Life Timeline: Ashley Thwaites

Events

Birth

August 2, 1996

I was born in Atlanta, GA at Northside Hospital. My family included my mother, father, and my older brother.

Kidney Surgery

Approx. June, 2000

I required surgery to fix a birth defect that caused me to have kidney reflux. At the time I was in kindergarten.

Physical/Sexual Abuse

Approx. July, 2003

One of my neighborhood and school friends abused me twice during the month of July. After the event, we parted ways. She was one of my small handful of friends and was disabled in that she had a birth defect that affected her height. I believe she abused and bullied me out of jealousy.

Move to Peachtree City, GA

Approx. July, 2004

I moved after third grade as my dad's job as an air line pilot caused us to need to move closer to the airport. I started over at a new elementary school with no friends. My parent's had a strained relationship at the time.

Mom Goes to Inpatient Therapy in New Mexico

February 19, 2006

My mom left for inpatient therapy in New Mexico to deal with her bordeline personality disorder and PTSD. She was severely disabled and it affected her ability to be a mother. She was unable to care for us while my dad was at work and often neglected my brother and I.

Mom Comes Home From Inpatient

April 21, 2006

After a couple months in inpatient therapy and dating one of the women in her housing unit, my mother returned home. My relationship was very strained with her and my family struggled to cope with her time away from us. My brother, father, and I grew very distant from each other. Around this time, I began to experience depression for the first time.

Mom Moves Out and Separates From Dad

April 22, 2006

The day after my mother returned from inpatient therapy, she left the family and moved out of the house while I was at school. She did not say goodbye which has left to a lot of enduring anger that is still present to this day. After returning home, she also separated from my father which led him to become disabled due to depression and, consequently, he had to take disability leave from Delta.

Move to Senoia, GA

Approx. June, 2007

My father did not want to stay in a house he had lived in with my mother so we moved to a neighboring city. He worked at a post office for the past year and eventually returned back to Delta after we moved. I would consider him to not be disabled by this point.

Physical Abuse

Approx. July, 2007

My childhood best friend began to be physically abusive towards me. I saw her about once a year but stopped after she became abusive. At this point in time, my mother was not really present in my life and my relationships with my dad and brother continued to be strained. I did not really have any friends at this time.

Start Christian Middle School

August 12, 2007

My brother and I switched to a private Christian school in Fairburn, GA called Landmark Christian School. My dad believed we would get a better education and it was a fresh start for me to make friends. During my time at this school, I would struggle with religion as my school and family were all Christian and shoved Christianity on me.

Fracture Neck

Approx. May, 2008

I fractured my neck doing competitive gymnastics and was left to spend the next 6 months in a neck brace and in a hospital bed in my father's room. My dad had to become even more of a caregiver for these months as he had to help me in pretty much all aspects of my life including bathing. I was able to finish the last month of school though I had a lot of catching up to do. My brother and I continued to have a strained relationship as he continually bullied me while I was disabled.

Sexual Abuse Start

Approx. August, 2008

One of my close family members started to sexually abuse me. I did not have many friends at the time and my dad was frequently gone for work so I felt like I had no one I could go to for help or support. My mother and I did not see each other much at this time so I was also unable to talk to her about what was happening.

Sexual Abuse End

Approx. September, 2008

Around this month, the sexual abuse stopped; however, it severely traumatized me and left me distrustful of everyone around me. I did not have a close relationship with any of my family members or friends as I further distanced myself from everyone in my life.

Parent's Divorce

December 24, 2009

My parents finalized their divorce the day before Christmas. My brother and I had already lived with my parents being separated; however, this finalization further dashed any hope of my parents getting back together. My brother and I dealt with our parent's divorce on our own and as we had a toxic relationship, I did not associate with him very much.

Will Trautwein Suicide

October 15, 2010

One of my acquaintances from elementary school committed suicide. This was the first time I had ever really thought about suicide and come into contact with it. My parents did not help me cope with this and I did not have many friends who were comfortable talking to me about the suicide.

Started to Self-Harm

January 16, 2011

I had experienced bullying, depression, anxiety, and OCD for many years at this point and on top of the sexual abuse, I didn't know how to cope. I turned to self-harm as I had heard of someone on the internet doing it to help cope with their feelings and for some reason, it seemed right at the time. This started my many year long addiction.

Alex Tazi Suicide

September 4, 2011

One of my childhood friends also committed suicide and this severely affected me. I let the idea of suicide being a solution to my pain enter my head and I quickly became suicidal. I distanced myself from all of my family members and from everyone at school. I felt like I was pretty much on my own at the time.

First Suicide Attempt

September 17, 2011

This was the date of my first suicide attempt. I had become overwhelmed with everything in life and didn't know how else to cope as I had no one who was providing support to me in life.

