It’s Mental Health Awareness Month and I’m going to be sharing stories as they come to me.
This is my best friend Ashley’s Story.
Speak Out: Ashley’s Story
“Hello, my name is Ashley and I am 19 years old. I am writing to you all today to tell my story, thanks to the wonderful creator of this page. Who happens to be my best friend 🙂
My mom has always been verbally abusive. As I was growing up I struggled with learning how to respect my mom because she would always say things to hurt me and my way of defending myself was talking back. Others found it offensive and still do. They believe that every child should respect their parents. I do agree with that but it is hard to do when you are a victim in the relationship. Sometimes some people are opinion based on the old fashion morals and beliefs that every child should respect their parents. Those same people either blind themselves from witnessing a verbal attack or they don’t care.
My grandmother, my father’s mom, lived with us until she got sick and had to live with my aunt in Reno when I was 8. She raised me more than my mother did. My mom would work and when she came home she would want to relax and be left alone. My grandmother died when I was 9. When she left I lost a mom, the mom I grew used to spending time with, watching TV, playing games, sharing affection. My mother continued on her work routine and still does it till this day.
The years I had with my grandmother are the only years I have of experience of having a real mother. I do love my mother but we say I hate you more than we say I love you. It hurts me to say that but it’s the truth. My mother was raised the same ways by her parents that she’s raised me and my older sister. We know she loves us to the moon and back but her way of giving love is replacing love with money and if she hurts our feelings we can’t be mad at her because she buys us a lot of things. Her parents bought her and I am struggling with the same method my mother is trying to pass on to me.
I have grown up to accept that I don’t have a mother like others do. Warm, affectionate, peaceful, patient, understanding, selfless, compassionate, empathetic but instead selfish, verbally abusive, loves when is convenient for her, judgmental.
I started cutting when I was 10 years old but stopped a short time after. I didn’t realize what I was doing because I was so young. It didn’t last long but it started up again when I was 14. When I reached 14 I would cut myself just about every day. I used to wear a bracelet to hide it and I wore it so much that in two years the bracelet was so worn that if you tugged on it, it would probably break. When I was fifteen I started drinking. I would sneak into the liquor cabinet to start my drinking routine then after taking a few shots I would drink around 6-7 beers. There were many times where my older sister had to clean me up and my mother would have to watch me while I slept to make sure I didn’t throw up over myself again.
When I was 16 I had finished off a bottle of golden tequila and had a few beers. Friends of the family came over that day and brought her little daughter over. I was drunk before they got to our house, I had no idea they were coming over. I went out to socialize with them and at some point in the little conversation I remember, her daughter wanted to go to the bathroom. Our dog wasn’t fixed and at that time he really didn’t like little kids. They asked if they could go in the house and I said, “Sure, I’ll hold the dog.” When they got in the house I had my dog in my arms, he kept fighting to get out of my arms but I just kept holding on to him. When they left the bathroom to go back outside the dog started stirring more in my arms as he spotted the little girl. Foolishly, I had my head right next to his. He turned in my arms and grabbed onto my nose, yanking it back and forth. I don’t remember it well, I don’t remember feeling pain but it must have put me in shock because I passed out. My dad walked into the house just as I was gaining conscious. He was so disappointed; he kept asking me what I did. When I finally got my conscious I looked down and saw a large puddle of my own blood soaked into my white jeans and another large puddle of it on the side of my thigh on the floor. I still didn’t feel any pain but I felt a lot of shame and that’s what made me burst into a sobbing mess as I kept asking how bad did it look. I almost needed stitches. I should have gone to the hospital but I had too much alcohol in my body. My mom had to come home from a ceremony that was honoring her friend. I didn’t know where she had gone or my sister had gone but my sister came home with her friend, whom both had to shower me once from another drunken incident.
