Ashlee-Rose’s Story

Ashlee-Rose has struggled with intense emotions, a lack of support and an inability to communicate her needs.

Out of the Darkness - Portrait of Ashlee-Rose, Cat Cronin, 2019

Ashlee-Rose suffered from anxiety from a very young age. Her first experience of depression was at age 14, after a breakup. This incident triggered a huge emotional reaction, including hysterical sobbing and begging her mother to let her die.

At that time, she didn’t know how to deal with the intensity of her emotions and started to self-harm. Her parents took her to get counselling, but the counsellor wasn’t able to provide advice that she found helpful.

Ashlee-Rose moved schools numerous times to escape bullying, but never felt like she fit in. Everywhere she went there was a huge black cloud. Conflicts with her family left her feeling even more isolated.

By age 16, she was attending a good school and dreamt of going to university but a difficult relationship with her mother and the pressure of her studies triggered another bout of depression.

She didn’t feel she was able to communicate her needs to the people around her and dropped out of school, giving up on her dreams of university and a career.

This was the beginning of her rebellious behaviour. Falling in with the wrong crowd led her to start drinking and taking drugs. She felt that everyone else had given up on her, so she gave up on herself too.

Eventually, Ashlee-Rose reached a point where she recognised she needed help. She experimented with different spiritual practises such as Shamanic healing and Kundalini, but it brought up a lot of trauma for her. It felt to her as if her sense of reality was being compromised and she began to disassociate.

After an argument with her fiancé, she attempted suicide. She was taken to emergency and for the first time in her life, she was hospitalised for depression. She spent three weeks in a psychiatric ward. During this time she felt she was finally diagnosed properly, which was a major turning point for her. She finally had answers.

Being in hospital was a very positive experience for Ashlee-Rose. She felt taken care of and had the support of her family. Every day she was able to attend classes that taught her coping skills. She felt it was a beautiful environment where she was able to put all her focus on getting better. She was given referrals for support once she left hospital which gave her a safety net when it was time to go back to reality.

Ashlee-Rose is now 25 and the mother to a 17-month-old son. She is using the skills she has learned to create a great future for him.

Besides caring for her son, she invests a lot of time in self-care, such as doing yoga, going to the gym, walking on the beach and spending time with friends and family. She now knows to speak to someone when she experiences negative emotions. She is much more aware of her needs and is capable of getting help when it’s necessary.

About the Artist

Cat Cronin

Cat has been a fulltime artist for fourteen years. In 2011, she was in a car accident and suffered debilitating pain and spinal injuries that required many years of recovery and rehabilitation. Since then she has become an advocate for people suffering with chronic pain and mental health issues. She now works in acrylic paint, watercolour and enamel, using glazes, varnishes and charcoal. The key themes that drive her work are growth, pain, vulnerability and the courageous journey to peace and connection.

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