20-year-old Kaylee Muthart, a straight-A student, dropped out of school after she started missing classes due to working extra shifts to save up for a car and her heart arrhythmia condition. Her grades suffered so she thought it would be a better idea to take some time off, regroup, save money, and then re-enroll in order to secure a scholarship so she could go to college and study to become a marine biologist.
She started smoking pot and drinking socially. The feeling she got while high, she claims, made her feel "closer to God." One day, a joint she smoked felt different than the rest and she discovered that it was laced with a stimulant: she suspected it was either cocaine or crystal meth.
She was afraid of getting addicted to hard drugs, as she knew addiction ran in her family, so she stayed away from her high school friend who gave her the laced weed. The high she experienced from the stimulant in her joint however was always in the back of Muthart's mind - and after she lost her job and her relationship with her boyfriend was on the rocks, she was on the verge of a mental breakdown. That's when her addiction with harder drugs, including crystal meth, began.
After taking a particularly large dose and walking alongside a railroad track, Muthart had gotten the idea that the world and everyone in it would die unless someone sacrificed a part of themselves in order to stop that from happening. She believed it whole-heartedly in her altered state of mind. In a state of hallucinatory delusion, she came to the decision to gouge her own eyes out, with her fingers, for the sake of humanity. She wrote about the traumatizing experience in Cosmopolitan, it's a terrifying read, not for the faint of heart.
I got on my hands and knees, pounding the ground and praying, "Why me? Why do I have to do this?" I later realized this wasn't a personal religious calling — it was something anyone on drugs could have experienced.
Next, a man I'd been staying with, who happened to have a Biblical name, drove by and called out the window, "I locked up the house. Do you have the other key?" A sign, I thought, that my sacrifice is the key to saving the world.
So I pushed my thumb, pointer, and middle finger into each eye. I gripped each eyeball, twisted, and pulled until each eye popped out of the socket — it felt like a massive struggle, the hardest thing I ever had to do. 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, "I want to see the light!" — which I don't recall saying — and restrained me. He later said, when he found me, that I was holding my eyeballs in my hands. I had squished them, although they were somehow still attached to my head.
As horrifying as Muthart's experience was, however, she feels that her life is "on the right track now."
She's kicked her drug habit, joined a new church to surround herself with a new group of people that weren't into the lifestyle that enabled her substance abuse.
Muthart's adjusting to life while blind now, and has launched a GoFundMe to help her afford a seeing-eye dog. The Commission for the Blind helped train her in how to properly use a cane and she even has a smartphone that reads menu options and texts aloud to her. Although the results of her new life are tragic, Muthart is positive about her future prospects and is grateful to finally be off drugs.
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.
Muthart's story has garnered a lot of attention. The image of a hallucinating team screaming near train tracks trying to wrench her own eyeballs from out her head is one that's difficult to ignore.
But she's convinced that "life is more beautiful now" as a result of her trauma - and her positive outlook is inspiring others.
Others are pointing to Muthart's story as a prime example of America's growing drug problem.
As well as a call to action for increased attention on mental health.
BuzzFeed also wrote about Muthart's story but also pointed out that self-enucleation, or the act of removing one's own eyes is something that historically, has been associated with psychosis.
In the past 50 years, there have been over 50 verified incidents of individuals gouging their own eyes out in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.
In nearly every documented instance of the act, victims suffered from hallucinogenic episodes. There was a long-standing belief of psychiatrists that the act is deeply rooted in sexual or religious guilt, and people, while suffering from these psychotic episodes, get to believing that their eyes are offending or casting evil in some way.
However, it's directly linked to psychosis, and not Christian-religious guilt. Bipolar disorder, psychotic depression, psychomania, schizophrenia, all of these mental ailments, which can be exacerbated or brought on by repeated use of drugs like crystal meth that induce psychosis, could cause someone to tear their own eyes out.
Attacking one's own eyes, or the eyes of a loved one has happened before when people were under the influence of hardcore hallucinogenic drugs, like this one father who harmed himself and his son after taking PCP.
For Muthart, sadly, she wasn't able to be helped before she made such a drastic change in her life. Her refusal to live anything less than the best life she can now, however is admirable. Hopefully others can learn from her story and get help.
If you or someone you know is struggling with drug abuse or addiction, please call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration treatment referral hotline (1-800-662-4357) for 24-hour assistance or visit Findtreatment.samhsa.gov. You can also visit the American Addiction Centers website or call 888-987-9927 for additional support and information.