I still remember my first panic attack. Sudden rush of anxiety flooded through my mind. My hands were shaking, my breathing was irregular, what was wrong? I had no clue. My sophomore year of high school, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. Not really knowing what that was, I was on my own to figure out how to deal with this part of myself that I did not know was there at all. Fast forward to now, still struggle with my partners, anxiety and depression, but the journey was made a lot easier with the reaching out and recognizing I am not alone.

Coming into Biola, I was really nervous of how my mental health would change. I was just starting to get the routine of my anxiety but I was worried that everything would turn upside down when I entered into a completely new stage of life. It was daunting and hard, I am not going to lie. But the amount of care, love and support that I received at Biola has truly helped me make leaps and bounds from where I started as a timid scared sophomore.

At Biola there are so many resources that truly have changed my life for the better. We have a facility called the Biola Counseling Center (BCC) that pairs you personally with a therapist or counselor. This is accessible for all students and is so accommodating for everyone. There, I really found peace, answers, and tools to help me in my mental health journey. Specifically, with my therapist, we talked through how to see the goodness of God in the midst of darkness and pain, and prayed together through it all. It is so incredibly special to have a Christian counselor to really care and be intentional with your mental health journey.

Now, I am a lot healthier. I know myself more, know my mental health more. It doesn’t make it easy, but it does provide so much healing. I think what I learned the most is not to hate that part of myself. So often, mental disorders can be seen in such a negative light. Yes, they are so messy and can feel so devastating at times, but I have learned to lean into God in that. When my hands are shaking, God teaches me to slow down. When my breathing and heart rate increases, God reminds me to breathe in His truth. When my mind is filled with lies and darkness, God saves and redeems. These are some of the things that I’ve learned in my mental health journey at Biola. I want to encourage you that you are not alone and there are so many professors, counselors, pastors, friends and resources here to help you along your journey as well.

Mental illness is not a failure