Dear Mercy Ministries Staff,
I never wanted to write you a letter. I never wanted to address you specifically. I never felt that I owed you any explanations or that I would accept any from you. And I guess there can be two different kinds of staff members. I don’t know what has happened since 2008. But this letter is towards those of you who sit behind your computers and call me bitter and unforgiving.
You see I’m not writing you this letter to give you any explanations for my actions. You won’t receive that here. I’m not embarrassed of what I’ve done, even though you think I should be ashamed.
How dare you call me manipulative. How dare you blame me for your failure. I was mentally ill. I needed in house psychiatrists and therapists with degrees and encouragement to stay on my medications and don’t tell me your God can heal everything and that if he didn’t heal me I wasn’t following his plan for my life. Our Gods must be different.
When somebody you love gets sick with lupus or diabetes or cancer I hope you don’t stand over them and cast spirits out of them. I hope you don’t call them attention seekers. I hope you don’t scold them for every possible thing imaginable.
I used to sit on those steps all the time and just stare through the railings. At what point in your mind did you think “we can help this girl”? Was it before or after I got back from the psychiatric ward? At what point do you say “this is demons” and “this is chemical”. Because I feel like you have no idea.
Do you understand what your material offers? Over and over and over again before we come to the program we are told multiple times how Mercy Ministries is a last resort. How only desperate young woman come here. How you make people all better. I was so scared to leave you, I thought I was going to die.
You gave me four hours to pack my things and get out.it. I had to leave right then. You didn’t even let me say goodbye to my friends. People I would never talk to again. I didn’t even cry on the way home, I was so numb. If you weren’t going to help me then clearly I was going to die. I would have never left Mercy willingly, as many times as I wanted to, I was terrified to die.
Even knowing how suicidal I naturally was, you placed a ton of leftover medication in the front pocket of my suitcase. You practically handed me a suicide attempt.
You were wrong.
Don’t tell me to forgive and move on. I never received an apology. Don’t call me bitter or resentful, you’re making up excuses as to why you sucked at your job. Don’t make this my fault. Don’t point out my flaws to over ride the shitty job you did. Take responsibility not just for me, but for dozens of other girls that are calling you out. I don’t need to hear your apology. I don’t want to be your friend. But own what you did, at least in your own heart.
I probably cannot tell you the number of people who have confessed the fear that envelopes them to be near Mercy Ministries staff after leaving the program. I am fortunate to have lived so far away.
It’s odd that I find this fear to be more prominent among those of us who have spoke out against Mercy, then those of us who are still with Mercy.
I often wonder if it’s because we feel that we are not perfect. That we have something to be ashamed of. That we have spoken up and spoken out and not followed the rules. That underneath it all we are still standing back at Mercy, waiting in the hallway for the staff to come out and punish us for our actions.
We didn’t follow Mercy’s rules. I mean, ultimately we betrayed them. At least in their eyes it’s seen this way. And in our minds, that have been torn down and built back up to worship Mercy, we see it this way too.
But it’s time to change. It’s time to take back our minds. It’s time to stop being afraid. It’s time to realize that what some of those staff members did, they should be hanging their heads when they walk past us. Not the other way around.
If they made you feel low for small things, don’t let them. If they told you, you were manipulative, rebellious, not following Gods plan. If they made it clear you were sinning. If they pointed out every flaw you made and called you a hypocrite. If they called you an attention seeker, a fool. If they ever told you you weren’t working hard enough, when you couldn’t possibly work any harder. If they condemned you for things you did in your past, or made you feel small for things you wanted to do in your future. They did the same to me.
You were sick, you went there for a reason, and maybe you even made mistakes. Mistakes happen, everybody makes them. Nobody is perfect. I made mistakes. Anyone who claims to have not made mistakes is lying. Stop running over them time and time again, about what YOU could have done differently. What could they have done differently? Blaming yourself over and over again, for something that is not your fault. How could they have educated themselves on your mental illness, or your sexuality, or your condition?
