The Beautiful Lyssa tells her story of battling anorexia and her journey through Mercy Ministries recovery program. Recovery is possible.
My name is Alyssa Avalon. I am 21 years old and I was born and raised in Ohio. At birth is when things in my life began to shape. I was born 3 months early, weighing 1lb and 10oz. Doctors told my parents that I had a 40% chance of life expectancy and if I survive, I’d basically be a vegetable but God worked in my life right from that moment.
My family and I weren’t Christians, we didn’t even discuss religion, we lived life as people do. At the age of 3 my parents divorced and my mom decided we move to where we live now. Growing up my mom invested a lot into me and my siblings. She did the best she knew to do. My childhood was pretty good without my biological dad.
In 6th grade is when my worst and best decisions were made pre-Mercy. I accepted Christ at 12 years old but I also started cutting. I use cutting as a way to cope. In school I was always made fun of and picked on. I was always compared to my sister and very different from her so I would be made fun of for being different and in special classes. Through the dysfunction in my family and having relationships with them along with peers I came to a mindset of not caring about anything. I loved myself and hung around others who were picked on.
In 7th grade I developed an eating disorder and wasn’t attending church at all. I had no information or knowing about eating disorders, I was never introduced to them so I didn’t think anything was wrong or harmful.
In 9th grade I became a majorette and let my struggles take on what they wanted of me as I became in denial. My coach quickly noticed the eating disorder and had lots of concern. She would tell my mom and I’d be questioned but I would deny it since I didn’t know anything was wrong. I started getting involved on Facebook which resulted in me connecting with others that dealt with suicidal tendencies, eating disorders, cutting, etc. The people I came into contact with were very unsafe and unhealthy but I felt comfortable in being open, I felt understood and not alone. This got me into more harm and I would expose suicidal tendencies on my page to the point of cops showing up at my house and sending me to the hospital. The counselor I started seeing prior to this event admitted me into a mental health ward where I only received poor treatment and upon release, things only escalated to a worse lifestyle. After I was discharged I was offered to attend church with my close cousin at Grace Community Church. I was starting to hangout with people I had met at church and an adult ministry group and things got better until those friendships turned into being rescue-type relationships. I would go to them only for attention. I put them under a lot of worry. Those relationships eventually fell. I wasn’t sure who I was and I lost desire to do anything other than cope in negative ways. In the midst of all of this, I was captivated by rejection which caused the fear of forming socialization and isolation seemed comfortable and beneficial. The stronghold of rejection filled me with lies I believed and set my identity on. I believed people would enter my life just to hurt me. The hate I felt from others brought me to self-hate and torture. At this time in my life I got into alcohol and marijuana. One night I was hanging out with a friend and her older brother. I remember the night very blurrily. I was numb and couldn’t move and kept going in and out of consciousness. The next thing I knew I was in a dark room with only a bit of light enough to see that he was molesting me. After this occurred I thought I could forget about it if I just tried to pretend it didn’t happen. Keeping the secret in gave me shame and I dealt with the pain by inflicting harm on myself more.
Throughout the rest of highschool I continued my self-destruction and let people treat my badly because it’s what I convinced myself I deserved. I graduated highschool and stuck with all of my ways of coping to where it nearly took my life. I would go to parties and would go as far as staying nights in random buildings with friends and strangers just to get high and drunk. The last party I went to I was locked into the bathroom with several sharp objects scattered in a tub next to me while in a bad mental state along with being intoxicated. When I’d escape, the group of people there would grab me and pass me down the line of each person as they told me to kill myself and throw me right back in and lock the door. Thankfully I got through with no self-harm or any other hurt done physically. Soon after this I started going back to church and gained healthy relationships but I was still tangled into cutting and the eating disorder.
I got back onto Facebook and went through tons of bullying and terrible threats on there but I also got in touch with Mercy Ministries graduates that sent me a video from BarlowGirl where I seen the ad to Mercy Ministries. I decided to look at the website and was encouraged by several people from church to apply. I made the decision between Mercy and RHEMA Bible College by telling the Lord that He had to provide for the one He wanted me to choose.
Within the few months of having severe anorexia along with purging and laxative abuse I decided to apply. In the application process, I met my favorite worship leader Kari Jobe and she prayed over me to be accepted into the program.
In January of 2014 as I was going through bloodwork and other appointments to complete the application, I was diagnosed as underweight and with Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. This took a hold on my that I needed Mercy more than anything. I entered Mercy on February 6th and the beginning was a difficult time. I didn’t realize how sick and malnourished I was physically along with spiritually, mentally, and emotionally.
The days of stomach pain from required shakes, tears each meal and severe anxiety because I couldn’t work out became completely worth it.
My journey at Mercy has brought me more transformation than I ever thought possible. My body and lungs are stronger than ever, I am able to fill myself with truth and replace the old lies and have joy in nourishment. At Mercy I learned that rejection from others isn’t a reflection of my self-worth. My restoration is in the new being God has made me. I discovered the freedom of staying forward and not turning back just because someone around me has. Their behaviors don’t force me to resort to old ones.
Mercy has also brought transformation and restoration within my family. The staff loved me in ways that nobody ever has and they’ve helped me gain a true life that God’s intended for me. This program has been safe and the Lord worked through the staff and poured into me a new creation. I am saved by grace and God but also by Mercy Ministries.
I am unable to send a photo due do being on via mail through phone but if you can, you can choose any photo you'd like! :)
Thanks so very much!! I've been praying all night that i would get a big opportunity to share my testimony to help others and this is so incredible!!!
Christina is passionate about restoring value, purpose, identity and beauty to the young women of this generation. Follow- @beauty_hasnosize