An obese woman who tips the scales at 725lbs has admitted that she lives in constant fear that her enormous bulk could cause her life-threatening injuries.
Ashley Bratcher, 26, from Kerens, Texas, reveals in the latest episode of TLC reality series My 600lb Life, that she is terrified the weight of her stomach, which hangs down almost to her knees, will ‘physically break her back’ and could leave her totally immobile, or, worse still, actually kill her.
‘People don’t understand how much it actually takes just to do anything,’ Ashley says in a preview clip from the episode, which airs tonight. ‘I have this thing hanging off of me. It’s not supposed to be there. My stomach hangs so heavy on my back, sometimes when I’m standing, I’m scared of physically breaking my own back.’
Ashley, who has a five-year-old son, Patrick, admits that she relies almost completely on her child to care for her every need; the only thing she is still able to do for herself is bathe, and even that, she confesses, takes an almost unbearable physical toll on her body and her mind.
‘There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t have pain,’ she tearfully explains. ‘Just about any movement hurts. Just walking the 20ft from my bed to my bathroom is extremely painful.
‘My weight has made it almost unbearable to get around. The normal things that everybody does is so hard to do when you are my size.
‘I am terrified to get in my own bathtub because I almost feel like I’m going to fall through the floor.
‘I’m good to stand for maybe five minutes so it’s a struggle for me to bathe.’
But while Ashley’s addiction to eating, and her life-threatening obesity, have certainly worsened in recent years, she reveals that her problems stretch back over more than two decades, when her unhealthy relationship with food first began.
Ashley began piling on weight at the age of six, when she was abandoned by her drug addict mother and then sexually abused by the babysitter who was assigned to take care of her. Left with few family members or friends to offer her any kind of emotional support, Ashley turned to food for comfort – and quickly gained weight.
In another preview clip posted by People, Ashley admits that she blames her mom for her emotional addiction to food, explaining that, as the oldest of her siblings, she felt a duty to look after them whenever their mother wasn’t around – which was, in reality, almost all of the time.
‘If my mother had been paying attention I think she could’ve changed a lot of stuff that was going on,’ she says in the video.
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.’
When she reached the age of eight, Ashley and her siblings were taken in by their father, who won custody of them. But although she felt safer, her eating habits didn’t change, and she continued to pile on weight.
By the time she reached high school, the mother-of-one weighed more than 400lbs.
After marrying her husband, and getting pregnant, Ashley’s weight continued to spiral out of control, reaching 570lbs while she was carrying her son, and then continuing to increase from there, as her relationship broke down and she faced life as a single mother.
Ashley admits that, if her weight continues to spiral, she will soon be unable to do perform even the most basic tasks like standing up and washing herself.
‘I don’t want that embarrassment. I can still take care of my body, washing and bathing, right now. But I need help with just about everything else. And most of that falls on my five-year-old son Patrick. My son helps me with everything. He’s my legs and a lot of things. Basically everything that involves standing and walking around a lot, Patrick does for me.
‘He has to help me with just about every household chore. Without him I’d be lost.’
In Wednesday night’s episode of My 600lb Life, Ashley will visit gastric bypass expert Dr. Younan Nowzaradan in order to seek help and, hopefully, undergo a surgical procedure that will help her to shed much of the bulk that is threatening to ruin what little of her life she has left.