Supergirl Star Chyler Leigh Explains Why She Felt Relief With Bipolar Diagnosis

On The CW's Supergirl, Alex Danvers may not wear a cape but she's a hero in her own right as the director of the DEO, teaming up with her adoptive sister Supergirl to protect National City and the world from a multitude of threats. In real life the actor behind Alex, Chyler Leigh, is also a kind of hero, opening up about her mental health and partnering with the Be Vocal: Speak Up for Mental Health initiative. And when it comes to her own diagnosis of bipolar disorder, Leigh is opening up about why she felt relief.

Speaking with Access, Leigh opened up about her diagnosis -- which she received a decade ago -- and her own family history of mental health concerns. But she also explained that despite some of the fears associated, finally getting the diagnosis gave her a sense of relief as it has let her find a sense of self as well as the relief of knowing that she's not alone. Millions of other people are dealing with the same thing she is.

"Leading up to that, you know, there is a sense that I went through of failure," Leigh explained. "Like I said, I didn't want people to see me a certain way and so I could tap dance really well and I could put on a happy face and doing what I do, I do get a lot of joy out of it but it wasn't until now, it wasn't until these recent years where I really feel like I'm stepping out as Chyler West as opposed to Chyler Leigh where I'm always kind of.... there's sort of this sense of self that's really been brought forward very quickly and so the relief comes from the fact that I know that I'm not alone and I know that there are so many people, millions of people, it's like one in five adults struggle with a mental health issue or are living with it and are still dealing with how to kind of manage or even just seek help. Not even knowing where to go and I think we have so many different ways to do that, there is a relief that I can kind of just go 'okay'. It takes the weight off my shoulders."

Leigh recently spoke out about her diagnosis as part of her partnership with Be Vocal and during a recent panel event with Refinery 29, Leigh explained that she hopes that by sharing her diagnosis she can help encourage others to do the same and, in the process, find the support systems and help they need.

"We have an incredible opportunity to change the narrative and change the conversation and lead people to places that can encourage them and really take them where they need to go," Leigh said. "It's okay to not be okay. And it's incredibly important to reach out. Be willing to let your guard down a little bit to be able to find that community. And also know that if you're really struggling there are so many resources. Be Vocal is a great way to go online and find all the advocacy partners."

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Supergirl airs Sundays at 9/8c on The CW.

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