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From ages 17 to 21, Ashley made five serious suicide attempts. “I felt like I was never going to change, I was constantly going to be a disappointment to myself and others,” she says.
She has bipolar disorder and it took her several years to figure out that her medication wasn’t working. Thinking back, she wishes she would have known more about how her illness was affecting her. On top of that, she was married to a man because she felt that if she admitted that she was gay her family would disown her.
One day the feeling of not wanting to be alive had become so overwhelming that she couldn’t function. Ashley checked herself into a mental hospital, where she was able to have her medication adjusted and also find the solace and strength to come out about her sexuality. “Although it was extremely hard and I did lose a few people, I’m so much happier overall,” she says.
Now 31, she admits that there is truth to the maxim that ‘It gets better.’ “Sometimes life just sucks and sucks and sucks you down into the muck. And it feels like quicksand and like you’ll never be happy again. But then, one day, the muck dries out and you can feel yourself able to move forward again. So you keep trying and keep pushing and eventually, you get out of it. Sometimes you fall in, but you can always get back out.”