Ladies of London is known for its feuds and fiery disputes, but new star Adela King revealed on Tuesday night that she faced a much bigger fight two years before joining the series.
The globe-hopping fashion designer revealed that, due to an ongoing custody battle with her ex-husband, she’d fallen into a state of depression and addiction so desperate that, two years ago this month, she attempted to take her own life.
King shared her stories with the rest of the Ladies during a tense dinner in Edinburgh, Scotland, on Tuesday’s episode, and now she’s opening up to PEOPLE about the darkest period of her life, how she found her will to live again and the heartbreaking way she continues to stay in touch with her children amid their ongoing two-and-a-half-year estrangement.
Sharing your story is very brave, and I’m sure a lot of people have already benefited from seeing this kind of vulnerability in someone who seems to have it all. It must feel like a new community has opened up to you.
I look at the show now as the biggest gift to me ever because I felt so alone in this for so many years, and now so many people have reached out saying that they’re going through the same thing. It’s absolutely blown me away. I never expected that kind of reaction. I’m so grateful that I reply to every single post on pictures, for them taking the time to reach out to me, it means the world to me. I have so much gratitude. It changed my life.
Why was it the right time to share your past struggles with the rest of the Ladies?
I’m an incredibly open person. Obviously I’m not proud of my past, but I’ve never been a person to shy away from admitting my faults. I am brutally honest, and it is my journey — it’s always part of my history, it’s part of who I am. I think I laughed at the dinner [when drinking came up]: How bad could it get? Well, I tried to commit suicide, it doesn’t get any worse than that. It wasn’t a thing of, like, “I’m going to open up and share this very deeply personal story.” It was just a fact that somebody asked me a question, and I gave them a very frank, brutal honest answer. Which is who I am. That’s what I do. I’m not-I don’t really hide things from people if they ask me. I will tell them the truth and that was the truth. That’s how bad it got.
I’m sure you’ve had this conversation a lot of times, but in the immediately moments after, you mentioned to your cast mate Marissa Hermer that Juliet Angus had a very strong, even antagonistic, response. Were you surprised by her lack of empathy?
You don’t open up and share something like that and expect everybody to say, “Oh, well done,” and then pat you on the back. Everybody’s got their opinions on that, and I totally get that. I’m not asking for sympathy. … Maybe at the time, I was a bit taken aback because I wasn’t prepared for it. But she had a very valid point. Suicide is an incredibly selfish act. The thing is, when you’re in it though, it’s a desperate act. You cannot take the pain anymore. You want the pain to go away. But you don’t ever see a way out.
How did you get to that point?
I think I was in the darkest place [and] the one thing in my life I lived in fear of was my ex-husband and what he would do next to me, that he would take away my children. But of course, sometimes the thing that you fear the most, you always bring it onto yourself. And it actually happened — he took my children away from me. [And I worried that] even if I got my children back, I didn’t see a way out of the constant pain and fear of what he would do. I just didn’t see a way out of it. I couldn’t see right from wrong.
So I basically locked myself in the bathroom and I took every pill I had in the house and I wrote a suicide note. I was listing everybody’s things and I’d gone into this space of like deliriousness. And the pain and the noise had stopped. Then, my husband at the time came back and broke down the door and got me out. I ended up having seizures and the ambulance came and took me to the hospital. And then I don’t remember what happened, I don’t remember anyway where I’d gone the next day. And I felt exactly the same. Like, Why am I still here?
Was that the wake-up call that sent you to rehab?
I have to be completely honest with you, there wasn’t [awake-up call]. It was my family that forced me to go. I’ve been to three different rehabs before and I had lost all faith in them. [Three weeks after I entered the hospital] I went to go to a psychiatrist and he said that the only place on the planet that could save me was Cottonwood. Finally, my husband dragged me onto the plane to Arizona and dropped me at the rehab.
I have never experienced so much pain in my life. It’s very different from the rehabs here in the U.K. where you can basically do what you want. There, you spend every single minute of your day with other addicts just talking about your problems. And the therapist says, “It’s not your fault, it’s not your fault.” To hear that is mind-blowing. The therapists were just so understanding, they didn’t break you down and make you feel so ashamed of your past. And they helped you with all these amazing therapies that basically help you to turn situations around in your head. I had a load of issues with betrayal and lots of different things and shame — shame is one thing you relapse on a lot because obviously when you’re in addiction, you do think that you’re shameful.
And now, with each day, I wake up with humility, not humiliation. … I’ve got a huge support network in AA and I have a sponsor. In two years, my life has changed radically — your life just doesn’t [just turn around instantly]. You don’t just get sober and everything is amazing. You’ve got so much to clear up from all the bad choices you made when you were in active addiction. So it’s taken a long time to get to where I am.
I still don’t have my kids, and it breaks my heart every single second of second of every single minute of every single hour of every single day. But I’m not running to try and fill it with anything because I know that that doesn’t work. I don’t need to fill that whole with men, shopping, alcohol, substance abuse, whatever — it’s not like that anymore. I surround myself with positive things and positive peopl, and I have much gratitude to God and to all the people that have supported me through this. I’ve had friends for 20 years who have seen me go through everything and they still stuck by me. And the darkness has turned to light now and days are hard, and I learn stuff every single day, but I never stop thanking God, ever.
- For more information on coping with suicidal thoughts, visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the U.S. or Samaritans.org in the U.K.
Was there a point where you’ve ever thought in this whole process, Well maybe if I do this I can see my children?
I’m not doing this to prove anything to anyone except for myself, to be honest with you. And I do have to do this for me to be the mother that they’re going to need [when we can be a family again]. For now, it absolutely hurts me, it keeps me up at night and it worries me, but at least I’ll be there to hold their hand through it [one day].
My son is 16 and my daughter just turned 14 two weeks ago. I do feel now they’re coming slightly closer towards me. I can feel it and so I have a lot more hope now. For so long I didn’t have any hope, but I can feel it now. I just know as a mother’s instinct. I mean I don’t expect it to be tomorrow, I don’t expect it to be next week, but I do feel more hope. … I’ve been blocked on everything but you can still leave voice messages so I leave voicemails on their phones and hope that they listen to them. The pain still is very raw. And I don’t think that’s every going to go until I get them back in my life.
Ladies of London airs Tuesdays (10 p.m. ET) on Bravo.