Things Have Happened.

I know I haven’t done a good job at all with keeping up with my once-beloved blog over the past year. I’ve been neglecting what was once my main source of income and my creative outlet.

Here are things, ordered semi-reliably from least to most impactful, that have happened in my life in the past 6-ish months:

  • I’ve gained 20 pounds, sitting at about 170 right now. The reason for this is, on paper, simply explained by overeating and not exercising enough. It’s not an excuse, but a big factor is the fact that ….
  • I work full time. More than full time, really, if we’re getting picky, but I love my work, so I’ve got that going for me.
  • I moved from the suburbs of San Tan Valley, Arizona to Scottsdale, Arizona. This was insanely life-changing, mainly because I work in North Scottsdale, and I was commuting about 2 hours each way, Monday through Friday. In the past year, I wrecked my Prius twice during those commutes, totalling it with the second wreck. It was pretty gnarly (we were okay):

Photo Feb 16, 2 14 43 PM

But the thing that’s happened that has completely and entirely flipped my world on it’s head came on April 17, 2015, when my husband, Andrew, took his own life while he was on the phone with me.

Andrew Ashley

I can’t decide how much I want to talk about that, honestly, as this blog post will either go completely unnoticed or be very, very widely seen. I’m still dealing with a lot of the logistical nightmares that come along with your spouse passing away — finances, consolidating debt, getting ownership of assets that I’m not listed on, etc. — but the emotional shit that comes along with that is something that I will probably never totally sort out. I’m trying like hell, though; to sort it out. Andrew and I had seen a marriage counselor in March of 2014, but stopped going after a few sessions, at his insistence. When Andrew died so suddenly that Friday, I almost immediately called that therapist back and was able to be on her couch first thing on the following Monday. To sum that up in one statement: thank god for amazing therapists.

People keep asking me how I’m doing. Or telling me how well I’m doing.
“You’re so strong.”
“I’m in awe of how far you’ve come in just two months.”

Hearing these things helps. It really does, because some days I don’t feel strong or like I’ve come far enough. But I also feel a twinge of sadness when they say those things, and this is why: I was with Andrew for 10 and a half years. I knew of his depression. I knew of his struggles, and I tried so hard to help him, to fix him, to keep a lid on his depression, but I now know that it wasn’t even possible — I couldn’t have helped or fixed or contained it. But over all of those years, in the far back corner of my mind, I felt like it was a possibility that he would be suicidal. I’d done everything I could to get him help, but deep down, I felt like there was a real possibility that one day, I’d be in an emergency room waiting area with a doctor sitting across from me, telling me that Andrew was gone. Carrying that with me was like carrying a million pounds of weight on my shoulders. I can’t imagine how it felt for him to carry his emotional struggles with him each and every day.

That is why it stings so badly to hear how strong I am, or how well I’m taking it. Because I’ve mentally prepared for this moment for the past 10 years just like some people prepare for the passing of an aging parent, or some other devastating life event that you know you have to take steps to get ready for, in case it happens, but at the same time, you never want the event to actually occur.

I’m going through the “what if’s” and the “I should’ve’s,” even though people tell me that I shouldn’t. It’s so hard to not have this crippling, most complicated case of survivor’s guilt — that I’m still here, living with my kids happily, and he’s gone. Missing it all. It’s all just too much to process sometimes. It’s really crushing to think about how badly he had to have been hurting. In his last conversation, he told me that he was scared. Knowing that his last emotions were fear and sadness are enough to bring me to my knees whenever I think about it.

And the kids. I don’t even want to get into the kids, honestly, because the entire subject is so mentally exhausting. They know that Dad’s brain was sick, and that the doctors couldn’t save him. They’re doing as well as could be expected. They talk about him, and I’m prepping for a busy Father’s Day weekend that will both honor Andrew, as well as keep us as busy as possible to avoid too much wallowing. I’ve seen that “Inside Out” is getting rave reviews from child psychologists, with all of the feeling-identification talk, so we’ll be seeing that tomorrow after we release some Father’s Day notes attached to balloons (sorry, environmentalists). Emma (8) asked if we could send letters to heaven — this is my best solution.