My mom was concerned about me but she gave me more of a lecture for doing something stupid that made her leave her friend’s party to come home. I later found out that our friend who brought her daughter over had gone outside to alert my dad, she was crying really badly in our yard when my dad went to help me; I remember a small memory of that. What’s worse is the little girl adores and loves me. The shame hurt far worse than the bites and disfiguration of my nose that my dog gave me. My nose is crooked now at the bridge, if I bend it slightly the cartridge shows and there are a lot of times where I have trouble breathing. It wasn’t my intention to cause hurt for everyone and disfiguring my nose. I just wanted a drink.
Sadly that wasn’t even the last drunken incident. The last time was when a few months after when I was 16, I drank seven beers and walked outside at eight in the morning and stumbled back and forth between my dad’s truck and my grandpa’s trailer. I would go in and out of the house to grab another beer. Finally I grew tired and cold and went back into the house to go to bed. I thought I was doing fine until the nausea hit me so I yelled for my mom from my room. She always asked me why I did it. It was a bit of a lot of things. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety at the age of twelve, I overdosed on over 160 pills when I was fifteen, I was losing a friendship with my best friend at the time, and I felt totally unwanted and lost in the world, with no purpose or ambition to live. That mixed with not having a positive mother figure in my life made it a hundred times worse, along with fighting with her daily (which still goes on today). My mom did and still does try to help me with my depression, she lets me go to a psychologist and a psychiatrist when I need to and she took me out of public school for my freshmen year then sent me to a Independent Study school for my sophomore year in high school because of my anxiety.
I stopped cutting when I was 16 along with drinking. Because I have been addicted to both it is really hard not to reach for both when I struggle with something again. I am really close to my dad and his sister. I go to my aunt whenever I need motherly advice, help, and comfort. She lives in Reno so we talk on the phone a lot. She asked me to place my blades and razors somewhere that I couldn’t reach in a short amount of time; she knew I couldn’t throw them away. I can’t even after over two and a half years of being self harm free. She made me promise her that I would never harm myself again. For a long time I hadn’t even though recently I’ve been going through a lot. Thursday, October the 2nd, my best friend got in a car accident. My mother and I had been in a long fight before I found out she was in an accident. My best friend, Shelby, called me right after she told me she was hit. She’s okay, she didn’t have to go to the hospital but she did receive injuries. Because I wasn’t speaking to my mom to prevent any more drama for that day, she didn’t tell me that my friend was in an accident. As soon as I found out I went to go back in the house when I saw her speed off in the car. She didn’t take me with her to see my own best friend. I was crying so hard that I was shaking to the point of passing out and losing my voice from trying to find a way to get to the scene of the accident so I could be there for my best friend. That was the worst thing she did to me, for the first time in over two and a half years I broke my record of no self harm and cut myself with a can I had been holding and crushed during the crying. It wasn’t a deep cut but it was a cut. I broke the promise to my aunt and myself. I called my aunt a few hours later crying and she told me she wasn’t mad but she was disappointed.
October is always the hardest month for me because it was when I overdosed at the age of 15. On Saturday morning, October 22, 2010 at two in the morning I was sitting on my bed listening to music. Unintentionally the songs I was listening to expressed a lot of my feelings and desire of wanting to leave. Impulsively I took eight pills of Tylenol from my purse. Now having started I wanted to make sure it worked so I took over 60 pills of Motrin from my night stand drawer. I feared it wasn’t enough so I ran into the kitchen and snuck a big bottle of Tylenol in my room. I took handfuls and shoved them down with warm old soda and water. It took me a long time to drink Pepsi again. By the time I was done I had taken over 160 pills. I kissed and hugged my two dogs, my sister, mother, and father then rushed back to my room. It was really hard saying goodbye to them. I didn’t really say goodbye to my mom, she overheard me sobbing in the hallway, so I hugged her and told her I loved her then went on to saying the rest of my goodbyes. After saying my goodbyes I went to sleep holding pictures, sending a text saying “I love you, don’t ever forget that,” to my loves ones. I had Reba music on, thinking it would be the last time I heard my hero’s voice, the last time I would see the faces of my loved ones in pictures that were covering me up like a blanket. I hugged a picture of my grandma and me and I waited, ready for peace and the ending of my misery and pain, ready to go, ready for my last breath. After twenty minutes I smelt the toxic from the pills in my body and nausea began. I tried standing up but I fell to the ground, I crawled to the door and I yelled for help and was taken to a hospital. It’s a hard month because it’s more than a anniversary of what could have been my death, it’s a reminder that I have made it and even though I am doing a lot better than I was, unwanted feelings come back because the memories come back more than any other month. It’s almost like a magnet; my feelings are drawn to it stronger in October.
