In early February, 20-year-old Kaylee Muthart began scraping out her eyes with her own hands near a church in Anderson, South Carolina.
Passersby attempted to help her, but she fought them off until a team of police officers restrained her.
Muthart was brought to a local hospital where doctors determined she was entirely blind. She stayed at the hospital and a psychiatric facility for an extended period of time and is now living with her mother, Katy Tompkins.
“It’s the same life, but I’m just learning everything in a new way,” Muthart told the magazine. “Life’s more beautiful now. Life’s more beautiful than it was being on drugs. It is a horrible world to live in.”
Before the incident, Muthart said she smoked marijuana that she thinks was laced with meth or cocaine. She says she got a high that she had never before experienced.
She then quit her job, but when she found another one, she says she was pressured by a new co-worker into experimenting with meth.
“I took a video while I was on it, and I had been up three days straight,” Muthart said. “I eventually got taken home and got sober and watched the videos, and put that person out of my life and stopped using the drug.”
Muthart said she stopped meth for a short time, but began using it again after feeling lonely and isolated.
Days before she was scheduled to go into rehab, Muthart took meth and began hallucinating about her relationship with God, which brought her near the church where the incident took place.
“I thought everyone who had died was stuck in their graves, that God was up in Heaven alone, and that I had to sacrifice something important to be able to release everyone in the world to God,” Muthart said in the interview with People.
“It made the world darker, and took everything I believed in and distorted them to make me go down the path to pulling out my eyes.”
“It was scary. I didn’t understand what God wanted of me, but it made me feel a sense of righteousness that I had to be the one to do it,” she said.
“And I was glad to do it because I’ve always had a big heart and nobody’s ever giving me that love back.”
Muthart began walking closer to the church and began searching for a friend, at which point she said she felt pressure to make a sacrifice.
“I proceeded to pull out my eyes with my bare hands and twisted them, and pulled them, and popped them,” she said. “I told the pastor who showed up, ‘Pray for me, I want to see the light, pray for me.’ ”
Now, Muthart is trying to make sense of that day with the help of her mother and her faith.
“I’m learning Genesis to build my foundation,” she said. “When I do something, I go big or go home … obviously. Humor is something that gets me by, laughing, music, that day itself.”
Muthart also is working to learn who to navigate life without her sight, which she said will take a long time and a lot of work. For now, she said she is taking it day by day.
She said she has been surprised by the use of echolocation to move around using sound.
“I’ll forget I’m blind sometimes because I know what’s around me,” she said. “Not down to a tee, but I know what my mom’s house looks like. You still see, but you don’t see with your eyes, it’s hard to explain because I don’t even understand it myself.”
Muthart said she is hopeful she will eventually be able to get around independently. And other tasks have not been negatively affected, such as her ability to play guitar. Indeed, she said music has helped her recover.
For now, Muthart is keeping busy. She has rehab for at least several more weeks. She also has been serving as a speaker for a blind advocacy organization and is hoping to raise money for an assistance dog.
Mostly, she said she wants to share her experience so others know the dangers of drugs.
“I’m able to be Kaylee again. I’d rather be blind and be myself than be Kaylee on drugs, and I truly mean that with my heart,” she said. “I’m Kaylee Jean Muthart, just like I was 10 years ago. Just better.”
[Featured image: Kaylee Muthart/GoFundMe]