1606305_10203058005518853_993326592_o

And while I feel all of these terribly sad feelings when I think about Andrew’s passing, and probably always will, I also struggle with this: When am I allowed to be happy in public? I’m so lucky that I have great friends and co-workers who have been helpful and understanding — before coming back to work, I sent an email explicitly stating that I just wanted life to be normal again. I want to tease people again. I want to be snarky and sarcastic and witty and LAUGH. But at the same time, it feels like this happiness is just a slap in the face to Andrew.

Sometimes it feels like I’ll struggle with that forever.

I’m sure I’ve already typed more than I ever wanted to about this subject, and I’ll probably regret it the second I hit publish. But I’m going to try to dust off my blog. Selfishly, I need an outlet, and logistically, I need the income it once generated. But what really matters is this: if I can help someone by sharing this, it will be worth it. I’m not claiming to be a great resource for those left behind by suicide, and I’m clearly not someone who is capable of helping those who are suffering from depression, but my message is this: if you’re struggling, please reach out. If you’re the friend of a loved one who is struggling, be there for them. There is such a damaging stigma in this country (hell, in the world!) regarding mental illness. Andrew, though he had been seeing a therapist in the last weeks of his life, had been unwilling to get help for whatever reason — embarrassment, pride, whatever. Getting help for mental illness is no more embarrassing than getting treatment for any other physical ailment.

So I don’t really know where I’ll go from here. I know that this is a weight loss blog, but I also have gotten a lot of Instagram messages asking me to start blogging again. I’m going to just start. I don’t know what I’ll talk about, but I’ll just talk. I hope you’ll follow along.

Comments

  1. Angie says

    What if you laughed and teased and we’re happy in hi honor? You know, do the things he couldn’t quite so in real life. You are amazing and I have loved reading your blog. Hugs to you and your kids!

  2. Brianna says

    Even though it was so hard, thank you for sharing this post. I hope you are doing well. You know, as well as you can and I’ve always loved reading your posts so hopefully writing will help!!

  3. Carrie says

    I am sorry for your lost. I know all to well about suicide. My family struggles 7 years later, but we have learned to live, love, and laugh afain. You will find your way and blogging is a great way to heal. Blog what you are feeling be it weight loss or whatever you feel.

  4. Teresa Hardy says

    Love this post. Been thinking of you. I just cried like a baby. Can’t imagine how it feels. The day I found out I cried for you. Here I am again. A great idea is high fives. It may sound silly but high fives from Co workers can mean that “it’s okay” “I support you” etc. But it’s a way of being supportive without all the words. I totally get what you mean. I hope you keep blogging. I love reading them! I’ve missed you, welcome back!

  5. Mandy says

    I Was wondering what happen to you. My heart is heavy for you, your children and your family. I’m so so sorry to hear about his passing. It is totally understandable why you have been gone. I’m glad to see you back though.

  6. Ashley F says

    Ashley, I cannot even begin to imagine what you’re going through. I’m so sorry for your loss, and for the kids loss. What I can say, is never feel ashamed of laughing, or having a good day, or even forgetting for a few minutes. These things are all healing. I can never compare your loss to mine, but I struggled with similar feelings after my first miscarriage, and subsequent birth of my son a year later. I struggled with loving my son, but missing my angel…but if I hadn’t lost my angel, I wouldn’t have my son…. it’s never easy, but slowly gets easier. Prayers going your way :)

  7. Kelly Park says

    Glad you are back! So so sorry to hear all that! But all your blog readers are here to listen!!! ((((Hugs))))

  8. says

    Ashley, I wrote a long comment and realized most of what I said doesn’t matter. Hugs to your and your sweet family. I am so sorry for your loss. I’m sorry you are having to go through this. But I know you can do hard things. Your blog is proof of that. I am sure you have gotten plenty of advice, I just wanted to share one thing that my therapist said to me, while I was grieving my own loss, “Feel what you are feeling. If you are sad, be sad, or you feel like laughing, laugh – don’t feel guilty for not feeling the way you think you are supposed to be feeling.” That was very helpful for me, I thought it might be for you too.

  9. Jill says

    My eyes are wet with tears, but thank you for sharing. I hope that telling your story helps you as much as it will help those who need to hear this. I also hope that someday soon you can find the answer to your question about when you can be happy in public. I look forward to hearing more from you. Welcome back…

  10. Dominique says

    Thank you for sharing. I don’t have any words or great things to say. Keep on keeping on momma! Your baby bears are so lucky to have you.

