Stephanie Hollman seems to have the perfect life. She has a loving husband, two adorable sons, amazing friends, and a magnificent mansion, all on top of being gorgeous inside and out herself.
However, Stephanie has also gone through more than her fair share of struggles — namely, her battle with depression and a past suicide attempt, which she first opened up about last season of The Real Housewives of Dallas. She recalled being overwhelmed with anxiety after a clip of her talking to her mom about her past suicide attempt was released last season.
"I remember that coming out, and I had, not gonna lie, a nervous breakdown for two days," Stephanie told The Daily Dish during an interview in New York City on September 4. "I never talked about it, besides maybe with like three people, so I was a little embarrassed, and I felt very judged."
Getting to a point where she could be so vulnerable about her past was not easy for Stephanie. "I also worked in the social service industry, so I always felt like you had to be very careful about letting people know that stuff because I was afraid I would not get hired. So I was always very concerned about that because that's my background," she shared. "But it was also very freeing. It was probably the most freeing thing I've ever done in my life because I finally gave myself permission to not pretend like everything was perfect and always great."
Even after two seasons of sharing her life with the world on RHOD already under her belt, Stephanie admitted that she wasn't sure what fans would think after hearing what she had gone through. "I always felt like with the audience that you had to have like a perfect life or not let them see cracks or they wouldn't like you," Stephanie said. "And then I learned it's actually the complete opposite, like the more real and authentic you are and the more you show the cracks, the more people can actually relate to you. With the fans you have this bond because you both deal with the same thing and you're able to talk about it and be open. So for me it was very therapeutic. But in the beginning, it was the most terrifying thing ever."
Stephanie soon realized after sharing her story on RHOD that she had nothing to worry about. "Yeah, it was very scary at first, but people are really, really kind, and I will never forget that because I was worried that people were gonna be like, 'She's crazy!' But they weren't. They were really sweet," she said. "And it was kind of nice to know that so many of our fans deal with the same thing because especially when you feel suicidal, you can feel very isolated and alone. So I always felt very different, and I didn't for probably the first time in my life."
Her husband, Travis Hollman, was one of the few people who knew what Stephanie had been going through before she shared it on RHOD. "With Travis, I was open with him before, like I'm not gonna lie, after he fell in love with me. Like, he said, 'I love you,' and I was like, 'OK, now I can be myself,'" Stephanie recalled. "But for him, I did tell him about, like, 'I just want you to know this,' because I didn't want him to marry me and not know who I was."
Stephanie's best friend Brandi Redmond was another person she previously opened up to about her struggles prior to going public with it. "She's been very, very private about it, but I do remember whenever I found out that it was gonna be coming up [on RHOD], and I remember calling her being like, 'Are you OK with this?' She said, 'Yeah, I'm OK with it. I think I need to do this,'" Brandi said during an interview with The Daily Dish in New York City on September 16. "I'm proud of her. I think it's important. I think a lot of times it's hard to be vulnerable and let everybody in, and she's trying to do that. And I think that by just releasing that, she had a lot of positive reactions toward it, even where she was able to help others. And so I think that, I can't speak for her, but I do think it's helped her in a lot of ways."
For one thing, it has emboldened Stephanie to share even more of her true feelings, according to Brandi. "I've just seen a stronger Stephanie, a lot more bold and able to really speak her mind. I think it's brought a lot to her and helped her with her confidence," Brandi said. "So I think it's been definitely a blessing in disguise."
As cathartic as it was for Stephanie to share her experience with depression on RHOD, it also caused new challenges for the Housewife as fans started telling her their stories. "For me, it's easy to not take care of yourself because you're taking care of other people. So now I'm trying to toe that line of like, I want to reach out and support and be there for the fans and friends and other people who deal with the same issues I have but not at jeopardizing my own mental health, which I kind of did for a while," Stephanie shared. "I feel like I just kind of stopped taking care of myself and started focusing on others, and I probably should have toed that line a little bit better and not stopped all my self-care, because then I crashed."
Her background in social work came in to play here as well. "You kind of take on other people's problems, and you try to solve them. So I felt myself getting into an unhealthy position of work and treating everybody like they were almost like a client, like I need to make sure that I'm keeping up and writing everybody," she said. "And I was spending my entire life on social media, which was not healthy. So I'm trying to find a balance."
So Stephanie decided to reach out for help from people like her life coach, with whom we saw her meet in Wednesday night's episode of RHOD. "I went through a lot of therapy, and I was in a really good place when we filmed [Season 3], and I was just, from the grace of God, I was in a good place. I didn't feel this year that I was as strong as I was last year," she explained. "Last year, I felt very peaceful and I felt almost empowered, in a way. And this year, I mean, I feel like I slipped back a lot."
Stephanie said it can still sometimes be difficult for people, including her husband, to understand her struggles, given all of the blessings in her life. "He doesn't get it because he doesn't deal with it, so it's uncomfortable even now to talk to him about stuff because he's like, 'I don't understand. You have this great life. You have a house. You don't have to worry about bills.' Because he feels like depression is something when everything's going wrong," Stephanie said. "When everything's going wrong and you lose somebody, that's sadness. Everybody deals with that. But depression is something where everything is going right in your life, and you have every reason to be happy, and for some reason you're not, and there are times when you just can't get out of bed. So I think that's kind of a misconception, and that's why it's really hard to talk about to other people because you do feel a little crazy sometimes. Literally there can be nothing bad in my life going on, and I'll be crying myself to sleep every night. It's bizarre."
These days, Stephanie has learned how to manage her depression and is committed to using the platform of RHOD to help others do the same. "I'm on anti-depressants, and I deal with it, and it's fine. I'm religious, so I'm like, I used to be really mad, 'God, why am I like this?'" she said. "But now I'm just like, OK, maybe I'm like this because of last season. So it kind of gives me a purpose behind the pain, which is nice."
If you or someone you know needs help finding crisis resources, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free, and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.