WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
IT was a poignant, and hopeful, farewell.
“I’ll do whatever it takes to be a better momma and a better woman,” fallen UK soap star Danniella Westbrook posted on Instagram ahead of yet another stint in rehab in the hope of “battling her demons” once and for all.
The 43-year-old former child actor who became a star in the UK thanks to hit soap EastEnders announced last month she was checking herself into rehab for “all of her addictions”.
It’s the latest chapter in a two-decade slide which included a cocaine habit so bad her septum collapsed.
The return to rehab comes after Westbrook appeared on UK TV show In Therapy last year, spilling details of her history of sexual abuse, the breakdown of her relationships, and her battles to get clean.
“So I’m checking in to treatment again,” she wrote in a frank social media post on March 26.
“The therapy show I did cost me a lot of heart ache, painful childhood memories & trauma that the show didn’t fix.
“Put that with a total lie and sham of a marriage … illness … and a break up from the only man I ever loved and losing a baby last year, I think it’s time I did this once and for all for myself my kids and my very small but close circle of friends.”
She continued: “Am I scared? Yes. But I do want a quality of life I don’t have today and the freedom of a life without demons haunting me and making me weak to my addictions.
“So in a few weeks time I shall be checking in to a treatment centre and I won’t be leaving until I’m 100% well in my mind body and (love).”
It’s the latest public declaration in the very public fall of a child star who had the world at her feet, until fame and addiction combined to derail it.
HOW IT CAME TO THIS
Danniella Westbrook was the teenager with the celebrity world at her feet. Plucked from obscurity at the age of 16 to join the cast of BBC soap EastEnders, she always wanted to be famous.
She got her wish as feisty, flirty, manipulative teen Samantha Mitchell in the soap in her first stint on the show, from 1990 to 1993, when she quit.
By then she was in the grip of a drug that would make her infamous.
EastEnders asked her back in 1995, but by 1996, they were forced to write her out as her cocaine addiction took hold.
In 1999, they gambled on her again. By then, the addiction had eroded her nasal septum, and she was reportedly filmed from certain angles to keep it from view.
But by 2000 producers had had enough as the cocaine binges continued, and showed her the door again.
In May 2000, an image of her showing her missing septum was given to newspapers, and the badly-kept secret of excessive drug abuse was out.
So began her first stint of rehab. Westbrook was clean for more than a decade. Her nose was rebuilt.
But her life remains a work in progress.
It was the addiction that would stalk Westbrook through some of the major stepping stones of her life, ballooning as her fame did, transforming her from party girl to the infamous soap star whose nose had collapsed.
She tried it for the first time at the aged 14, in a nightclub. By the time she joined EastEnders, she was a regular on the club scene, admitting she was wooed by what she thought was the ‘glamour’ of it.
At the hight of her addiction, she was doing five grams a day, and it’s estimated she blew more than A$415,000 on her habit.
The habit was so bad, it rotted away her septum, the cartilage that divides the nostrils. Effectively, her nose had collapsed. Her relationships did too.
Surgery rebuilt her nose. Rebuilding her life was harder.
In 2000 she quit drugs amid warnings from doctors that her A$650 a day habit would kill her. But the addiction would keep calling her back.
She claims she was clean for 12 years, but addiction and depression were evil co-conspirators who were never far away. She attempted suicide more than a dozen times. She and the doctors would paper over the cracks, and she’d try to rebuild it all again.
After undergoing treatment for addiction, Westbrook got married and had two children. But she soon relapsed, and released two autobiographies about her journey, The Other Side of Nowhere in 2006, and Faith, Hope and Clarity in 2013.
“I DID COCAINE GIVING BIRTH”
Westbrook’s oldest son Kai is now 20.
His dad is Robert Fernandez, Westbrook’s partner for three years until 1998.
Kai was brought into the world in 1996, by a drug addict who loved cocaine so much, she even snorted it while in labour, she revealed in a tearful confession to TV host Jeremy Kyle in 2012.
Admitting to a five grams of cocaine a day habit while pregnant, Westbrook revealed she did lines of it while in labour.
Ten minutes after her firstborn entered the world, she snuck into a bathroom for another snort.
Four years later, Kai found her half dead from a cocaine overdose. He recalls frantically trying to wake her, covering her face with kisses to try to revive her.
Westbrook married millionaire businessman Kevin Jenkins in 2001, four months after the birth of their daughter Jodie B. They split in 2014.
He blamed her drug use for the breakdown of marriage, claiming she passed out at 3pm one Christmas Day after taking cocaine, The Mirror reported.
All she wanted the next Christmas, she said, was a divorce and to see her kids.
Kai said last year that he and his sister have seen a lot.
The flashbacks of growing up with a drug addict mum still haunted him, he told The Sun.
”Have I been scared Mum is going to die? Hundreds of times,” he said.
“Do I know Mum’s not going to die? I can’t guarantee it. If you play with the Devil, the Devil will play with you.
“But she’s a fighter. She wants to get better, but a lot of people have lost confidence in her.”
Despite his childhood experience, he still has a strong bond with his mum, evidenced in Westwood’s vow as she headed for rehab to “be a better momma”, and paying a tearful tribute to Kai.
By 2000 EastEnders was no longer prepared to take a risk on her.
She tried to rebuild and relaunch her television career, working as a presenter of various shows. She did documentaries, and reality shows — including stints on I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here in 2003, and Dancing on Ice in 2010 — and appeared briefly on British drama Hollyoaks in 2013.
EastEnders had her back for short stints from 2009 to 2010 and briefly last year, but a regular gig eluded her.
In early 2016, she appeared in Celebrity Big Brother UK in another attempt at career redemption. She made the final five, admitting she was “surprised to have lasted so long”.
She seemed back on track. She hoped 2016 would be “my biggest year”.
But the next slide was not far away.
“I THOUGHT MY WHOLE WORLD WAS OVER”
The latest crash began late last year.
Two years after her four-month relapse in 2014, Westbrook was spotted with a bandage below her nose. While there was speculation she had relapsed, Westbrook claimed it was septicaemia resulting from surgery to get her teeth fixed.
“It sparked off a depression in what should have been my busiest year,” she told British morning show This Morning in November.
“They removed all of my teeth. I was so nervous.”
But the dental procedure was just one of the triggers that drove her back to addiction.
Already spiralling into depression, Westbrook broke up with her boyfriend George Arnold.
“I did relapse, I thought my whole world was over when [George] walked out.”
Yes, she admitted, “I tried to overdose. I overdosed on pills. It wasn’t cocaine.
“I tried to overdose a lot when George walked out.”
Asked by This Morning host Phillip Schofield what would have happened to her two children had she successfully suicided, she replied: “When you relapse you don’t see that”.
“All you see is selfishness and a way out and it’s the most selfish horrible thing but that’s drugs, it’s selfish, horrible and twisted.”
On Thursday, Westbrook’s manager (who is in control of her Instagram account while she continues rehab), updated followers on her progress.
“Message from Danniella,” the post reads.
“Hello All, Well I’m feeling better and looking healthier amazing what facing your fears can do. and my face is healing nicely too.
“Thanks for all your support.”
She added: “I’m getting daily reports sent to me,” followed by the hashtags #peoplechange #thewestbrook #thisgirlcan #marbslife.”
Maybe this time, she will slay the demons for good.
SOURCE: newsnow entertainment