I know this girl, she goes to my church and before I stopped going to the group, I was in the same church group as her. I've heard the readers digest verson of this but after seeing it at work last week (I work for this paper) I read the article as I was working. I thought I'd share it here, thought some of you might find it insperational. It starts off dark because it's a 5 part article chronicaling her life before and after the suicide attempt. She actually spoke at church the same weekend Zuzu (from It's a Wonderful Life) spoke right before Christmas a couple years ago.
So far they've only printed 2 parts. I was going to wait until it was done to post the entire thing back to back, but after finding this on the web just now, I decided to post what's up and keep updating.
An incredible journey
By KATHY GRESEY, firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, July 31, 2006 5:48 PM CDT
|Annie Christie - email@example.com Kristen Anderson reflects on the positive changes in her life beside the Lake Villa train tracks where she lost her legs at in a suicide attempt six years ago. Anderson's life-changing story has affected many.|
On the first floor of a sand-colored brick home in downtown Lake Villa lives a 24-year-old woman who no longer has her legs.
Though Kristen Anderson cannot walk, she is able to go places where no one has been.
Recently, she obtained an associate’s degree, and now she intends to earn a bachelor’s degree. She has a positive outlook on life and likes to help others. She is bursting with a desire to spread hope and joy around the world.
What makes Kristen’s story unusual is that she was not always so happy.
Six years ago, at age 17, she tried to take her life by lying on train tracks. Seconds later, 55 freight cars rolled over her body.
She lost her legs, but she found a new life in the process.
This five-part series will take you on Kristen’s journey. It will include information on how you can meet her and help her finish school.
It will explain how a typical little girl with everything she ever needed nearly became another teen suicide statistic and, in the process, found Jesus Christ.
The youngest of three children, Kristen Anderson grew up in a family that provided her with all of life’s necessities.
She had a roof over her head and plenty of clothes. She got good grades and regularly attended church.
Kristen admits she had few worries.
“As a kid, my life was really typical,” she said. “It wasn’t plagued with problems. But as I got older, I started to search for what my life was supposed to be about.”
In 1995, the Lake Villa resident began her freshman year at Antioch Community High School. She started playing soccer and picked up a part-time job at a pizza place. She began dating the would-be prom king and hanging with a different crowd.
Her circle of "popular" friends grew. But bad things started happening as well.
Within two years, three of Kristen’s friends died; another committed suicide. Her grandmother passed away and two older boys began pursuing her to the point of harassment.
Kristen found it difficult to talk about her problems and she started feeling guilty about what was happening.
“I didn’t know how to handle it,” she said. “I was just super stressed out, and I started getting sick, physically.”
Kristen’s mother, Jan, said she realized her daughter was under a lot of strain. But she never realized that the physical sickness was related. She said Kristen rarely looked to others for help during that time.
“She was the kind of person [who] was always there for her friends,“ Kristen's mother said. “But she never really leaned on her friends for help.”
Kristen's grades began to slip; she started getting rebellious.
“I started losing a lot of hope about life,” she said. “And then I was raped.”
A breaking point
It wasn’t until five years after her suicide attempt that Kristen spoke out about the rape.
That happened before her senior year, she said, and was committed by a man whom Kristen described as an acquaintance whose family had a prominent place in the community.
“I knew who he was, and I trusted him,” she said. But she didn’t tell anybody and never filed a police report because she had a hard time accepting it. At the time, she felt it was her fault.
Partying, drinking and smoking enveloped more of Kristen’s life. Because she was still getting physically sick, she began taking prescription drugs.
She started skipping classes and lying to her parents, but Kristen still found it important to please everybody.
“I blamed myself for all of these things that were happening to me and all of the world’s problems,” she said. “But I always had a smile on my face.”
Two days after New Year’s Eve of 2000, Kristen decided to take her life.
“Basically, I was just living in the day,” she said. “It was almost like I had died inside, and I was just walking through life. I just didn’t feel like I had anything left.”
The Kristen Anderson story
Kristen Anderson's story will be told in the Weekly Journals over the next five weeks.
Part one: Meet Kristen and learn how a typical girl began to lose hope about life.
Part two: Read how Kristen came to the conclusion that her life was not worth living on a cold night in January 2000.
Part three: Enter the world of a recovering amputee and discover how she found Jesus Christ.
Part four: Learn about an event that aims to help Kristen finish school and begin ministry work.
Part five: Discover how the community comes out in support of a 24-year-old woman