Ricki Lake's ex-husband had a hard time owning his bipolar disorder. In fact, by the time he did, it was too late. Christian Evans, a jewelry designer who married the former talk show host in 2012, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on Feb. 11. "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," Lake tells People, adding she now feels compelled "to spread the word about recognizing this disorder and getting treatment as soon as possible." Though she describes Evans as "charismatic" and "funny," she says he also had "a lot of self-esteem issues and a lot of demons."
It was difficult "for him to get out of bed and be excited for things," says Lake, who initially revealed his death on Instagram, per Us Weekly. But in 2014, he suffered a manic episode. "I didn't know what it looked like, so I didn't see it coming," Lake says. He "thought he could fly. He thought he could cure cancer with his hands. It was horrific." Lake later divorced Evans, who entered a treatment center, but says the couple remained together until a similar episode last September. "I wanted to save him," but "there was nothing I could do," Lake says. "The struggle was just too much for him," she adds of his suicide. "He did the best he could." (Read more Ricki Lake stories.)