It's been five years since Leah Messer delivered one of the most shocking moments in the history of the Teen Mom franchise.
In an episode that aired in 2015, Leah passed out while holding a baby -- a scene that alerted fans to the fact that the absentmindedness and exhaustion that had been plaguing Messer all season were actually symptoms of a much larger problem.
The child was unharmed, and Leah checked into rehab shortly after the episode was shot.
But she continued to deny that she was struggling with any sort of chemical dependency, and it was only when Messer published a memoir earlier this year that she finally opened up about her fight to get clean.
Leah says the reason for her delay is simple:
While she stopped using several years ago, it was only recently that she began working with a therapist to get at the root of her problems and actually overcome her addiction.
“[I was] just taking the time out to work on my mental health and overcome things that maybe were kind of holding me back that I didn’t even realize,” Leah said in a new interview with In Touch.
“So we’re working on that. And with the whole addiction realm, I didn’t feel like it was time yet. I just wasn’t ready. I didn’t feel like I had truly overcome my addiction completely," she added.
"‘Cause it’s not just detoxing; there’s so much more that goes into it. And so much more work that goes into … healing.”
Leah says she realized her silence was doing more harm than good, and that she could set a better example for her daughters by speaking out in a way that might help others.
“I’m ready to be another voice. … I don’t care about the whole image of what others are [going to] say or think about me,” she continued.
“Before, I definitely did.”
Leah says that the upcoming tenth season of Teen Mom 2 will show her being "pretty open and honest about her childhood, addiction [and] abortion.”
It will also feature more "will they or won't they?" moments with her ex-husband Jeremy Calvert.
“Jeremy and I will probably always flirt,” Leah told In Touch.
“[Or at least] the audience will think it’s flirting. But we’re really just great friends.”
Leah says she “doesn’t know if that will go anywhere one day,” but for now, dating is not a priority.
“As of right now, I’m focused solely on my children,” she said.
“A relationship just isn’t what I’m looking for. I’m not opposed to it, but also I’m not looking for it. … Not with Jeremy or anyone.”
Leah says her addiction also interfered with her relationship with her first husband, Corey Simms, but she feels that she and her twins' father are finally back on good terms,
“It definitely took a toll on our coparenting relationship, and there was a lot of respect lost, reasonably, so I get it,” Leah said.
“Now, I can communicate with both of them so effectively.”
Leah says she still feels that Corey was insensitive to her struggle with addiction, but admits that she made the situation more difficult by refusing to talk about it.
“I just don’t think someone that is struggling with addiction should be punished at any given time. I think that they should be loved,” she explained.
“I think they should be provided resources," she added.
“But I think we’re all in a much better place and to be able to go back in time and communicate how things could have been [done] a lot differently, [and] how they could have been communicated a lot differently."
So it sounds like after years of ups and downs, this is a season of healing and positivity for Leah.
But that doesn't mean she'll be tuning in with her daughters, who have still never seen an episode of Teen Mom 2 -- despite appearing on the show regularly.
Leah says she's waiting “until they’re like 14 or 15,” at which time, they'll watch as a family and discuss ways they can avoid the same mistakes.
“I think that being open with my daughters about things moving forward will hopefully prevent them from making the same mistakes," she told In Touch.
“I’m definitely way more open and honest about it this season. Fans are going to see it all," Leah added.
"I hope that it inspires others to open up about their journey, whether it be addiction or mental health or childhood trauma, whatever it may be."
Teen Mom 2 Season 10 premieres on MTV September 1.