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Fifteen years ago, actress Lisa Nicole Carson was enjoying the fruits of a successful acting career, known for the TV shows Ally McBeal and ER appearing in the classic black romance Love Jones with Nia Long and Larenz Tate and in one memorable scene in Devil In A Blue Dress with Denzel Washington. Then came an incident in 2000 when a breakdown at a hotel in New York had her admitted to a psych ward. Although she returned to Ally McBeal, it was for her last season.

After that, Carson virtually dropped off the map. Now she says she was dealing with the devastating diagnosis of bipolar disorder, which she says at first she was in denial about.

In an interview this week with People Magazine, Carson says that she’s rebounded from her illness and is hoping to move back into acting roles. She told the magazine that she just couldn’t grasp her diagnosis in the initial time of diagnosis. reports:

“When you lose your mind it’s as traumatic as it sounds. It’s not anything you can imagine happening to you.”

Just before her career took off as [Calista] Flockhart’s sidekick on [Ally McBeal], Carson had her first psychotic breakdown in 1997. For the next seven years, she says, there were “too many breakdowns to count.”

After she was first diagnosed as bipolar, “It didn’t make any sense to me, at all. I had never heard of it. I was in denial and would not take my medicine.”

In the years that followed, she experienced more mania than depression. “Sometimes it can be beautiful,” she says. “And sometimes it can be horrifying.”

After years of consulting with doctors and experimenting with numerous medications, Carson finally found the mood stabilizer she is currently taking.

“I’ve been stable and haven’t had a breakdown in 10 years,” she says.

Since returning to Hollywood in 2014, she says, “Just being at a place where I am healthy, excited about life and auditioning is a joy. I feel very blessed.”

Carson hopes her story can help others. “It’s a risk for me to be open,” she admits. “I never wanted to breathe a world about what happened to me. But I’ve had a change of heart. It’s rare for someone who has something as severe as I’ve had to come out the other side, but I’d like to let people know that you can. You can get to the other side.”

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