Actress and producer Drew Barrymore opens up about her experience being placed in a psychiatric ward at the age of 13.
The 46-year old former child star told The Howard Stern Show on SiriusXM on her birthday last February 22 that she was “going to clubs and not going to school and stealing my mom's car and, you know, I was out of control!”
Her family had no other choice but to throw her in a psychiatric ward for 18 months.
"So, you know, sometimes it was as humorous as that and sometimes I was just so angry that I would go off and then I'd get thrown in 'the thing.’
"I was in a place for a year and a half called Van Nuys Psychiatric and you couldn't mess around in there.
"I used to laugh at those like Malibu 30-day places. Malibu was sort of the opposite of the experience I had.
“You couldn't mess around in there and if you did, you would get thrown either in a padded room or get put in stretcher restraints, and tied up,” Drew recalls.
Barrymore said she channeled her "inner-riot girl" modeled after Wendy O. Williams of the Plasmatics and would cause uproars in the facility out of anger.
“I grew up with the Go-Gos and Wendy O. Williams (of the Plasmatics) and Blondie and all these bad ass chicks and I would channel my inner-riot girl.
“Some days it was really funny. I would rile up all the girls and I’d be like, ‘Fuck this place! These people don’t care about you, let’s fucking show them!’
"It was like half a kids' facility and half an old persons' place, so as I was riling up these young girls, a woman in a walker would go by. It was hilarious," she laughs.
The actress forgave her mother, Jaid Barrymore, for putting her in the said institution. Drew said, her mother ran out of options on how to control her anger.
"I think she created a monster and she didn't know what to do with the monster.
“This was her last gasp, and I really was out of control, and I forgive her for making this choice. She probably felt she had nowhere to turn.
“I’m sure she lived in a lot of guilt for years about creating the monster, but then I think she lived in a lot of pain that I also wouldn’t talk to her for a very long time.
"I asked myself like why is this happening. And I thought, maybe you need the craziest form of structure because everything was so accessible available and screwed up in your world that maybe it's going to take something like this for you to kick start the rest of your life.
“And that didn't come for probably about six to eight months. The first six to eight months I was just so angry. I couldn't see straight."
One thing that Drew regretted doing was cutting her mother out of her life. They reconciled many years after
“To cut your mother out of your life was the worst pain I've ever known.
“I mean, the pain I went through from that. I felt so guilty denying my mom access to me, it felt like I was cutting off the source of life.
“It was as hard of a feeling as I’ve ever experienced, definitely the hardest pain I’ve ever known. And, I just thought, ‘I have to let this go, what is this going for either of us. I think she’s old enough now to be in a different place in her life. And, I know the changes I made and how long they took, I know that’s possible for people, so why not her too?
“When we reconciled, I felt goodness toward my mom. I felt empathy and understanding.
“I’m really glad there is healing there and we have spent our own lives trying to figure things out.
“She’s met my kids. But there’s real boundaries and distance and a lot of respect.”
Being a parent, Drew learned to draw the line between being a mother and a friend to her two daughters, Olive (7) and Frankie (6).
“Something came up and I said, ‘I’m not your friend, I’ll never be your friend, I’m your mother, and I had a mother who was a friend and we’re not going to do that.’
“It’s hard and I raise my girls so much more traditionally and quietly and very protectively.
“It’s such an antithesis to my upbringing, but I can’t have [my mother] feel bad anymore. I’m sure she’s already beat the crap out of herself for having her daughter not speak to her.
As for her experience in the psychiatric ward: “It was the best thing to happen to me, in a sick way, because it cooled me out.”
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