Living with depression: Ashley's story

Ashley was formally diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD) at the age of 30, though she says she experienced symptoms for much of her life. For years, her bouts of depression meant isolating herself from loved ones and struggling to do daily tasks. She credits her doctor, her late grandmother, her wife and her best friend for helping lift her out of her darkest moments. Now, she’s found ways to manage her depression and leans into activities that she loves. A professional chef, Ashley and her wife manage a butcher shop and kitchen with a small-town feel. She greets everyone with a smile and makes a point of knowing each customer by name. For Ashley, it’s about following her passions and bringing happiness to those around her.


"Sometimes it feels like this weight, but it feels like you just can't lift it off.

You ate your favorite meal, you watched your favorite movie, you hugged your favorite animal.

You just, none of it is making you feel this weight come off.

So when I get to the point when it's severe, I will call my doctor, and she, the doctor I have currently is incredible. I'll tell her, ‘Hey, I'm in a really, really bad spot mentally, you know. Can we work through this in some kind of way? Is there, you know, a new something or another?’

Because she's always doing research. She's always looking for things. She actually took the time to get to know me  as a person, know what works for my body, what works for my brain and cares.

So the first time I was diagnosed with depression, I was almost six years old, and I was formally diagnosed with major depressive disorder about five years ago.

The four people that are my biggest support system are my doctor, my best friend, formerly my nana, and my wife, and my emotional support animals.

My grandmother raised me and my brother. She gave us everything she had. Any time I needed anything she was there: Mentally, emotionally, physically, school wise. If I needed help with homework. She was my best friend.

When I was sad, she just, she could literally see it on my face, even if I didn't know it was coming on. She would just come in the room, and she would just bear hug me. She would just tap me on the back and say, ‘It will be okay. You’ll be fine, baby girl. It'll be okay. I know it hurts, but you'll be okay.’

I throw myself into art. I paint, I draw, I cook. I pour myself into those around me that I love.

So my wife and I met in 2017. We've been together ever since; we got married in 2019.

We operate the butcher shop and run a kitchen, also. We do everything in-house, and that's part of what I love about it. I get to make everything from scratch because I want to bring back that small-town feel. I want you to come in, and I want to know you by name. You know, I think that'll help bring a little bit of happy back.

I definitely feel like I am on the upswing, and it is one of those points in your life where you're trying to shush those demons in the back, like, shut up, nothing bad's happening. You're not going to come up.

I'm just going to keep saying it's going to just keep getting better. And so that's all I can focus on is how do I make it better from here?"

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