As a high school student, Kevin Hetrick didn’t eat much. He didn’t shower regularly. He barely slept trying to get his homework done.
Growing up, his home life was tumultuous, he says. He sunk himself into academics, taking honors classes and participating in as many extracurricular activities as he could, always seeking perfection.
“Whenever I didn’t succeed, or I wasn’t the greatest, whenever I wasn’t the best, I felt an abnormal sense of disappointment that wasn’t brought on by anyone,” says Hetrick, now 24 years old. “It was brought on by me.”
Eventually he cracked, he says. By the time he graduated and went on to college, he had already survived two suicide attempts and had been institutionalized.
In college, his depression took a turn that disturbed him — he became addicted to pornography.
“My addiction drove me deeper into depression, My character defects and bad habits caused me to just snap. I had a nervous breakdown.”
He began looking for help. In an effort to end his addiction, Hetrick began reading the Bible and attending a 12-step program during his second year of college.
The program helped with his pornography addiction, but his depression continued. He planned to commit suicide by overdosing on his medication.
“I hated my pain, my failure and my life,” Hetrick says. “After fixating on the thought of suicide, my funeral, people crying, people regretful and missing me, I finally had a moment of enough clarity to call 9-1-1.”
He called the police for himself and was put on a 72-hour suicide watch. After being released, he never went back to school.
It was at that “low point,” he says, that he turned to faith for answers.
“I studied with Mormons for weeks. I studied with Jehovah’s Witnesses for months. I researched the Quran,” he says. “I studied with Catholics. I studied the Bible with multiple people.”
“I had been so alone, emotionally and physically, that I just wanted to be around people,” he says.
He eventually found his place in a Christian community. “I found that when I had bad habits I couldn’t just break them. I had to replace them with good habits and that takes practice.”
He’s slowly recovering, he says, and he credits God and his church. His parents were surprised to hear that he had turned to a church. He says it was the first time that any of his relatives had approved of what he was doing. That encouragement went a long way, and he grew closer to his brother and the rest of his family.
Hetrick is now back at school, attending Pierce College and majoring in mathematics and debate. He wants to write a book and become a leader in his church. Through the church, he hopes to be able to reach out to others who need help.
“Those that are depressed want community. They need it,” he says. “Finding a group of friends, a church, a 12-step program and surrounding yourself with community [has worked for me]. Be open with that community, open about how you feel and how they can help you when you’re depressed.”