Ricki Lake said goodbye to her ex-husband, Christian Evans, earlier this month after the jewelry designer took his own life. She is now speaking out about his tragic death to raise awareness for mental health.
The Dancing With the Stars alum is getting brutally honest about her experience loving someone who suffered from bipolar disorder.
"I have to spread the word about recognizing this disorder and getting treatment as soon as possible," Lake told PEOPLE. "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."
Now she is not only telling their story, but sharing how she will move forward without him.
The couple began dating in September 2010 and married two years later.
"I felt like the luckiest girl that he chose me," she shared. "He was the funniest person. He was so charismatic." Evans was upfront with Lake about his condition and admitted he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder earlier in life. "He had a lot of self-esteem issues and a lot of demons," she says. "But I understood him, and he was someone that I think a lot of people misunderstood."
"We never fought, we never had an argument. He showed up for my kids," recalled Lake, who shares two sons with ex Rob Sussman. "He was this quiet force that was just all about love and goodness and wanting to help people."
Things began to change two years into the marriage when she witnessed his first manic episode.
"I didn't know what the hell hit me, because I didn't know what it looked like, so I didn't see it coming," she said. "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."
"It was horrific," she added. "He just wasn't the person I had been with for four years."
Evans was hospitalized at the time, but he did not become completely stable. They stayed together, but in September 2016, he had another manic episode and he moved out.
She received a text from his sister that he had emailed a suicide note. Two days later he was found in his car with a self-inflicted gun shot wound.
"The struggle was just too much for him," Lake said, crying. "He did the best he could."
Ricki Lake Says Her Ex-Husband Christian Evans Died by Suicide: ‘I Wanted to Save Him’ pic.twitter.com/d3G6dSdbEg— - (@COUPSLEADER) March 1, 2017
Now, Lake is looking forward to her life in the future.
"I am going to try my best to honor him by living a full and happy life," she said. "I don't know what's in store for me, but I'm an optimist."
She reveals that she has plans to scatter some of Evans' ashes on a beach in Ibiza.
"I never stopped loving that man," she adds. "I'm so lucky I got these beautiful years with him."0comments
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This article originally appeared on Womanista.com