Cara Delevingne Talks Depression And How It Helped Her Writing

By David Konow 10/04/17

"I wish I’d known that I wasn’t my own worst enemy, that I wasn’t trapped. That if you can hold on for dear can get through it."

Cara Delevingne

Model, actress and author Cara Delevingne is speaking out about her past bouts with depression, and how it helped inform the feelings of her characters when writing her young adult novel, Mirror, Mirror.

As Delevingne told Self, her feelings of low self-esteem first started in school. “If I fail at something, it’s the worst thing in the world because I never forgive myself. I didn’t feel like I was ever good enough. The fact I couldn’t do as well as other people made me hate myself. And you’re made to feel that once you get a mark, like a C, that’s your mark in life; that’s you as a human being. That really sat with me for a long time.”

Although she grew into a supermodel beauty, Delevingne was a late bloomer, and she said she felt “something dark” within her when she was in her teens. “I felt alienated and alone because I was like, 'what’s wrong with me?' I always wanted people to love me, so I never got angry with them; I turned my anger onto myself.”

Delevingne’s depression got so severe that she eventually suffered a breakdown, and had to leave for school for a while to receive treatment when she was 15.

“I hated myself for being depressed,” she recalled. “I hated feeling depressed, I hated feeling. I was very good at disassociating from emotion completely. And all the time I was second-guessing myself, saying something and then hating myself for saying it. I didn’t understand what was happening apart from the fact that I didn’t want to be alive anymore.”

Delevingne put the alienation she felt as a teenager into the characters of her new novel Mirror, Mirror. As she told Net-a-Porter, “I always felt pretty weird and different as a kid, and that feeling was something I didn’t understand, or know how to express. I wish I could have given myself a hug. I wish I’d known that I was still in there somewhere, that I wasn’t my own worst enemy, that I wasn’t trapped. That if you can hold on for dear life—because being a teenager can feel like you’re on a rollercoaster to hell—you can get through it. Time moves on, feelings pass, it does get better.”

In Mirror, Mirror, one character’s mother is an alcoholic—Delevingne’s mother suffered from addiction as well. It’s a subject Delevingne didn’t want to discuss, but she did say, “Of course when you grow up with any alcoholic or depressive there is going to be darkness, but I wanted to show the inner workings of it. The thing about alcoholism, addiction and depression is, you can’t hate the person for being who they are, you can hate the disease behind it.”

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.