In Zachary’s own words:
Peyton Heart Project Ambassador Essay: By Zachary Mallory
Hello. My name is Zachary Mallory. I am a mental health, suicide prevention and LGBTQ+ advocate from Kansas City, Missouri. I’m 19 years old and I’ll be starting college online in August 2016 at Kaplan University.
(Warning-may contain possible triggers for some who have experienced self-harm.)
This is my story:
There’s so much that I could truly say, but would it make sense whenever I said it, probably not. But it’s always worth a shot, right? Truth is, even whenever it seems like it’s not the right thing to do, don’t be afraid to take a chance. That’s what I live by. What doesn’t kill you…makes you stronger.
Growing up, I guess you could say I had a normal childhood, but what’s normal anyways? Throughout school, it was like a putrid hell for me. I never knew what to expect whenever I was walking down the hallways. Was I going to make it to class on time, or am I going to get thrown down the stairs, yet again? It was like a reoccurring nightmare that just wouldn’t go away, no matter what I tried.
Coming home to my parents was my biggest challenge. Not because they didn’t accept me, but because I didn’t know how to tell them what was wrong with me and it depressed me even more because I was basically living a lie. I knew that I had to tell someone, but how?
I came home after school one day, and it was after being pushed off the bus and having the bus doors closed right in my face. The bus was leaving and I was late getting there because I got held up in the hallway by a high school jock and was forced to do something that I never imagined in life I would ever do. I won’t go into detail about what happened, just know it was very much embarrassing, in the school hallway of all places. He threatened me and told me that if I didn’t do it he was going to run around to everyone and tell them that I am a “queer”. In my mind I’m thinking, “What the hell is a queer? Is there something wrong with me?” I went around asking everyone about what a queer was and they looked at me like I was stupid. I had heard the word before but thought it was normal to be a queer. I thought queer was one of those new hip words that everyone was throwing around like “ratchet” or “thot”.
I finally broke down and wrote my parents a note about what I was going through at school and told them that I was truly feeling suicidal. They took me to a local mental health facility and they admitted me. While in there, all I did was sit in my room and cry myself to sleep countless numbers of times, and I would wake up screaming because I kept hearing voices telling me to just end my life, no one cares anyways. It truly felt like I was alone, the nurses would always come running into my room and I always told them I was fine and to leave me the hell alone. They would let me calm down because they knew I was going to be okay and I would talk whenever I felt like talking. I never figured out what my triggers truly were. I sat through the group discussions, but whenever it came time for me to share my thoughts and feelings and to mention about my emotions to certain topics, I never paid any attention and sat in the back of the circle and listened to music in my head, even though I physically didn’t have any music, there was still music in my mind.
Days went on and I was finally released from what seemed to be forever in that place. I call it “the hell hole” because that’s exactly what it was. It did absolutely nothing for me. I still felt the exact same as I did before I went in there, whenever I thought the purpose of going to something like that was to make me feel a thousand times better, but in honesty, I felt a thousand times worse. The worst I have ever felt.
A couple weeks went by and the same feelings were getting way worse than I knew how to truly handle. I went to bed that night and couldn’t for the life of me get to sleep. It was like something was forcing me to stay awake. I tried listening to what my heart was telling me to do but unfortunately, my brain overpowered me, as always. It was getting to the point where the only thing I could think about, even while being at school, was killing myself.
I was sitting in the classroom one day and the teacher was sitting right there at the desk while I was cutting my wrist with a blade that I got from a friend of mine. There was a puddle of blood on the ground. People would look directly at it and laugh and would point at it was running off my wrist. You would think someone would do something like tell the teacher or go get the nurse, but no, all they did was sit there and continuously laugh. It made me feel truly alone. I even tried raising my hand to go to the bathroom, but the teacher just kept talking, ignoring the fact that I could drop dead at any moment. In the hallways, every single time I walked by someone, they would point and laugh at me because I had gauze wrapped around my wrist, at least I got the bleeding to stop, but it left a major mark on my wrist and it’s been sensitive to the touch ever since.
I attempted suicide for the first time shortly after being diagnosed with manic depression. I attempted suicide by taking a knife to my throat in front of my parents. Hearing those sirens screeching, heading directly towards me made me want to never be alive again. All of my emotions and all of my feelings were coming in my mind and right before I took a slice at my neck my mom took the knife from me and hid all the rest of them in the house. I have always struggled with my anger and depression, but never this bad. It took everything in me to admit that I was attempting suicide to the paramedic and they strapped me down in the ambulance and they went to the hospital where I was placed on psych hold until an opening at the same mental facility that I was at the first time had a bed open for me. They told me “you’re going back to the mental hospital” Oh, yay me.
