‘I was still being bullied. I developed a crush on a cute boy. He told me, ‘Here, take this. It will make you feel so much better. You won’t have any pain.’ I immediately felt like I was on cloud nine.’

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“When I was in school, I was a constant target of bullying. I was the type of person to never say how I was feeling out loud unless it was to myself. I was isolated from peers in school because I felt like I didn’t belong. I felt like I was different than them. I came home from school every day and would go directly to my room. My parents always asked me, ‘Hey son, how was your day?’ I would shrug and walk away. They had their suspicions, but they assumed I was doing okay.

I would wake up each morning, look at myself in the mirror and wonder, ‘How can I change myself to be like everyone else’ Were these thoughts normal for an 8-year-old to be having? I would sit by myself at lunch each day during school and I would talk to myself, as if someone else was around. I’d get the weirdest looks from the other kids. They would torment me, yelling at me to ‘shut up already.’ ‘You are so weird for talking to yourself, and you wonder why nobody likes you?!’ That became a constant, and maybe they were right. No one liked me because I was different.

Courtesy of Zachary Daniel Mallory

I had a small group of friends that stood up for me against the derogatory comments. I felt like I could trust this group of friends because they stood up for me and defended me against those guys who would call me ‘faggot,’ ‘queer’ since I would always hang out with just girls. I had no idea what those words meant at a young age. I looked at myself as ‘different’ because while all the boys were looking and talking about the girls, I was talking to the girls talking about boys. I began wondering if I was all of those things the boys were calling me. Is it okay to be a ‘faggot’ or ‘queer?’ I came home and asked my parents what those words meant and their response was, ‘You will come to find out that not everyone is going to accept you, and when you get older, you will learn what those words meant and how they affect you.’

I remember the first time I admitted I needed help of controlling my emotions and my thoughts. I was sitting in my room and I found myself writing a letter to my parents, letting them know I had a plan for how I was going to kill myself. My heart was racing, my head was pounding so fast to where it felt like it was going to burst out of my body. I felt entirely isolated from reality and I had to find a way out. The thing that seemed to be the most pressuring, yet reassuring, was suicide. It was my freshman year of high school. I wrote a 5 page letter, probably the most I ever wrote about my feelings and emotions to my parents. ‘Dear Mom and Dad, Today I must tell you – I feel like dying. Not naturally, but because of how I am feeling right now.’ Those words still stick with me.

My parents took me into the living room, sat me down on the couch and asked me, ‘Are you okay? We are very concerned about your letter to us. I think we should talk about it, if you are up to it.’

Courtesy of Zachary Daniel Mallory

I remember going outside and trying to get ahold of my best friend who lived up the street. He was very used to getting phone calls like this from me. He answered the phone. ‘I’m getting ready to kill myself. I need you to hurry to get here,’ I told him. About 2 minutes went by and he came racing down the street and pulled me away from the knife I had in my hand, which I grabbed from the kitchen on the way out of the door.

He went inside and motioned for my parents to come quick and to call 911. Not even a minute or so later, I attempted to take my life by cutting my wrists. I was immediately rushed to the hospital by ambulance and they had to bring me back to life by doing CPR. I felt like my life was truly over.

Once we arrived to the ER, I was rushed back into a room where they performed a psych evaluation on me and placed me under a psych hold. I was transported to a local psychiatric hospital where I remained for several days. I met with the doctor and I mentioned to him I was still feeling suicidal. He told me, ‘Breathe and relax. Everything will be okay.’ So I did. I went back to my room and I began journaling on a piece of paper. I found it to be very relaxing and it took a lot of pain away. I began talking about how much I wanted to die and how much I hated myself for letting myself get to being this way. I knew no one would listen to me if I tried to explain to them what was going on inside of my head. ‘They would totally reject me and wouldn’t listen to a word I say,’ was constantly running through my mind. It was a sequence that just kept repeating itself.

I was eventually released from the psychiatric hospital and took home some new medications. As weeks went on, I started feeling suicidal again and even worse, I began having nightmares. I was having flashbacks of when I attempted suicide. Those nightmares became more realistic with time. I remember sitting in my room, falling asleep and I kept waking right back up because I was afraid of those nightmares coming back. I would literally stay awake for 3 or 4 days at a time just to keep myself from having those flashbacks. My eating became sporadic and I lost several pounds, I was dehydrated because all I wanted to drink was soda because I hated the taste of water, my eyesight became blurry and I later needed glasses to focus on anything. It was a very rough spot in my life. It all started with a suicide attempt.

I was still being bullied in high school. To add on to the stress, I developed a crush on a very cute boy. It felt right to kiss him in the hallways and hold his hand on the way to classes, but the comments that were made directly at us from other students made me feel even worse. We went over to his house after school one day and he introduced me to several of his friends. They were all sitting in a room smoking weed and listening to heavy metal music. He told me, ‘Here is a Fentanyl, it will make you feel so much better. You won’t have any pain.’ I took the pill and I immediately felt like I was on cloud nine. I became numb. It was a whole new feeling for me. It was nice to have an outlet to happiness.