Second Suicide Attempt

February 7, 2012

The previous year had been filled with intensified bullying and even more strained relationships with my family. I was continually the parent in my relationship with my mother, my dad and I constantly argued about anything and everything, and my brother and I continued to fight and to have an abusive relationship.

Adopt Eli

May 20, 2012

This was the day that I met my cat for the first time. A librarian at school was giving him away and it was literally love at first sight. He quickly became something that gave me emotional support and he was like my best friend. Though he lived with me for the first month that I had him, my father made me give him to my mother as he hated animals. This further strained our relationship and I grew more depressed as I was not able to see my cat as often as I'd like.

Start College at the University of West Georgia

August 17, 2012

I left Landmark Christian School as the curriculum was not rigorous enough and I was still heavily bullied and started early college at the University of West Georgia through a program called the Advanced Academy of Georgia. Upon starting school here, my mother moved to Carrollton, the city West Georgia is in, to be more involved in my life.

Papa Dies

September 8, 2012

My grandfather, who was the only grandparent that was ever really alive and present in my life, passed away. I experience a lot of regret after his passing and it affected my school work.

Third Suicide Attempt

March 4, 2013

After my grandfather's passing and the continued presence of my mental health problems and strained family relationship, I made my third suicide attempt.

First Hospitalization at Ridgeview

May 7, 2013

My family finally found out about my self-harm and had me go to inpatient therapy at Ridgeview Institute to cope with it and learn how to stop. My inpatient experience proved to by unsuccessful as I was uninterested in stopping and getting help.

Fourth Suicide Attempt

July 1, 2013

On this date, I attempted suicide again. I continued to have mental health problems and my relationships with my family had failed to improve. I was also seeing a therapist at the time and she was of no help to me. She constantly threatened me with going to inpatient therapy if I didn't stop self-harming and she made the sessions about her in that she constantly asked why I chose her as a therapist, if she was good, and if I liked her.

Second Hospitalization at Peachford

July 12, 2013

Over the past few months, I had been struggling to cope with my mental health problems on my own and my self-harm was started to become more serious. I had made a plan to attempt suicide; however, I was scared and told my parents. My parents worked together and took me to inpatient therapy right away at Peachford Institute. I felt like my parents had a less hostile relationship at this time and my relationship with my brother had become a little less toxic.

"Third Hospitalization"/Transfer to Ridgeview

July 17, 2013

After 5 days at Peachford Institute, I asked to be and was transferred back to Ridgeview Institute. The staff at Peachford was very abusive. They would scream at us, tell us we were stupid for self-harming and for being suicidal, they put all of us on the same medication no matter our presenting problem(s), and they did not monitor us. Another patient and I were able to self-harm while we were there and upon them finding out, they did nothing to help us or to keep us from self-harming again.

Realized I Was Gay

Approx. September, 2013

Around this time in the year, I realized and started coming to terms with the fact that I'm gay. I think I had already known but my old Christian school and my family had embedded the idea in my head that being gay was immoral and wrong so I repressed my feelings. This caused me to further distance myself from my family as I feared how they would react when they found out.

Came Out to Parents

October 11, 2013

I came out to both of my parents separately on national coming out day. My father reacted negatively and told me that I was choosing a really difficult path in life. My mother was more accepting; however, both of their reactions caused me to pull away from them. My brother kind of ignored the whole situation but the friends I had at the time were extremely supportive. This was one of the first times in life that I experienced the feeling of having social support.

Fourth Hospitalization at Ridgeview

December 6, 2013

I had a mental breakdown during finals week and with the added feelings of insecurity about my sexuality, I again attempted suicide. The relationships I had with my family were the same as they had been in previous years and my mother still struggled with being disabled by mental health problems.

Accepted Into Mercer University's Medical School (GAP Program)

January 24, 2014

I had decided that I wanted to be a psychiatrist and after applying and being interviewed, I found out that I was accepted into Mercer's guaranteed admission program for Mercer's School of Medicine. It was a significant moment in my life as I felt that I was still able to accomplish amazing things in life despite my negative circumstances in life.

Graduate From High School and the University of West Georgia

April 15, 2014

This was the date that I graduated from high school and the Advanced Academy at the University of West Georgia. It was one of the happiest times of my life as I felt like I had a good group of friends and like my life was starting to improve. My family was really proud of me and I felt a lot closer to them.

Last Time Self-Harming

May 3, 2014

This was the last time I self-harmed though I didn't know it at the time. I consider this to be my recovery date and I later got it tattooed on me to help hold me accountable.

