"Before I got into that relationship, I had a good head on my shoulders and walked with my head up high," Gonzalez, 21, says in the July issue of Seventeen.
"But during that relationship, things went down little by little. It was such a dark moment in my life. It was horrible!"
Because of her situation, "I wasn't having my rest or eating the food I wanted to eat. So I mentally gave up, but I still did what I had to do. I think perseverance is the key to success. There were so many roadblocks for me, but I overcame them all."
Gonzalez appears on the cover and in a six-page fashion and beauty layout in the magazine – part of her winnings, which also included a contract with Elite modeling agency and a $100,000 deal with CoverGirl.
Gonzalez, who last week attended The CW's upfronts in New York City, says she gained self-worth from her sometimes challenging experience on Top Model: "I couldn't believe how mature, strong, and confident I've grown. I definitely broke down along the way though."