When it comes to advocating for mental health awareness, Andrea Barber is drawing from her own experience.
In her new memoir Full Circle: From Hollywood to Real Life and Back Again, the actress behind the beloved Full House character Kimmy Gibler opens up about motherhood, her transition back into acting after a 20-year hiatus, and her lifelong battle with anxiety and depression.
“I’ve been on television for over thirty-five years, and I still feel uncomfortable calling myself a ‘celebrity,'” Barber, 43, writes in her book, which was released on Tuesday. “I am an introverted, anxious, quiet person who plays a very extroverted, confident, loud character on television. And often, during the eight-year run of Full House, I would go to the bathroom before tapings to vomit.”
“At the time, I thought getting sick before performing was something everyone did,” she continued. “I didn’t realize that these were the first signs of a lifelong battle with anxiety and depression, something I would hate about myself for years to come.”
In June, Barber opened up to PEOPLE about the upcoming release of her memoir, calling it her “soul laid bare.”
“It’s very honest and raw, and I share things that I’ve never shared publicly before,” she said. “Writing it all down on paper forced me to examine my life from a new perspective. In that sense, it was very cathartic to write; it made me realize how far I’ve come in my 42 years of life.”
Barber, who decided to leave Hollywood after wrapping Full House in 1995 to build a family, says it’s “critical” to openly discuss mental health these days.
“It’s important to let each other know that we’re not alone,” she writes.
“My divorce, my depression, my anxiety — I kept secret even from my close friends for years because I was ashamed,” she writes. “I wanted to write this book so I could share what I’ve kept inside of me for so long. We can create a culture of acceptance and healing. We just need to stop being silent about it. We need to speak up.”
Ten years after Full House wrapped, Barber was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and depression.
“The ‘stress’ in my life continued — or rather, my inability to cope with normal challenges in life left me in a perpetual state of worry and mental paralysis,” she writes. “The anxiety felt completely disconnected from my life, and I couldn’t wrap my brain around the idea of accepting it. Why would I have anxiety? I had a wonderful, supportive family. I got excellent grades in school. I achieved a lot of success as a child actor, which provided me with cushy savings to fall back on if I ever needed to. I wasn’t neglected, abused, or damaged in any obvious way. So where was this anxiety coming from?”
“I don’t want to die, but I don’t want to live with this anymore,” she writes of her mindset at the time, adding, “I didn’t realize that anxiety does not discriminate against privilege or class or race or gender or life circumstances. It is an equal-opportunity mental illness, for lack of a better phrase.”
Full House fans can also expect some behind-the-scenes action in the new book — and learn some more about what it was like to be a child star in the 1990s.
“It’s full of sweet and funny memories of the early days of life on the set of Full House, as well as many stories about life on the Fuller House stage now, playing these same characters 30 years later,” she previously told PEOPLE.
“Fans of Full(er) House will love reading the behind-the-scenes stories, but I hope they are also able to get to know the real person behind Kimmy Gibbler,” she added.
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