When I was a pre-teen, my Saturday mornings were dedicated to all things “Saved By the Bell.” Lark Voorhies’ character, Lisa Turtle, was the quintessential “bourgie” black token friend amongst her Bayside counterparts. Lisa Turtle had sass for days. Although she was, in my opinion, the cutest chick on the show, she was seemingly single. Although she did share a memorable kiss with Zack Morris one episode, she seemed to be the perpetually single friend.

After the show ended, Voorhies’ career pretty much came to a screeching halt. Outside of a couple of minor roles, she never had a role that garnered her the fame of “Saved By the Bell.” Recently a photo of Voorhies hit the interwebs, and she looked shockingly different. Her hair was dyed red, and her makeup was three shades too light. The rumors about her current state started to fly. With everything from accusations of health issues to drugs, no one knew exactly what was going on with her.

People recently sat down with Voorhies, and after a string of interviews, they noted, “It was clear something wasn’t right.” They said Voorhies, 38, would frequently stop mid-sentence and stare, often mumbling to herself or to others who weren’t there. They described Voorhies’ present mental state as a “sad spiral,” which the actress’ mother attributes to mental illness. Although Voorhies at first denied she has any type of mental illness, her mother, who lives with her and was also interviewed for the People story, said she has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and she has been prescribed medication.

“I care deeply about my daughter and I want her to resume her life,” her mother, Tricia, told People. However, she noted that finding the right treatment – and getting Voorhies’ cooperation to follow through with it – has been “frustrating.” When People asked Voorhies about her mental illness, she spoke of the bible instead and said, “Oh, no. We’re alive in a major time of all-in-all prophecy.” (Voorhies has since admitted she suffers from the disorder.)

Tricia told People that her daughter’s current mental health issues stem from traumatic experiences in her life, but she didn’t want to divulge them. “I don’t want to go there,” she said. She did make mention of how Voorhies’  stalled career and 2001 divorce “caused a kind of break.” Tricia said she  believes her daughter can fight through this. “She’s trying so hard. She says she’s delayed, but she’s going to get there.”

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  • I read excerpts on other sites and it sounds more like schizophrenia. There was mention of her hearing “voices” and I thought about the late Donny Hathaway.

    I have a close relative with bipolar disorder and mental illness can be tricky to diagnose. Without the right insurance, it can also be expensive because of the extensive testing.

    Sorry but her mama should have kept her mouth closed to the media and dealt with this in private.

    • The Other Jess

      Bipolar people can hear voices and suffer delusions too if they are in a full manic state, particularly those who suffer from Bipolar I. Bipolar II is milder. Have a good friend who is Bipolar I and getting treatment is incredibly hard because of the strict mental health laws – if they are not suicidal or homicidal, then they cannot be forced to get treatment, even though they my be extremely sick (hearing voices, delusions, angry, depressed).

      Also, Lark Voorhies has Lupus, which can contribute to mental illness in some people.

      I pray for her and hope she will see the need for her to get help.

    • The Other Jess

      totally agree abouther mother keeping this private, too.

  • kd

    Le sigh. There is help out there. Please, keep trying to find it or now, maybe the right place will find you. Be strong. We are all in your corner.

  • Interested

    Haven’t seen a full-length clip of any of the interviews, but in an except from an E! interview I saw no obvious features of psychosis or inappropriate mood. However, she seemed to have word-finding difficulties and looked exhausted. She should actually be SLEEP TESTED as soon as possible to exclude a syndrome of sleep disordered breathing such as sleep apnea or upper airway resistance syndrome. Many persons go undiagnosed for years with unexplained cognitive difficulties, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and even anxiety and depression, before these highly treatable disorders are identified and dealt with!