TLC "#My 600-lb Life" stories are some of the saddest but also most exciting in Reality TV. Philistines see only morbidly obese trainwrecks trapped in fat-padded prison cells of their own making. But if you look close and listen carefully, you see and hear stories of heroism. Check out Ashley's story--after bariatric surgery, the Texas gal's half-ton weight loss found that there was one tough lady in that jail of obesity. 

Morbidly obese Ashley raised by 5-year-old son

Typically it's the parent who raises the child. But at around 725 pounds with an over-the-road truck driver husband, Ashley had to count on her little boy Patrick for basic household chores.

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However even at her heaviest, Ashley didn't give up and take to bed. She bathed herself, tended to toileting needs and did as much as she could. Big deal, you say? Well it is kind of major, actually. Unlike a lot of the obese folk shown on "My 600-lb Life" like Sean Milliken and Chuck Turner, Ashley didn't want help. Her biggest fear was being cared for by others and the thing she hated most was having her son do adult jobs for her. A lot of folks say they want independence but then they expect others to wait on them and don't do the few things they can for themselves. 

Addiction, codependency: a family tradition

Ashley's mom was a drug addict. Mom's addiction blinded her to sexual abuse that was being done to 6-year-old Ashley. The little girl didn't report the abuse to protect her younger siblings.

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Dad compensated for mom by giving her anything she wanted and that was food. Ashley developed a food addiction to combat other's addictions. Food comforted her, didn't judge her, didn't hurt her. When she ate, she felt better. And there's a reason for that--eating releases endorphins and raises blood sugar. So for awhile, it does give a drug-like euphoric high. 

Dunn Bratcher loses weight with little support

This is not to say that Ashley's story didn't involve a lot of self-pity. That seems to be a common theme in obesity. She complained of constant pain. Many people have daily pain that they didn't do anything to cause. Dr. Younan Nowzaradan was concerned about prescription painkiller addiction (a super common problem with morbid obesity). Lugging around 530-something extra pounds would be painful. But Ashley determined to keep moving. She did the first step--admitting she was powerless over people and food. Her husband is also morbidly obese but has been very supportive. She never lied about how much she ate. And that hardcore determination helped her lose weight for bariatric surgery. And after gastric bypass, she kept losing. Ashley still struggles and plateaus but doesn't give up. On her Facebook page, Ashley smiles a sweet, happy smile. #RealityTV #Weightloss