Kaylee Muthart, the woman who ripped out her own eyes while in a meth-induced psychotic state last month, is finally home and hopes for a better life after losing her sight.
Muthart was found gouging out her own eyes with her hands outside of a church in Anderson, South Carolina, on February 6. The 20-year-old fought off help from locals while in a state of delirium, and it eventually took a team of deputies to restrain Muthart long enough to transport her to the trauma unit at nearby Greenville Memorial Hospital, where doctors broke the news to Muthart’s mother, Katy Tompkins, that her daughter was completely blind.
After an extended stay at the hospital and a psychiatric facility, Muthart returned to her mother’s home on March 1, and started her new chapter without sight — but with a new state of mind.
“It’s the same life, but I’m just learning everything in a new way,” Muthart tells PEOPLE. “Life’s more beautiful now, life’s more beautiful than it was being on drugs. It is a horrible world to live in.”
Months before the incident took place, Muthart says she was given marijuana from coworkers that was possibly laced with either cocaine or meth. She felt a high that she had never experienced before, and once she researched her symptoms and discovered this, she left her job and co-workers behind. She would remain out of work for another month until she landed another gig, where another coworker pressured her into trying meth for the first time. Eventually, she gave in.
“I took a video while I was on it, and I had been up three days straight,” she recalls. “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.”
Though she stopped using meth for a brief period of time, Muthart returned to it as she started feeling isolated and lonely. Just days before she was to enter a rehab facility, Muthart used meth and experienced a hallucination that warped her perception of her relationship with God, and then led her to the railroad tracks outside that church on an early February morning.
“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,” she says of her hallucination. “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 recalls. “And I was glad to do it because I’ve always had a big heart and nobody’s ever giving me that love back.”
As Muthart walked closer the church while she searching for an acquaintance, she felt time was running out to save the world, she made her sacrifice.
“I proceeded to pull out my eyes with my bare hands and twisted them, and pulled them, and popped them,” she says. “I told the pastor who showed up, ‘Pray for me, I want to see the light, pray for me.’ ”
Today, with the help of her mother, Muthart is working out her experiences of that day, and trying to reconnect her faith.
“I’m learning Genesis to build my foundation,” she says, before letting out a laugh. “When I do something, I go big or go home… obviously. Humor is something that gets me by, laughing, music, that day itself.
RELATED VIDEO: Mom of 20-Year-Old Daughter Who Gouged Out Her Own Eyes While on Drugs Speaks Out
Aside from trying to reconnect to her faith, Muthart is also learning how to live without sight. She says there will be much work until she’s able to feel normal once again, but she’s learning to adapt day by day. One of the things that have taken her by surprise is the phenomenon of the human form of echolocation, where the blind use sound to navigate their surroundings.
“I’ll forget I’m blind sometimes because I know what’s around me,” she says. “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.”
This has helped keep her from bumping into objects around her home, and it offers her a bit of hope that she’ll be able to move around independently as she refines this new skill. There have also been a few things that have taken almost next to no adjustment at all, such as her ability to strum a guitar. In fact, she just learned how to play Green Day’s “Time of Your Life,” just an hour before speaking with PEOPLE.
“It’s just pretty cool to be able to play another song,” she explains. “Because it’s another melody you can play through your B.S. with.”
Music, she says, is something that has helped her recovery from all that she has gone through, from that morning in February, and before it.
RELATED ARTICLE: What Would Drive Someone to Gouge Out Their Own Eyes?
Muthart says she is expected to go back to rehab for another four weeks in the near future, but she’s been keeping herself busy before then by serving as a public speaker for the Commission for the Blind. She also hopes to raise enough money for a seeing eye dog through her GoFundMe page that has raised more than $18,000 of its $50,000 goal. Most of all though, she wants to share her story so that others know the dangers of hard drugs—something she is happy to finally have out of her life.
“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 says. “I’m Kaylee Jean Muthart, just like I was 10 years ago. Just better.”