Drew Barrymore Experienced Postpartum Depression After Daughter Frankie’s Birth: ‘I Really Got Under the Cloud’

10/21/2015 at 10:00 AM ET

Drew Barrymore opens up about the lessons she learned throughout her troubled childhood and how she finally found her happily ever after. Subscribe now for this exclusive interview, only in PEOPLE!

Being a mom is everything to Drew Barrymore.

Her life with her two young daughters, Olive, 3, and Frankie, 18 months, and husband, art consultant Will Kopelman, 38, is “is an abundance,” she tells PEOPLE in this week’s cover story. “It’s perfect and totally imperfect.”

Yet after Barrymore gave birth to Frankie, she sensed something might be a little off. “I didn’t have postpartum the first time so I didn’t understand it because I was like, ‘I feel great!’ The second time, I was like, ‘Oh, whoa, I see what people talk about now. I understand,’ ” she says. “It’s a different type of overwhelming with the second. I really got under the cloud.”

Between work — her new book, Wildflower, hits shelves Oct. 27 and her next film, Miss You Already, hits theaters next month — and motherhood, Barrymore, 40, felt pulled in every direction.

“I just got right on the idea of, where do I need to be the most? Fifty-fifty would be ideal but life doesn’t work like that. Life is messy,” the actress says. “It was just really challenging and I felt overwhelmed. I made a lot of decisions and I definitely changed my work life to suit my parenthood.”

Drew Barrymore postpartum depression
Dave Benett/Getty

While her postpartum was “short-lived, probably six months,” Barrymore is grateful for the experience, which constantly reminds her to stay present in the moment.

“It’s really important. I was in the kids’ class with Frankie and Olive this morning and I started fretting about some piece of work news that was just stressful,” she recalls. “You know, in like the Broadway Babies class and it’s the one-hit wonders day, and they’re singing I don’t even know what song, and we’re all doing our lollipop drums and I just thought, ‘Save it until after class.’ One thing at a time.”

Drew Barrymore motherhood Wildflower

As the creator of Flower Beauty, Flower Eyewear and Barrymore Wines, the actress says it’s important to her for her daughters to see her working as a good thing.

“Putting a negative stigma on work is a go-to. It makes us feel like it proves to our children that we don’t want to work, we’d rather be with you,” Barrymore adds. “I want them to see that work can be a good, positive, fun, happy thing. I’ve worked since I was 11½ months old so I have to be able to work, too. But I have to put them first. I don’t know if it’s good enough for anyone but I’m doing my best.”

Drew Barrymore people cover

For more of our exclusive interview with Barrymore — in which she reveals her own memories of childhood and the happiness she’s found as a wife and mother — pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

— Julie Jordan

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Susan on

I never know what to think of her. She always looks like she needs a good shower and scrubbing, even when made up. But she seems down to earth with a side of wild child. Not a fan of her acting as much, but it could be the goofy roles she’s had.

unfaithfulwife77 on

Drew seems like a great Mom. So glad she’s settled down and happy.

Butters on

Her kids are so cute. Glad her life is more normal, and that she feels better.

Jen on

I love Drew! So candid about life’s messier parts/chapters! She had the most chaotic upbringing ever, and still has managed to come out of it and get her life back on track! DREW, YOU ARE AN INSPIRATION, AND YOU ROCK!

erica2 on

Drew is the BEST 🙂 She is the girlfriend that every woman wants to have 🙂

sally on

Good for her- she wants to keep working, but sounds to me like she is doing TOO much. I would think she’d back off a little. Your babies are only babies for a year and then it’s on to toddler. She should take some of the stress off herself and enjoy her kids more. Especially since she HAS been working since she was 11 1/2 months old. A couple years is not a lot.

Edie on

Drew is a darling person! She is such a sweet light in this world.

J on

Susan she’s a bohemian hippie she’s not dirty she’s just not as high maintenance as most celebrities. Olive looks just like drew when she was young.. So cute!

Stu Henderson on

So happy for Drew. She is just, simply, awesome! I wish her the best and a fruitful career as well as family.

