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.
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.