Kellie Pickler: I Battled A Year-Long Depression
"Everything in my professional life seemed great," says the former American Idol contestant, 22. "But in my personal life, I was just crumbling."
Anti-depressants made her "crazy," she says, and the side effects forced her to quit the pills.
At the same time, she watched her father – a convicted felon who had been released from prison soon after her Idol stint – spiral downward again and return to jail, while her mother, who abandoned her at age 2, unexpectedly reemerged.
"I was an emotional wreck," she says.
Her friendships with singers Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood, along with a new love – Nashville songwriter Kyle Jacobs – and writing songs for her new album (her self-titled sophomore effort was released Sept. 30) helped her find balance again.
"He makes me feel so good about being me," she says of Jacobs.
And while she says she's not ready for marriage, she looks forward to having a family of her own one day.
"I've always wanted to adopt," she says. "I wouldn't do it right now. I definitely have to get my priorities together first."
For more on Pickler – including how love and prayer played strong roles in her recovery – pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday