I grew up in a Catholic family, with a loving mother and father and I am the youngest of six kids. Growing up, I had strong connections with my siblings, but my strongest connection was with my mom. Around the age of ten, I was told that my mom was sick; paranoid schizophrenia, manic bipolar, and clinically depressed. My mom was fighting a war in her mind that I had been oblivious to before. Over the next few years, my anxiety began to increase as my mom became less stable and family life was disrupted. Around 5th grade, I was also exposed to pornography which confused me and filled me with shame. I became extremely self-conscious and compared my body to everyone constantly. I began to alter my food and exercise, I assumed that I needed to continue this pattern in order to be seen.
My freshman year, I lost my mother to mental illness. Depression formed, anxiety increased, and disordered eating became eating disorder cycles that controlled me. After the loss of a classmate my sophomore year, I entered into a new crowd around school which introduced me into the world of drinking, drugs, and promiscuity. These coping mechanisms soon opened the door to self-harm and suicidal thoughts which I began to think about constantly. My anxiety become unbearable and I was prescribed medication, began seeing a psychiatrist, therapist, and nutritionist. From there I was in and out of hospitals, but nothing helped since I had no intentions of getting healthy, focusing solely on getting ideas and was unwilling to open up to anyone. After another stay treatment, I saw temporary improvements, but I lost another close family member and this event caused so much anger and sadness. Even though I graduated the program feeling better, nothing was a lasting change.
After seeing this pit I was still stuck in, my therapist strongly encouraged residential treatment. Because of my situation, the cost of treatment was unable to be paid. That is when she suggested Mercy Multiplied. After voicing a strong no, I agreed to at least apply and after a long application process and pleading with my dad to let me stay home, I was accepted and walked through the doors of Mercy.
The transition to Mercy was the hardest thing I had done and being away from all comfort was so difficult. My relationship with God was non-existent, and I didn’t anticipate anything to form while at Mercy. My plan was to leave at Christmas break and not return, and I was confident that I would be healthy enough by then. But about two months in, everything changed. I went to the prayer room and begged God to let me leave, but as the tears fell, so did my walls. I repeatedly felt God say, “You have to graduate this program.” After fighting Him on this, we came to an agreement- I would graduate from the program. Once I made this decision, I felt such peace with the choice to graduate.
I decided to fully put God at the center of everything and once I did that, it all fell into place. I started to open up slowly and use my voice that the enemy had told me was worthless before. God began to speak to me often, and His still small voice began to guide me daily. He took every part of me that was broken and redeemed it. He revealed to me that I am a new creation in Him. He encaptivated me with His perfect love, and continually showed me the gentle and understanding Father that He is. He showed me that I am completely clean and forgiven of my past choices, and that there is nothing I could do to change that. He revealed to me that His love is both a mother and father love, filling up the hole in my heart that I thought could never be filled because of the absence of my mother in my life.
While at Mercy there were two modules that stood out to me the most. Commitment to Christ and Healing Life Hurts were so beneficial to me during my time here. During Commitment to Christ, I learned about who God truly is and dedicated my life to Him.
Before Mercy, I thought God could not love someone like me, and that my actions determined if He loved me or not. I now know that my God is the ultimate comforter, counselor, and friend, and that in His presence I am safe. I was able to invite God into the hurts of my past and hear what He had to say over those places of pain. He showed me that in my lowest places, He was right there beside me. He healed the distorted view I had of my body, opening my eyes to see me how He sees me. Despite what I used to believe, He revealed to me that I have a future that He has prepared for me in advance. He took my shame and despair and turned it into joy and freedom. God is my champion, and in Him I have authority. When I walked into Mercy I was on four different medications for anxiety and depression. Because of the joy God has put in me, and the work He has done in my heart, I am thrilled to say I am off all medication, and I am free from the debilitating anxiety and intense depression that once followed me.
After Mercy I will be pursuing public speaking. I am so excited for the future God has planned for me and the strength He gives me daily to pursue His purpose for my life.
I am so appreciative of the donors. Because of their generosity, I was able to come to Mercy and gain freedom through Christ. This would not have been possible if there was a cost to enter Mercy. I am forever thankful for their generous hearts.