Amber Portwood is opening up about a traumatic experience from her childhood.
During Tuesday’s episode of Teen Mom OG: Unseen Moments, the reality star revealed that her younger sister died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) more than two decades ago.
The revelation came as Portwood explained why she wanted to be the one to care for her 7-month-old son James Andrew, who she shares with boyfriend Andrew Glennon. Although she admitted that she was “running on empty,” Portwood said she preferred to watch her youngest child instead of relying on a doula or nurse.
“The thing is, my sister died from SIDS when I was 5,” Portwood, 28, said during the show. “She was an infant just like him. And it’s really scary for us. And I just feel like I want to be the one watching him.”
“It was hard,” she added of the devastating loss. “I remember watching them bringing her out on a stretcher. … It’s one of the worst things that I’ve ever really seen in my life.”
SIDS, a fatal syndrome with an unknown cause, most often affects babies that are less than a year old. Doctors believe the condition may be linked to brain defects which control an infant’s breathing and ability to wake up from sleep, Mayo Clinic reports.
Portwood continued her point by bringing up another instance that involved her daughter Leah Leann, 10, who she shares with ex-boyfriend Gary Shirley.
“It’s just like with Leah, you know, when she had the sleep apnea, me and Gary brought her straight into the hospital to get the testing done because we were so scared about it,” she said. “So it’s not a bad thing to get help when you’re tired and you need sleep, but it means a little bit more to me than what people know.”
In addition to getting candid about the traumatic childhood experience, Portwood also recently opened up about her mental health and the reality of her postpartum depression.
Ahead of Christmas, the mom-of-two spoke about having suicidal thoughts during a reunion episode of Teen Mom OG.
“It went from taking care of James so amazingly to one night I had to give him to Andrew,” Portwood told Dr. Drew Pinsky of how her postpartum depression suddenly hit her.
“I couldn’t, I don’t know what happened. I’ve never felt anything like it, I never felt like that with Leah. It started feeling like a weird pressure, like I could explode,” she added.
The feeling didn’t go away and culminated in suicidal thoughts that Portwood contemplated acting on.
“There was one night in California where I said to Andrew, ‘Just go to sleep, go to sleep. Take James with you.’ I was going to hang myself,” she revealed, crying. “That’s real s—.”
Portwood said she had been open about her experience in order to help others going through the same thing, but that the bullying she received online caused her to want to quit the show entirely.
“I come home, I try to talk to loving fans who I adore. I help so many f——— people and I gotta deal with people calling me a bad mom and this that and the other when I’m going through this s—. I’m done. I’m done with this show, I f——— quit,” she said. “This show is done.”
She eventually sought help from fellow Teen Mom OG star Catelynn Baltierra, who went to rehab late last year for having suicidal thoughts.
“I’m just at my end,” Portwood said to Baltierra. “I’m literally, I feel like I’m at my lowest right now. I’m not … I have no will. I’m not living for myself at the moment.”
In response, Baltierra told her fellow costar, “Just those words scare me. I would love to see you at a place where you could [live for yourself]. But if you really need help, there are places you can go — know that. So you don’t feel hopeless.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “help” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.