination of both?  I hope so!  It would be great to see Lisa Nicole Carson on the big (or small) screen again.   Lisa, thank you for telling the world about your illness.  Your story could be any of ours.  Your story is to be continued……

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