Julia – 2009 Graduate
My childhood was very chaotic. I grew up never knowing my father. I experienced years of physical and sexual abuse that left me hating authority and hating myself. I lived with guilt and shame, which manifested into my self-destruction.
At nine years old I began to starve myself as a way to feel in control. I felt powerful knowing that I could abstain from food. A cycle of eating, starving, and compulsively over-exercising went on and off for several years until high school when I began to experiment with drugs.
In my teens my mom and I moved to L.A. from Chicago. I was really excited for this new beginning. The transition, however, was very hard for me, and I quickly fell into depression. This led to a full relapse into my eating disorder cycle. I became suicidal and began cutting myself as a way to deal with the pain that I felt inside. As my depression got worse, I looked for new ways to cope. I found cocaine and meth and was immediately addicted.
I spent several years in and out of emergency rooms, psychiatric hospitals, and various treatment centers. I was diagnosed with several mental illnesses and put on numerous heavy doses of medication. I was told I would always have mental illness, always have an eating disorder, and always be an addict.
The combination of the eating disorder, medication, drugs, and alcohol led me down a very dark path of erratic behavior. I lost jobs, close relationships, and any sense of self-worth. I had absolutely no hope. The 11th program I entered was Mercy Multiplied.
My stay at Mercy took more work than I ever imagined. It was the hardest, yet most rewarding, thing I’ve ever done in my life. While in the program I learned about the character of God. I learned that He was not the author of my abuse and pain, but the author of my salvation and rescue. I learned about my identity in Christ- that I am forgiven, adopted and blameless.
Our daily class, Bible reading, and worship taught me how to renew my mind according to God’s word, believe His promises, and build a genuine relationship with Him. My weekly counseling sessions offered me a safe place to grieve my losses and allow God to heal my memories. The amazing staff showed me I was unconditionally loved, that I was not an addiction or an eating disorder but a new creation in Christ. Mercy was the only place that ever told me I could be completely healed. After hearing it so many times I began to believe it.
In May 2009 I graduated from Mercy with the miracle of a new heart, a new mind, and new hope for my future. I am completely free from depression, cutting, chemical addiction, and an eating disorder!
Since my graduation from Mercy, God has continued to keep me in a state of awe and wonder! I have had the honor of working on staff at my church, sharing God’s Word and my personal testimony at various churches and conferences, and was even recently able to meet my father for the first time in my entire life! I have truly seen Mercy “Multiplied” through my story!
Today I am in Bible college working towards a degree in Biblical Counseling. I am also beginning transitional care ministry in my home with my roommate, who is also a Mercy graduate. Our mission is called L.A. Loves Mercy! One of our bedrooms will be turned into a safe haven where two girls can receive support and housing after graduating from Mercy. My hope is that this ministry will expand to be able to offer housing to more girls who need this type of support. The greatest Kingdom work that I get to be a part of is caring for the young women that God brings into my life. I am eternally grateful that God not only healed me but also now allows me to be a part of the healing work that He is doing in His daughters.