‘Queer Eye’ Star Bobby Berk Opens Up About His Absolute Lowest Mental Health Point—and How He Finally Started To Heal

Whether it’s anxiety, depression or PTSD, mental health is an ongoing battle for many people. And everyone has a unique experience with it—for example, depression for one person could result in a loss of appetite, while for another person, it could mean sleeping all day. Or if you have anxiety, it can manifest in the form of insomnia, digestive issues, panic attacks or all of the above.

Actor and interior designer Bobby Berk, 41, understands the importance of prioritizing mental health as someone who has personally struggled with depression. Now, the Queer Eye star is passionate about sharing what he’s learned with the hope of helping others who are fighting their own mental health battles.

When Berk First Realized He Was Struggling With Mental Health

"It wasn't until the first season of Queer Eye came out that I really started to struggle with depression,” Berk tells Parade. “And one might think, ‘Well, that's crazy. What a great show that you're on!’ But it wasn’t about the show. It was the combination of everything—all the emotions, the drastic changes in my life that were happening and the changes in relationships around me.”

Having been on Queer Eye and working with so many people who were struggling with depression, Berk started to pay more attention to signs that he might be dealing with it.

“I started seeing those signs in my home: the piles of laundry in the bedroom that you keep telling yourself every day you're going to do and you don't, the alarm going off in the morning and just pulling the covers over your head and saying to yourself, ‘Nope, I'm not ready to take on this day.’”

During the worst week of his mental health battle, Berk lost all drive and motivation to do anything. “It was a lack of wanting to go out and a lack of motivation to work. I’d wake up but stay in bed and then go back to sleep,” Berk explains. “I found myself sleeping much more than I normally would.”

Related: Want To Improve Your Mental Health? A Huge New Study Found This One Thing Is 1.5X More Important Than Therapy or Medication

On Seeking Help

Today, Berk can recognize the signs when he's depressed. “When I don't want to get out of bed, when I skip the gym this morning—those are telltale signs for me to start paying attention to my own thoughts and my own feelings and take care of myself.”

Berk knows just how important it is to look out for those warning signs.

“I've always been a pretty self-aware person, so when I started to see the signs of depression that I’ve had before, I knew it was time to address it,” Berk explains. “Also, my biological mother and sister both struggled with depression and there's a lot of depression in my family. And since I have family members that have been through this as well, I know the signs for myself.”

One thing Berk didn't expect was that a medication he had been on for years had been impacting his mental health in a surprising way. When he went off his ADD medication abruptly, his depression increased.

“I found myself struggling with really dark thoughts,” Berk says. “And it wasn't until I was scrolling through the news one day that I saw an article about people who go cold turkey on ADD medication and can have suicidal thoughts. I thought, ‘This is what's happening to me.’ And so I went to my doctor and I told him what was going on. He told me that ADD medication is a medication that's often used to treat depression that no other medication works for. So, I might have been treating my depression my whole life but just thought I was treating my ADD.”

At the time, he started taking antidepressant drugs to help with his mental health. “I got myself back where I needed to be and am now off of them."

Related: Considering Starting a New Medication for Anxiety or Depression? Here Are 7 Crucial Questions to Ask First

How He’s Feeling Today

When it comes to feeling healed, Berk explains, “I don't know if any of us are ever really fully healed. I think we just learn how to help ourselves take one day at a time and be the best we can be. To say ‘healed’ means that you’re cured, but it doesn’t work that way.”

He continues to say that mental health is just like your physical health. “You go to the gym every day to make sure you're in the best physical shape, and mental health is no different. You need to be doing things to make sure that you're keeping up with your mental health and you're not falling back into the ruts that allow you to get in the same position you were in before."

What Berk Does on His Tough Mental Health Days to Feel Better

No matter what, Berk wakes up and goes to the gym every single day—even on those days when he'd much rather stay in bed. “I force myself to get up. I don't allow myself to lay in bed because I used to do that,” Berk states. "I used to say to myself, ‘I deserve this. I deserve to just lay here and if that's what I feel like I need right now, I should do it.' But I found that actually made it worse because then I just laid there wrapped up in my thoughts in a depressive state, which is not a great place to be."

Another thing that helps, he says, is going for a walk or calling a friend. “I thought that I was giving myself permission to feel my feelings and yes, it's great to feel your feelings, but sometimes it's a snowball effect,” admits Berk. “Those feelings get bigger and bigger, so it's better to get up and clear your head.”

Berk's Advice to Those Who Are Struggling With Mental Health

The one thing Berk wants people to take away from his experience? You're not alone.

"Reach out to a family member or friend for help, because whether they've talked about it or not, I can almost guarantee you they've struggled themselves," Berk says. "Just knowing that you're not alone is often just that little boost you need to fall through."

What To Know About Berk's New Book

Berk’s new book, Right At Home: How Good Design Is Good for the Mind, focuses on the intersection of mental health and design.

“I want people to realize that all your surroundings affect every aspect of your life,” Berk states. “I always say that your home is like your phone charger. If you don't plug in your phone at night, it won’t get a full charge and won’t make it through the next day. Your home is the same way. If your home doesn't fully recharge you, you're not going to get through the day, get through work, resolve those relationship issues or whatever it is.”

“The main takeaway is to surround yourself with things that make you happy,” says Berk. “It’s organizing your home in a way that minimizes the chaos that surrounds you and creating a soothing space to calm your mind.”

Next up: Bobby Berk On the One Product He Swears By for Fresh Breath