"Fuller House" Star Andrea Barber Gets Candid About Anxiety
Andrea Barber opens up about parenthood and anxiety.
When people shared their own stories back with me, I thought, “Oh wow, there’s a whole tribe of us out here.” It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, or rich or poor, or a celebrity or not, we are all one. We’re all the same.
My name is Andrea Barber. I play Kimmy Gibbler on “Fuller House” and I’m here today to talk about mental health.
As a 43-year-old now looking back at my life, I can tell you that I’ve had anxiety from the very beginning of my life, although I didn’t know it at the time and I couldn’t put a word to it or a definition or a diagnosis until I was in my 30s. I’ll move my hands around or I’ll bite my nails a lot, or I just get hyper-focused on something. And I talk in my book about how my anxiety’s rooted in my stomach. So I grew up throwing up for a lot of my childhood. And I thought that was normal.
That reared its ugly head again in my 20s when I was getting married, and then it got really, really bad with my postpartum anxiety after the birth of my second child.
Full House ended when I was 18 and then I left the public eye for a long time. And so, coming back into it, even as a 40-year-old, I’ve had to find some new techniques with my therapist, and learn to breathe and relax, and then just going out and doing the thing that I fear the most. And just saying, “You know what? If I fail, or if I fall, or if I mess up, it’s not the end of the world.”
Kimmy Gibbler, oh, she is a force. I think everyone can learn something from Kimmy Gibbler. she’s confident, and she doesn’t let other people’s opinions sway that confidence. Kimmy Gibbler can teach people a lot about accepting yourself and just loving yourself for who you are, whether you feel weird or not. I just feel so free playing this really, really confident character, because I spent a long period of my life not being confident.
A few years ago, InStyle Magazine asked me to write a piece about running and mental health and all of a sudden these things started pouring out of me where I just started opening up about very personal things. And it wasn’t anything that I was ashamed of. I just thought, “This is just me” and that was a significant milestone in my life, because that was when I finally accepted it. This is just a part of my story. It’s been very healing and therapeutic for me to share my story and hear others share their story back with me.
When you start getting personal during your own story, I think that’s when it really makes a difference because that’s when people start listening. Somebody like Brooke Shields speaking out and writing a book about her darkest hour, that made a huge impact on me. Finding out, that person’s going through the same thing I did. I think that would go a long way towards bringing us all together as one.
My advice for somebody just starting their mental health journey is that it is worth it. I mean it can be a long road and a very hard road and it can feel like it will never get better, but it does. You will gain self-confidence, you will gain happiness, you will gain self-awareness and then you can help other people in your life too. If you would’ve told me that when I was laying in bed, unable to get out of my bed because I hated myself so much that I would one day be writing a book about it and talking to strangers and helping them through it, I never would’ve believed it.
The biggest thing I hope people take away from my book is just that anxiety and depression doesn’t discriminate. There’s a whole tribe of us out there, and you’ve gotta’ just find your people. Find your people and hold onto them tight, whether that’s people that relate to what you’re going through or people that support what you’re going through. That’s what I hope people take away from this book, or maybe just funny stories about John Stamos. I don’t know, either one. Take your pick.