The second worse thing my mother did was when I went with her and my father to a show in Reno. I didn’t want to go even though I love Reno. I didn’t want to go because I worried that I would be in the way of my parents having their own time together. They insisted I go, so I did. They went gambling with their friends while I went down and did some bowling. I felt so free, independent, and proud of myself for being alone in a social place without having an anxiety attack, I also didn’t take any anxiety medicine, and I was handling it without anxiety. I went back up to the room to freshen up and as I was on my way out my mother called me to tell me to stay in the room because she was having fun with her friends and didn’t want me down there with them. It hurt me so much that I changed into my pajamas and went to bed. She had destroyed the first happy moment of feeling like an adult and on my own without having to have an anxiety attack and she made me feel unwanted. My dad and their friends asked me why I didn’t go back down to visit with them, they had waited for me. My mom told them what she said. My dad tried calling me but the night was over for me, I didn’t want to intrude their time together and because I felt like a burden, I just wanted sleep and to go home. My mom got mad at me when I ignored her calls; she said I was being a brat for spoiling her evening.
One of the many reasons I love my favorite show, Major Crimes is the relationship between Rusty and Sharon. Rusty is a eighteen year old boy who was abandoned by his mother at the age of 14. He lived off the streets, trading sex for money so he can eat and survive. His mother comes back (whom is a drug addict), she is in rehab because she got caught stealing at a store and was caught with drugs. For the time she has been in the show she has used Rusty so she could get drugs and so she can appear as healthy, trying to get her life on track and getting sober so she can be with Rusty again. Because he was a witness in a murder trial, a police woman, Sharon Raydor became his legal guardian until he became 18. Sharon Raydor now wishes to adopt him. My other hero, whom I wrote my story to (and will be sending it soon) is Mary McDonnell, she plays Sharon Raydor in the show, Major Crimes. If you are in the same boat as me I recommend watching this show, the transition from strangers to a mother-son bond is beautiful. The show is wonderful. While it is emotional for me because I’ve never experienced the thoughtful, always present but at a comfortable distance with my mom, it helps educate me on what kind of mother I can be someday. I’ve never really had a good influence or role model with my mother so I always search for it and observe it when I find it. I think Rusty is very lucky and I love the great progress they have made together. The writers do a great job! Along with the many great performances the cast gives. Sometimes my mom will watch Major Crimes with me. A few days ago I was watching the “Letting It Go” episode where Rusty confronts his mother. They were fighting and my mom was standing close by in the kitchen, I started crying because that was us, and later in the episode when Rusty was talking to Sharon, that’s what I am missing out on.
When I was growing up, to this day of course, I needed positive role models in my life. I have been a Reba McEntire fan since I was in the fifth grade and she has helped me get through the next six years.
The first movie I saw of Mary’s was Dances With Wolves. My dad would watch it whenever it was on TV and because I am a Daddy’s girl I would watch TV with him a lot, still do. It wasn’t until 2013 where I became a big fan of her work and of her compassionate nature. She has helped me in many ways; the first major way she has helped me was by going to college. When I saw her portray of Dr. Virginia Dixon on Grey’s Anatomy it inspired me to go to college. Because of my anxiety disorder and my depression I never thought I would even make it to my high school graduation. But now I’m in my eighth week of college. My family and friends are very proud, and I am proud of myself too. I thank her for giving me the courage to make the steps towards college. I don’t know what I would like to be yet but I am in the process of exploring.