When I arrived back at the facility shortly after 9pm, I walked down the hallways past the room that I was in before. There was already someone else in that room. It brought back memories of sitting in the dark, screaming in pain and agony, and no one paid any attention to it. Maybe I truly was alone. This time at the mental hospital wasn’t all too bad, but it wasn’t good at the same time. I actually opened up about how I was feeling.
Shortly after being released from the mental facility the second time I came out as gay to my high school, friends and family. Everyone was very accepting and assuring that I was going to be okay. It’s like a huge sigh of relief whenever you hear “You are here because you’re strong and because you have a purpose in life.” I went to my very first gay pride festival in Kansas City that year. It was amazing because I was around people who were accepting of me and didn’t have to worry about anything, until I went back to the school the next day. The same people who were bullying me before had even more of a reason to bully me, and that they did. The bullying got worse. Now whenever I said everyone was accepting of me, I was referring to my family, friends, teachers, etc. I never said the entire school was, and that they were not. Shortly after I came out, about 6 others did too. Not all as gay, but at least I wasn’t alone. This was how my freshman and sophomore year went. I attempted suicide two more times after all of this. One was by overdosing, two was by attempted hanging in my friends basement.
Towards the end of my junior year on into my senior year, I got a phone call from Nickelodeon saying I was nominated for the HALO Effect Award, which stands for Helping and Leading Others. I was nominated for my bravery and honesty as well as my mental health and suicide prevention, LGBTQ+ advocacy. I flew to NYC where I attended the annual HALO Awards show. I met some very amazing and inspiring people and of course, I met Victoria Justice and Carlos Pena Vega (from Big Time Rush). I was having the time of my life. Oh, did I mention I took selfies with Nick Cannon and Victoria Justice? Well, that happened too!
I came back home and had interviews with the local news media. It was the first time that I’d ever even talked with the news stations and newspapers. It was a whole new experience, and seeing myself on TV for the first time, was truly amazing. Shortly after the first news station interviewed me, the rest followed and my phone was blowing up with people requesting interviews. It was amazing and I had so much fun doing it. I got less nervous and more used to their questions the more interviews that I did.
One night, I was watching Spongebob then the commercial that they highlight the HALO Effect Award honorees came on and I saw myself. I hate my own voice whenever it’s being recorded but at least I was on there. I felt like I truly did something with my life, and I did it big. I never once imagined I would ever be on a nationally known television channel, but like my mother always told me “Expect the worst, but hope for the best.” and was she right the whole time.
Let me tell you a little about my mom. She is my everything. She’s my best friend, not just my mother. I can tell my mom anything, and she will never judge me for it. I can be myself, I can trust her with my life. She’s the one person who was there for me besides my grandma. My grandma passed away, unfortunately, on February 20th, 2014 at 4:45am. I remember it vividly. That was a true living nightmare being right there and watching my grandma take her last breath. It’s an experience that I never want to relive.
The first person who I actually came out to as gay before I did it with anyone else was my grandma. I called her at 3am, I don’t know how your grandma is, but mine was pissed, but once I told her what was going on, she was reassuring and told me to calm my silly as* down and that she knew all along that I was gay. That was the best day of my life. She saved my life. I am forever grateful for that.
In all honesty, if it wasn’t for my mom and grandma, I wouldn’t be here sharing my story with the world and inspiring others to do the same. I started a project back in May of 2016. It’s called the VoiceMatters Project, a project focusing on mental health, suicide prevention, and LGBTQ+ advocacy and inspiring others to share their stories regardless of who or what they are and identify as.
Thank you for taking the time to read and hear me out. It truly means a lot. One piece of advice is never give up and keep up the good fight. You are brave, you are beautiful and most importantly, you are NEVER alone. Thank you.
I heard about the Peyton Heart Project by doing some searching for suicide and mental health projects. The Peyton heart project means a lot to me because I have been affected by suicide, self harm, etc. I think it’s very inspirational to have something like this going on.
I’d like to be a Peyton Heart Project Ambassador because I am willing to do whatever it takes to create a change in the community. The ideas I have to bring to the Peyton Heart Project to my community are doing discussions and having different youth groups go out in the community and share the kindness and the message behind the Peyton Heart Project.