Mischa Barton Talks To ‘Time Out New York’ About Her Mental Breakdown

"Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom about things ... just to feel better again."

Mischa Barton is speaking out for the first time since she was hauled away to the psychiatric ward of Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, CA last month after it was reported she suffered a mental breakdown. Just weeks after she was hospitalized in LA, Mischa made her way to NYC to begin production on her new CW TV series The Beautiful Life (in the role of a fashion model with a penchant for drugs). Time Out New York magazine scored the exclusive first interview with Mischa wherein she explains in her own words what happened last month. Here are excerpts from her interview that focus on her mental breakdown:


As part of its Fall Fashion issue, on stands September 10, Time Out New York met with Mischa Barton for her first in-depth interview since being placed under alleged “involuntary psychiatric hold” at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in July. Other medical issues nearly delayed filming of her New York–set TV series, The Beautiful Life: TBL. Barton, 23, plays model Sonja Stone, a drugged-up diva trying to get her career back on track (real life, meet show!). Yet during our talk—on the couch in a Tribeca photo studio—the O.C. starlet looks healthy, sits tall and comes off as self-aware and self-deprecating …

A lot of people are watching you now, speculating you were in rehab back in July.
Here’s what happened: Before the show started, I was traveling abroad for contract stuff and I went through a terrible surgery—a wisdom tooth surgery, all four removed. It was a nightmare. I’ve never had surgery before—it all went wrong and I had to have a second surgery and it almost delayed shooting because it was a nightmare to me, because I couldn’t deal with the thought of not getting there on time. So with the travel, and surgery and prep for the show—it was hell.

Is this when you were checked into Cedars?
Yeah, I went through a tough spot where everything compounded on me, and it was like a perfect storm, like everything was happening to me at once. The show, travel and then this fairly routine surgery that went wrong—it’s still just healing. But I had to get through it without proper painkillers because I couldn’t take those during work. So it’s been a nightmare.

How did you end up in a psychiatric hospital?
I was down in the dumps about everything there for a while. Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom about things and have to get the most stressed-out just to feel better again. I got completely stressed-out and couldn’t handle everything, and now I feel really in control.

Was it an official nervous breakdown? Drugs?
I don’t know. I don’t know. I had a friend who had a quasi–nervous breakdown, but I’m not sure it’s the same thing. I’m not sure I’m capable of a full-on nervous breakdown, but it was pretty bad. It didn’t last that long. It was more about the pain. I have a newfound respect for people who have chronic pain. I started getting migraines.

How long were you in Cedars?
They don’t keep you in the hospital. I wasn’t there very long.

Did you sit around sharing feelings and making mosaics—that kind of thing actually helped someone I know who was in an institution.
Not really.

Did they teach you how to deal with the pain?
Not really. I just wanted to get back to work. The doctor told me I was lucky I didn’t lose feeling in my lips and face, which would have been horrifying and couldn’t act properly. My mom was like, “Now’s a good time to get it done, before the show.” And it was the worst time to do it.

What was it like for your mom?
[Rolls eyes] I don’t know. [Looks away] It was miserable for everyone. But I really don’t know.

Is your mom the one who admitted you into the hospital involuntarily?
[Nods yes and rolls eyes again] I’ll tell you that story but not the whole world. The funny thing is, if all this happened in New York, no one would care.

People would be like, “Nervous breakdown? I had one yesterday too. Where are we going to brunch?”
[Laughs] Yes, exactly, New York lets you be who you are, and people aren’t as judgmental. I’m so glad to be back here.

HMMM … I have to say all the “eye rolling” sounds as if she doesn’t understand the severity of her dangerous behavior. Where it not for her mother who wouldn’t let her “be who [she] is” who knows what could’ve happened to her. Earlier in the interview she mentions how she’s been going to nightclubs (with designer Zac Posen) since she was 15 because she “grew up in New York and [she] grew up fast” … it seems that she didn’t quite learn all the lessons that she prolly should have. To be honest, I’m glad that she seems to be OK now and that she seems more focused but … I dunno … I really fear that her reckless behavior might have very unfortunate circumstances some day. Eye rolling aside, I truly hope she has learned to curb her dangerous behavior … for her own good.

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  1. Mr. Gyllenhaal

    I am sorry but she is a twit!! Gag, I don’t care.

  2. Ama

    Hm, she really doesn’t look healthy for her age in that picture. I hope she is good, she should start respecting her body more, for a mental breakdown is usually a sign you should start taking things easy(for awhile).

