If you had told me eight years ago that I would be touring North America, teaching bootcamps to raise awareness and funds for TWLOHA and their message, I would have laughed at you.
I was never the active kid. I was always the uncoordinated loner, sitting on the sides of the playground listening to a walkman instead of playing sports with the others. I never wanted to participate because I was intimidated and, frankly, the active kids were the ones who made fun of me for being nerdy and “different.”
After I was diagnosed with clinical depression and obsessive compulsive disorder in high school, it made a lot of sense why I felt so different. After years of struggling to fit in, it seemed like everything was against me. I felt I had been given these life sentences with no hope to come out of them. I sank further into depression, using drugs, alcohol, and relationships to try to feel better.
I was so desperate to get rid of the pain, but I refused to talk to anyone about it. I was struggling all the time. I didn’t think there was any other way to live.
In 2005, the pain got so heavy and unbearable that I felt like I just couldn’t handle life anymore. I decided to end it.
Thankfully, my roommate at the time stopped me and begged me to go find help. The next morning, I was admitted into the inpatient suicide watch program against my will. It was the most frustrated I’d ever been—and it was the best thing to ever happen to me.
When I got out of the hospital, I decided to start trying. As futile as it might be, I decided to fight for my life and my happiness.
After being in therapy for years, it was only when I started committing to my physical health consistently that I was finally able to implement the tools I had learned to cope with my depression and OCD. Having that physical outlet through which I could release my negative energy and focus solely on strengthening myself, inside and out, was crucial to my recovery.
I’ve been free of suicidal thoughts for years now, and I give all the credit to a blend of therapy and fitness. Now, I’m a personal trainer and creator of Strong Inside Out, a blog that empowers people to overcome life’s obstacles through fitness and positive action. My mission is to convince every person that their story is important and to help them lead the thriving lives we all deserve.
When I found To Write Love On Her Arms, I wished I could have had such a resource when I was struggling. Having been in a dark place, it is obvious to me how effectively TWLOHA speaks directly to a person in that state. I knew I had to help as much as I possibly could, which is why I’ve launched the The 30×30 Project: a 30-city fitness bootcamp tour across North America to share my story, raise awareness for the fact that hope is real, and benefit TWLOHA. My goal is to complete all 30 cities by the time I turn 30 years old in November, in celebration of the birthday I almost didn’t have.
In every single city I go to, at least one person comes up to me and tells me their own story of wanting to give up and how they overcame it. These people who are doing amazing things all had points in their lives in which they didn’t want to keep going.
As dark as it may seem right now, please know hope is real. We want you here, and we are here to help. Reach out, talk, find an outlet (creative, physical, therapeutic, or all of the above) and fight for it.
With hope and fire,
If you get the chance, go see Amy on her 30-city bootcamp tour and help celebrate her birthday by making sure others see their next one. If you can’t make it, you can follow along on her blog, Strong Inside Out.