Ashlee Holmes-Malleo is detailing the “breakdown” that preceded her bipolar II disorder diagnosis last summer.
The “Real Housewives of New Jersey” alum tells Page Six in an emotional, exclusive interview that she spiraled when she found out in a “really horrible” way that her ex-husband, Pete Malleo, had “started seeing someone pretty quickly” after their divorce.
“I was just really hurt and really angry, and it was just bad,” she explains, reiterating that Malleo did not cheat on her despite her previous and admittedly “impulsive” claims on social media.
“I’ve gotten a lot better about being impulsive, probably because I’m on medication now,” she adds.
But Holmes-Malleo, 32, says recalling the “crisis situation,” which “triggered a breakdown,” makes her “want to cry.”
“It was a really dark time for me,” she shares, crediting her mom, former “Housewife” Jacqueline Laurita, with helping her “get through to a psychiatrist through an app.”
Holmes-Malleo “ended up getting a bipolar II diagnosis” and was prescribed medication.
“It fairly quickly worked for me,” she tells us. “It really helped me.”
After “things calmed down a little,” the professional makeup artist “started seeing a different psychiatrist” who was “a little bit more personable.”
“Because on the app stuff, it can be kind of quick and informal,” she notes, “and I wanted someone I could really build with.”
At the same time, Holmes-Malleo got a second opinion and was told she “definitely” has bipolar II, which is defined by at least one major depressive episode and at least one hypomanic episode, according to the American Psychiatry Association.
Hypomanic episodes are less severe and do not last as long as manic episodes, which often include increased activity, decreased need for sleep, fast speech and uncontrollable racing thoughts over the course of at least one week.
As Holmes-Malleo began “learning a lot more” about the disorder, she says “a lot of things started to make sense.”
Asked whether receiving the diagnosis felt like an “aha moment,” the mother of one admits she kind of always “knew.”
“I just thought I could manage it on my own,” she explains. “So it was cathartic for a professional to tell me.”
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Though she’s “doing good right now,” Holmes-Malleo has tried “little experiments,” including “getting off [her] medication,” which she notes is “a very common thing.”
“People will take their medication, and they’re like, ‘I feel great! I’m fine! I don’t need this!’” she tells us. “And then they try to get off of it, and then it’s like, ‘Whoa, OK, maybe I do.’”
When she takes her medication consistently, Holmes-Malleo shares that she notices a major improvement with her “rapid cycling thoughts,” which she describes as “anxious thoughts on a loop” that often make her “irritable.”
As for her relationship with Malleo, the “RHONJ: Next Gen” hopeful reveals they are “in a really good place right now” as they productively co-parent their 6-year-old son, Cameron.