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I’ve struggled with my mental health since I was 10 years old. What started as simple anxiety over tests in school quickly grew into an irrational fear of almost everything. 

Once I encountered trauma and verbal abuse as a teenager, I didn’t know how to cope. I hid behind perfectionist ways and believed I could use unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with the crumbling world around me. 

It would take me decades to believe I needed counseling. It would take me years to actually go to my first appointment and start receiving the help I needed. 

If I could spare myself much heartache, there are 14 pieces of advice I would give my younger self. This is also the same advice I’d give to those struggling with their mental health in this day and age.

1. We Can Learn From Trauma. As much as I wish I wouldn’t have had to endure some painful circumstances in this life, I’m thankful that I now know we can learn and grow from this trauma.

 It took me nearly 10 years to get involved with counseling because I feared what others thought. Learning to process our trauma not only helps us heal faster but helps others along the way. We can learn from the trauma we experience even if we’d rather not experience it.

2. What The Enemy Meant For Evil, God Meant For Good. One of my favorite stories in the Bible is found in the book of Genesis. After Joseph is betrayed by his brothers and sold as a slave, he encounters blessing and misfortune. He gains high positions only to be thrown in prison and forgotten. The most beautiful thing about Joseph’s story and life as a whole, however, can be found in Genesis 50:20: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people” (NLT). 

The same can be true of things that happen in our lives. I’ve experienced joy and hardship. God’s presence has remained in both. And no matter what I go through, He can and will turn it into something good. Even when I can’t feel or see that good right now.