I've struggled with bouts of depression since I was eleven, but nothing so bad as what I've faced these last several months.

It started after a near-death experience, but I think I had been feeling dissatisfied with everything for a while before that.

I went a couple months of dealing with the darkest depression I've ever experienced on my own before finally reaching out for help. I put it off for as long as I could, sure that I would be disappointing my friends and family, that my struggle would not only burden and hurt them, but that no one would be able to understand why I wished I hadn't survived.

While the exact reasoning may differ from person to person, there's always some excuse we all have for keeping our struggles to ourselves. Maybe it's not wanting to be a burden or inconvenience, maybe it's a fear of being misunderstood, or maybe it's guilt. Regardless, it keeps us quiet.

And staying silent is the most damaging coping strategy.

I never thought that was my issue. In fact, I was sure that the real problem was my tendency to overshare (and I had the cringey memories to prove it), which explains why I tried to compensate and keep everything buried deep inside, so as to not embarrass myself again.

But learning how to open up to people when I feel angry, depressed, or anxious has been the most difficult thing I've ever had to do. It's not even something I've mastered yet; I'm still hesitant to be vulnerable.

And yet, as the Lord has been gently and lovingly addressing this in my life, I've had conversations with people I care about where I've been on the other side of vulnerability.

I've been the ear to listen and shoulder to cry on as my loved ones have opened up about their own struggles with depression or feeling far from God. Sometimes the Lord has given me His heart and words of encouragement for them, but every time, without fail, I feel led to thank them for being open with me, and, if nothing else, to continue to do that.

Whatever the struggle, the answer is always vulnerability.

Whether you're dealing with traumas or hurts, anger, depression, anxiety, feeling far from God, or any kind of sin or addiction, the most important thing is to stay vulnerable. Keep opening up to the people you trust, who care for you and will help you. There's this sense of freedom and relief that comes with it.

The minute we close ourselves off is the minute we've lost.

We weren't made to go about life on our own. God created us in the context of relationships; first and foremost for our relationship with Him, and for our relationships with each other. That's why all analogies used to describe the Church have to do with interdependency: the Body of Christ, living stones built into the temple, a family, etc. We're meant to go through life together.

I've heard it said that the degree of our vulnerability is the degree of our freedom, of our healing.

So if you're struggling with anything at all, know that you don't need all the answers now. You don't have to have it all together or know all of the steps to take toward getting to a better, healthier place.

The first and most important step is to speak up.

Talk to someone. Talk to a therapist, get a support system, and keep talking. Don't ever close yourself off. So long as you're staying vulnerable and talking to people, you'll be fine.