Controversial mom Nadya Suleman has revealed she was forced to kill off her 'vile' Octomom persona in a desperate bid to save her life.
In an exclusive interview with DailyMail.com the mom-of-fourteen, who gave birth to octuplets after undergoing IVF, tells how she is ashamed of the 'dehumanizing and exploitative' work she did as a celebrity porn star and stripper to make ends meet.
And admits she ended up feeling so disgusted with her actions, she numbed pain with prescription painkillers and once was terrified she might kill herself.
But now the 41-year-old mom says she has put her dark days behind her, has changed her name to Natalie Suleman and is focused on raising her kids.
'Everything I ever did was for money to put food on the table,' Suleman, whose octuplest are now seven, said.
'Everyone thinks I had all these donations and help but I didn't. I did everything on my own and paid everything out of my own pocket so I was Octomom for four years.
'The last two years of it were so dark. I descended down a very dark and destructive path.'
Suleman said the financial pressure she was under led her to make 'toxic' choices, because there were no positive opportunities available to her under the 'Octomom' label.
'I fully exploited and dehumanized myself with the porn and the stripping. I was so desperate we were on the verge of homelessness, so rather than put my kids in front of the camera I decided to put myself out there..
'The consequence of exploiting myself was deep toxic shame and self disgust. To continue I had to numb and that's when I started with the prescription drugs."
Suleman became reviled in 2009 when it emerged she sought out IVF treatment to become pregnant with eight, despite already being a mother of six and being unemployed.
However, she now reveals for the first time how she only ever wanted one more child and was encouraged to have 12 embryos implanted by doctors who feared most wouldn't survive.
The result was the birth of eight children: Jonah, Nariyah, Josiah, Maliyah, Isaiah, Noah, Jeremiah and Makai.
Struggling to make ends meet and look after her 14 kids, Suleman ended up making a porn movie and doing bikini shoots - anything to stop her family from ended up on the streets.
Her short stint as a porn actress even won her four Adult Video Network (AVN) awards.
Today Suleman tries to lead a natural, vegan lifestyle and has banished drugs from her life.
Talking about her reliance on prescription painkiller Xanax she said: 'I wasn't able to exploit myself and do what I was doing without it, which became a problem, it wasn't healthy.'
Suleman even had plastic surgery to keep the money coming in.
But she denies ever spending welfare money on operations.
'I admit I've had plastic surgery but not half of what the media have said I had,' she confessed.
'I had a breast augmentation after breastfeeding three kids, which I paid for myself as I was working.
'I had a tummy tuck after the octuplets after a media outlet promised me $100,000 to pose nude.
'I have had no work on my face but I admit that in 2008 I injected my lips and it looked horrible. I was so embarrassed and ashamed. In 2009 I did it again because a media outlet paid me.
'I was so embarrassed I denied it, but it feels so freeing to finally tell the truth. I don't want my girls to go down the path of plastic surgery and wanting to change themselves.'
After several tumultuous years, Suleman said she made the decision to 'kill' the Octomom character in March 2013 in a bid to save her life.
She explained: 'The media created the character and I shamefully embraced it in 2009 out of scarcity and desperation to survive.
'This is not something I ever wanted but I think every single mother can understand the challenges we face.'
She adds: 'It was like I'd escaped prison. That character of Octomom was dead.
'We packed up all our things and I quit my manager.
'I'd rather be homeless with 14 kids living in my van than allow any of my girls, my daughters to go down the path I had gone down.
'If I had stayed in that life I might be dead right now.'
Suleman, a trained psychiatric nurse and counselor, got a job within a month working with troubled and vulnerable women and moved back to her hometown in Orange County.
Her mother died from ovarian cancer in late 2014 and soon after her alcoholic father told her he didn't want to carry on and planned to drink himself to death.
He became paralysed following a drunken fall in January 2015 and currently receives round-the-clock care in a nursing home.
'My mom passed in November 2014 in my arms in a hospice. She told me she loved the octuplets and said, "I'm so glad they were born",' Suleman said.