Wilkinson appeared on the E! reality series The Girls Next Door as a playmate between 2005 and 2009, before getting married to now ex-husband and former NFL player Hank Baskett and heading up her own spinoff, Kendra on Top.
In the past, she’s defended Hugh Hefner after former playmates came forward about the pressures, trauma and even sexual assault that took place during their time in the mansion. That includes her Girls Next Door co-stars Holly Madison and Bridget Marquardt, who have opened up about their experiences in their podcast Girls Next Level, in addition to major revelations and allegations of misconduct against the Playboy founder in A&E’s Secrets of Playboy.
“It’s just out of revenge, and I feel bad for Hef. But you know what? He’s an amazing human being,” Wilkinson previously told People in 2015, two years before Hefner died at 91.
Now, after being hospitalized for a panic attack in September, she’s reflecting more on what may have fueled her anxiety and feelings that she was “dying of depression,” telling People now that she’s gone down a “crazy regretful path.”
“I was there for the partying, OK, let’s just be real. I was not there for Hugh Hefner to be my boyfriend,” Wilkinson explains of her decision to live at the mansion when she was just 18. “I don’t really see things the same way as the other girls because Hef was never really my boyfriend. I was at the Playboy Mansion for the sake of partying, that’s what I was there for.”
While hospitalized, the former playmate, current real estate agent, wife and mother of two, said she was put on Abilify, an antipsychotic medication, after weeks of not eating or sleeping. “It was the lowest place I’ve ever been in my life. I felt like I had no future. I couldn’t see in front of my depression,” she explained. “I was giving up and I couldn’t find the light. I had no hope.”
She had been isolating herself for years following her divorce and was estranged from her own family. Her latest professional endeavor — a reality series tracing her time as a real estate agent — had also been canceled after one season.
“I wasn’t focusing on myself or my mental health. Here I was, a single mom, and I’ve been alone for years now. But it’s also easy to feel like the world is caving in on you. I was trying to fight it on my own. I was trying to cure it on my own, and you can’t do that,” she said. “I was isolating, hiding, blaming myself, blaming the world. I was spiraling out of control, and I felt like I wasn’t strong enough to survive.”
Her diagnoses have given her more “empathy” for her fellow former playmates like Madison, who shared her own autism diagnosis in December. “I look back at my times at the mansion, and I’m like, ‘Holy shit, I was depressed at points, too,’” she shared. “I completely have empathy with everything Holly says and her story, and I wouldn’t mind having a conversation with her and Bridget one day.”
Wilkinson says she’s had to rethink a lot of her choices during her brief stint at the mansion, asking herself, “Why did I have sex with an old man at that age? Why did I do that? Why did I go to the mansion in the first place? Why did I get boobs? Why did I bleach blonde my hair? Why did I?” she told People.
“I’ve had to face my demons,” she added. “Playboy really messed my whole life up.”
As for whether she’s ready to get into more of the details of her experience, including visiting Madison and Marquardt’s podcast, Wilkinson says she is not ready. “People keep reaching out saying, ‘Why don’t you go on Holly and Bridget’s podcast and talk about the mansion?’ My time is my time. I am not ready yet. I’m not ready to talk about all that yet.”
For now, she’s focusing on her therapy and the clarity she’s recently been able to achieve. “I’m so grateful for everything, now that I see everything the way it is. I was in a deep, dark depression about it, but now I feel like I’ve forgiven myself for it all, and I feel like I can have real conversations about it,” she told the magazine. “I’m out of it and I feel better than ever.”