Fifth Suicide Attempt/Fifth Hospitalization at Ridgeview

May 4, 2014

Though I graduated high school and felt like my life was starting to improve, my self-harm had gotten to the point in which I was doing serious damage to my body as much of my self-harm was at the degree in which I should've gotten stitches. Additionally, my depression suddenly became a lot more severe and I was starting to struggle more with my sexuality as I felt a lot of shame. This last attempt was the most serious attempt out of all my suicide attempts and I was taken to the hospital and forced to drink charcoal before almost getting my stomach pumped to keep me alive. I was transferred back to Ridgeview in the middle of the night for my last stay there. During this stay, I was able to go through family therapy and the lessons they taught me finally "stuck." Treatment was successful and I began to repair and mend the relationships I had with my family and with myself.

Met Current Therapist

May 5, 2014

While I was at Ridgeview Institute for my final stay, I met my case manager who later became my therapist after treatment. He was the only therapist that I felt actually cared about me and knew how to help me. I feel that without him, I would not be where I am today as his is an extremely important emotional support figure in my life.

Started College at Mercer University

August 16, 2014

I officially started my undergraduate studies though I had already completed two years at the University of West Georgia. Though I had to start over at a new school, my brother was still attending Mercer at the time so I had a family member who was close.

Joined the Sorority Alpha Gamma Delta

August 23, 2014

My brother and dad forced me to signup for sorority recruitment despite my disinterest. I believed I would not fit into a sorority; however, after recruitment week, I found a sorority that had sisters with similar personalities as me and I finally felt relatively accepted at Mercer after joining.

Mom Moved to Virginia

July 25, 2015

My mother was experiencing financial troubles due to her inability to work at the time because of her mental health problems and her lack of responsibility so she moved into my grandfather's house in Virginia that was left to her in his will.

First Time at Atlanta Pride

October 11, 2015

After my family grew more adjusted to my sexuality, I was able to convince my father to take me to my first Atlanta Pride. It was one of the first times in my life in which I felt completely accepted and free to be me. My father was visibly uncomfortable throughout the experience but I still appreciated his attempt at understanding my community and I more.

Met First Love

April 7, 2016

This was the first day that I met my first love and the day of our first date. One of my sorority sisters set us up and I was head over heels for her the moment I laid eyes on her.

Came Out at Mercer

August 20, 2016

I had been at Mercer for roughly two year and I finally felt comfortable enough to come out at school. I made an announcement to my sorority during our recruitment week and told them I way gay. The majority of my sisters were extremely accepting and I felt so much relief that I was finally out.

Started Officially Dating First Love

October 7, 2016

After dating my first love off and on since April, we finally made our relationship official. This was one of the happiest moments in my life as I felt that I had found the person I was meant to be with. Though she was disabled by mental health problems, I was closer to her than even my own family and she provided so much emotional support for me and my mental health problems.

Started Support Group (Stressed Out Students) at Mercer University With First Love

October 31, 2016

My first love and I decided to start a support group at Mercer as there wasn't one that currently existed at Mercer. We went through the process of getting funding from school and gaining the support from the dean of the university and the head of Mercer's counseling services.

First Heartbreak

January 15, 2017

During and after Christmas break, my first love abandoned me and forced me to breakup with her. My heart was completely broken and I was thrown into a severe depressive state as she was the only person in my life who provided me with emotional support apart from my therapist. My therapist was unable to see me regularly after starting at Mercer so I was left to cope with the breakup on my own. Though she attempted to remain friends with me, it made the situation significantly worse and even to this day, we have an off-and-on friendship that is hard to cope with. Additionally, the support group we started ended up failing as it was too difficult for me to work with her.

Graduated From Mercer University

May 6, 2017

This was the date that I finally graduated from Mercer University. After my breakup, the relationships I had with my parents significantly improved and I grew closer to them. All three of them were present at my graduation and supported my decision to wear a suit to graduation which made me feel so loved and accepted.

Dad Moved to St. Petersburg, FL

June 10, 2017

As my dad is nearing retirement, he decided to move to St. Petersburg to be closer to the beach. I ended up spending the summer with him in Florida though our relationship struggled due to constant arguing. During this time, I realized our relationship is stronger when I don't live with him. Additionally, the move was slightly hard to cope with as I no longer have parents in Georgia. I felt slightly abandoned as my relationships seem to be growing more distant due to the space between us.

Moved Into First Apartment

August 4, 2017

Before starting graduate school, I finally moved into my first apartment. Though initially I was excited, living on my own proved to be lonely as I do not have my parents close to me and my friends do not make the effort to come hangout with me. However, my cat is finally living with me again which has helped me cope with the loneliness.

Started Graduate School

August 21, 2017

This is the date that I started graduate school. Initially, I was nervous to embark on this journey but I am so proud of how far I have come in life and for how much I have been able to live through. Starting graduate school has made me realize that I have hope for my future and that I'll be able to use all of the past events I have gone through to make me and even better therapist than I would have been.