Finding the Inner Strength to Succeed
Ashley’s childhood was full of love. Her parents were supportive; her brothers protected and cared for her. Her home was safe and offered an environment to grow and thrive in.
However, life is fragile, with no guarantees and as Ashley grew up, she faced unimaginable hardships and obstacles that tested her resilient spirit.
When Ashley was just a child, her mother was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, a degenerative nerve disease in the brain. As the family coped with the diagnosis, Ashley’s father was also struggling with his health.
Unbeknownst to Ashley and her brothers, their father was battling depression. In retrospect, Ashley saw the signs but was too young to understand what was going on.
“I was also depressed as a child due to bullying and my mom’s illness. I always found great comfort in my dad. I could cry to him. He would protect me. It’s probably because he was feeling how I was feeling too,” recalls Ashely.
In a span of a year, Ashley’s life started to come tumbling down. In November 2012, Ashely lost her father to suicide, and nine months later her mother succumbed to Huntington’s Disease. Ashley was an orphan before her thirteenth birthday.
Difficulties continued during the next six years of Ashley's life, and her mounting depression caused her health to spiral out of control.
“Mentally, I wasn’t in a good place. Losing my parents, both of whom I was very close to, was very hard for me to cope with.”
She eventually found herself couch surfing at friend’s houses as her mental health continued to deteriorate. Ashely knew she needed professional help.
“I didn’t want to end up like my dad.”
In January 2019, Ashley checked herself into a psychiatric hospital.
For six weeks, Ashley worked on herself and her mental health. She discovered she suffers from anxiety and depression and learned how to cope with these conditions through yoga, art therapy, and counseling.
“The experience was life-changing for me. I was finally able to see a future for myself.”
The first step in Ashley’s future was Center For Family Services’ safe housing program. With Ashley moving out of her adopted father’s home prior to her psychiatric hospital stay, she found herself without a safe place to live when it was time to leave treatment. Thankfully, Center For Family Services was there to provide not only the basic necessities like shelter and food but the supportive services Ashley so desperately needed.
“Center For Family Services helped me with all aspects of independent living. I’ve learned how to take care of myself and be an adult.”
During her first five months living at Center For Family Services, Ashley has secured a part-time job, explored future education opportunities, learned how to manage her finances, and tried cooking for the first time. Counselors have also helped Ashely cope with the trauma of her childhood and encouraged her to follow her dreams.
“2019 has been a learning curve for me. I feel like I’m transitioning from childhood into adulthood. I’ve learned how to take responsibility for myself. I’ve always been scared of the unknown, that’s where my anxieties stemmed from, but now I’m learning how to cope.
Before coming to Center For Family Services I was afraid of life. I was afraid of my future and how I was going to get there.”
Now, Ashley is a high school graduate with her sights set on cosmetology school. She’s living at Center For Family Services until her plans for schooling are finalized.
“Today, I see myself as an independent adult who’s still trying to improve. I’m open-minded and taking on life’s obstacles one-step at a time.”