Danniella Westbrook has said she has 'wasted' her entire life hating the way she looked.
The former EastEnders star — who is currently undergoing facial reconstructive surgery to repair damage to her face caused by cocaine abuse — has said her recovery process is also about rebuilding her self confidence.
Westbrook, 48, told podcast The Frost Report: “It’s taken me 48 years to get to that point and I can’t say I’ll be there tomorrow.
“The worst thing I have down is throwing my life away, hating myself, the years I have wasted not liking the person I am.”
The actor and reality TV star has had a series of operations at NHS Aintree Hospital in Liverpool to implant her rib in her face to repair a collapsed jaw and cheekbone.
Westbrook told The Sun: “After I relapsed [in 2014], for years I didn’t care what I looked like because I was on a crazy whirlwind of destruction.
“But I’ve got to a point where looking like this upsets me, so I’m going to make a change — not because of what others think but so I can be happy with the way I am.
“It will change the way I look but also help my breathing and sinus issues.
“So it’s about my health as well. I’ll be in for the big surgery, which is the bone replacement, at the end of April. And then the final operation to tweak and finish the nose is at the end of May.”
The soap star famously suffered damage to her nasal septum - which separates the nostrils - as a result of past cocaine abuse, and previously revealed bones in her face are rotting away due to osteoporosis caused by botched surgery.
The mother-of-two - who was diagnosed with womb cancer in 2018 and given the all clear in April 2019 - said she feels "lucky to be alive" after battling addiction.
Westbrook began acting as a child and claims she first took cocaine aged 14. She was just 16 when she was cast as Samantha Mitchell in EastEnders.
She spoke out earlier this year to criticise the producers of EastEnders for recasting her character without informing her.
It was announced in January that Kim Medcalf is to return to Albert Square in the role, first played by Westbrook in 1990, but also previously played by Medcalf between 2002 and 2005.
Westbrook, who returned to the soap in 2009 and 2016, said: "I’ve been known as Sam Mitchell for 32 years. But nobody at EastEnders contacted me to let me know they had recast Kim in the role. I was shocked because they do have a responsibility to tell me and someone should have.”
In February 2019 she appeared on ITV's The Jeremy Kyle Show to discuss her drink and cocaine addiction.
She admitted: "If I had the money I would be back doing 11 bags a day."
Watch: Danniella Westbrook pays tribute to Dame Barbara Windsor