  11. Patti says

    My husband also took his life two years ago. (I am still unable to use the suic…) word. People think mental illness means you’re crazy. There is so much stigma regarding depression. My husband was a world renowned oncologist who saved many lives, but in the end, could not save his own. Keep smiling and laughing and know that your husband was strong enough to put himself out if his torture and know that he is finally at peace….

  12. says

    So sorry for your loss. Thank you for being open and willing to share and for your comments on the stigma surrounding mental illness. I hope you feel free to continue your life, guilt free. It’s a big step on the journey of grieving. And know that we’re here to listen whenever you want to share.

  13. Cindy says

    Dear Ashley, My heart breaks for you and your children. I can’t even imagine your pain. Sometimes you will be strong and sometimes you won’t. It is all part of the journey. I am glad you reached out to your therapist. I will keep you in my prayers.

  14. says

    You’re allowed to be happy, any time that happiness is within reach. Your husband loved you; he would want you to enjoy your life, not sink into your own abyss. Massive hugs from across the pond.

  15. says

    Bless your heart, I wish I were a family member or a friend so that I could help in some small way. I am praying for you and your family that God will bring you peace and comfort.
    You have a great blog and you have helped me in my struggle to lose weight. I have 10-15 more pounds to go and then I will be where I want to be weight wise.
    Thank you so very much, I truly appreciate all that you do.

  16. Kimberly says

    I can’t express how sorry I am for your loss. My best friend passed when we were 18…the only thing that kept me going was to share the happy memories we shared during our lives. It’s been 23 years since that day…I survived…and you will too. You just have to survive one day at a time. Take it slow. Ignore those negative people who tell you how to heal. It’s personal and you are the only one that can take that journey. Wishing you all the best!

  17. says

    Thank you for having the courage to share. I’ve gone through my own devastating losses… the only thing that makes it “better”, if you can even call it better, is time and new memories. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with smiling and laughing. Put aside your grief as often as possible and just enjoy being. It won’t ever make the pain go away, but it will ease the ache if only for a few moments. My thoughts and prayers are with you!

  18. says

    I have enjoyed following your blog for awhile now and I am happy that you are keeping it going. I don’t know anything magical to say except that I am sorry for your loss (which seems woefully inadequate) My older sister’s husband took his own life, years and years ago, and she has raised 3 successful and happy children, who are now grown and in their 30’s. I know you already know this but since depression can be hereditary please keep an eye on those babies – my sister’s middle ended up in counseling in his late teens and still is very prone to it. I hope that slowly the normalcy that you wish for returns and you are able to smile and tease again.

  19. Denise Hobbs says

    I’m so sorry for your loss. You and your children will be in my thoughts and prayers. While I have struggled with my own weight loss, I had deleted every weight loss page but yours. You inspired me from the first time I read your blog. You inspire me even more now. You have been given a heavy load. My hopes are that you know how many people are rooting for you. Hugs.

  20. Kim says

    I am so sorry for your loss….. Thank you for continuing to inspire us all with your words and thoughts. Hopefully, your followers will serve as an inspiration to you as well during this difficult time.

  21. Paol Trenny says

    Thank you for sharing your life with us. Our thoughts are with you and yours through the ups and the downs.

  22. Debbie says

    Welcome back! I am sure this first post was a huge thing for you to accomplish. I feel it will be healing. Strength to you and your family.

  23. Patricia Pinkston says

    So sorry for your loss. You and your family are in my prayers. But, so glad to see you back.

  24. Ashley Secrest says

    I can’t phantom to understand what you’ve been through. There comes a time (and you’ll know when) that it is perfectly okay to be happy again. Your kids deserve it and you most definitely do. Hope you do began to blog again!

  25. says

    There really are no words, but I’m so sorry for all you’ve had to go through. My husband has some depression, and has had some just really rough times through our marriage. There are times I wonder, and worry about this. I have to push it out of my mind though, and just pray that he can always see the value of his life.
    You take all the time in the world you need to heal properly, laugh when you want, and cry when you need. And write about whatever you feel like.

  26. Ellen Fineran says

    So sorry for your loss!! Thank you for sharing your story! I’m glad your back! I’ve missed your blog!

