Hello there! So my name is Diana and for as long as I can remember I have had depression. At first I wasn’t really aware there was even a name for what I was feeling. I just assumed I was a sad person and it frustrated me at times that I couldn’t think of a reason why I was constantly sad. Growing up I was very lucky to have a loving family, a bed to sleep in, and food always on the table. I lived comfortably, I still do so I thought I was also just ungrateful in a way. I couldn’t comprehend why my brain always wanted to die when my life really wasn’t as terrible as my brain told me it was.

Now just because some factors of my life went well, it doesn’t mean I didn’t go through rough patches. My gosh, there’s several but there’s two main ones that really created insecurities for me which I then turned into scenarios that could help me mold them into strengths. When I was 12 years old, I began the 6th grade (middle school)  here in the USA. Before 6th grade I was in elementary school where I had the same teachers and classmates throughout all educational subjects of the day. In middle school I had different teachers and classmates for all classes and being someone with introverted tendencies, it was overwhelming. I tried to socialize, start conversation but I was rejected. I had ZERO friends for that entire first year. I never really hated myself so deeply as I began to do so then. I felt like an alien, something disgusting and unlovable.

Fast forward to the next year, 7th grade and it seemed to get better but not for long. I met my old best friend and a few of my mates from earlier years were in some of my classes. I was ecstatic thinking finally I had friends to eat lunch with and hang out after school! Soon after the school year began, a group of girls I had never once spoken to developed a hateful interest towards me. My old best friend was good friends with them and would inform me of their hateful comments about my body. My “friend” is the reason I found out about these girls. They made a cartoon booklet of me being ridiculed for having thick legs and then being stabbed to death. This sent my 13 year old brain into panic mode. Eventually they began to confront me to my face. They’d call me fat, ugly, an elephant even though I was actually really thin. I would be in my lunch period and they would send girls to relay a cruel message to me. They even pretended to be boys I liked by creating fake online profiles to then publicly shame me. This bullying lasted over a year and by the 8th grade they stopped and a couple years later I cut ties with my friend who informed me about these girls and never once stood up for me.

The thing with depression is that you can be sad for no reason but when others hurt you and rough stuff goes on in life, the illness blows it way out of proportion. I fell in love when I was 15 and he left me when I was 18. I was heartbroken and life seemed senseless. This was my tipping point because I tried to take my own life. I couldn’t see a way out of the darkness. You could say this is the point when I began to be more aware of my personal needs as this is also when I began to take medication for the next 6 years of my life.

The thing is never once did my doctor suggest I try to eat better and exercise as a way to further alleviate my depression. The possibility that perhaps I could fight my depression without meds and just natural methods wasn’t even presented as an option. Now I am not blaming my doctor, I am just pointing out how unaware I was of my options. I could have perfectly done some research but I was lazy and lacked the desire to put effort in myself other than popping my pills. As a result of my laziness, I went from 120 pounds to 175 pounds. I am a short girl standing at 5 foot 3 so that is a pretty heavy weight for someone of my stature. I grew even more depressed, insecure and I blamed everyone and everything but myself.

It wasn’t until January 2016 when I had an emotional breakdown that I began to make changes. I was sitting in my kitchen crying. I was going through withdrawals as I wanted to attempt living without medication. My husband decided I needed to see that I could be strong even in my worst moments so he cooked up a meal for me and told me I would be going for a short run after I digested my food. I agreed because he didn’t just put up with my moods but he has always been so amazing at trying to understand me and see the good in life. So I angrily agreed and stepped outside. I began to sprint, he yelled cheering me on and I struggled. I felt so heavy, each step felt like I had a heavy boulder attached but each step was a victory. The more I ran, the more I realized I was really doing this, I was exercising during the shittiest day ever!

I was overwhelmed with the realization that all these years I concocted so many elaborate excuses of why I can’t. All those years I was my own biggest bully. I was the one destroying my morale, pointing out every physical and internal flaw. I picked myself to pieces that I deemed as a waste of life on this planet. But I wasn’t a waste, my depression had been in control this whole time and I allowed it. I decided to take back control, or at least learn how to. I began my Instagram page @fuckdepressionfitness as my online diary to share the highs and lows of fighting to live a healthier life mentally/physically while battling mental illness. I learned so many things along the way. I used to value the number on the scale, now I know about body composition and how it’s better to go by the way clothes fit and the look in the mirror. Advertising from many brands make you feel that the smaller the number the more attractive you are. I embarked on a journey to not just help myself realize these things but to also help others learn what I learn with me! It’s so easy to feel alone and helpless. I needed to be the person I needed when I was younger. I work on being strong yet showing my weaknesses because nothing is perfect. People need to see that their role models aren’t always glamorous, they fall down too but they also work hard to get back up!

I didn’t beat depression. If I let my guard down, stop eating the way I do, training consistently and observing my thought process then the depression will creep back into my life. It is always there in some dark corner, some days I feel it closer and others it’s not there at all. The difference is now I challenge that voice of my illness that says I can’t with a million reasons on why YES I CAN. Even if I feel I can’t push myself to do it, I do my best to get out of bed and give it my best shot just like I did on that very first night where my excuses became clear.

Realize that there is strength in your weaknesses. Your illness will try to convince you that you are not enough, it will spew 5,000 reasons why not. It is up to you to prove to yourself why you can. Ok so you’re depressed, have anxiety, bipolar etc but think about how if you fight back you will develop a this powerfully strong internal foundation because you fought back at the negativity with brave thoughts and kind actions toward your mind and body.

Do you have the ability to succeed? Yes you do. The strength is within you, you may not feel it but if you dig deep and dedicate yourself to discovering it, then you will be pleasantly surprised!