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Anxiety. Depression. PTSD. Bipolar disorder. The list of mental health disorders is quite long. And every disorder has its own challenges to overcome. There’s always been a stigma on mental health, or actually the opposite of health: illness. 

When someone has a physical ailment, let’s say a cough that lingers, going to the doctor is the most common thing to do. After all, we want to be cured. However, when it comes to the ailments withinthe unseen ailments of our soulpeople often hesitate to reach out. They’re afraid to be labeled. And many continue to struggle in silence.

But a mental disorder is a battle, against the biggest enemy one will ever face: Yourself. And it’s a constant battle. An exhausting one.

Everyone has a basement in their hearts. It’s full of secrets, things they don’t want others to know about. Just like everyone has their basement, everyone has an illness. We all have experiences in our lives that have shaped usand not all are good. It’s just that not everyone has been diagnosed.

RELATED: Mental Illness Doesn’t Care—But I Do

A mental disorder really just means that a person is “out of order.” So those of us who have been struggling mentally and are afraid to reach out and risk being labeled, guess what? We’re not crazy . . . we’re in pain. 

And just like physically, everyone has a different pain tolerance and there are different levels of pain, pain in our soul is no different. A disorder simply means we’re currently “out of order,” and we need a little more help to get put together again

Is there no full recovery? Just as healing begins when you acknowledge your illness, the moment of full recovery definitely exists. There is, however, a condition to full recovery. The condition is that you must not try to forcefully erase your wounds. 

On the contrary, you must embrace, accept, and love them. Each of our wounds becomes a map for each of our own lives. So, rather than trying to overcome the wounds, how about trying to embrace them? Because our scars are like a GPS to our lives.

This step is scary, and it takes courage. More courage than you may feel you have because to embrace your wounds, you must face them first. That’s the hardest step of all: facing the experiences that have been so profound that they’ve rewritten entire chapters of your life. Perhaps they’ve changed your entire course of life, knocked you off the path you wanted to be on. But it’s never too late to get back on track. 

It’s not something to be ashamed of to ask for help when you need it. Just like you go to a doctor for a physical issue, your soul can also be in need of mending. 

RELATED: This is Why People With Depression Don’t Reach Out For Help

If you’re afraid of the whispers you think you’ll find, remember: Don’t measure yourself with standards set by others. Praise and criticism are both just a passing breeze. They don’t last.

Life may have knocked us down for a while, but we’re superheroes. And in every superhero movie there are two rules: The hero always comes back stronger, and his greatest enemy is himself.

You’re not crazy, you’re in pain. Once you admit to your pain, you can begin healing. It’ll be a lifelong journey for most of us, but remember you’re not alone. There is help, just like a doctor for a cough, and a Band-Aid for a cut, there are different ways to mend a broken soul.

It’s okay not to be okay. And you can do it! You’re the superhero in your very own story. Wear your cape proudly.

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Jennifer is a Montessori teacher who left the classroom to focus on homeschooling her two amazing sons. Married to her best friend for over a decade and living in the Caribbean on a tiny island, which has its challenges and its perks.

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