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5 min read

Jesus Came to the Mental Asylum with Me

Heather Pollock wrote this blog post while in Women's Recovery at Anna Ogden Hall. Since it was first published in 2017, Heather has been living in continuous recovery. As a woman with lived experience, she was a valuable and beloved member of staff at the UGM Crisis Shelter for two years and continues to work with vulnerable women for another organization.

The Lord’s goodness has followed me all the days of my life. Although my childhood was not the best, I can see that through the scattered ashes and my sad, broken home, he was with me all along. I can see his fingerprints throughout my entire life.

God began wooing my heart at a very young age, and although I did not know him yet, he knew me, and he chose me.

As a little girl, I knew there was a man named Jesus who died on a cross, but I was never taught that that man was God. I was told that he was a prophet or “just a really good guy.” I was told everything but the truth.


The god that was portrayed to me as a child was mostly an awful image of an angry, mean man in the sky, who did nothing but judge and condemn me. So that’s what I believed.

I became afraid that this mean god who was in control would take what I had left. Every night, I would pray and beg him to keep my family safe, and like most children who are a product of abandonment and divorce, I prayed that my parents would remarry and my family would be whole again.

Although I may not have known God and His character then, I now can see that he heard every prayer. Not one of my tears was in vain; he collected every single one of them. He took my nightly request seriously, and in his time, 10 years after my parents divorced, they rekindled their relationship and remarried.


In my mind – as a 20-year-old, severely wounded and broken young woman – I truly believed that this is what would fix everything. I believed all that was wrong would now be right. My broken heart from years of abandonment, rejection, neglect and abuse would now be magically healed.

But my parents are humans, and like the rest of us, they are broken. Putting all my stock into them wasn’t fair, and just not reality. It was never their job to fill all of the voids and deficits this world had left me with; it was God’s.

But I didn’t know that then – and when my parents had let me down again, I began seeking the love and belonging I so desperately craved. Something, anything, that would fill the God void I had in my heart.

I used toxic friendships and unhealthy people to get the love I needed. But they could never give me something that they just did not have, and that was the perfect love of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

So, what I couldn’t find in people I turned to look for in substances. Food became my best friend. Soon, I did not eat to live anymore, but I lived to eat. I had gotten so overweight I felt like I was trapped in a prison cell that I couldn’t escape, because the prison was my body.

I began to absolutely hate myself and hate this life. I became angry and bitter. I began to lash out at people, because the saying is true: “Hurting people hurt people.”

Through all of this, though, the Lord saw me. He saw my injured heart. He didn’t look at my sin but instead looked at me, his creation.

God brought somebody into my life to show me that there is light on the other side of the tunnel. This woman wasn’t the same as everybody else. She was actually quite different. She had this peace to her … her smile was authentic, and her joy wasn’t circumstantial. I had never known anyone like her, but I knew I wanted what she had.

So I put myself around her as much as possible. I soon learned that for “fun” this odd-but-happy lady went to church. So I asked her if I could go too.

And honestly, I liked it. The people were kind and inviting, and I knew when I watched them worship that I wanted to know the God that they knew.

I remember going home and getting down on my knees and asking the Lord to do whatever it took to draw me near to him.

God’s ways are mysterious, and he will not stay in our box.

Enemy in the bottle

Within a matter of months, I was prescribed a drug called Adderall. It was easy to get it – a questionnaire of five questions – and bam! It was given to me like it was candy.

And in the beginning, I loved this pill. It gave me energy, I was organized and focused, and it made me lose weight. I wasn’t a slave to food anymore! I believe that it was what I needed to resolve all of my issues.

But what I didn’t know was, although it was in a prescription bottle, Adderall has all of the same components and is virtually identical as the street drug meth.

Heather walking

I quickly got addicted to it and it began sapping me of all my strength and sanity. I became a slave to this drug. It drove me to my knees yet again, screaming out to God, begging him to save me. Within 10 months, I went from a fully functioning adult to a mental asylum. The enemy came into my life through a prescription bottle, but my Savior came on clouds.

Yes, I found myself hitting my knees again, but that’s right where the God of the universe met me. He came to me right where I was, addicted, sick, and desperate. But this time, instead of relying on my strength, I had to rely on his. I had none of my own left.

That’s where my intimate relationship with the Lord began: When I stopped seeking everything else and began to seek his face. I could tell you stories for hours of how God showed up for me during the lowest point in my life. When nobody else wanted anything to do with me, he wanted everything to do with me. He didn’t care about what I had done and what I became. He loved me right where I was at. And I fell in love with him in return.

I had a complete psychotic break because of the Adderall. I was in and out of hospitals for months, and the Lamb of God checked himself in with me every single time.

Brought into an eternal family

Eventually I was homeless, and the hospitals couldn’t help me anymore. That’s when the Lord brought me to the UGM women’s shelter. And to be honest, I was mad at God at this point. I accused him of forsaking me. “Why,” I asked, “am I in a homeless shelter if you love me?”

The Lord answered that question slowly. He answered it with every Bible study that was held there. He answered with every kind gesture from complete strangers. He answered it with every glance of love and acceptance from the staff who worked there. And most of all, he answered it with my fellow homeless sisters in Christ, who gave me a family when I needed one, a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on.

God has shown me, every single day for the last two years, that the reason he brought me to a homeless shelter is because he loves me.

Heather's journey
The healing that I have experienced through living at the shelter and Anna Ogden Hall is immeasurable. I never knew that I could have joy that wasn’t based on my circumstances but based on trust in my Father. I never knew that I could have peace beyond all understanding. I never knew that there was such a thing as a love that would never fail me.

The people the Lord has brought into my life through the UGM are now my eternal family, and nothing can ever steal that from me.

I have hope for my future now. I love my life now. And now I am capable of doing anything, with the Lord by my side.

I pray to be the mother that I needed and a wife who is a blessing to my future children and husband.

The UGM has been the hands and feet of Christ to me and has literally loved me back to life.

I want to thank all of the staff at the Crisis Shelter who never once made me feel unwanted. I want to thank the many selfless volunteers who have laid down their life on a daily basis to lift up the broken. I want to thank all of the staff at AOH who have stood by me in the good times and bad. I want to thank Kim, Kamee, Caryl, Yvonne, Jina and Chris, who have been my beautiful godly counselors and mentors.

And most of all, I want to thank my Father in heaven and Jesus Christ for saving me.

Learn more about the connection between homelessness, mental illness and substance abuse in our free e-book. Download now.

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