I don’t know how many seasons I’ve watched of TLC’s series ”My 600-lb Life” – but I will always remember the first time I saw Ashley Dunn Bratcher’s overwhelming and inspiring weight loss journey.
Sure, all the patients in the reality series have their unique backgrounds and story, but there was something about Ashley that captured mine and many others hearts.
The 27-year-old, from Kemp, Texas, checked in as one of the heaviest participants in the fourth season and the clock was quite literally ticking on her life.
Looking at Ashley today, it’s hard to believe it’s the same person …
When Ashley Bratcher entered TLC’s “My 600-lb Life” in 2016, she weighed in at just over 725 pounds. As with every patient on the reality series, the Texas gal sought the help of Dr. Younan Nowzaradan.
The 27-year-old had been morbidly obese for most of her life, but doctors gave her the shocking news that she would most likely not live past 30 if continued her eating habits. That was a huge wake up call for Ashley, who had begun comfort eating huge amounts of food and candy when she was only 6 years old.
Ashley’s weight made it almost impossible for her to move. She was in constant pain and forced to ask her five-year-old son to help her with the everyday household chores.
”He’s my legs, he helps me with just about everything. Without him, I’d be lost,” Ashley explained before joining the show in 2016.
The only thing Ashley managed to do by herself was shower, but even that was a fierce battle, since she could only stand up for five minutes at a time.
“The normal things that everybody does are just impossible for me to do because of my size,” Ashley said.
From the outside, it was quite difficult to understand how Ashley ended up in this negative spiral. After all, she married her high school sweetheart and they were blessed with a beautiful son. But when Ashley opened up about her childhood in the retrospective that starts every episode, it all made sense.
At the age of 6, Ashley and her siblings were abandoned by their mother, who was a drug addict. Ashley soon turned to food for comfort. By seventh grade, she weighed 250 lbs.
Looking back, Ashley blamed her mother for her food obsession.
”If my mother had been paying attention I think she could’ve changed a lot of stuff that was going on. As the oldest one, I felt like I had to protect my brother and sister because they were really little. So I let it happen to me, so it wouldn’t happen to them,” she explained.
In the end, Ashley decided to fight her eating disorder for her son’s sake.