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Nothing Helped Her Anger and Depression Until...

“His online profile was broadcasted on the nightly news saying that he was arrested for intent of prostitution of a minor," Heather recalled. “And my picture popped up as one of the profiles on his top 8 friends on MySpace and that's how I found out he was arrested.” That man was no stranger to Heather. For months they had been developing a close friendship on-line. Heather had been an easy target. At 12 years old, she just needed someone to listen to things she couldn’t tell her parents. She says, “I felt like talking to him was a rush because it was a secret. I saw the red flags on multiple occasions, and I ignored them because that's not what I wanted to believe. I could talk to him about school. I could talk to him about family, and he was just this unbiased person that I could bring in and he was kind uh he was somebody I could confide in. I enjoyed talking to him.”

But news of his arrest had left Heather feeling afraid and out-of-control. She recalls, “I didn't know if he was in jail, I didn't know if he was out on bond, I didn't know when his trial was. I knew he lived in my town, I knew that he liked me and I was very afraid of being raped.” Soon she discovered something that helped her deal with her fears. She says, “I was so anxious and afraid that I wasn't hungry, and I remember thinking like "Oh, this is a great distraction." So, I would start calculating like how long I could go without eating and how long I could go until I would let myself eat again.” Then she found another way to cope. Heather remembers, “I felt powerful in a sense, like I had control over my body. And then just the overwhelming relief that came with cutting, the release of tension.”

But it wouldn’t end there.  Heather was in her sophomore year of high school when 11 friends and family members died in the span of eight months; three by suicide. She recalls, “I felt more out of control having people being ripped away from me, people dying too young. I started cutting a lot more, a lot deeper.” Heather started seeing a counselor, but still blamed herself for everything going wrong around her. She remembers, “I was still cutting, bingeing, purging, fasting, over-exercising. I was punishing myself for the mistakes that I had made. It distracted me from the sadness that I felt, but probably more than anything it helped with my anxiety.”

Hoping a change of scenery would help, Heather went to college a few hours from home. She says, “I felt unsafe in a difference sense, and at that point I realized no matter where I went, I would not feel safe. In college if anything could get worse, it did.” She had unrestrained freedom to cut, binge, and purge and had to withdraw after only one semester. She remembers, “I felt like there was nothing left that even the world could offer me and I was not going to get better.”

Doctors tried everything, including electroconvulsive therapy, also known as shock treatment.  But she always fell back into her self-destructive patterns, feeling the weight of being called a ‘hopeless case’. She recalls, “I still carried a lot of guilt and shame. I still felt like I was still partially at fault. I had been inpatient treatment six times. Uh I had done intensive outpatient twice. I had been through multiple counselors uh, nutritionists, psychiatrists. I was on 12 different psychiatric prescriptions a day. I didn't feel like a person anymore. I couldn't go to school, I couldn't work. I couldn't leave the house; I'd have a panic attack.”  

After Heather moved back home, her dad encouraged her to go to Mercy Multiplied, a Christian rehab center.  He had tried two years before, but Heather didn’t think it was for her. She thought, “Although I believed in God, I wasn't a follower of Him.  I felt like I was too bad of a person to be called a Christian.” Now at 20, having exhausted all other options, she decided to go. For the first time, Heather felt there was hope. She remembers, “The staff was amazing. Very friendly. Just genuinely happy people who wanted to help. It wasn’t just a job to them, you know, they actually wanted to help me and they wanted to help change my life.”

The counselors encouraged Heather to read the Bible and pray. The more she learned of God’s love, the more she surrendered control of her life to Him. It was a roommate who helped her take the final step. She remembers, “And she held my hand and I asked God to come into my life and I said I wanted to live my life for him. I literally felt like I had taken a whole layer of myself away and became a new person at that point. And even though I knew my walk wasn't going to be perfect from there on out, I knew I was going to be different.”

As Heather continued her therapy and counseling, she started to see herself through God’s eyes. She says, “I wasn't a bad person, God didn't look down on me, and He wasn't disappointed in that. All I had to do was accept His help and that I could change, I had to believe that I could actually change instead of being labeled the hopeless case that I had been for so many years before.” By the end of her stay Heather had been healed of her fears and anxiety, and she hasn’t cut herself or binged since.

Now, Heather is married and back in college pursuing a nursing degree. And she says, her scars are reminders that God’s love can overcome any problem. She says, “Even when you're labeled a hopeless case there-there is hope and that hope lies with God, and if you let God into your heart and you can overcome any-any struggle.”

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