  27. Jana says

    Prayers for all of you! Prayers for your worries and struggles and much encouragement to find a way for blogging to help get you where you want or need to be!

    I cant imagine the steps you have walked in your shoes….. but anticipation for where these new shoes will take you and the kiddies!

  28. says

    I am so terribly sorry for your loss and your children’s loss. It is so incredibly sad. Never feel bad for being strong and never feel guilty for trying to be happy. Your children will thank you for being happy, for them and for yourself. Find the joy in your life any where you can. You are all in my thoughts. Wishing you all the best in happiness and health for the future.

  29. Donna George says

    I too am sorry for your loss. I understand that survivor’s guilt is very tough. The maybe’s abound. But I think of it this way. He died from a chronic illness. One that was only partially treatable, if at all, depending on the case. We cannot cure people, and doctors can’t even save everyone, and they are DOCTORS. So we, in our human state, must accept at some point. I’m sure your husband would love for you to have those moments of joy. It would be a testament to how much he loved you and yours to know that you did find joy again.

  30. Lacey says

    Thank you for sharing something so personal, and I’m sorry. You know, blogging just may be therapeutical, and not selfish at all.

  31. Lucinda Mowery says

    I’m happy your back. I’m glad you shared. i pray for your healing and your desire to heal. Amen to you. You have been missed.

  32. says

    Wow. Thank you for sharing this. I’m literally teared up out of compassion for you and will pray for your family. I have mental health diagnoses myself so I understand that with this situation there are also layers of stigma. It can also be hard as a blogger for people to understand that sometimes you just don’t want to blog about things in your life — and that your life can prevent you from blogging.

  33. says

    So sorry for your loss. I hope and pray that someday there will not be a stigma behind admitting you suffer from depression. I admitted it to my doctor, and am on sertraline (generic zoloft). I talk about it off and on in my Facebook status. It is something that people need to realize is real, and you can’t pray it away anymore than you can pray appendicitis away.

  34. says

    I’m so sorry for your loss and amazed at the way that you are embracing honesty about such a difficult subject. The world needs more honesty where depression and suicide are concerned and I am grateful for your voice.

  35. jan says

    I’m so sorry for your loss! I know it’s not easy but in time you will heal, and be able to laugh again without feeling guilty. I know from experience. Hugs and prayers to you and your family!

  36. Kyara says

    Mental illness is terribly debilitating for the person who suffers from it and sees suicide as the only answer. The struggle is not with family members who often ask what they could have done differently. The struggle really is with themselves….and often believing that loved ones will be better off without them. It is a tragic thought pattern. God bless you and your children.

  37. Melissa S. says

    Thank you for sharing your life with us…I’m praying for you and your family. May you feel the strength,comfort,peace and courage that only He can provide <3

  38. says

    I can’t imagine how tough it is to write this, and you are amazing for sharing. I’m so sorry to hear about your loss and everything else you have been through. Thinking of you.

  39. Lyss says

    Thank you so much for sharing this very personal story. My deepest condolences to you and your family.

  40. says

    I can’t imagine how hard it has been for you and your children. I am glad you are back in whatever way that ends up being. I pray you and your family find peace!

  41. Susan says

    Be yourself. Live your life as you want to. Do not let past influence the present and future. Practice joy in your heart and peace in your soul. ♥

  42. says

    Ashley, I’m truly sorry for your loss. I don’t know why these things happen, but somehow they make us stronger. You don’t know me but a friend of mine shared your story. I lost my sister to suicide in 2009, and it never goes away, yet time does distance the pain. I pray for you and I urge you to connect with AFSP in Scottsdale. Being around others that understand the struggles really helps both yourself and others. Funny enough, that’s where my sister lived, in Scottsdale. It’s a beautiful place. You need the downs to have the ups, and so I hope today, your family can celebrate the life of Andrew.

  43. says

    I LOVE THE LETTERS TO HEAVEN!! You are a genius!!! I myself have been living with the survivor’s guilt. My brother passed away in March. Prior to that my Father passed in December. I related closely to what you said in your post because my father suffered from chronic depression and bipolar issues. I had been mentally preparing for his death for some time. He was “waiting to die” so to speak. I felt the overwhelming sadness of losing a loved one when he finally passed, but also the relief knowing that they were finally at peace (my brother was a recovering addict and had a stroke). I can’t imagine your suffering over losing a husband however, I love your positivity that you show for your children. They are so very important, and your positivity and constant love will keep them safe and warm while they deal with the loss of their daddy. My heart and positive feelings are being sent your way on this very special Father’s Day.

