Kaylee Muthart, 20, made national headlines in February, as the girl who clawed her own eyes out while high on methamphetamine.
“Just over a month ago, I could see,” Kaylee Muthart writes. “Or maybe I should put it this way: I had both my eyes, but they didn’t help me notice how dangerous my life had become. Then, on February 6, my world went black.”
The once-straight-A student from Anderson, South Carolina is now sharing her story, and warning others that addiction isn’t choosy in claiming its victims.
Before she dropped out of school at the age of 17, Kaylee was the student every parent wants their kid to be. With a grade point average that soared high above the rest, she was a member of the National Honor Society and had big dreams of becoming a marine biologist.
But a heart arrhythmia and extended time away from school led to a hiccup in her academic career. Discouraged, Kaylee felt colleges would be more accepting of someone who took time off from school than someone who had lower grades. She left school for what she believed was a temporary leave.
By the time she was 18, alcohol and marijuana were Kaylee’s best friends.
“I suspected I was prone to addiction, since it ran in my family, so I actively avoided what I considered more serious drugs.”
While smoking pot with a friend from work last summer, Kaylee experienced a high like she never had before, with symptoms like numb limbs and feeling on top of the world.
Growing up a faithful Christian, Kaylee says she noticed the high made her feel “particularly close to God.”
Having Googled it later on, she believes the pot she’d smoked with that friend had been laced with either cocaine or meth.
“I was surprised, since I’d never perceived weed as a gateway drug, but here I was, being exposed to substances I never wanted in my life.”
To distance herself from the “friend” who gave her the marijuana, Kaylee left her job and did not return back to school. Her relationships began to suffer, and as a result, she turned to pot and alcohol to cope, with the addition of Xanax recreationally.
It wasn’t long after a painful breakup with her boyfriend of two years that Kaylee remembered the peaceful feeling she’d experienced smoking the laced weed. She went out in search of the same feelings.
“I decided to smoke meth for the first time. I stayed up for nearly three days and experienced hallucinations I wasn’t expecting — when I looked in the mirror, I thought I saw blackheads coming out of my face and I spent an hour picking at my skin until I drew blood.”
Kaylee says after coming off of the meth, she sobered up and watched a video she’d filmed while she was high.
“It totally freaked me out — the girl I saw, who kept talking and talking, seemed so different from the real me.”
Steering clear of meth, but still in pursuit of the peaceful high she’d once found, Kaylee turned to one of her roommates — a drug dealer — for ecstasy.
“I thought it would make me feel more confident; when it delivered, I started taking it once or twice a day on most days until the end of November.
While on ecstasy, I studied the Bible. I misinterpreted a lot of it. I convinced myself that meth would bring me even closer to God.”
Reading about Kaylee’s experience, I can’t help but see the reality of spiritual warfare as it plays out in her story. It rings similar to that of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3.
After God created Adam, he left him alone in the garden with only one command: “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)
Of course, after God left, Satan came to Adam and Eve and tempted them, leading them to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
But that’s not what I find important. It’s the WAY he tempted them that we see in both Genesis, Kaylee’s story, and even in our own lives.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.
He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:1-5)
Satan didn’t play on their goodness, but their Godliness.
When Kaylee says she felt closer to God when she was on ecstasy, we can see the same thing: The devil leading her down a path of destruction (because we know he comes only to steal, kill and destroy) by playing on her Godliness.
We know that God will never tempt us: “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.” (James 1:13).
And the vicious cycle continued. After using ecstasy for a few months, and feeling particularly lonely after Thanksgiving, Kaylee smoked meth with a friend. In no time, it progressed to snorting, then shooting as often as she could.
“My mom realized I was struggling with mental-health issues and drug abuse but later said she felt helpless; I wouldn’t commit to going to a drug rehab or a psychiatric facility, and without proof that I was a danger to myself, she couldn’t have me committed.”
That was on February 6, the same day her mom was on the way to the courthouse, when Kaylee’s drug addiction tragically changed her life forever.
An Eye for an Eye
Still high from shooting up the night before with the largest dose she’d ever used, Kaylee shares what she’s pieced together through fuzzy memory and witnesses.
With meth radiating through her system, Kaylee’s body, her mind, and her thoughts were not her own. She was hallucinating, and she had no control over herself. Kaylee found herself walking to a church at 10:30 in the morning.
It was just outside of the church that she had the thought that someone needed to sacrifice something important in order for the world to be made right again.
“I later realized this wasn’t a personal religious calling — it was something anyone on drugs could have experienced.”
A brief conversation with the man she was staying with is what convinced Kaylee that she was the one who needed to make the sacrifice.
He told her he’d locked up the house and asked if she had the key. “A sign, I thought, that my sacrifice is the key to saving the world.”
I’ll paraphrase her incredibly graphic and gory recollection of what happened next.
Kaylee was on her knees outside of the church using the fingers on her own hands to remove her eyeballs from her skull.
“Because I could no longer see, I don’t know if there was blood. But I know the drugs numbed the pain. I’m pretty sure I would have tried to claw right into my brain if a pastor hadn’t heard me screaming…and restrained me.”
A New Normal
In the month since the episode, Kaylee has overcome incredible obstacles. After recovering in the hospital, she was transferred to a psychiatric in-patient treatment facility. Kaylee admits that prior to being admitted, she was scared out of her mind about how she would be treated. But to her surprise, the help and support she received was “amazing.”
Kaylee was formally diagnosed with bipolar disorder, something she says makes so much sense now.
“It made sense, since when I felt happy, I felt super happy, and when I felt down, I felt deeply depressed. The turbulence left me especially susceptible to drug abuse, my doctors later told me.”
Through therapy, Kaylee began learning how to accept her new reality.
“Activities I used to enjoy, like playing guitar and learning piano, are going to be harder now that I’m blind, but I’m still optimistic. When I stub my toe or my knee, I think, Well, it probably saved me from walking into a wall and hitting my face.”
Kaylee Muthart says she still wants to go to school to become a marine biologist. In the meantime, she’s working on physical-therapy training with a cane through Commission for the Blind, and she began attending a new church. She plans to attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings for the next three months, and is working to raise enough money to get a seeing-eye dog.
“Of course there are times when I get really upset about my situation, particularly on nights when I can’t fall asleep. But truthfully, I’m happier now than I was before all this happened. I’d rather be blind than dependent on drugs.
It took losing my sight to get me back on the right path, but from the bottom of my heart, I’m so glad I’m here.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with drug abuse or addiction, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s 24-hour treatment referral hotline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit Findtreatment.samhsa.gov for free and confidential help. In the case of a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.