I used to get judged a lot for having heroes, my mom makes fun of me every now and then but I know it’s only to hurt me in an argument. It’s why I can’t go to her when I am sad or need advice; she uses what I tell her against me in arguments. Because she does many things that are bad influences I needed women role models in my life, I needed a mother figure. Because I have grown used to my mother’s way I have learned to not let her nature upset me too much but it wasn’t until recently that the sadness of it all hit me. I realized that yes I do have a biological mother that does love me and provide for me, yes I do love and appreciate her but I am going to live a life without knowing the kind of mother and daughter relationship that I see from movies, shows, and my friends. My mother is more of a roommate that argues with me every day. I learned very young that I couldn’t respect someone who didn’t respect me but it wasn’t until I started watching Major Crimes that I learned from Sharon how to compose myself in an argument, how to control my temper and hurt, and how saying nothing can be more irritable to a person rather than saying something back. It’s a classy and mature way of declining drama and restoring strength in myself.
She is helping me learn how to become a woman now that I am reaching adulthood and how I can be a great mother some day. I don’t think I can ever thank her enough for the inspiration and strength she gives me. I hope I can grow up to be like her and be the kind of mother like her that I never had.
Though I have lived through some very rough things I know I can use my experience as help I can give to others. If my children go through anxiety and depression, I’ll know how to help them. I also write poetry and I am in the process of writing a novel. My goal is to write a book of them, I currently have around forty poems. I have written two poems about my mother but she hasn’t read them or most of my other poems, I’ve volunteered to show them but she never showed interest.
I am doing a lot better than I was a few years ago, I don’t drink unless supervised and that’s only to have a good time. I try my best to avoid drinking for the wrong reasons again even though I do get triggers along with cutting. I was two and a half years of self harm free but I broke that record and promise due to the car accident I mentioned. Because I did that and it being the month anniversary of my attempt at suicide from four years ago, my triggers are very sensitive. But I’m still here and I’m still fighting. I call my aunt and go to my dad whenever I need help, I turn on music of two of my other role models, Loretta Lynn and Reba, I’m a Country nut. Lol I go watch Mary’s movies and shows when I need to take my mind off of things.
I can’t say that I haven’t spoken before her that lead to an argument. I get so tired and exhausted from arguing with her daily that I get short tempered and lose patience with her. That’s something I am working on.
A lot of people judge those who have heroes/role models because they don’t understand or take the time to understand why someone may need that in their lives. People call it an obsession but I think maybe it’s the one thing in their lives that push them forward so they tend to cling to the light that moves and strengthens them. It offends me when that happens but as long as I am moving forward, I try to block out all negativity around me. And since I can’t block out the negativity of my mom because I have no way of moving out, I block it out with my heroes, family, and friends.
It hurts when people blame me and insult me if my mom and I are arguing in public because this isn’t the person I am or want to be. My mom won’t end a argument unless she gets the last word and she’ll use every bad word, sad past experience, secret, vulnerabilities, something important to me as a way of hurting me to get the last word. I try to not speak out but I’ve always learned (due to being bullied in elementary school by students and staff) that if someone is bullying me I should speak up and defend myself instead of standing there and taking punches (figure of speech but I have been physically bullied at school too). So when I defend myself from my mother, because I’m the child, my mom is the victim and I’m a disrespectful “child”.
We can’t control what others think, we can’t help what they think of us. If they look at us but choose not to see us, we should try to not let it get to us. It’s hard not to care what others think of us but if they don’t know us then odds are what they think they see is not who we really are.
If you are in the same boat or feel like harming yourself again or worse, please don’t follow your feelings. I recently had a horrible dream of losing my aunt, it woke me up with tears streaming down my face and left me shaken all day. I don’t know what I would do without her and she says the same thing about me. If I was affected like that from a dream I can only imagine what she would feel if I succeeded.
I am a survivor and so are you. We are fighting it every day despite how tired we may get or how doubtful we may get sometimes. We are here, we may not be in the best place we want to be right now but with a positive mind we can make it. Speak out, don’t let your feelings silence you.
Thank you for reading my story and letting me show it.