SHE did drugs while pregnant, lost custody of her only child and ravaged her looks while in the grip of a heroin addiction that saw her became infamous on the Jeremy Kyle Show.
But now, one year after appearing on stage with sunken cheeks and no teeth, ex-prostitute Michelle Wallace is finally clean for the first time in 20 years – and is even trying for another baby.
The once-emaciated 40-year-old – who used to shoplift, sell sex and use her benefits to buy £120 worth of heroin a day – has found love with a dapper new man after a whirlwind nine-month romance.
And despite being about to welcome her second grandson, she's longing to have another child herself, after "missing out" on her daughter Charlote's childhood.
'I used to look like a demon'
"I’m so happy with the woman I've become," Michelle, 40, from Luton, Bedfordshire, tells Sun Online, speaking for the first time about her one-year-sober milestone and her fiancé Chris Long, 35.
"I used to hate looking at myself, it was like looking at a demon.
"Now I don’t have to hide away anymore."
She adds: "I'd love another child. I've got that much love to give and I missed out on my daughter, though I'll soon have two beautiful grandsons to keep me busy.”
From weed to Class A drugs
Michelle's battle with drugs began in secondary school when, aged 15, she'd get stoned and drink booze with older pals. By 16, she was taking the party drug ecstasy every day.
“I was a rebellious teenager," she recalls. "I was always getting told off by teachers."
After turning 17 and moving into a bedsit, Michelle was eventually introduced to heroin by another resident. It made her sick, but after a few times of trying it, she got hooked.
Soon after, the teen discovered she was pregnant – and while she managed to give up heroin for most of the pregnancy for her baby's sake, she succumbed towards the end.
"I had a line and it brought my waters on," says Michelle, who also smoked weed and drank while pregnant but isn't ashamed of her past because addiction "doesn't discriminate".
"They were on about giving me a C-section because of the baby's heart rate."
Heroin use in pregnancy has been linked to premature birth, reduced growth and neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), where babies are born addicted to the Class A drug.
Fortunately, Michelle's daughter Charlote was born safely without surgery. But afterwards, living with Charlote's dad in the West Midlands, Michelle returned to heroin.
"Her dad was always going out and leaving me alone so I started taking it again," she says.
Shoplifting and rotted teeth
As Charlote grew up, Michelle's addiction only escalated – until she was forking out more than £100 a day on the substance, made up from her benefits, shoplifting and borrowed cash.
Using local dealers to feed her destructive habit, her teeth went "bad" and fell out, and she couldn't be there for her little girl – who, aged around 11, was placed in foster care.
"That was really difficult," Michelle recalls. “When Charlote got older, she kept throwing it back in my face about her being in care, that I wasn’t a 'good mum', I needed to 'fix up'."
Selling sex to fund her habit
In 2009, Michelle even ended up in prison for burglary as she constantly sought out her next fix.
"I was hanging around with the wrong people, being easily led," she says.
Eventually, she turned to prostitution to make cash from home. "I needed money and I knew people who had money who would pay me [for sex]," she adds.
But the turning point came when desperate Charlote – who had stayed in touch with Michelle during her time in foster care – contacted the Jeremy Kyle Show to help her mum get clean for good.
Show bosses agreed and, last year, Michelle was grilled by Jeremy and her family on stage.
"Jeremy proper gave it to me but it was what I needed," she says. "That show saved my life."
During the showdown, Charlote, now 22 and a mother herself with a two-year-old son – described how her mum's addict lifestyle meant she was neglected as a kid.
And Michelle admits: “It was quite upsetting to hear. I was too caught up in my own battle."
At the end of the show, Michelle was sent to rehab – where she underwent an intense two-week detox, which saw her suffer sleepless nights and hallucinations.
She then had a further two months of treatment.
"At the beginning, my head was telling me, 'go there for three months, get sober, get out and you can use again'. But my head changed when I was in there," she says.
After leaving rehab in February this year, Michelle was put in supported housing.
She continued to attend recovery meetings – but found herself struggling when her Jeremy Kyle episode aired and some viewers cruelly compared her to Lord of the Rings villain Gollum.
"I’d just come out of rehab, that could have made me relapse," she says.
An emotional reunion
Still, Michelle kept going and, earlier this year, she returned to the show – which The Sun revealed was permanently axed by ITV in May following the death of a guest.
Charlote burst into tears when she saw her mum's progress.
"She was crying, 'Oh mum, you look amazing," Michelle recalls.
"She kept saying, 'I've got my mum back, I've always known you were in there'."
And Michelle's recovery would lead to another amazing relationship, too.
In March this year, she began dating partner Chris – who works in a homeless shelter – after they met at a recovery meeting, and the pair quickly fell in love.
Then, on September 16, Chris popped the question with a beautiful white gold ring on the beach in Benidorm during Michelle's first ever holiday abroad.
"Chris got down on one knee in the moonlight," says Michelle.
"It was my first time abroad, I’d never been on a plane. I loved it."
Doting Chris, a former heroin and crack addict who has also transformed his life, adds: "I’m really proud of everything she's achieved. She’s doing amazing.
"We're very excited about the wedding."
Because the couple, who share a flat in Luton, don't drink alcohol, they often spend date nights at restaurants, the cinema or bowling. If they do go to the pub, they each have a soft drink.
'You've got to be ready for recovery'
"There’s a solution out there – recovery is possible," says Michelle, who has had a new set of teeth fitted.
"But you have to be ready to do it."
Today, the pair are trying for a baby while saving up for their 2021 wedding, where Charlote will be a bridesmaid and Michelle's big sister Kirsty will be maid of honour.
Sadly, they lost a child through an ectopic pregnancy in August.
But they've not lost hope – and they also have a new addition to their family on the way in two weeks' time, as Charlote is due to give birth to another son before Christmas.
"I’m so proud of Charlote – she could have gone down the wrong road but she didn't," says Michelle, who wants to work with the homeless and other addicts in the future.
She adds: "I'm so proud of myself too. I used to dream what it would be like to wake up in the morning and not have that need to get drugs the first thing in the day.
"Now I don’t have to dream.”
Proud daughter Charlote, who still lives in the West Midlands around 80 miles away from Michelle, tells us: "I'm so happy I have the role model of a mum I've always wanted.
"Our relationship is still a bit rocky because of the distance but I always talk to her and keep her updated on her grandsons. I never thought in a million years she'd be clean.
"I can honestly say she should be so proud of herself – because I really am."
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