For many years I struggled with a psychological disorder called body dysmorphic disorder, otherwise known as BDD. During this challenging time, I habitually rejected my appearance and body, thinking I was too ugly to be alive. I suffered from low self-esteem, depression and suicidal thinking.

Nearly every time I looked at myself in a mirror, it was as though I was looking into a funhouse carnival mirror. However, to me it was more like a house of horror, as I routinely battled against the appalling image. Sad to say, I spent countless hours trying to “fix” my so-called imperfection, only to end up failing — surrendering to extreme anxiety, social paranoia and unbearable heartache.

I acted upon my suicidal impulses several times. Not only did this disorder affect my daily life, it also affected my relationship with my loved ones, my work and life in general. It prevented me from going out and enjoying life to the fullest with others.

In the height of this battle against self, I came to a rousing awareness that the only way out of my situation was to write about the torment ruining my life. Thus, writing became my saving grace, a source of healing. Whenever I wrote I stopped thinking about my supposed ugliness or suicide. That, in turn, allowed healing, transformation and a new life to blossom.

When I started writing about my battle with BDD, I found it therapeutic and liberating as I dealt with wounds from my past and learned to love myself. A therapist once told me, “When you learn to love yourself, in a healthy way, it is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and others.” This upturn in spirit brought about a brighter future not only for me, but for my loved ones, too.

Upon finishing my proposed book, with high expectations of helping others, I put the manuscript on my shelf for an entire year and a half. During this waiting period, I was inspired to keep writing, but for a different audience. I began to write Christian devotionals for women for a wonderful organization, Power to Change. My weekly devotionals were scheduled, published and released to more than 20,000 women throughout the world. Not only did I change the course of my life through writing, I also was blessed with the opportunity to become a blog mentor, a position that allowed me to minister to hurting people all around the world.

As time went on, I knew that it was time for me to publish the book I had put aside. Accordingly, I set out to publish “Arise My Daughter: A Journey From Darkness to Light.” I knew in my heart that it would be a valuable resource to those reading it — to those struggling with similar battles.

Today, I’m still writing. I believe writing saved me. It gave me a purpose. I am a transformed person, from the inside out, filled with a desire to reach out to others through writing, blog mentoring and leading women’s small groups.

I thought I would never escape the pain from my past and the disorder that spread havoc all around me, but I’m so grateful that I was wrong. Once I tapped into writing, journaling and reaching out to others, I found a new way of living. Through all this, I have learned that without loving who you are, it is nearly impossible to love others.