July 26, 2017 at 01:38 PM EDT

Angelina Jolie is speaking out for the first time about her public divorce from Brad Pitt.

“It’s just been the hardest time, and we’re just kind of coming up for air,” Jolie, 42, told Vanity Fair in its latest cover story. “[This house] is a big jump forward for us, and we’re all trying to do our best to heal our family.”

Jolie and Pitt called it quits after 12 years together in September. And while the split came as a shock to many, the actress admits that their marriage began to crumble while filming her latest directorial effort First They Killed My Father in Cambodia last summer.

“Things got bad,” says Jolie. “I didn’t want to use that word. . . . Things became ‘difficult.’”

In the interview, Jolie also reveals that she developed Bell’s Palsy last year, a result of damage to facial nerves, causing one side of her face to droop. “Sometimes women in families put themselves last,” she says, “until it manifests itself in their own health.”

After having a preventative double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery and later her ovaries removed, she says she immediately went into menopause.

Joking about how the past year has taken a toll on her, she quips, “I can’t tell if it’s menopause or if it’s just been the year I’ve had.”

As for her family, Jolie plainly states that their globe-trotting lifestyle “was not the problem” that led to her divorce.

“[Our lifestyle] was not in any way a negative,” she says. “That was not the problem. That is and will remain one of the wonderful opportunities we are able to give our children . . . They’re six very strong-minded, thoughtful, worldly individuals. I’m very proud of them.”

Still, she admits the divorce has been hard on their six kids Maddox, 15, Pax, 13, Zahara, 12, Shiloh, 10, and twins Vivienne and Knox, 8.

“They’ve been very brave,” she said. “They were very brave.”

Five days before she filed for divorce, the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services and the FBI launched an investigation after Pitt allegedly got “verbally abusive” and “physical” with Maddox, his and Jolie‘s oldest child, after drinking on the couple’s private plane on Sept. 14.

They concluded that there were no findings of abuse and the former couple released a joint statement saying they were working with a private judge to resolve their divorce and would “act as a united front” moving forward. The FBI closed the criminal case with no charges.

“We’re all just healing from the events that led to the filing . . . They’re not healing from divorce,” Jolie says of the kids. “They’re healing from some . . . from life, from things in life.”

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