Lark Voohies from Saved by The Bell has bipolar disorder, “things have traumatized her”


Lark in 2010

This is a sad story about a former child star who has some pretty serious problems. The part that made me take notice is the fact that Lark Voohies’ own mother has confirmed her daughter’s diagnosis with People Magazine, so it’s not just speculation based on her behavior. (See: Amanda Bynes, Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears.) Lark used to star as Lisa Turtle on “Saved By The Bell,” that teen sitcom which ran from 1989 to 1993. It was after my time in that I was a junior in high school when it came out and it seemed a little goofy to me, but I remember that it was on TV constantly. Lark has had some problems finding her way since her fame has faded, to say the least. The only time we covered her before this was to note that she had had a lot of Botox or surgery in 2009 and was looking like a totally different person. A lot of it was bad makeup, which she seems to have applied herself. Lark’s mom tells People that her daughter has received a bipolar diagnosis and that “there are things which have traumatized her.” That sounds ominous, and I hope she’s ok.

While most of the cast from Saved by the Bell have remained in the spotlight, Lark Voorhies has largely been out of sight.

The former teen star, known to a generation of fans as the fashionable Lisa Turtle, denies anything is wrong, but after a bizarre Yahoo! video went viral earlier this year, some questioned whether drugs played a role. Voorhies adamantly denied it. Instead, her mother says, she has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

In a series of interviews with PEOPLE, it was clear something wasn’t right. Voorhies, 38, would frequently stop mid-sentence and stare off, often mumbling to herself or to others who weren’t there.

“There are things that have traumatized her,” says Tricia, 64, who shares a home with her daughter in Pasadena, Calif. “I care deeply about my daughter and I want her to resume her life.”

Voorhies says her “over-loving” mother worries about her, but there’s no need. She says she is not sick and keeps busy by working on low-budget indie productions, recording music and self-publishing her own books.

But what about the vacant stares and rambling moments?

“I have a strong spiritual sense,” she says. “You caught me in moments of pray [sic].”

[From People]

All I can say is that I hope she gets the help she needs. It’s good that she’s living with her mom, and that her mom is motivated to help her. How hard must it be to see your adult child go through mental illness?

OK Magazine posted this interview with Lark from earlier this year, with Yahoo! Lark seems really nervous and she kind of rambles and has trouble expressing her thoughts. It’s hard to watch.

Lark in the 90s:

In 2009:

In 2008:

Photo credit: PRPhotos and FameFlynet

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45 Responses to “Lark Voohies from Saved by The Bell has bipolar disorder, “things have traumatized her””

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  1. Fudge you, I'm going to Guam! says:

    I wonder what happened to her that was traumatic? How sad. She was so pretty but I never liked how they treated her character on that show.
    I hope she gets well soon.
    I don’t like the top photo, she looks kind of creepy and empty…it’s all in the eyes.
    God, I wonder what they did to this poor woman, I have a feeling Hollywood F’d her up royally.

  2. TheOriginalKitten says:

    Growing up, I loved this show and I remember thinking Lisa Turtle and Kelly Kapowski were the two prettiest chicks on the planet. I even cut the necks of my sweatshirts just like Kelly, except Kelly looked cute in that style and I was decidedly the “budget” version of her.

    Anyway, this is really sad, if true. She does look slightly zombie-ish in that header shot.

    • V4Real says:

      I saw a brief clip of her on the news this morning and she didn’t look the same. I feel for her and yes it is very sad. I hope she can recover.

    • Miss Kiki says:

      Haha OKit I did that too! In fact I had a dream about Zach Morris the other, not Mark-Paul Gosselaar *actual* Zach Morris. We worked in a diner together, things happened, I woke up next to my bf very confused!

      This is really sad, I read about it this morning. I really hope she gets help.

    • hmmm says:

      Bipolarism is not the result of a traumatic incident. It’s a physiological issue that tends to be genetically passed. I know because I am bipolar.

  3. Cat says:

    Wow. That interview was painful. I hope she gets the help she needs.

  4. Blue says:

    That is really sad and she seems very much in denial about her diagnosis, which means she probably isn’t on any medication. I’m glad her mom is trying to help her though.

  5. Amy says:

    There was always whispers about something happening on that set. I hope she gets the help she needs and I’m glad her mom is an example of someone not ruined by their child star and is willing/able to step in.

  6. Jezi says:

    That is sad. Bipolar disorder is a chemical imbalance and so I’m sure she has had troubles for a long time. I wished she hadn’t gone the plastic surgery route. Her face was beautiful. I just hope she gets well.

