Christina – 2018 Graduate
I was born into a Christian home. My dad was a pastor, which led my family to move around a lot. Being so involved in the ministry, we were exposed to all types of people. I really developed an issue with trusting other people because of some things I witnessed as a pastor’s kid. As a child, I had a medical condition that required regular visits to the hospital. This was very hard for me because I only registered those days as days when random men I didn’t know were touching me and hurting me. That ended when I was seven or eight. Around that time, my grandmother died from breast cancer. I couldn’t understand her death, but it truly devastated me. My family sang at her funeral, and they told me not to cry, which I heard as “stop being so weak.” Around this time, I started to realize the expectations and standards that were on my family. Because my family was in a position where we were “the example,” my parents always made sure that me and my siblings were dressed modestly. I always thought that it was because my body was bad or there was something wrong with me and that’s why I had to cover up. I decided to try my best to be perfect so that no one would be disappointed in me.
When I was ten years old, my PopPop died from heart disease, and I felt the same expectation to “move on,” like I did when my Mema died, as if I wasn’t feeling anything. I dreaded going to sleep every night because I had two nightmares and would wake up screaming and crying. When we moved in 2012, the nightmares stopped, but I began to have panic and anxiety attacks multiple times a week. At our new church, I began to befriend a couple of girls who I thought would become my best friends. They were funny, popular, smart, and had what I thought was the “perfect body.” I soon found myself trying to be like them in every way possible. Before long, my identity was wrapped up in them. I began to pick up on some unhealthy eating behaviors from them, and I finally started to fit in which made me feel like I was doing something well. But really I was miserable because I always stuffed my emotions inside and was never comfortable being myself. I began to doubt God because of situations in the church and in my family. I started to believe that I had no future and would never be truly loved or accepted. Then I started self-harming. I decided that I would do anything I could to get people to accept me. The easiest way I knew how was to lose weight, so I began to restrict my food and try different diets, as well as over exercise and work full time.
When the church we were at decided that they didn’t want us there anymore, my life went downhill fast. I was extremely hurt by the whole situation, and I started struggling with depression. I started to restrict food a lot more, which gave me what I thought was a little bit of control in my life. My friendships from church were gone now, and I didn’t know who to be without them. Finally I told my sister everything that was going on in my life, and after we quit crying, I said, “I think it’s an eating disorder.” That sentence was painful but also made me feel a little bit better because now someone else knew. She immediately told me that I needed to tell my parents, but I was terrified of disappointing them and putting a bad light on our family. A few weeks later, after talking with some very close friends, I decided to take their advice and tell my parents so that I could get professional help. My parents immediately took action, and I started seeing professionals who labeled me as anorexic. That month, I also started dating my best friend. Then my family moved again. My depression got worse, and I became suicidal. One day when my family was out of the house, I was about to attempt suicide, but the Holy Spirit put two people on my mind, and I knew that I couldn’t follow through with it. I called my boyfriend that night, and he encouraged me to tell my parents what was going on. After a couple of days, I did, and I was admitted to a pediatric treatment center for suicidal tendencies. While I was there, I was made to eat proper amounts of food every day, and I started to see what people meant about food being “good.” I was there for a week, and when I left, I decided that I wanted to change.
My nutritionist told me about Mercy Multiplied, and I decided to start the application process. I came into Mercy hating myself more than I can even say. I had completely decided that God didn’t exist, or if He did, He could never love me. After a few weeks of being at Mercy, God broke through my walls and showed me that He does love and accept me, so that means I can love and accept myself. Since that day, I haven’t struggled with my eating disorder.
During my time at Mercy, I have learned so much. Most importantly I have learned that I don’t have to be perfect for other people or for God. His grace is all the strength that I need to cover my weaknesses. I have learned how to process my emotions in a healthy way, and I now believe that I was made beautifully and uniquely.
After graduating from Mercy, I plan to go to school to study social work and help children who are living in abusive homes get to a safe place where they will be loved and learn about Jesus. I want to live authentically and use my story and everything I have learned through Mercy’s program to help others.
There is no way for me to express how thankful I am for all of the donors who give to Mercy! Thank you so much for being willing to help each of us girls.