How to style heat damaged type 4 hair?

I swear I have tried everything at this point, and nothing seems to work. I don't want to cut my hair all off but I'm not really seeing any other options. I've had heat damage for as long as I can remember- for probably 5-6 years (I'm 16 years old now), my mom would take me to get my hair blow dried and braided every single week because I'm a swimmer. No matter how hard I try, I just can't seem to overcome the heat damage. I don't know what to do with my hair- I've been wearing box braids recently but I know I'll have to take a long break soon so that I don't damage my edges. I've tried twist and curls, flexirods, you name it, to try to be able to wear my hair out when I don't have braids in. Nothing works, and I just end up wearing it in a slicked back ponytail, which I know is damaging to my edges as well. All in all, my hair has just been disappointment after disappointment. What should I do? 

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