Cara Delevingne “was not okay.”
The model and actress opened up in a cover story for Vogue about how childhood trauma caused her to spiral into drugs and alcohol before managing to get herself clean and sober.
Delevingne, who had a very public fall from grace in 2022, said her trauma comes from spending most of her childhood looking after her bipolar and heroin-addicted mom, Pandora, and many people assumed that her life was easy.
“In a way, a lot of people have looked at my childhood or my family and thought ‘She’s spoiled, there’s nepotism, she grew up extremely privileged’ which I did, don’t get me wrong,” said the 30-year-old for Vogue’s April cover story, released Wednesday. “But life wasn’t all that easy for other reasons.”
The British actress said that her introduction to alcohol use came at the age of 7 while at a family wedding.
“I woke up in my granny’s house in my bedroom with a hangover, in a bridesmaid’s dress,” said Delevingne. “I’d gone around nailing glasses of champagne.”
According to the “Suicide Squad” actress, by the age of 10, she was already on sleeping pills to manage her insomnia.
She was also diagnosed with dyspraxia, a neurological disorder throughout the brain that results in life-long impaired motor, memory, judgment, processing and other cognitive skills, according to the dyspraxia foundation.
“This was the beginning of mental health issues and inadvertent self-harm,” said Delevingne, noting that her seemingly normal childhood was not normal at all.
“And then as a teenager, it just all came plummeting down. That’s also when I started drinking and partying,” confessed Delevingne. “There was this need to escape and change my reality as I was hit with just huge questions: ‘What am I doing here?’ ‘Who am I trying to be?’”
It wasn’t until the COVID-19 lockdown that Delevingne began to spiral out of control.
“In the beginning, I was living with people in this COVID bubble in LA. We thought it was going to be a weeklong thing, and so it was fun,” said Delevingne who was living with her then-girlfriend Ashley Benson. “And then I was alone, really alone … it was a low point.”
“Instead of taking the time to really learn something new or do something new, I got very wrapped up in misery, wallowing, and partying. It was a really sad time.”
As pandemic restrictions began to lift, Delevingne began to fall back into old habits.
“I’m classically good at avoiding things, I just didn’t want to deal with my issues,” said Delevingne. “And those are things I’ve been running from since I was a kid.”
Delevingne appeared in a six-part docuseries on Hulu called “Planet Sex” — which explored sexuality and gender — and forced Delevingne to confront several personal demons.
“It was super personal and I didn’t really realize how personal it would be,” recalled Delevingne, who said she cried while on set during the first day of filming.
“I’d only really learned how to show emotion when I was acting because I didn’t feel worthy enough to feel those things as myself. With ‘Planet Sex,’ I was just so uncomfortable in front of the camera in the beginning because it was like, ‘Oh, God, I’ve gotta be myself.’”
However, tragedy struck while Delevingne was filming the show: Delevingne’s aunt, who took care of the actress more than her parents, passed away.
“When I heard she had died there were a lot of things I had to process because I hadn’t seen her since Christmas the year before. I was really trying to pour everything I had into work, and every night I would come back from filming and sit alone and just cry, said Delevingne. “By the time I got to the Met Ball two weeks later, I was f–king exhausted.”
She said she was in constant pain during the event due to her psoriasis and after the event, she said she got blackout drunk.
“I went and got blackout afterwards. It was like, ‘What am I doing?’” said the model. “The day after, I had to travel to my granny’s funeral. It was horrible.”
“I always kind of knew that things were going to have to be different in my 30s,” revealed Delevingne. “Because the way that I was living was not sustainable.”
According to the actress, she planned an “Alice in Wonderland”-themed 29th-birthday party but when the time came for the party, Delevingne said felt this sense of foreboding like a “slowly beating drum inside.”
“There was this need for change, but I was fighting it so much,” explained Delevingne.
“I was welcoming in this new time but I was also grieving. It was like a funeral for my previous life, a goodbye to an era. And so I decided I was going to party as hard as I could because this was the end.”
Things took an even more downward spiral when Delevingne went to Burning Man after her party.
“There’s an element of feeling invincible when I’m on drugs,” she said. “I put myself in danger in those moments because I don’t care about my life.”
“I would climb anything and jump off stuff…it felt feral,” continued Delevingne. “It’s a scary thing to the people around you who love you.”
Several members of Delevingne’s family watched helplessly as she continued to spiral.
“It was scary, we were longing for something to change, but you can’t project that onto someone else,” said Delevingne’s aunt Melinda Stevens. “There were plans to do something about it, a lot of coordinating with her sisters and closest friends. We spent a lot of time with each other that summer, and it was reaching a pitch.”
After several paparazzi photos depicting Delevingne looking ragged were released, the model’s friends rallied around her and urged her to get help.
“I love my friends so much, but it felt like a lot of the time, they were shallow relationships only because I wasn’t able to be honest about the things I was going through,” confessed Delevingne. “From September, I just needed support. I needed to start reaching out. And my old friends I’ve known since I was 13, they all came over and we started crying. They looked at me and said, ‘You deserve a chance to have joy.’ ”
Delevingne said that in the past she has tried several “quick fixes” but now is ready to fully commit to healing.
“Before I was always into the quick fix of healing, going to a weeklong retreat or to a course for trauma, say, and that helped for a minute, but it didn’t ever really get to the nitty-gritty, the deeper stuff,” said Delevingne. “This time I realized that 12-step treatment was the best thing, and it was about not being ashamed of that. The community made a huge difference. The opposite of addiction is connection, and I really found that in 12-step.”
Delevingne said that she has experienced several highs and lows, however, she is still committed to the process.
“This process obviously has its ups and downs, but I’ve started realizing so much. People want my story to be this after-school special where I just say, ‘Oh look, I was an addict, and now I’m sober and that’s it.’ And it’s not as simple as that,” said Delevingne. “It doesn’t happen overnight … Of course I want things to be instant — I think this generation especially, we want things to happen quickly — but I’ve had to dig deeper.”