Jen Thurston on

I LOVE HER!! My Daughter Looks so much like Drew & win they both Smile I just LOVE Seeing them Both Smile!! And Look what she did, Made Two Awesome Beautiful babies!! also I have AWESOME Movies to make, so if Flower Films needs Any please PLEASE Find me!! Super Yeah!! Super blessings!!

Anna on

Oh Susan, why so bitter? Drew on her worst day looks better than most on their best days. Why? Because she’s a good person INSIDE, and her benevolence and kindness has always shone through.
Something tells me that no amount of soap and shampoo would make your insides clean.

Guest on

Thank you for this article! I have felt the same way with both my pregnancies, the first was no problem after birth and since having my second, I just can’t get myself together. It’s refreshing to hear this happens to celebrities too and that they aren’t just robo-people.

Valarie on

Her kids are adorable. Congrats to her.

B on

“” Drew is a darling person! “””

@Edie … I think that is the best description of her. She really is darling. Even though she’s older than me, I still see Gertie (ET if no one knows what I’m talking about) every time she acts. Just this little darling girl, who acts so adorable.

I’m glad she, and several other actresses that have come out recently, are talking about PPD. I don’t have children, but I have and still suffer from anxiety and depression. For some reason, mental illness, no matter what, is still so taboo in this country. Take for example women who murder their children, while I’m not condoning it and believe women should be punished, when they do it because of PPD, I want people to understand just how horrible and crazy your brain can make you. I hate when people just label those women as sane, vengeful killers who just hatred their children. AGAIN, I’m not condoning it, but god, when your brain misfires and you just become some crazy person, it’s scary. And if you’ve never experienced mental problems, count yourself SOOOO incredibly lucky.

I remember when my doctor put me on an anti-depressant, it screwed with my brain so badly. I became a very angry, almost violent person. My mom would say or do something and my mind would race with thoughts of wanting to kill her because my brain was so screwed up. And I had only been on the meds for less than SIX WEEKS. I finally told her that I was have murderous thoughts and I had to get to my doc ASAP to get off. Luckily I was able to stop the meds instantly, instead of weaning off of b them. But man, it made me wonder about other people on these drugs, or other drugs that just made then crazy. Or meds that actually messed them up so bad, they DID kill someone.

As to PPD, I know it isn’t 100% kill kill kill. Sometimes it’s just a funk and you’re afraid to tell someone, anyone, because you’re afraid they’ll look at you like you have 2 heads, or make you feel guilty because they think after giving birth, every woman should be in some blissful euphoric state and if you aren’t, that must mean you hate your child or you hate being a mother.

I think the more women talk about this, the more the stigma will go down and hopefully get more women to seek help before it’s too late.

Name on

Susan’s right. And DB”s an awful actress. So take that, pr lurkers.

RRR on

Drew’s oldest daughter looks just like Ethel Barrymore, Drew’s great aunt. The resemblance is remarkable.

Olly on

RRR so true!

erikjet8 on

Love you Drew! Weird but true…

fffvfvf on

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Expecting in February on

I agree with Sally. Also, I never thought I would get a negative vibe from an interview of Drew Barrymore, but this one definitely rubbed me the wrong way in that last paragraph. Just because a parent stays at home with their kids doesn’t mean they’re “putting a a stigma on work”. It just means they’re raising the children that they chose to have. That statement and the one following it were disses to stay-at-home parents, and that’s NOT ok.

Angelika on

She seems a sweat lady, happy for her doing well.

reynald chabot on

Love you you are wonderful looking forward tomovies

pro on

It’s impossible to believe without a shred of evidence from this self absorbed woman to believe from her that she had postpartum.

Pro Thius on

October 21, 2015. I had Postpartum for 6 months last year, but I didn’t tell you until I killed the children. Olive died on the first of this month. Sorry I didn’t tell you about the Postpartum until too late. By the way that’s why we are keeping the kids out of public shots at like Pokemon even though Postpartum would indicate a need to show the children.