This is a recent piece by Mercy Survivor Kathryn who blogs at Comfortably Numb.
Some of it, I was prepared for…. Other things, not so much.
I knew it was going to be hard- I didn’t know it was going to be nearly impossible.
I knew they were going to be strict about nutrition- I didn’t know I’d be forced to swallow things I couldn’t stand. (Or that when I gagged on them, I’d be told I wasn’t “allowed” to throw up.)
I knew that there was going to be lots of church and spiritual training- I wasn’t prepared to get in trouble for simple things like sitting down during worship, not taking enough notes, or thanking a pastor after a sermon.
I was prepared to have stern rules for going to the mall- I was not prepared to get in trouble because I was 11¢ short for my shampoo, so the cashier gave me a quarter and that meant my change was off.
I’ve always known it’s important to stay clean- I never dreamt I’d get in trouble for going a single day without a shower.
I was aware that there was a fitness routine- I was not aware that I’d be disciplined for not working out enough on my own, outside of our daily trip to the local YMCA, in the time that I was supposed to be doing counselling assignments.
I knew that I’d have to learn to pray through anxiety and panic attacks- I didn’t know I’d be forced to stand up and read “God’s Creative Power” out loud (while I couldn’t breathe?) all the while being told that I was faking it.
I knew that there were precise bed times and times to get up at- I didn’t know that I’d get in trouble for falling asleep at any other time- even though I couldn’t help it because it was the meds making it hard to stay awake, and they wouldn’t let me reduce them without a change in prescription, but they wouldn’t let me see a doctor to get that change in prescription.
I was prepared for lots of counselling and hard work- I was completely unaware that the work I needed to do would be to read countless Joyce Meyer books and write reflections on them. Nor was I prepared to be told that I simply couldn’t move forward anymore unless I accepted that God loved me. (Have I heard it? Yes. Does my brain believe it? Yes. Had that knowledge transferred to my heart yet? No, but I didn’t know how to make that happen.)
I knew that they would want me to hear God’s voice, and speak back to Him in tongues- I was unprepared for my counselor to tell me that I was at a standstill, and unless I could hear Him audibly speaking to me, I couldn’t keep going.
I was aware that some of the things I’d done were unbelievable- I was not prepared to have the staff there second guess me and tell me they didn’t believe the truth.
I had razor blades embedded in my arm, and despite the fact that one was close enough to the surface to feel it, despite the fact that I had a letter from my GP (so that I could get through airport security) I was told that was simply not possible.
I thought that I was going to Mercy Ministries to be healed- I did not know that was supposed to happen by ignoring the physical doctors and just praying the bad things would go away.
I am from Canada and was at Mercy Ministries St. Louis. When I tried to enter the US, I had problems at the border. The way that I was finally allowed in, was complicated. If I left the United States, it would be difficult, if not impossible for me to get back in again. So, I knew that when all the other girls were travelling home for Christmas, I wouldn’t be able to go. I was told, by Mercy Ministries, that they would arrange for a host family that I could stay with over the holidays. As Christmas got closer, I was told that I couldn’t stay at Mercy Ministries, because it would be closing for the holidays, but that they didn’t trust me enough to let me stay with a host family either.
To put it bluntly- I was prepared for lots of church, spirituality and faith to be addressed- but I thought it would be in addition to, not instead of receiving professional medical help for my mental illness(es)- mental illness which the staff at Mercy Ministries were not qualified, nor prepared to deal with.
They should not be taking in these girls who have real issues and need real help and promising them things that they can’t deliver. It’s not fair, it’s not ethical, and it shouldn’t even be legal- yet somehow, it’s still happening.