    Also about going to nightclubs since she was 15, because she had to grow up fast. In which way did she have to grow up fast? In the way that she should get involved in drinking and partying at all nights. I had to grow up fast too, but its at those times you know your limit of having fun. When you grow up, the less time you have to ‘party’ because you have more responsiblites. I hope she does recover, and becomes healthy again, and is able to get some good work(maybe that will help her)

  3. Kaci

    It doesn’t seem like she learned a thing while “hospitalized”. All the all eye rolling and mom bashing (between the lines) is super annoying and makes her look like a 12 year old brat. Grow up and handle your shizz….

  4. Margie

    That pic-wow.

  5. i n f a m o u s l y c o o l

    ok.. so.. she’s untalented, anorexic, and .. crazy!? cool.

  6. Believeme!

    Crack whore much???

  7. gunnarjet

    very simple: drugs and partying

  8. CB

    My God, she looks like complete ass.

  9. MeG

    Awful picture of her, and I don’t blame her for trying to downplay the hospitalization. I would do the same thing if I were in her shoes because no one NEEDS to know what really went down besides her employers and of course her family. She is young; @23 most ppl are still getting their shit together so I’m not gonna hate on Misha for her seemingly poor attitude. Good luck to her, and I hope she wises up and focuses on her health and career…mainly avoiding clubs and the party scene because it’s getting her nowhere.

  10. PixiesBassline

    When I see pics of her, it makes me feel REALLY pretty. :)

  11. How can they not have their break down’s in private like the rest of us?

  12. Winona

    Hmmm… when I got all four of my wisdom teeth out in high school, it wasn’t a picnic, either – I was out of school all the following week, sicker than a dog. I diligently did my post-op care and took my meds as prescribed. But it certainly didn’t send me to a psychiatric hospital. Perhaps she should’ve followed her doctor’s orders and taken the time to take care of herself first and put her job second. I hope she’s got her head on straight finally.

  13. Lizzy B.

    all i have to say is wow.

  14. babybunny

    For those who dont experience Chronic Pain, it’s very hard for them to understand the amount if of stress it can put you through. Having a wisdom tooth surgery go wrong can be very traumatic, and her dealing with the pain without pain killers can only add to that. While I believe the pain may have been the catalyst for everything else that happened, I highly doubt it was the sole reason. Whatever the reason is I hope she finds a constructive outlet to deal with whatever she is going through and gets the help and support she needs.

  15. robin

    oh PUHLEEASE…i had all four of my wisdom teeth out while i was wide awake with only Novocaine to numb my jaw. the surgery took 3 hours and they had to saw the bottom two in half and by the time he got around to the stitches the Novocaine had worn off and he couldn’t give me any more..ontop of that i could only take ibuprofen for the pain, plus i have bad migraines WEEKLY! i hate famous people. if that’s all it takes to make her have a panic attack she needs some real problems.

  16. ganesh

    wow people….just a bit of tolerance and humanity, huh?!

  17. CHASE

    Maybe she should hit rock bottom a couple of more times and maybe she’ll be normal or something? Just a thought.

  18. Lady J

    that pictures reminds me of Skeletor! yikes!

  19. katie

    Notice how she doesn’t answer the question about drugs. She didn’t go to rehab for a wisdom tooth break-down…how stupid does she think the public is? The girl has a drug problem.

  20. Yikes, that photo. When was that taken?

    -meream

  21. Candy

    She’s totally dead in the eyes and looking detached in the photo. Can’t help but feel sorry for her, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t responsible for getting her s*&t together. She has a choice to engage in the party scene or lay low.

  22. Ria

    OMG I LOVEEE MISCHA BARTON!!! I CRIED FOR DAYS WHEN THE OC ENDED, MARISSA WAS AMAZING AND MISCHA IS A BRILLIANT ACTRESS! watch out meryl streep!
    and i think her eye makeup is rather pretty, she looks like a beautiful greek statue in this picture. some people are just really skinny; i have fast metabolism too.

  23. Sacha

    I don’t understand this post of the comments for it at all. You all act like she’s the worst of all the starlets ever. All the people commenting about their own wisdom tooth surgeries seem to have missed the fact that hers “went wrong”. As far as I can tell it seemed she was avoiding speaking about her mother, no one knows if there’s actually some legit problems there. Just the assumption that she’s being a child about it? And how very tabloid to find one of the worst pictures of her for this post.

