08/27/2009 at 02:00 PM EDT
A month after being placed under psychiatric hold
, Mischa Barton
is speaking out for the first time about her hospitalization.
"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 actress, 23, tells Time Out New York
The former O.C.
star says before she was scheduled to start filming the CW show The Beautiful Life
, she had been traveling abroad "for contract stuff" and then had a "terrible" wisdom tooth surgery – a procedure she says went wrong and is "still just healing."
"I had to get through it without proper painkillers because I couldn't take those during work," she said of the procedure. "So it's been a nightmare."
The timing and combination of the two, plus getting prepared for the new show, she says, took a significant toll on her.
"I was down in the dumps about everything there for a while," she reveals. "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."
She denies it was a mental breakdown, but Barton admits the ordeal "was pretty bad." Still, she says it was also blown out of proportion.
"The funny thing is, if all this happened in New York, no one would care," she says. "New York lets you be who you are, and people aren't as judgmental. I'm so glad to be back here."