Leah – 2017 Graduate
In my childhood, I was free-spirited, involved in many athletic activities, and grew up in the church. Life was good. However, when I was in first grade, I was sexually abused on the bus and this abuse continued until second grade. In second grade, I was in a horrible car accident and had a seizure which put me in the hospital. I developed lots of fear, especially of hospitals.
At 15 years old, I was diagnosed with Intracranial Hypertension. Intracranial Hypertension is an over production of spinal fluid and my body’s inability to absorb it. I was in and out of the hospital having surgery after surgery until I was 16 years old. Before my last surgery, I was raped twice by someone living at my family’s home. That led to a life of walking in shame, depression, and anxiety. I felt completely unworthy and began making bad choices. I was rejected in many relationships because of my past. The rejection affected me greatly. So much so, I planned to take my own life when I was 19 years old.
I went to see a psychiatrist who diagnosed me with post-traumatic stress disorder and major depression. After that, I began avoiding my pain and memories from the past by smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol. I was raped two more times. At one point, I didn’t even know I was raped until I saw the bruises and felt the horrible pain in my body. The cycle of avoiding pain went on until I was 23 years old.
The pain from my past was seeping into my present relationships and life. I stopped going to school and couldn’t keep a steady job. I couldn’t function with my memories always haunting me and the anxious thoughts that were going through my head.
I first heard about Mercy when I came across the music video “He Knows My Name” by Francesca Battistelli, which featured Mercy graduates. Their stories were like mine, so I researched the program and applied. I applied because I knew the next time I planned to take my own life, I would follow through with it. When I first got to Mercy, I was ready for change, ready for work, but still fearful of the process.
I had major turning points at Mercy every time I surrendered to God. I felt the biggest growth my last three months at Mercy.
God has breathed life back into me. I have the will to live, and I feel like I have purpose again. I no longer feel like I must be a certain way to have a purpose or to feel wanted or loved. I have learned that if I am not committed to God, then the rest of my life will be in chaos. Renewing my mind will be a daily thing, and there will always be life hurts along the way. However, I know that God is more than able and ready to walk me through the tough times. If I am focused on Him, I can and will get through anything.
After Mercy, I plan to go back to school to finish my degree, get a full-time job to pay for school, and pour into my relationships based on what I have learned from Mercy.
Thank you to all the supporters of Mercy for donating. If it wasn’t for your donations, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t get to tell you that it’s people like you that open doors for God to work through. You don’t have to be a doctor to save lives – you do it through your donations. I will be forever grateful; so is my family, my future family, and the generations that will come after me.