Ashley Conception was the keynote speaker at the Lifeline Macarthur Annual Ball. Her story was heart wrenching – but she shared her hope. Her cousin Salvador Cordero-Derza took his own life. Ashley nearly did the same.
She suffered with mental illness since she was 14 – but as a teenager she thought it was just normal. People at school noticed she was withdrawn and isolated. She listen to music rather than talk in groups. Even though counselors at the school spoke to her she still didn’t think she had an illness. After high school things got worse and her lowest peak was in 2013. She became numb to things, happiness was not coming, she didn’t care what others said. She even wondered why she did not care – but ignored it – she had treatment and medication – and just tried to cope – she self harmed.
The Worst Week of Ashley’s Life
Ashley’s mother was ill with bouts of cancer. And on September 9th 2012 they were preparing her for surgery when her teenage cousin, Salvador, took his life. Salvador had kept his mental health issues from friends. He had been hospitalised at one stage but in the end the system failed him. He was rejected at his lowest point. He approached a mental health unit but didn’t meet the criteria for assistance – and then two days later he took his life. Ashley and his family are campaigning that this will never happen to anyone again. Ashley regrets never opening up to Salvador about her own issues as they were both on a similar journey.
Salvador was a very good looking young man who was into health and fitness. To look at him you would not imagine he had any mental health issues – and there it is! What we see on the outside does not resemble what is on the inside.
Ashley shares the words of her mind in turmoil. Do it, you don’t deserve to be here, you don’t deserve to live.
Two months after Salvador’s death Ashley suffered relationship breakdowns and her demons got bigger. Then after her birthday she hit her lowest. She feels the mind can only take so much. And she started planning to take her own life.
What’s the point of living? No energy, no vitality, nothing. She knew people loved her – but she felt she was a burden to them. She started to hone in on anything and everything negative. She was tired. Her mind was fragile but at the same time very active in planning how to end her own life. And her pills seemed to be the answer. She didn’t want to talk to anyone she loved. She did not want to burden them. She started to take the pills.
Thankfully a millisecond of clarity came in her darkest moments. Salvador doesn’t want to see me any time soon.
She called a stranger at Lifeline for help – that person saved her life. She dialed 13 11 14 (Australia).
The volunteer from Lifeline spoke with Ashley for some time. Then asked would she still feel suicidal once their call had ended. Ashley’s response set Lifeline into action – and with her permission they arranged for an Ambulance and Police to assist. She was admitted to the Adolescent Mental Health unit at Campbelltown Hospital – Birunji.
Life changed for Ashley. Motherhood. Championing the cause. Being an advocate for mental health. And ensuring Salvador is not forgotten.
Ashley suggests self care and knowing our limits. She says it’s ok not to be able to cope. If things are getting too much talk to someone.
Ashley Conception is a brave soul to share her journey. Thanks Ashley.
Two days before Salvador left us he wrote in his diary: