August 28, 2011 05:00 PM

Fame

Nearly two years after welcoming son Hank, first-time mom Kendra Wilkinson has officially bounced back.

“[After I had a baby,] I felt like I had to be a different person. I had to be conservative and wear turtlenecks and be someone that I wasn’t,” she told PEOPLE Saturday pool at Las Vegas’s Wet Republic.

“Now that I have my body back and I feel good again, I have the perfect amount of balance. It’s all about finding the balance.”

However, learning to juggle her family of three — including husband Hank Baskett — and still maintain her own sense of self was anything but easy for the Being Kendra: Cribs, Cocktails, and Getting My Sexy Back author, who has been open about her battle with postpartum depression.

“It got pretty bad, [but] not to the point where I would harm my family. I was a great mom and did what I needed to, but I was definitely very depressed,” she says. “[Motherhood is] a big change in life and it happened overnight.”

For Wilkinson, 26, she believes the problem began when all of her attention turned toward her son, leaving little time for herself. And when she felt the public pressure to regain her body after baby, the reality star admits the heat became too much to handle.

“At the time I was doing whatever I could for the baby, but I lost myself and it was really frustrating,” she shares. “Being in the spotlight is a lot of pressure about losing the weight, [especially] coming from the Playboy world.”

Noting that “a lot of women suffer from PPD,” Wilkinson hopes that sharing her story offers a support system for others facing the same struggles. “It needs to be talked about,” she explains.

Now happily settled into her new lifestyle, Wilkinson admits she has learned to “still have a lot of fun” — albeit to the beat of a different drum. “It’s a whole different life, but a better life,” she says.

“Your baby is no. 1 100 percent of the time, but I do still take me time — you need to do that every now and then. I’m back to being that Kendra that everyone knew at the Playboy Mansion, but a lot more mature and grown up. I’m more aware of life.”

— Mark Gray and Anya Leon

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