I was told by someone that I need to "get the reader on her side through strength, not pity." I have no idea how to do that, and didn't even realize that I might have been doing it in a way that would be a problem. My intention was to have her near her breaking, and that was why she finally agreed to go on the "quest" she goes on and face the villain. If she wasn't so beaten down, I don't know why she would bother going. In the story, she has been suffering from psychic attacks from the villain, which have been getting worse and worse all the time. She often faints from them, and they are very painful. The few times she had them at school made everyone think she was crazy, so she's been bullied, and she is depressed, partly because she never got over her mother dying seven years earlier. It's realistic for her to be the way she is, and any "strength" stuff I could ever come up with would contradict everything or seem just plain forced and fake.