‘Bridgerton’ star advocates for mental health amid hospitalization

'I've been really unwell' said British actress Ruby Barker, who thanked Netflix and Shonda Rhimes as she revealed a mental health crisis.

The Regency-era characters of Netflix’s Bridgerton may be exceedingly glamorous, but the actors who play them are simply human. Ruby Barker, who portrayed Lady Marina Crane (née Thompson) in the first two seasons of the Shonda Rhimes-produced hit series made her humanity abundantly clear on Thursday, revealing a mental health crisis via a video message from the hospital where she’s been receiving treatment. “I am better,” she said, as reported by People magazine.

Ruby Barker theGrio.com
Ruby Barker attends the Black Lens Film Festival screening of “How To Stop A Recurring Dream” at BFI Southbank on July 16, 2021 in London, England.
Photo: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images

The 25-year-old went on to explain she’d “been really unwell for a really long time. And I just want to be honest with everybody: I have been struggling.” Due to be discharged soon, Barker reported receiving a diagnosis while hospitalized that she promised to share at a later time.

“I’m gonna get discharged soon and hopefully get to continue with my life. I’m gonna take a little bit of a break [for] myself,” she continued, encouraging others to do the same.

“Take a break, stop being so hard on yourself,” she advised. “[P]eople used to always tell me not to be so hard on myself…What does that really mean, to stop being hard on yourself? To love yourself?” she continued, adding: “We really need to change the dialogue…and think about our linguistics when we’re talking about mental health.”

That disillusionment seemingly led the British actress to neglect her own mental health while becoming “rage-filled, frustrated [and] angry,” unable to cope with “all this intergenerational trauma bundled up inside.”

“I was carrying the weight of the world on my back,” she explained.

Having since received a diagnosis, Barker says she’s “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,” she added.

Of course, that type of mental health work is bolstered by ongoing support and empathy, for which the actress thanked her community of friends, mentors, and even Australian musician Sexton, singing some of the latter’s lyrics (and sporting a tour hoodie). Notably, she also thanked Netflix and Rhimes “for giving me an opportunity; for saving me.”

Urging her followers to also seek help and support if and when they need it, Barker advocated for broader mental health awareness for all. “I want to survive and I will survive, and I’m going to. And so are you,” she said. “That’s the beauty of it: so are you. If you’re with me, you’re in good hands.” If you’re suffering with your mental health, visit sites like river-edge.org/mental-health/ and get professional help.

Maiysha Kai is Lifestyle Editor of theGrio, covering all things Black and beautiful. Her work is informed by two decades’ experience in fashion and entertainment, great books and aesthetics, and the brilliance of Black culture. She is also the editor-author of Body (Words of Change series).

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