"Octomom" Nadya Suleman is finally "at peace" following dark times that led her to contemplate suicide.
The famous mom, who now goes by Natalie Suleman, told the Daily Mail that her financial struggles and the pressures of raising a total of 14 kids as a single parent once drove her to feel empty inside.
"Every day I would wake up with the most ugly, dead, visceral feeling inside of me," she said. "I didn't want to live. I felt less than human as that character I was pretending to be, to survive and provide for my family."
That "character" Suleman remembers is the 'Octomom' persona, a name that "nearly destroyed me and my family," and one she no longer responds to.
'What [Octomom] was disgusted me and I did not want my children to remember me like that. I was forced into doing things I didn't want to do because I was so terrified I couldn't support them and give them the life I deserved," she added.
Suleman rose to popularity after she gave birth to eight children at once, making them the longest-surviving octuplets in the world. All eight children are still living; they will turn nine in January.
The awe and praise for the mom quickly turned to criticism after it was revealed that Suleman already had six other children — all conceived through IVF — without a husband or a job to support them.
Her financial struggles led her to star in an adult film and work as a dancer in a strip club to complement the government assistance she was receiving.
Ashamed by her actions, Suleman said she began taking benzodiazepines, a prescription anti-anxiety drug.
"I had to medicate to just get through what I was doing," she said. "I would mix it with alcohol which I later found out was what Whitney Houston died from."
"I didn't want to be here anymore, but then I thought about my children and just had to keep going for them," she added.
Suleman quit working in films and clubs when a man firmly told her, "You do not have to do this," a moment she said changed the course of her life.
"I knew I had to be my healthy self again. I didn't want my kids not to have a mom," she said.
Soon after, Suleman and her family moved back to Orange County, California, where she grew up. She got a job as a part-time counselor and works to provide for her 15-person family.
"We live paycheck to paycheck," she said of the family's life in a two-bedroom townhouse in Laguna Niguel, California. "It's a struggle every day. I am very grateful for food stamps, and I do get some residuals from that horrible porn thing. But I am not worried."
Suleman's unique choices have led her to be the sole parent of more than a dozen dependents, something she admits was "very foolish, immature and selfish."0comments
"I was on a mission. I just wanted to have a bunch of kids. But I couldn't imagine my life at this point in time any different than it is," she said.
Suleman, who normally keeps her family out of the spotlight, said she wanted to share her story to encourage other women to look forward in life despite any challenges.