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Ruby Barker is speaking candidly about her mental health journey on the heels of Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK. While coping with and talking about these topics is no easy task, the "Bridgerton" actor shared insight into her recovery in two inspiring, vulnerable videos posted to her Instagram. The British actor, who plays Marina Thompson in the Netflix series, revealed she'd been battling with her mental health since the show and was receiving treatment after being hospitalized. "I am better," she says as she begins the first video, posted May 25 while she was receiving treatment in the hospital. In a follow-up video, posted May 30, Barker updated fans and followers with the news that she had been released from the hospital.
". . . if you are struggling, please do yourself a favor. Take a break, stop being so hard on yourself."
"I just want to be honest with everybody, I have been struggling," Barker says in her first video. She continues, "I'm gonna take a little bit of a break from myself and I want to encourage others, if you are struggling, please do yourself a favor. Take a break, stop being so hard on yourself. People used to always tell me not to be so hard on myself, and I never really, really knew what that meant."
Barker continues to encourage the change in dialogue around mental health, sharing she had previously been "rage-filled, frustrated, angry" from intergenerational trauma, but had sought help, and now is able to face her diagnosis and open up about what she's been going through.
"I'm at a point where I have a diagnosis, and I will talk to you about that at another time," Barker says. "But I have a diagnosis, and I am relinquishing myself and forgiving myself and drawing a line in the sand. I can't carry on the way that I've been carrying on. I need to change. So that's what I'm trying to do."
Barker also thanks her friends, mentors, and fans for their love and support, as well as Netflix, Shondaland, and "Bridgerton" executive producer Shonda Rhimes "for giving me an opportunity and saving me." "You are all holding me up and holding me together," she says. The actor continues, "I want to thank everybody that has helped me have a job, work, have a purpose, have a reason, make me feel like I matter. Thank you."
Barker wasn't sure what to expect when she posted the first video. "I didn't expect so many people to reach out to me and let me know how they're doing and tell me about their own mental health struggles," she explains in the second video, posted five days later. "It's really made me feel less alone." Now out of the hospital, Barker notes that she's excited for the future and is continuing to take time for herself to "relax and breathe." She continues, "Getting outdoors, going for walks, speaking to loved ones, trying not to ostracize yourself, that's a really big step."
Now, Barker is focused on cultivating a positive mindset. "If I have any advice for my younger self, I would just tell myself, 'Listen, it's not all doom and gloom, even when you hit rock bottom,'" she says. She shares some advice given to her by "Bridgerton" co-star Claudia Jessie, which is to "flip the coin" when you're feeling down: "It might be dull on one side but just flip the coin and you'll find it's shiny on the other."
In other words, "you're training your mind to find the funny, to find the light, to find the positive," Barker explains. A positive mindset won't fix everything, and Barker acknowledges that "it's a really hard thing to do." But "if you can get into the practice of doing that," she says, "you've got it."
- Additional reporting by Maggie Ryan