Ashley Kesner on freeing your ghost (#19)

TRIGGER WARNING: In this episode we discuss topics like depression, alcoholism, eating disorders and suicide. This conversation is not for little ears and if these topics may be triggers for you, please use your discretion. 

Today we talk to Ashley Kesner about her personal journey with mental health and addiction and how she used vulnerability as a superpower to overcome these challenges. We also discuss how we can support people going through struggles with mental health and addiction. 

Ashley has turned her mess into a message. She is a recovery coach and founder of Free Your Ghost where she helps people to discover their authentic self to be free from the challenges haunting them. In Ashley’s blog, Ghost in my Bedroom, she shares her recovery journey which is read by over thirty thousand people. Ashley also hosts a not-so-serious mental health podcast called Cynical not Clinal

We hope you enjoy this heartfelt conversation with Ashley Kesner. 

You can connect with Ashley through her website

You can listen to the episode on Apple, Google, Spotify, Stitcher or Simplecast.  

Show Notes

1:42 – normal childhood until mental health issues started.
6:48 – coping with depression and bulimia
7:47 – responding as a parent.
11:48 – alcohol seemed to fix all the problems.
13:08 – we don’t see people’s internal battles.
15:11 – alcohol became a problem.
17:59 – empathising with your kids.
24:21 – fixing people.
28:12 – emotions are data points not directives.
30:28 – what caused Ashley to turn her life around.
34:48 – how relationships changed after opening up.
41:40 – change starts with figuring out intentions.
44:43 – helping someone caught in addiction and mental health problems.
48:02 – how to support someone without enabling them.
57:50 – when someone feels like the world would be better off without them.
1:06:15 – role of humour in mental health.
1:10:32 – get in touch with Ashley.

Links to References


Toxic Positivity 

Susan David’s TED talk: the gift and power of emotional courage 

Break up letter to Alcohol 

Key Quotes

“I was a cheerleader and there are a lot of societal factors that go with that.” 

“One of the girls said I was getting too heavy to put in the air…that one comment, I believe, mixed with the depression sent me into a spiral.” 

“When I was in the thick of my Bulimia, my brother went to my parents and said Ashley has a problem.” 

“Sitting in the uncomfortable to become comfortable is how I saved myself.” 

“My parents were wonderful and they were so supportive…they were parenting as a product of their parents…I don’t fault them for anything they did.” 

“You are being emotional…there are other people that have it worse.” 

“Here comes alcohol…helped cure everything…it gives you confidence, it lowers your inhibitions…it really helped me break out of that shell.” 

“Two pictures that look identical but mentally there is massive difference.” 

“Alcoholism runs in my Dad’s side very strongly so I was genetically pre-disposed to having an issue and depression also runs on that side of the family too.” 

“I am very thankful for my addiction…I believe I was meant to go through it for a reason and that was to understand the mindset and walk hand in hand with people going through it…it has all really been a blessing for me.” 

“We have made using alcohol so normal…for celebration…for when you are depressed, for when someone dies…for anything.” 

“Change has to start with the person.” 

“Their problems are their problems…it is so crucial to meet kids on their level.” 

“The key to being happy is knowing that you don’t have to be happy all the time.” 

“All emotions are created equal over here.” 

“Stay positive…is a comment to brush them off…it signals you don’t have the time.” 

“The moment that changed my life…was the moment that I was in bed for two weeks…I wasn’t eating, bathing myself…I tried AA…it wasn’t for me…I fell back into addiction…I either attempt to take my life or I start over…something higher than me…said I needed to get out of bed and get this right”. 

“My blog is my personal diary that I pull the curtains open and let everybody read.” 

“With any amount of personal development or growth your relationships are going to change…because you are choosing yourself.” 

“If they weren’t supporting me they couldn’t stay on my team.” 

“There comes a point when you have to say the past is the past and I can’t change that.” 

“Fate has brought me to a lot of people that I never thought that it would.” 

“My bladder is behind my eyeballs…I’m so grateful to be alive and I’m so grateful to be me.” 

“Look at the intention of why you are doing what you are doing.” 

“The people who really love you and support you will be there no matter what.” 

“I like to meet people where they are.” 

“Support systems need support too…sometimes there is nothing we can do…that person needs to make their own choice…they have the power to make that choice…what we can do is provide them love, support and encouragement to change the narrative, change the focus.” 

“If you feel that you are taken advantage of it becomes your responsibility to make a decision and chose you…you can love someone but not enable them.” 

“It is so crucial for you to have your boundaries in place and know what they are.” 

“You give people two chances…if you have someone who continually crosses your boundaries and they know about it …they have no respect for you”. 

“Friendship and relationship needs to be a mutual respected partnership.” 

About the author

Divan and Mark are co-hosts of the Candour Communication Podcast where we discuss interpersonal communication and all the human stuff that gets in the way.