  7. abby says:

    I think if she weren’t on so many prescription pills she would have made a great interview. she’s articulate and expressive….her make up in this interview is tragic though and she looks overly bloated which could be a sign of alcoholism as well. wow. she was such a knock out in her younger days

  8. KellyinSeattle says:

    Bipolar isn’t something you get when you’re traumatized; that’s PSTD. I’m not saying she isn’t bipolar but if she is she needs to be treated as such and also for PSTD. And possibly something else for hearing voices; that’s another mental illness. People sometimes lump them all together when they’re all specific in nature. Bipolar and unipolar and generally chemical in nature and a person would have it whether they were traumatized or not. I have unipolar (Major Depressive Episodes; no manic states) so I know that it’s a chemical imbalance in my brain since age 15; it’s in my DNA/inherited ;medication helps some….
    She is very pretty…I hope she gets a correct diagnosis, and if she has, I hope she gets help because mental health is so important. That’s my public service announcement for the day :)

    • Jezi says:

      Yep totally agree with you. If she is hearing voices perhaps schizophrenia or shizoaffective disorder, which is also a mood disorder. I hope they are diagnosing her correctly.

    • Samantha says:

      A lot of people with bipolar do experience psychotic episodes that include hearing voices and seeing things that aren’t there. It occurs with full-blown manic or depressive episodes.

      • Jezi says:

        Yep I commented below that it must be hard to diagnose things properly but yes bipolar psychotic features is part of a manic episode.

    • anon33 says:

      Agreed Kelly. PTSD is often misdiagnosed as bipolar. I know bc I have PTSD (in remission, thank god) and everyone originally thought I was bipolar, but I knew I wasn’t. And now that the PTSD is in remission, I never “act bipolar” (for lack of a better, more sensitive term. I mean no disrespect to those with BPD.)

    • Lee says:

      while many or most psychiatric illnesses have a strong hereditary basis, the instances of nearly any mental disorder are highly compounded by traumatic experiences. If you are predisposed to bipolar, unipolar, schizophrenia, etc, having numerous life stressors, particularly early in life, highly increases the chance that your predisposition will manifest as disorder.

      It’s not as if she would develop bipolar due exclusively to some sort of horrible early-life experiences, but it is entirely possible that someone who was at risk of developing bipolar disorder would indeed develop it after some such experience when they otherwise may not have.

  9. Roma says:

    I’m on my phone, but I think Gawker had some of her self published book excerpts up yesterday and they were…. strange. With a lot if commas. I would believe mental disorder, so sad if she is refusing treatment.

  10. I'mSupposedToBeWorking says:

    Poor girl! But I have to say, this cannot be just bipolar disorder. There’s a lot more going on than that. Bipolar disorder is terrible, but I’ve never heard of anyone hearing voices as Lark says she has. Plus, bipolar disorder is not caused when a person is traumatized. It’s an illness like any other – it is believed to be inherited. So, warm wishes for this girl, and I do hope her mother is more informed than she is indicating to the press. It is obvious she wants to help her daughter and I hope she has all of the information she needs to do so.

    • jc126 says:

      Bipolar disorder with psychotic features. Perhaps she also has PTSD as well.

      • Jezi says:

        I also wrote above that it could be schizoaffective disorder and realized how difficult it must be to accurately diagnos someone when all disorders run into themselves. A mental health expert really has their hands full.

      • Lee says:

        it definitely is difficult to parse out an accurate diagnosis from symptoms of overlapping conditions, but the DSM is pretty explicit in the criteria for any specific diagnosis and makes note of which diagnosis takes precedent in certain instances.

        the problem with the DSM (and our habit of demanding specific diagnoses in the first place) is that these categories are based on existing clinical cases and are created by professionals, who are of course prone to human biases. We don’t even really know for sure that what we call depression or schizophrenia are most accurately understood the way in which we currently understand them. That’s why there is increasingly a focus on treating symptoms and prioritizing personal goals in mental health rather than exclusively seeking out and treating a diagnosis as a whole.

        sorry for the nerd rants; I’ve apparently been out of school for too long now and my inner psych-geek is exploding all over the comments section for lack of an outlet. :s

    • Snowangel says:

      I believe there is a rare form of bipolar where voices can be heard. I hope she finds the right psychiatrist to get her better, loved that show.

  11. lucy2 says:

    Glad to hear her mother is with her, I hope she gets whatever help she needs.
    I grew up watching that show, and it’s sad to see her struggling. Good luck to her and her family.

