This piece by Mercy Survivor Alicia was originally published on her blog “Beyond Silence: My Mercy Story” and can be viewed here.
There’s so many questions in my brain on the way things were handled at Mercy Multiplied. Every girl there had some reason behind her purpose there but yet we were told we couldn’t tell anyone in the house why we were there. I thought at first it was so we wouldn’t trigger anyone else. I think all the girls with eating disorders knew people knew why they were there. It seemed that if you had an eating disorder people knew because we have “couch” time after each meal and all of us were on plate check.
I feel like “plate check” and “couch time” were methods to shame girls. Some girls got off couch early on in their time there but then there were girls that were on it for months after a meal. I remember having to recite my ABC’s or count backwards from 100 if I had to use the bathroom while I was still on couch time. It was this preventative measure they put in place so girls wouldn’t act out in eating disorder behavior. It could of been easier to not have us flush the toilet then make us count or sing. I just felt so stupid. I had this digestion problem so I was in the bathroom a lot. I couldn’t help my reasons for needing a toilet right after my meal. I was told to try hold it in but I had severe digestion issues that pushed me towards the bathroom.
I had a known food allergy to gluten so every time I ate I would get really sick to the point my stomach just ached and I would have diarrhea. It was disgusting. They didn’t believe me even though my doctor try tell them I was allergic to gluten. They made me see one of their preferred outside doctors.
When I saw this doctor, I wasn’t allowed to be alone with her to talk. The medical director wouldn’t let me have an edge word in anywhere. I didn’t have a right to any privacy. She changed my medications around. She warned me she wasn’t qualified as a psychiatrist but she try to make it so I could stay awake during the day. After that point, my meds were so screwed up I had to drink more coffee to stay awake in between the classes. I was exhausted all the time. My digestion issues got worse.
Here and there, Mercy Multiplied staff tried to give me gluten free meals but they were like you can’t prove you have celiac disease but in fact I was able to but it still didn’t resonate with them that I couldn’t eat gluten.
Then I finally got off “couch” but I still had to go to the bathroom after meals. It felt awful barely even making it through a meal. I often lost my appetite there because I was slipping. They had cut my meal exchanges way down from my registered dietitian had prescribed. I had rapid weight loss. It wasn’t good enough. Every meal I felt like I was never going to meet their expectations. Towards the end of my time at Mercy Multiplied, I started eating my meals so slow that it run over into class time. I had to sit in the lobby a couple times to finish my food. Eating a meal was an emotional roller coaster for me. To this day, I don’t know how I even got through my meals at Mercy Multiplied without crying my eyes out.
Having an eating disorder really made me stand out. I’m sure it made other girls. Some girls wondered why I had to take walks in between classes; do laps around the parking lot. Nothing I did was ever good enough for the staff at Mercy Multiplied.
Upon leaving Mercy Multiplied, I discovered I had so much hate inside me for myself. They tried to make my BMI my worth. Thankfully with time I was able to pin point the lies they try make me believe about myself and work at changing my mindset. It has taken a lot of counseling to undo the damage that Mercy Multiplied staff caused me through my thinking, mental health issues, physical issues, and body image issues.
I eventually found a way to rise above all the pain and hurt at Mercy Multiplied. From time to time I have to remind myself who I am in Christ. I’m not everything that Mercy Multiplied tried to make of me. I’m not my BMI. I’m not my eating disorder. I’m a child of God. It makes me sad that a big powerhouse ministry offered me freedom but tried to steal my identity. In that I must say they are not true to their word. I wish they could be held accountable but I know that will come in time.