Did you betray them or did they betray you?
Take your mind back. It’s time to stop being afraid.
For all intents and purposes for this blog we’re going to call Mercy Ministres a treatment center. Although technically I hate referring to them as that, because I think it gives girls the wrong idea. So bare with me. A couple blogs ago somebody else compared Monte Nido to Mercy and I thought I would do the same, only with the place that really did help my eating disorder, as opposed to Mercy Ministries, that made it worse.
Mercy Ministries lacked a fundamental understanding that people with bulimia often go up and down in weight. While the head to toe shot that I sent them in November was an average sized person, I had gained weight since then. With bulimia I went up and down and all over the place and this seemed to upset them.
These are things that happened at Mercy that would NEVER happen at the place that I went to. (Brandywine Eating Disorder Unit outside of Philadelphia).
- Being asked to wake up earlier to exercise more then the other girls
- Being more obsessed with me losing weight then I was
- Putting me on certain food restrictions. Peanut butter, desserts, etc.
- Offering me gifts, giftcards to starbucks, the bookstore, etc if I lost weight.
- Leaving me on plate check longer then any of the other girls, because they thought I would sneak food.
While I may have been overweight at the time I was still very self conscious of my body, but I went in with an attitude that I wanted to become more confident in who I was as a person and I just was not prepared to be told day in and day out how much weight I needed to lose. Just because I was overweight, it did not mean that my eating disorder was not serious and did not warrant their consideration in the way that they spoke to me about me losing weight.
Mercy Ministries lacked structure. Their whole program lacked structure.
There were never any group therapies. You had individual counseling once a week. It wasn’t conducive for recovery. They had one time a week that 15 of us sat together and discussed like a chapter of a book that we read. They refer to this as “group therapy”, but it’s not like “hey these are my emotions..” It’s more like a book club.
Brandywine had at least seven or eight groups a day, plus you see the psychiatrist daily, you see your therapist 2-3 times a week, you see the family therapist once a week or more depending on your family, and you see the nutritionist at least once a week, more if you request. You also have a team meeting once a week. You have interns on hand. There’s an art therapist. A yoga instructor. A music therapist. Animal therapy. You have certified RNs passing out medications and signing medications in and out of computer systems to make them accountable. And RNs are always on the units, and medical doctors are always available 24/7.
Your therapist is typically masters degree or doctorate degree. They have done rotations at eating disorder units in their training and have worked with eating disorders prior to their employment .
They offer Christian Therapists and work with you spiritually if you choose this route.
The nutritionist has been working with eating disorder for quite some time and has a lot of knowledge about them.
Also the leader of the program, a psychiatrist got his degrees at Yale, Drexel and the University of Pennsylvania. He has his medical degree and has been working with eating disorders for most of his adult life. We saw him daily for psychiatric drug maintenance and for monitoring for medical issues.
At Mercy I never saw a nutritionist once. I believe when I got there I asked about it and they sent me to see the house manager, who had no formal training in nutrition, and she told me what I was supposed to eat for the whole four months I was there. I believe some locations do now have nutritionists, I do not believe that they are required to have a background in eating disorders. About half way through my stay we got a fitness director. She had no say in what we ate.
At Brandywine exercise is not entirely discouraged, but 5ks and unmonitored hour long sessions at the gym for women who have issues overexercising would not have been allowed.
The leader of the program at Mercy, the actual program director. I am unaware of her education. But I can promise that it was nothing more then a masters degree.
At Mercy you have a counselor. Mine was not formally educated to my knowledge. I do believe some of them are now. Medications are just put into bags and passed out. I know for me I had controlled substances in my bag and every staff member had access to that room, some of them prior young women of Mercy themselves. Staff members slept in that room. Staff members with no medical degrees at all were passing out heavy psychiatric drugs.