  12. Cam S says:

    “Things have traumatized her”…. Like drugs? Just sayin

  13. Valerie says:

    I read that in Dustin Diamond’s tell-all book he writes about how Lark was abused by her former fiancee, Martin Lawrence and how she was always shy but became even more non-communicative after that relationship.

    • apsutter says:

      Omg….I totally forgot about that!! He supposedly was super emotionally abusive and beat the hell out of her. Poor Lark

    • Lee says:

      oh, that’s so sad. and would explain a lot without necessarily fueling the SBTB conspiracy theories.

  14. eileen says:

    I’ve heard a LOT of reports about these tween shows back in the ’90s and how many of these young starlets were abused and taken advantage of from higher execs and stage crews of these shows. It still happens today, but it was very bad back then since the business wasn’t as exposed as it is today.
    There are a lot of stories that are coming out claiming Saved by the Bell was one of the worst. These actresses/actors can’t say anything about it or complain because then you are known as a big mouth and would not be hired. It’s sad, but true.
    I could see someone ending up with a mental disorder trying to surpress tragic behavior of when you were young. I’m no doctor, but I might end up talking to myself if I’d been abused (not saying she was, but if that happened).

    • connie says:

      Unfortunately, I agree 110%. &I also tend to believe it still happens extensively

    • Lisa says:

      I know. Some of it started coming out around the early 00′s, when a lot of those show were over or ending, and it was surprising. When I think of it now, that was also the time when people started paying a lot of attention to Calista Flockheart’s figure on Ally McBeal, and Portia was going through her eating disorder. Timeline fits.

  15. apsutter says:

    Poor Lark. She used to be so freakin beautiful and I always thought she would age like Stacey Dash. She’s so pretty in the pic below the video. I hope she can get the help she needs. I’m definitely rooting for her.

  16. Mar says:

    I feel badly for her. Mental illness is not easy for not only the person that has it, but for the family as well. My 2 sisters have chemical imbalances. They both are very lonely older women now

  17. Christina says:

    I didn’t think the video was THAT bad. She probably was nervous since she is no longer used to being in the spotlight. Alot of these child stars had trouble transitioning into adulthood and staying relevant in the business. She very well may have bi-polar disorder, but it is not a death sentence. Hopefully with the right help and support, she can get back on track. Her looks however, that is what was shocking. She looks to have had surgery or something. That is a shame because she was quite beautiful. However I think with some better makeup she would look much better. If they did do a SBTB reunion I would watch it!! I loved that show..LOL. Oh yeah and did anyone see Mark Paul Gosselaar on Weeds?? HOLY ZACH MORRIS. That is all I am gonna say..

    • Mairead says:

      I agree, I think she came off fine. The worst thing about it was her makeup!

      As for being too old to watch it at the time, I used to enjoy it, and I didn’t have access to Nickolodeon until I went to university in the mid-90s! :oops:

  18. Grace says:

    That doesn’t sound like bipolar disorder at all. That sounds like schizophrenia. If they are treating her with the wrong psychiatric drugs she is never going to get well. If she has added any illegal drugs to her psych meds her mother needs to put her into a treatment center instead of releasing statements to People. 20 bucks says the mother is Lark’s beneficiary and when she puts Lark away she’ll be spending her residuals.

    • Blue says:

      That is an awful thing to say. Not all parents of celeb or former celeb are money hungry assholes. Plus her daughter is almost 40 years old, if she doesn’t want to get help they can’t make her. Unless she is a harm to herself or others.

      It’s sad how this woman is clearly going through a tough time and has mental health issues and all everyone keeps bringing up is how she “used to be so beautiful” and she shouldn’t have had plastic surgery. Seriously? That’s what the take away is. Smh.

    • Twez says:

      Showing schizophrenic symptoms only in a manic phase? Bipolar I with psychotic features.

      Showing schizophrenic symptoms after the manic episode has passed? Schizoaffective disorder.

      Of course, there’s a thin line between the hyperreligiosity of a manic episode and the hallucinations of a psychosis.

  19. xoxokaligrl says:

    Sad, it looks like her looks are caught up with the state of her mind.

  20. Twez says:

    She off her meds. Ciao, bitches.

    [Seriously though, all the best to her in seeking health and balance. Bipolar disorder can be difficult to manage.

    She's still beautiful... she just looks so tired and worn in the first photo.]

  21. Lisa says:

    She’s brave to be open about it. Those are two separate statements, they aren’t linking her PTSD to BPD. It doesn’t sound like a misdiagnosis.