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Drew Barrymore: I needed the discipline of an institution

Published 26/10/2015

Drew Barrymore
Drew Barrymore

Drew Barrymore doesn’t regret being sent to a mental health facility as a teenager by her mother.

Drew Barrymore believes the “horrible and dark” times she spent in a mental health institution as a teenager were essential for her survival.

The Never Been Kissed actress had a difficult childhood becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol before she reached her teens. She had a tumultuous relationship with her parents and by the age of 13 she was sent to a hospital for the mentally ill by her mother Jaid. Thankfully Drew was able to get her life back on track but believes it wouldn’t have happened without those 18 months locked away from the rest of the world.

“I realised, honestly, yeah, my mom locked me up in an institution, Boo hoo!” she told Britain’s The Guardian newspaper. “But it did give an amazing discipline. It was like serious recruitment training and boot camp, and it was horrible and dark and very long-lived, a year and a half, but I needed it. I needed that whole insane discipline. My life was not normal. I was not a kid in school with normal circumstances. There was something very abnormal, and I needed some severe shift.”

Drew, 40, had no warning that she was being sent to the facility and only received occasional visits from her mother during her stay. While the star never thought of herself as mentally ill, she did accept that she was “off course” and needed to get her life in order.

After she was discharged, Drew was granted emancipation from her parents and declared an adult aged 14.

“It was a very important thing to experience for me,” she insisted. “It was very humbling, very quieting. Maybe it was necessary, because I came out of there a more respecting person. And my parents didn’t teach me that, and life wasn’t teaching me that. I came out in a very different way… but I still was me.”

Now a mother of two and happily married to third husband Will Kopelman, Drew accepts her daughters will one day ask questions about her own childhood, and she’s ready for them.

“I’ve been caught off guard when people go, ‘What are you going to do when your kids Google you?’ and I’m like, ‘God, that is so accusatory.’” She confessed. “I’m not going to pretend I am not who I am. I’m going to show them how it got me to where I am now.”

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