Regnum Christi

Hello from the Other Side

I’ve always been very open about my mental health journey – I have experienced mental health issues throughout my entire adult life, and that has manifested as mild to severe depression, panic disorder, and anxiety. Some of these chapters in my life I recognized – and was officially diagnosed – as I was going through them, and some I recognized later, now that I am a little more savvy and understand the signs and symptoms of mental illness in my own life. But I’ve never been ashamed to admit that I had or have depression, that I experience panic or anxiety; never in my life have I ever felt that this was something I had to hide. I’m a pretty open person – for me the stress of trying to hide my faults is far worse than any perceived humiliation I might experience from letting people know exactly who I am. I’d much rather have everyone know what a mess I am than try to pretend that I’m perfect.

Because of my relative openness to talk about mental health, I was recently asked to speak at a Women’s Mental Health event at my parish, to share the story – or at least a small part of it – of my journey through depression and anxiety. The one thing that I never felt during that difficult time was alone, because I had this crew around me, supporting me, providing for me, praying for me, so in essence, my talk was really more of a love letter to the people in my life who walked that journey with me, and what that looked like. Here is a short excerpt of that love letter:

“When, many years ago, I told my family and friends that I had been diagnosed with Prolonged Postpartum Depression:

– my friend, Lilia, drove over with a bouquet of flowers
– my dad came over just to give me hug
– my husband left me a note beside the bed (which I still have) that simply said “You are so brave”
– my friend, Laura, came over, gathered all the dirty laundry from the floor of my children’s rooms (several of whom were potty training with varying degrees of success), took the laundry to her house, washed it, then returned the laundry, sorted and folded at my back door.

You have no idea how much these small and large acts of kindness touched me, and told me that I was not alone, but that I was in fact, a part of a team that was walking this journey with me.

One thing that is very difficult for me when I am experiencing moderate to severe depression is prayer. I can’t form the words in my head to pray, and sometimes I lack the hope to even do so. But I know that that, too, is ok. When I told my friend, Joan, that I simply couldn’t pray, she said, “that’s ok, I’ll pray for you,” but what she meant wasn’t just that she would remember me and my intentions in her own prayers, but that she would pray my prayers for me. She would be my voice when I didn’t have one, she would be my faith when I had none, she would be my hope when I felt there was no hope. 

And I had dozens of other people praying for me, because I asked for it, begged for it, and I know those prayers travelled with me on my journey.

But I have also become acutely aware of the prayer of the Church throughout this all. When I went to my priest for confession, and told him that I was in despair and couldn’t pray, he didn’t chastise me, or even tell me to persevere – instead, he told me that now was the time to let the Church pray for me. So I asked the saints, any of them, all of them, whoever was listening, to pray for me because I couldn’t do it myself. When I didn’t even have the mental energy to pray the rosary, I listened to it being prayed online, knowing that those prayers were being said for me. I fell asleep listening to Masses being said online (I don’t know if it’s liturgically acceptable to fall asleep to the Mass, but I received so much comfort from the Mass being said – somehow, miraculously, mysteriously – for me). I knew my Church – all these Catholics, on earth and in heaven, that I did not know, and who did not know me – was walking with me.

And finally, my journey has been filled with people who have simply shared space with me when I was not at my best, when I had nothing at all to offer.

We have a little cottage at the Beach – it used to belong to my grandparents so it’s 100 years old; it’s had raccoons living in the ceiling and porcupines in the crawl space; it has no shower, and we only recently got a hot water tap. So suffice it to say, it’s not a luxury beach house, but it’s a place where my husband and I love to hang out with our family and our friends.

But last summer, I was in the worst of my depression: I wasn’t sleeping (or I was always sleeping), I wasn’t eating, and I wasn’t finding joy in anything. But we had friends who wanted to come to see we and to stay with we. We know they weren’t coming for the cottage, and they weren’t even coming for the company, but they came to just be with us. “I’m sorry I’m not at my best,” I’d say and they’d say “That’s ok, we don’t care.” And it just made me feel so incredibly loved, not for what I can do or offer, not for how fun or entertaining I can be, but just because I am, they loved me and spent time with me because I am.

And so I guess this is the lesson that I have learnt through my journey so far, that sometimes when it feels like you can’t help someone or heal them, or fix the situation for them, that’s ok. Because for me, what mattered most, what healed most, were the people who just walked beside me. Who said “I know, this is awful, but I’m here anyways.”

And that’s really the story of our faith. It’s the story of Veronica, wiping the face of Jesus, it’s the story of Mary, at the foot of the cross – “I’m here.” It doesn’t feel like a lot, and it might not feel like you’re doing anything, but I can promise you, standing here now on the other side, that it’s the thing that matters the most.

So this is just my journey through mental illness, which is unique and mine and looks different than yours and everyone else’s. What I do know is that everyone here, and everyone we encounter, is walking a hard journey, and my own experience with mental illness has made me more aware that we’re out there, walking, crawling and hands and knees, or dragging ourselves commando style, or laying in the middle of the road because they just can’t right now, or walking with really, really heavy burdens.

There might be times along the journey that you are not able to pray. That’s ok, because you have a Church praying for you.

There might be times along the journey when you have no hope. That’s ok, because I, standing here before you on the other side, will have hope for you, because I am standing on the other side.

There might be times along the journey when you have no faith. That’s ok, because God is there regardless, and I know that He is present, walking with you.

And there might be times along the journey when you feel alone. You’re not. You are being accompanied by a God who is walking with you, and you are surrounded by people who will walk with you. I’m one of them, so that’s at least one person who is praying for you, who has enough hope and faith for both of us, and who is willing to walk this journey with you.”

All the Regnum Christi news, delivered each week

Scroll to Top

Alex Kucera

Atlanta

Alex Kucera has lived in Atlanta, GA, for the last 46 years. He is one of 9 children, married to his wife Karmen, and has 3 girls, one grandson, and a granddaughter on the way. Alex joined Regnum Christi in 2007. Out of the gate, he joined the Helping Hands Medical Missions apostolate and is still participating today with the Ghana Friendship Mission.

In 2009, Alex was asked to be the Atlanta RC Renewal Coordinator for the Atlanta Locality to help the RC members with the RC renewal process. Alex became a Group Leader in 2012 for four of the Atlanta Men’s Section Teams and continues today. Running in parallel, in 2013, Alex became a Team Leader and shepherded a large team of good men.

Alex was honored to be the Atlanta Mission Coordinator between 2010 to 2022 (12 years), coordinating 5-8 Holy Week Mission teams across Georgia. He also created and coordinated missions at a parish in Athens, GA, for 9 years. Alex continues to coordinate Holy Week Missions, Advent Missions, and Monthly missions at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Cumming, GA.

From 2016 to 2022, Alex also served as the Men’s Section Assistant in Atlanta. He loved working with the Men’s Section Director, the Legionaries, Consecrated, and Women’s Section leadership teams.

Alex is exceptionally grateful to the Legionaries, Consecrated, and many RC members who he’s journeyed shoulder to shoulder, growing his relationship with Christ and others along the way. He knows that there is only one way, that’s Christ’s Way, with others!