Depression Army

Marching Out of the Dark

Depression Army is a growing and dynamic international movement that aims to end the stigmatism surrounding mental illness and to serve as a community of support for those undergoing one.

Building the Strength to Defeat Depression

Guest Author, Monica Amaya

At 17, I started researching universities to apply to. Rather than feeling excited about going away for college, I was starting to feel overwhelmed. College applications themselves were expensive enough and I wasn’t going to let that stop me from applying to the schools on my list. So, I got a little part-time job at Starbucks to help me pay for my application fees. Now I had the stressor of a new job in my life while my friends simply considered me lucky. “You work at Starbucks! What are you complaining about!?” They would say, not understanding the amount of pressure I was in. 

The combination of these stressors and the tempting employee discounts, led to my body changing before me. I no longer played sports for my high school team, focusing completely on the college application process. But, before I knew it, I had gone from a healthy basketball player to weighing over 200 pounds in just 8 months

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The realization hit me that day on the scale: I had gained 67 pounds of pure fat.

People began to talk in hushed whispers about me. They would look me up and down and ask me what happened, as if somehow my self-worth was associated with the amount of fat I carried on my body. On top of the relentless criticism I received from just about everyone, I was dealing with my own health battles, both mentally and physically. This led to low self-esteem and a number of physical health problems. 

This is when depression hit me hard. I didn’t know what to do. I looked in the mirror and no longer recognized myself. How could I let this happen? I blamed myself entirely. So, I started to distract myself. I counted the days until graduation, and even skipped classes to avoid all of my classmate’s stares. My grades began to drop and I realized I was hurting no one but myself.

Eventually, I received my first acceptance letter. I no longer cared about anything else. I told myself all I had to do was pass my classes, graduate and I would be happy. I wanted more than anything to get away from all the criticism and start over. When I grasped my high school diploma in my hand, I knew I had succeeded. From here on out, I was to live out a new chapter of my life.

With this newfound motivation, I tried to lose weight that summer, but anyone who has ever tried to lose weight knows it isn’t that simple. It’s easy to get discouraged and I did. As summer flew by, I was still overweight and on my way to starting college.

After a year in college, one of my good friends asked me to be my personal trainer. He knew I had been struggling with my weight for a while. He had just received his personal trainer certification and was very interested in helping me. I accepted and that moment changed everything.

To this date, I’ve lost 74 pounds, gained muscle mass, and can truly say I’ve found a passion in strength training. The strength and power I felt physically translated into mental power, as well. I realized how powerful motivation can be and how dedicated I was to becoming healthy again.

 I started picturing depression as the enemy I was fighting whenever I boxed. I began to love myself again, not for my outer appearance but because I realized I was an extraordinary person who had the power to do anything she set her mind to. 

My journey has been a lot more than weight loss. It has helped me discover a side of myself I never knew I had. I now have the strength to do anything and know that I can. My journey has also helped me discover my true passion in helping others. I’m currently a personal trainer with a specialization in weight loss. I want others to find that confidence within themselves and know that they, too, can gain the courage to change not just their weight, but any aspect of their life they set their mind to.

Today, I support Depression Army because sometimes all we need is a little bit of support to propel us towards our dreams.

About Monica

Created in 2015 by a group of people dedicated to ending the stigma on mental illness