‘Saved By the Bell’ star Lark Voorhies has bipolar disorder, according to her mother

Last spring, Lark Voorhies appeared on Yahoo!’s series “The Yo Show” (watch the episode below) to reminisce about her days on the ’90s Saturday-morning sitcom “Saved By the Bell.” She looked drastically different from how we remembered little Lisa Turtle – her hair was dyed red and she had on heavy makeup – starting rumors of all sorts. Sparked by that appearance, People magazine conducted a series of interviews with the actress, and in their new issue they report on Lark’s “sad spiral,” which the actress’ mother attributes to mental illness.

People reports that during a recent photo shoot with the 38-year-old actress, her “once-sparkling brown eyes” were “disturbingly vacant.” Lark kept a “near-constant dialogue – by turns mournful, frenetic, and angry – with unseen figures,” and struggled “to focus for even brief moments.” Although Lark denied to the magazine that she suffers from mental illness – the devout Jehovah’s Witness answered the question by saying, “Oh no. We’re alive in a major time of all-in-all prophecy” – her mother, who lives with her and was also interviewed for the story, said the former child star has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, for which she has been prescribed medication.

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“I care deeply about my daughter and I want her to resume her life,” her mother, Tricia, told People. However, she noted that finding the right treatment – and getting Lark’s cooperation in following through with it – has been “frustrating.”

While Lark herself didn’t admit to mental illness, the actress – who had to schedule a second interview with the magazine after struggling through the first one – told People she has been in a constant battle with herself. “We met at a very powerful moment – it’s like carrying on the interview in a hurricane,” she said. She tried to explain away her abrupt, extended silences during the conversation by saying, “You caught me in moments of prayer. I have a strong spiritual sense.” She also talked about the voices in her head, but the magazine noted that she was “defiant about getting psychiatric help.” Explaining her reasoning, Lark said, “They can’t explain it. They can’t treat it. They don’t know about it.”

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Tricia told People that her daughter’s mental health issues stem from various traumatic incidents in her life, but she wouldn’t elaborate. “I don’t want to go there,” she said. She did say that Lark’s stalled career after “Saved by the Bell” ended in 1993 caused “a lot of stress,” and her divorce from Miguel Coleman in 2001 “caused a kind of break. … The trauma was back.” These days, Lark resides with her mother; drives, but only close to home; and has few friends. Tricia says she’s not giving up hope that her daughter will pull through, noting, "She's trying so hard. She says she's delayed, but she's going to get there."

Watch Lark's appearance on Yahoo!'s "The Yo Show" here: