After her ex-husband committed suicide in early February, Ricki Lake is opening up about his personal battle behind closed doors.
Following her marriage to Christian Evans in 2012, the star and mother of two thought she had found the man she was going to spend the rest of her life with. However, after he was discovered with a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his car, the actress has since revealed that her ex-husband was living with bipolar disorder and endured bouts of "mania" that she described as "horrific."
While Evans had been upfront with Lake about his diagnosis since the start of their relationship, his symptoms did not affect their relationship from the start. "We never fought, we never had an argument. He showed up for my kids," Lake told People of her teenage sons Milo and Owen from her first marriage to Rob Sussman. "He was this quiet force that was just all about love and goodness and wanting to help people."
Still, Lake said "he had a lot of self-esteem issues and a lot of demons...but I understood him, and he was someone that I think a lot of people misunderstood."
Then, two years into their marriage, she experienced one of Evans' "episodes."
"I didn't know what it looked like, so I didn't see it coming," she explained to the magazine. "For me, someone who has lived with him for four years and seen how hard it was for him to get out of bed and be excited for things, I saw him starting to be happy. It presented initially as him being motivated."
As the symptoms escalated, Evans "thought he could fly. He thought he could cure cancer with his hands," she recalled. "It was horrific. He just wasn't the person I had been with for four years."
A therapist soon suggested Lake cut off contact with her husband and she filed for divorce, while her ex was subsequently admitted to the hospital on a 5150 hold and later placed in a treatment center. Though their divorce had been finalized by 2015, the two moved back in together after Evans' release.
"He wasn't stable, and he was so fragile," Lake explained. "But I was still in love with him, so there was something romantic about it. I wanted to save him."
The living arrangement wouldn't last. This September, the symptoms returned and the two lived separately again. "I knew he was having an episode, and there was nothing I could do," Lake told People.
A few months later, Lake was in London when Evans' sister texted her to say he had emailed out a suicide letter. Evans was found dead in his car two days later.
"Christian didn't want to be labeled as bipolar, but he admitted he was in the note he left. That was him finally owning it. That was him giving me permission to tell his story," Lake told People.
As she mourns the great loss, Lake plans to scatter some of his ashes on their favorite beach in Ibiza and will honor his memory by spreading the word about bipolar disorder and forging ahead as a self-described optimist.
As she frequently writes on social media, they are "eternal soulmates."
If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).