09/24/2012 at 02:00 PM EDT
The Real Housewives of Orange County
will be down a wife when it comes back for season 8.
Cast member Alexis Bellino tells PEOPLE in a statement that she will no longer be a part of the Bravo show.
"After three seasons of appearing on The Real Housewives of Orange County
, I have made the difficult decision not to return for season 8," she says.
"Although Bravo made me a very generous offer and I'm thankful to have had this experience, I will be leaving the show behind to focus on my family and other opportunities."
Bellino, whose time on the show included her joining the workforce as a local news correspondent, heated feuds
and the revelation of a former struggle with an eating disorder
, says she is ready to enter the next phase of her life – away from the cameras.
"I am so grateful to have gone through this amazing journey and to have met so many incredible fans," her statement continues. "My heart is at peace and I remain so excited for my future."
A Bravo rep did not immediately respond to a request for comment.