Posted on: March 4, 2020 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

Anna Stronski
Outside Contributor
Kayla Smith, 17, may come off as a simple, easy-going, and brave girl. However, no one would ever be able to envision what she had to endure in order to achieve the life she has today. 
“I grew up with my mom, dad, and brother. Unfortunately, there were a lot of drug problems in my family resulting in a lot of financial issues. My dad always worked, while my mom had trouble keeping a job, so I spent a lot of my time with her. She was very emotionally and mentally abusive when I was younger,” said Smith. 
Smith grew up with what people would call a “normal family,” but behind closed doors, financial problems and drug addiction were only a couple of bad things she was forced to experience. Sadly, no matter how hard she tried to get away, her mother was always there, making her feel tied down and miserable. 
Being around all this toxicity, Smith turned to art to get away; she used it as a method of coping. 
“I have been drawing since I could pick up a pencil,” Smith said. “It gave me something to do when I was bored and it also distracted me from rough times.”
Because Smith had so much bad in her life, finding something that she could look forward to was extremely crucial. It provided her with motivation to keep moving forward rather than a reason to give up because of the bad that she was surrounded by.
There was once a point in time when Smith was so used to her mother’s unkind actions that she believed what her mom was doing was normal. It took constant reassurance from her grandmother, who helped her through every family problem that she has ever faced, to finally believe that her mother’s unkindness was wrong. 
“My grandma used to go on rants to me about how my parents are treating me wrongly, and I refused to believe her,” Smith said. “As I got older, I realized that it wasn’t normal.”  
Accepting what was going on in Smith’s life was a difficult thing to do. She did not face this abuse for a couple years. It went on for years – from when she was a child all the way until she was 15, when she finally decided she needed to get out of her house. 
Because of her mother’s abuse, there were a few instances where Smith needed to leave home. 
“There was a situation between my mother and I; she happened to be under the influence of alcohol and that was the day the physical abuse began. I was around 12 years old. The cops were involved and my brother and I were court ordered to live in another home for at least a month, so we stayed with my grandma. I decided to stay with her for about a year instead out of fear of going back. Then, after a lot of one-on-one and some family therapy, I decided to try to go back home,” stated Smith. 
Unfortunately, family therapy only helped for a few years and then another bad incident occured; this time, she decided she had had enough, and left her home for good. 
“[There was] Another incident during the summer before my sophomore … This time I was the only one involved and it was the day I decided I wasn’t going back,” Smith said. 
Finally, after leaving the toxic place she was forced to call home for 15 years, things slowly began to look up for Smith. 
It is no secret that Smith has had a difficult life. Because of all she went through, she became very familiar with mental illness. Fortunately, after moving in with her grandma, she was given the opportunity to attend therapy.
“I was diagnosed with PTSD and major depressive disorder,” said Smith. “I had trouble with my depression before I left home, but a few months afterwards was when it hit me the hardest. Things started to pick up after I was prescribed [an] antidepressant.” 
With the help of a therapist, Smith was able to understand herself better. She learned to accept that she deserves better than the life she had before. Occasionally, she thinks about her past and wishes she left her parents earlier. She is not happy about the way her past turned out, but she is happy with the life she has now. 
Smith has learned a lot through her tragic experiences. However, after all of the hardships that she faced, she has grown to be stronger than ever; she has learned to never give up. 
“You are not alone; millions of children are in similar situations. If you aren’t able to get out as soon as you’d like, don’t give up hope. There is always light at the end of the tunnel. You are stronger than you think you are. Always try to find motivation to get through rough times, and try your best to build a support system. Regarding those who are out of tough situations like me, you are also not alone. There are billions of people who are neglected and abused by family members. You need to learn to accept what happened and live in the present,” Smith said.
Smith encourages others to always stay strong and to never give up. She wants others to realize that no matter how alone they feel, they are never alone. 
Anna Stronski can be contacted at