We had an art closet. But no art therapist, even though I don’t really think all that Jazz of art therapists and music therapists and yoga therapists is needed to have a good treatment program, it makes it much less boring.
Also at Brandywine we had a community TV, access to newspapers, even access to the internet and cellphones, we were allowed to listen to ipods, form relationships with whoever we wanted to. Get mad, have negative emotions. We were also allowed to discuss with each other why we were there, what brought us to this place. I mean it centered around our group therapies, it bonded us as a group. It made us feel heard. It wasn’t a dirty little secret. I felt that I was really allowed to bond to other girls without getting in trouble for being socially awkward.
There was a staff ratio of maybe 1:6, versus 1:15 on the weekends at Mercy.
If you self harmed at Brandywine it was taken really seriously and people talked to you about it. “Why did you do it”. “What happened?”
At Mercy it was really hot and cold about whether girls would get help, depending on the staff member and what they “thought” with their level of “psychiatric expertise” you were trying to do. Sometimes women were often ignored for cutting themselves, because Mercy staff thought they were just seeking attention. Other times staff would take the item(s) away and leave it at that. But rarely would they ask you why you did that or ask you to talk it out. There were a couple times that I purged at Mercy and didn’t even mention it to staff, because I knew I wouldn’t get any help for it and if anything I would just get into more trouble.
At Brandywine I felt safe to come to staff and say “I messed up, can you help me”?
The only thing that was better at Mercy was meal times. At Brandywine there’s always awkward silence as everybody stares at their food. At Mercy only a certain percentage of girls have eating disorders and those who do are controlled by threats like “if you don’t eat we’ll send you home”. or “We absolutely do NOT tolerate not eating and if you want to be here then you better eat, because there are 700 girls on that waiting list and we will replace you”. So there is really no girls not eating, because they have a lot of power over you. Nobody wants to go home, everybody is scared of not being able to survive without Mercy.
At Brandywine a lot of the girls will get back at staff by not eating their meals. Or show that they are angry by not eating. That doesn’t happen at Mercy. You think that would be a good thing, but it’s actually not. The freedom of choice should be there. The freedom to express emotion openly should also be there.
Another thing different was the feel of the places. Mercy was very well decorated. I mean Brandywine is government funded, not privately funded, so it does give them some limits on what they can do with the place. Many Mercy homes have balconies and pools and big stair cases, and the breakable pieces sitting on the end tables.
Brandywine is more of an open unit, but you cannot leave the property. It’s the same with Mercy. Mercy may claim that you can leave at any time, but if you try, they will come after you and they will yell at you.
ThePinkPropaganda@hotmail.com, I’ll be looking for your email.
I AM SO SORRY, I hope you get this, it’s ThePinkPropaganda@gmail.com, I can’t even get my own email address right.
I was sort of thinking if I wanted to get 1 or 2 things across in this blog what would they be?
1. Your story is not for sale.
Someday you’ll do something right and you’ll please Mercy Ministries and it may be something that you didn’t even know you could do right. Someday you’ll get married and have a baby and they’ll want your story. And someday you may travel to Africa and do missions work and they’ll want your story. And someday you may write a book, be in a magazine, get your doctorate, save a life on a highway and they’ll want some of your fame. They’ll expect you to mention them every step of the way. That you owe them. They’ll remind you of this, but don’t listen. Your story is not for sale. Don’t let them cheapen you like that. Don’t let them exploit you. That is your story. You built it. Those scars do not need pictures taken of for the front of their books. Your look of anorexia, the before and after pictures are not for sale. If you don’t want to share your testimony publicly, then you have a right to privacy. You don’t owe them. You never have and you never will. Please remember this.
