This piece by Mercy Survivor Anna was originally published on her blog “External Mercy” and can be viewed here.
Since part of this blog is to share some pieces about my time at Mercy Ministries (aka Mercy Multiplied), I thought it might be helpful to lay out some of the facts of my time there.
I entered Mercy Multiplied’s residential home in Nashville, TN early summer 2005. I was struggling with depression, suicidal ideation and attempts, eating disorders, and self-harm. In clinical terms, I was a mess (see if you can find that in the DSM-V). I was uninsured, thus my options for treatment were zilch, and since my Christian faith was the most important thing to me at the time, Mercy Multiplied seemed like (no pun intended) a gift from God. Plus, there was the whole I needed to move at the beginning of the summer and didn’t have another place to live that was also chasing me down as the calendar days continued to pass.
I’d never been in residential treatment and had been in therapy with a qualified professional for less than a year. I was the epitome of desperate and wanted help so much, it seemed like a miracle that I would get to go somewhere with people who could help me…who knew about the issues I struggled with…who would be available when I needed to talk to someone…who could offer me counseling and resources to support my recovery.
At least that’s what I thought it would be like. No one told me that the Mercy Multiplied staff ratio on evenings and weekends was 40 residents to 2-3 staff. No one told me that Mercy Multiplied expected me to get better by reading Joyce Meyer books and praying pre-prepared prayers. No one told me that Mercy Multiplied didn’t have the qualifications necessary to care for any of the residents, much less all of them. No one told me that Mercy Multiplied would interpret my trauma and dissociative symptoms as “not wanting to get better”. No one told me that I wouldn’t have proper oversight of my psychiatric medications. No one told me that my wellbeing and my recovery would always take second place to the program’s image. No one told me that Mercy Multiplied would do more harm than good…all while saying they were helping.
I struggled in the program…not with obedience or submission, because I was good at that, but with following along in therapy and “getting better”. In case you’re thinking that I must not have been “sold out to Christ” or whatever you want to call it, I would get up early to hide in the stairway and have quiet time talking with God and reading my Bible. My Bible was so well-worn pages were falling out of it. I read the God’s Creative Power booklet with all the Bible verses so many times that I memorized the first half of the booklet. And I didn’t stop there…I wrote my own and went through them every day as well. I would spend hours praying that my counseling session would be led by him and spent free time sneaking into the classroom to play worship songs on the keyboard. I always ate what I was supposed to eat and would self-confess to staff if I had anything that I had used or wanted to use to self-harm. I was the perfect “Mercy Girl”. I did everything right—the only problem was that it didn’t work.