Hope in Darkness: Journeying Through Mental Illness

Photo by Thu Anh

Photo by Thu Anh

With the help of social media, mental health has become part of the national conversation. As more men and women open up about their struggles with anxiety, depression and other mental illness, we better understand the great suffering––and also the great hope––of their journeys.

Still, there exists the stigma of mental illness––even within the Church. For women, mental health can be especially difficult to navigate. Where can Catholic women turn to for support?

We asked four women to tell us about their journey with mental illness: how it has challenged their faith and where they’ve found healing. This interview also features common questions about depression and anxiety answered by a mental health professional. 

We pray these interviews encourage you and inspire hope. You’re not alone. 

Always seek the advice of your mental health professional or other qualified health provider. If you're having suicidal thoughts, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to talk to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area at any time (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline).


Upcoming Interviews

July 24th: Interview with Hillary Mast on Postpartum Depression

Preview of the Interview

“It's when I accept this cross and seek help with it that I feel the most peace. It's the times when I try to ignore it or wish it away that I usually feel the worst. I have come to realize that God has healed me, not in the way that I once envisioned, but in a way that makes a lot more sense and has resulted in a lot more dependence on his grace.”

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About Hillary

Hillary Mast is wife to one handsome man and mother to three sweet kiddos. She loves living in Colorado where God's creative handiwork seems just a bit more evident than anywhere else in the world. She recently began managing the Cora Evans blog, part of a website dedicated to publishing the writings of Servant of God Cora Evans and promoting her cause for canonization.


Available July 31st: Interview with Katie Kuchar on Anxiety & Depression

Preview of the Interview

“I continued to go to mass and pray regularly even though I wasn't feeling better, and this was hard because there were periods where I wondered if God had abandoned me or if I was doomed to live with anxiety and depression forever. Eventually, I came to realize that God was reaching out to me through the people he sent my way to help me sort through my wounds, my mess, and help me rediscover my true identity as a beloved daughter of God.”

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About Katie

Katie Kuchar is a wife and mother of 7, with one of those children in heaven and one currently baking in the oven. Married to her husband of 9 years, Katie lives on a small acre in southern Idaho with her garden, chickens, dog, cat, goats and bunny. Her joy in life is to get to know other women who are trying to live out their vocation and encourage them on the way to sainthood. You will find her on any given day strumming her ukulele, drinking coffee, and rewriting the lyrics to popular songs as she tries to convince her children to do schoolwork and chores. Her favorite color is blue, she loves the outdoors, and enjoys asking existential questions on the regular.


Available August 7th: Interview with Susie Oppelt on Depression

Preview of the Interview

“I used to think that if I loved God better, or if I were more lovable to Him (as if I could do anything that would make Him love me more or less than He does!), then my depression would go away. It made me realize, eventually, how harmful "prosperity gospel" thinking is, and also how easy it is to fall into that kind of thinking. Thankfully, my experiences have made me more aware of that and helped me to recognize it more in my own thinking and in others––and put a stop to it before it becomes harmful.”

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About Susie

Susie Oppelt is a lover of flowers, animals, knitting, writing letters, and dad jokes. She lives in Colorado, where she was lucky enough to grow up, and enjoys daily walks with her dog Nutmeg. She is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the John Paul II Institute, where she studied a lot of theology. She's the proud godmother to five children and is trying to imbue her love of the faith (and of flowers) into them as best as she can.


Available August 14th: Interview with Maria Abbe on Anxiety

Preview of the Interview

“Yes, I have to remind myself every day because the world is loud and wants to take over, and anxiety wants us to believe that WE have to control everything. But if I’ve learned anything, it’s that God has it. Really, think about it. He is the God of the Universe. Your problem? It has already been worked out for His good. Rest in that. Rest in Him.”

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About Maria

Maria is the mind behind RunningMyselfTogether, a blog that empowers and teaches mental, physical and emotional health through the practice of running. She’s an RRCA Certified running coach and leads a run club in Charlotte NC, called ARC Running. Running is a big part of her life and has taught her how to take care of herself––mind, body and soul. You can contact Maria at maria@runningmyselftogether.comwith questions, speaking and guest blogging opportunities, as well as running coach inquiries.


Available August 21st: Interview with Skylar Chew on Mental Illness

Preview of the Interview

“Because mental illness isn’t a choice, people with depression or anxiety can’t just “cheer up” or “calm down” at will. Just like physical illness cannot be willed away, neither can mental illness. While prayer is important, you wouldn’t tell a person with serious physical illness to just relax and pray; you would send them to the doctor or emergency room.”

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About Skylar

Skylar Chew is a Licensed Social Worker (LSW) and School-Based Mental Health Therapist for the Children’s Home of Cincinnati. She has served as a Mental Health Therapist for Catholic Charities of Southwestern Ohio and a Mental Health Specialist for the Lindner Center of Hope, an in-patient psychiatric treatment center. Skylar has also worked with survivors of sex trafficking in Greece, homeless families in Boston, and unaccompanied refugee children from the Middle East on the Greek island of Lesvos. She received a Bachelor or Science in Psychology from Ball State University and a Master of Science in Social Work (MSW) from Boston College. She has a concentration in global social work and a certificate in trauma studies, and she is trained in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Seven Challenges, a specialized treatment model for adolescent drug and alcohol recovery. Outside of work, Skylar enjoys running, drinking coffee, traveling, baking muffins, reading, staying involved in her local parish, and discovering all of the hidden gems in Cincinnati!