  44. says

    I am so so sorry for your loss. I thank you for sharing – as someone who has a mental illness, and who has family who does as well, every time someone speaks up about it, it helps. So please, don’t regret sharing. Lots of love to you and yours.

  45. says

    So sorry to hear of your loss and how you are working to pick up the pieces of your life and your children’s. Let us be your sounding board and we can cry with you, laugh with you and pray for you most of all. We are here when you are ready and we will help you if you want. God bless you and your beautiful children and God bless you.

  46. says

    I have gone thru depression in my life this last time because of a major health issue that totally took over my life. This one however did not come with those words no family member wants to hear. That one came when my Father passed away. I needed help & got it. Meds Help alot & thinking positive about what I would leave behind made it all better for me. I always tell anyone that is having a problem PLEASE get help. If the first doc is not enough go find another & another till you find the one that will help you & get you on the right path even if it means you have to take MEDS to get there. My EX is one of those ppl that no matter how many times the docs tell him you needs meds he wont take them hence he is my EX but his problems are different. Mine were I wanted to kill myself to be with my father. When I told my doctor this he knew right away I needed help & got it for me and the meds altho they are strong even out my life & I can smile again. Today being Fathers Day is hard & Im crying as I write this but it too shall pass & then I think of the new little man named William after his great grandfather that is just 7 months old & say I want to show him a few things before I move on.

  47. laura bridgford says

    You know what, minute by minute might be the best you can do for now. and when my dad died recently and people would say “He’s in a better place.” As if at home with my mom was not good enough. I have come to learn that people so desperately want to help and they just don’t know what to say, And sometimes when they show you companion and love it breaks down the “I’M OK” wall you have created. But i know GOD has a plan for you and i know you have those beautiful kids that are a extension of the husband you have lost. I am sorry for the loss you are feeling and know there are so many people grieving and praying for you.

  48. Rebekah says

    I’m happy you are back. You have helped me so much with your past blogs. I am so sorry for our loss and It doesn’t matter to me what you talk about. I am happy to following along,,,love

  49. Tiffany says

    Take it one day at a time. I enjoy reading your blog and I won’t reiterate what others have already said. Continue to find your happy moments and enjoy them the best way you can.

  50. Laura says

    Thank you for sharing this incredibly personal information with us. I have wondered if you were okay since I did not see any posts recently. I do hope you continue to blog and share/reach out to all of us that feel that we know you (even just a little bit) through your blog. We care and are here.

  51. Amanda says

    Thank you for sharing! Even though this is a weight loss blog, you hit a home run. All too often weight gain/loss goes hand in hand with depression. We eat to mask our feelings, we don’t eat because we get depressed and mad at ourselves. Your share of grief allows others to read how depression can effect families.

    Sending love and good vibes to you and your family. Losing loved ones is never easy, no matter how prepared you might be. ♥♥♥

  52. Alena Belleque says

    Thank you for sharing this. I’m so incredibly sorry for your loss, and have been praying for you and for your children since I heard about this back in the spring. I nearly lost my husband to depression two years ago, and I can relate to what you said about feeling like you somehow try to prepare yourself for the possibility of suicide, knowing what they go through in their lives. My husband is doing okay now, but not fantastic, and I still feel like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop…and I hate that, and feel guilty and sad for feeling that way. I’m glad you shared, and will continue to pray for you guys. Find joy, dear one.

  53. Deneen says

    God bless you for sharing your heartbreak. You have endured the unimaginable, and now you are everything to your children. The time to begin laughing is now because your children look to you. They live in the now, not understanding what their father felt compelled to do. You spent so much of your marriage looking for signs, waiting for problems, worrying that you needed to protect him from himself, and trying in vain to get him to love life as much as you. Now, your focus must be on taking care of you so you can take care of your babies.
    I hold you and your family in my prayers as you work through your grief. It won’t be easy but you are resilient, and you will rebuild your garden. It will be different than what you first imagined but it will still be beautiful. Keep your chin up and know that you’ve got this!

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