  24. Hannah

    She sounds childish. But i’ll defend the wisdom teeth thing. I had all four out and the doc screwed up causing me masses of pain for a week which resulted in a full second surgery a week later. Even with the simplest routine things, things can go bad.

  25. jj

    Why is she insulting New York?
    It seems that this girl has learned nothing from her hospitalization. As a grown woman, she has to be accountable for her actions. She’s blaming society – how childish of her!

  26. georgia

    She’s always been a bit of a hypocrite- saying one thing, when the evidence proves otherwise. She’s always had that line that she’s “not like the other girls” (i.e. Lohan, Hilton) when even People Magazine of all sources talked about her drug and alcohol abuse. She says in the interview that she was partying at 15 but she was a goody two shoes and wasn’t taking drugs? We believe you, Mischa. Just like when you said that you barely went out to party because you’d rather stay home and read a book. And around the time that she had her “wisdom teeth” removed, she was being photographed constantly at clubs and would be seen leaving in the early morning. Was that part of her recovery as well?

  27. Piper

    That picture is terrifying.

  28. Michelle

    Reading the interview I have to say that I did lose a fair amount of respect for her. I get the whole celebrity thing, and how it can make young people grow up faster than they should and get into dangerous behavior and all that, but I feel like she doesn’t care that she is fortunate enough to not only have people in her life that care about her enough to step in when she can’t help herself, but she is also fortunate enough that she is able to return to a lifestyle she clearly enjoys. Most people in her situation don’t have the luxery of taking the time to get better because they need to worry about making sure their bills are paid and whatnot. I feel like she’s totally ungrateful for what was done for her. And you know for someone who went through extremely painful surgery that for one reason or another wasn’t as routine as it’s supposed to be, she clearly had no problems stepping out into the party scene once she arrived in New York.

    I hate to say it but she definitely reminds me of one of those stars we watch on those E! stories about young stars going south… I think she’s a fairly good actress and would hate to see her fall from that, but I have to say that this interview and her attitude towards things isn’t going to get me interested in seeing her in any future projects!

  29. pickls

    There was a photographer who took studio shots of her for her show. And he tweeted that she was hungover. This was just the other day. So I guess she’s still drinking.

  30. max

    She looks like Karen Carpenter

  31. Chris

    I’m just hoping Trent posts a new story soon, because that picture frightens me each time I visit this page! Get that girl some food and take the crack away!

  32. wtf

    She looks like a Meth Addict, but I’d still bang her like a cheap drum till the sun comes up!!

  33. Andrew

    The eye-rolling happened on two questions, both about her mother.

    So where did you get “I have to say all the “eye rolling” sounds as if she doesn’t understand the severity of her dangerous behavior” from?

    What I took from it is that she isn’t comfortable talking about her close family, as many famous are.

    Maybe she’d asked the interviewer not to include questions about her family and when they did anyway, she rolled her eyes.

    Most eye-rolling happens when you think “What an ass” about the person you are directly speaking to, so I’m pretty sure it was directed not at people who are trying to help, but at a jackass interviewer who said increasingly patronising things such as “Did you sit around sharing feelings and making mosaics” and “People would be like, ‘Nervous breakdown? I had one yesterday too. Where are we going to brunch?’”.

    I mean, what the fuck? Whatever the cause of it – botched surgery or drugs – she had a nervous breakdown. It is horrible to effectively say “other people would just brush it off” when that’s not the case for anyone that’s had a real nervous breakdown.

    I wouldn’t just be rolling my eyes at the interviewer if I was her, I’d be throttling them by that point.

  34. Guardian

    The tantrum is important why?
    Another psydo celbrity that can go lay by her dish, someone will call when it’s time to perform.

  35. PixiesBassline

    Dude – this pic is making me sickkkk. Her eyebrows are even messed up. Looks like she has “Xanax Face”.

  36. ohmy

    Maybe if she ate she wouldn’t have mental problems. It’s a well known medical fact that your brain needs fats in order to survive… stop eating and you’re literally killing your brain.

    Shes a terrible “actress” anyhow.

  37. GROSS!

    I love her answer to the first question. As if the real world doesn’t have to deal with ten thousand times the stress on a daily basis she does in a few weeks combined. Sorry Mischa, when there are people out there working themselves to the bone (literally), barely making ends meet, skipping necessary medical care because they can’t afford it, and they can manage to hold themselves together, it makes me have very little sympathy for you in your cushy life.

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