Last month we were all horrified to hear about the story of 20-year-old Kaylee Muthart, a young America woman who gouged her own eyes out during a meth-induced hallucination to leave her blind.
Now, Kaylee, from Anderson, South Carolina, has spoken with PEOPLE about her experiences with addiction and her hopes for the future.
Muthart had been a hard-working student until she left school at 17, initially planning to take time off school due to working long hours and missing class because of a heart problem.
Unfortunately she never went back, starting by drinking and smoking pot socially before an acquaintance of hers handed her a spliff laced with a stronger substance which made her feel 'close to God'.
"I think the pot I'd smoked had been laced with either cocaine or meth, both of which are stimulants," Kaylee told PEOPLE. "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."
Soon after, Kaylee's casual drug-taking got worse after she broke up with her boyfriend and suffered a mental breakdown. Last August she decided to smoke meth to recreate the 'strange high' she had previously felt. By November she was snorting or shooting it.
Her mum tried to get her to go to rehab, which she agreed to do the following week. However, before she did, Kaylee took a huge dose of meth which gave her a terrible delusion.
"I remember thinking that someone had to sacrifice something important to right the world, and that person was me. I thought everything would end abruptly, and everyone would die, if I didn't tear out my eyes immediately," she said.
"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."
Kaylee was later told by a pastor that he found her holding her eyeballs in her hand, squashed but still attached to her head.
Kaylee was sedated and airlifted to the Greenville Memorial Hospital where doctors worked to preserve what was left of her optic nerves and treat her wounds to ensure it didn't become infected. Kaylee has now been left permanently blind.
Since being released from hospital, Kaylee has started receiving treatment for bipolar disorder. She still hopes to become a marine biologist and plans to get eye prosthetics and a guide dog, thanks to a GoFundMe page her mother started.
Although Kaylee still has regrets about her situation, she says that now at least she is better off than she was before.
"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," she said.
"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."
To donate to Kaylee's GoFundMe page please visit here.
Featured Image Credit: PA