When Lindi Ortega steps on to a stage, her audience sees a powerful, beautiful and independent woman who possesses talent in spades. When Ortega looks into a mirror, however, she sees something else. The up-and-coming country star recently opened up about her struggle with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) in a poignant essay.

In a piece for Lenny Letter, Ortega reveals that she has struggled with BDD since her early teens. A condition that effects about 1 in 50 people in the United States -- the occurrence rate in the U.S. is about 2.1 percent in women and 2.5 percent in men, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America -- BDD leaves its victims suffering from a paralyzing obsession with their appearance.

"When I was 13, I showed up to a party where I happened to be wearing the same top as one of the 'pretty girls' in my class," Ortega recalls of how her struggle with BDD began. "Noting this, a boy lined us up side by side and decided it would be fun to compare us.

"His cruel assessment of me, in front of my peers, was devastating," she adds. "Up until that point, I hadn’t really had any comparison for my looks; I thought I was normal. It wasn’t until people told me I was ugly that I started to believe that I truly was."

Ortega goes on to share the disorder's gradual domino effect on her: She became consumed with changing her appearance throughout high school and college. It was when she came perilously close to failing classes in college because of her BDD that she finally sought help from a therapist on campus; however, she couldn't afford counseling after graduation and continued to suffer in her 20s.

Fortunately, when Ortega was in her late 20s, her mother persistently convinced her that she needed to "rewrite the negative tapes playing in my mind," and persuaded her daughter to make her health a priority, even if therapy was costly for the struggling musician.

"What I got out of therapy was invaluable; it taught me how to cope with anxiety, panic attacks and depression," Ortega writes. "Over the years, I’ve managed to quell the negative voices screaming in my head."

But it's not always easy, still, for Ortega: Being in the spotlight and on social media, she faces plenty of criticism, which she says she has learned to ignore.

"Though I often wish that less value were placed on image and that it were good enough for people to simply listen to my music, the beauty I seek now is a different kind," Ortega says.

Ortega's upcoming three-part concept album, Liberty, is due out March 30. She created the record as a message of hope to others who are struggling through their own battles and emerging victoriously.

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