2. Get help.
When I came back from Mercy Ministries I refused help. I was taught that if I needed help that it was my fault, that I had done something wrong. That if Mercy Ministries didn’t work for me I had sinned in some way or let some spirit take over me. I didn’t get help. I let it get so bad that I nearly killed myself in an overdose. Do not let it get that bad, while telling yourself the whole time that you’re “fine”. You are not fine and you are not to blame. Mental illnesses are not spirits and they do not disappear and you NEED help. I was not over my eating disorder after Mercy, but two years later I jumped up on the horse and it’s been four years since I acted on it. Mercy was not your last hope. It was not my last hope. And don’t believe that for a second. If you need anti depressants, get them. If you need mood stabilizers, get them. Get whatever you need. You deserve it.
Please feel free to message me. I am open to anyone who is on any side of Mercy Ministries. What I am saying is as long as you respect me, it doesn’t matter to me if you like Mercy Ministries or not.
What is Mercy Ministries FAQ told the truth? What if it told the truth and looked for change? If Mercy Ministries ever wanted me to trust them again, I think it would look something like this.
What about Australia? Nancy Alcorn and the whole team apologizes for the outcome of Australia. We were fundamental in the building of Australia and Nancy Alcorn traveled to and from Australia a total of 22 times in a five year period to help and even talked about opening a third home.  We take full responsibility for our actions and we are sorry that we forced others to take the fall. We are working on the issues that shut Mercy Ministries Australia down.
Do we perform exorcisms? We do perform exorcisms on young women. It was a mistake that we deeply regret. Mental illnesses are not spirits and we have hired a team of psychiatrists to help put together a more stable program that will address every issue individually we say we can help. No longer will we be a one size fits all program.
Do we perform recovered memory therapy? We never did perform the type of therapy known as, “recovered memory therapy”, but rather a twin to recovered memory therapy known as soul spirit hurts and theopostic prayer ministry. They are known to recover false memories of abuse. We deeply regret the harm this has brought to families. We will make it our mission to bring families who have been separated back together. We understand that mental illnesses are often caused by chemical processes in the brain and are not always the result of a past hurt.
Who can work at Mercy Ministries and what qualifications do they need?
In the past we have allowed unskilled professionals to work with young women on a counseling basis. We have chosen women as counselors based on how Godly they were and not how educated they were. In recent years we have worked to bring in at least one person with a masters degree in psychology or sociology at each location, but this is not enough. We will here out demand that all of our counselors have masters degrees from accredited facilities and that they be licensed in each state that they work in. Our Nutritionists and Dietitians will be licensed and have experience with eating disorders and refeeding syndromes. Our patient to staff ratio will increase 1:6, versus 1:15 on the weekends. Those staff also will have proper training to deal with mental illnesses.
Is the program at Mercy Ministries Voluntary?
Despite past claims that our program was voluntary, we take responsibility for talking girls out of leaving the program with manipulation and threats of them never seeing freedom without us. We understand that this is detrimental to a young girls health and mental stability. While physically we did not force her, we understand that emotional force can be just as strong, if not stronger. We deeply apologize for this and agree to allow any girl who no longer wishes to be in our care, go.
Is Mercy Ministries Licensed to Operate it’s homes?
Mercy Ministries is not licensed by the department of health to run any of it’s homes. In California we are licensed by California Department of Social Services Community Care, and TN is also licensed. Neither Monroe nor St. Louis is licensed. But it is our goal to have all homes licensed by the department of health.
What Kind Of Medical Care Do The Young Women Receive?
The young women at Mercy Ministries are taken to Christian doctors when needed and monitored during those visits. Some women who come in on medications will never see a psychiatrist. Some women have reported that they felt their medical issues were not addressed properly. Since things like drug addiction and eating disorders can cause serious consequences that need medical support, we understand that having an RN on for 40 hours a week is not enough and we agree to both a psychiatrist and medical doctor being on board and on call 24/7 to monitor psychiatric drugs and medical stability of detox and eating disorder patients. We understand that all eating disorders are walking time bombs and that until they are gone, they are dangerous, no matter the level of stability. A RN should be on duty, with a 1:12 ratio at all times.