By Kylie Mann

Junior and senior year of high school were rough. I was in a dark place–alone–and my family was disconnected.

When you have depression, you just really don’t care. You don’t care much about yourself, let alone your family dynamic. Because if you don’t really care about yourself, why would you think others care about you?

Both my parents are lawyers which (surprise) means emotions weren’t really the center of our conversations. I felt unseen, unheard, and alone. There was a hole–one I was trying to fill. I had friends, I was on the dance team, I was “popular,” but this hole still existed. I felt numb to most emotions. I tried dating, drinking, and even shoplifting to ease my pain. I didn’t realize the hole could really only be filled by God. 

I didn’t understand why my parents were so “controlling.” It made me angry, so I just continued with my sinful behavior. I didn’t understand that what I perceived as “controlling” was actually their love for me. They were worried and scared. Now of course I wasn’t just drinking in the house or bragging to them about my shoplifting, but they could tell that I wasn’t okay. My mom sat me down to talk about what was going on, and I told her how depressed I was. She said we could go to my doctor and talk about antidepressants. 

In this situation, I wanted her to just talk to me about my emotions, but I was also completely unaware of exactly how chemically imbalanced my brain was. I didn’t even ask to talk about my emotions, though; I was closed off and defensive. I simply went to the doctor and got antidepressants. My parents didn’t know how to give me what I needed, because even I didn’t know what I needed.

After extensive growth in my relationship with God, my depression got better. I grew in my relationship with Him (it took a while, yes, but I’m here now!) and I realized, alongside my family through therapy, that vulnerability is strength. It’s how we truly connect and understand.

As I sit here writing this at age 22, I can’t even believe how far the Lord has brought me and my family. Instead of feeling dismissal, dread, or denial when I think of my family, I feel joy and love. Honestly, if I think about my family too hard, I might even cry tears of joy. They are such a blessing, and I am so grateful for my complete and total realization of that. 

“Lord Jesus, our Savior, let us now come to you;
Our hearts are cold; Lord, warm them with your selfless love. 
Our hearts are sinful; cleanse them with your precious blood.
Our hearts are weak; strengthen them with your joyous Spirit.
Our hearts are empty; fill them with your divine presence.”

Saint Augustine