I developed an addiction to Fentanyl, and I came out to everyone as bisexual. It was like I was living a double life – one day I am depressed and isolated, and the next day I am extremely happy and not feeling anything. I became the school laughing stock. I wasn’t allowed to participate in anything ‘masculine’ which included any of the sports teams. I found my joy by being in a theater class with other Queer people like myself. It felt like a chosen family. I felt like I could be myself without a care in the world, but deep down, they were all struggling too. We became very close friends until there was a rumor about me going around about having sex with one of the most hated people in the school, and my ‘popularity’ immediately faded away. I was back to being an outcast.

Courtesy of Zachary Daniel Mallory

I went to the bathroom in school and I had a bag of Fentanyl with me. I took over 6 of them at a time because I was tired of being bullied and having rumors spread about me. ‘Why does this keep happening to me? What did I do to deserve this?,’ I told myself as I stood in the bathroom, slowly fading away. One of the teachers happened to be trying to find me. She searched all of the classrooms with no luck. She sent in a fellow classmate to the boy’s bathroom to see if I was in there. Sure enough, he found me. All I remember was thinking, ‘You can’t save me, it’s too late, I am slipping away quickly.’ My mom must have been speeding to get to the school. I felt her touch and she kissed my forehead and told me, ‘You are stronger than you know. You will be just fine. Keep pushing through like the fighter we all know you are.’ I was put onto the stretcher and rushed to the hospital. It was 3 weeks after my initial suicide attempt, and I had the exact same nurse and doctor from before.

They remembered me and they took very good care of me. I was once again transported to the local psychiatric hospital. I met with the same doctor as before and he changed my meds. I was later released because they felt I was able to ‘control my thoughts and my emotions.’ That’s what they thought at least, but deep down, I knew all of this was going to happen again – intuition.

I had to make up so many school assignments from being absent almost 40 days of the semester. The only thing that was making me feel happy was my Fentanyl. The guy I liked later told me, ‘You are far more than what I can handle. I have my own stuff I am dealing with and I can’t babysit you to make sure you won’t do something completely f**cking stupid again.’ I once again became suicidal.

I would sit by myself in class, trying to keep myself focused, but the only thing I could do was pull out my phone and google ‘everything about being queer and being a homosexual.’ I came across my first porn site and I thought to myself, ‘that’s disgusting, I really don’t want to be like that.’ I tried to change my perception of boys and I tried to do masculine things to fit in with a different crowd, but I kept failing. I would have rather sat back and watched the boys get sweaty than to try and change myself.

I moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, for a fresh beginning 2 years after I graduated high school. Everything was going okay. I was staying with a close friend I have known for 7 years. He was the sweetest guy ever. I liked him more than I should have. I got onto dating apps like Grindr and Tinder and I eventually started dating one of the guys I made friends with. I knew it wasn’t a good situation to be in, but I went with it because I was new in Minneapolis and I wanted to get new friends and eventually fall in love with someone. He was the best guy that ever came into my life. He would call me every single night and tell me how lucky he was to have me and how much he loved me. We got very close really quickly, but little did I know how much of a disaster it would turn out to be. He lied to me, he cheated on me and he told me everything he said to me wasn’t true one bit. I felt heartbroken, disgusted after being intimate with him. My life was crumbling all over again.

I went into the bathroom after having an argument and I took a bunch of pills. Luckily the friend I was staying with, who was more like family, was there to help get the pills out of my mouth before it was too late. I was passed out for hours and woke up feeling horrible. It was several days before feeling like I could breathe on my own again. I never heard from my ex again. I didn’t have a reason or purpose for staying there anymore, so I called my mom. ‘Momma, can I come back home?’ She responded with happiness. ‘You know you are always welcome here anytime.’ I boarded the next bus and was on my way back home.

Courtesy of Zachary Daniel Mallory

I started going to counseling and getting back on the medications I desperately needed. I am so very glad I did. My mom was diagnosed with depression and is taking medications now as well. She told me, ‘You are not alone. We will get through this together.’

Each day I sit and reflect on what has happened to me over the years. I am forever grateful to still be alive and thriving better than I ever have before. My biggest piece of advice to all of you is this – continue living your life each and every day, and live it like it’s your last. Things can happen that will make you feel like you’re not worth it, but believe me when I say – it does get better. Without the rough times in my life, I wouldn’t be who I am right now, advocating for other scared young men just like me. It has shaped the person I am and has made me not take life for granted. Think of all of the beautiful possibilities that can happen in this life.”

Courtesy of Zachary Daniel Mallory
Courtesy of Zachary Daniel Mallory

[If you’re thinking about hurting yourself, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionhotline.org to live chat with someone. Help is out there. You are not alone.]

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Zachary Daniel Mallory, 22, of Kansas City, Missouri. You can follow his journey on InstagramFacebook and TwitterDo you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

Read Zachary’s compelling backstory:

‘I remember thinking, ‘What the hell is conversion therapy?’ She introduced me to ‘Pastor Jake.’ He was going to ‘take good care of me.’ I immediately wanted to leave.’

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