Mallory Gothelf was diagnosed with general anxiety and major depressive disorder at age fifteen after her parents brought her to the emergency room on Christmas day. At that age, Mallory didn’t realize that managing and recovering from her illness would be a long journey (and not just a brief hospital stay) or that it would ignite her passion for giving back and being a voice for others. On this episode, Mallory and I talk about the mental health challenges she has faced (thanks to, as she puts it, hitting the jackpot win in the genetic lottery), the moment during college when she walked herself into a hospital and took the first real steps towards recovery, and why being an advocate for others is such an important part of her identity.
Mallory Gothelf is a writer, speaker, and passionate mental health advocate. Deciding to give her illness a purpose, she has taken to stepping out of the shadows of her disease, and into the proverbial light, to bring a face of hope to those still in the throes of this battle.
It was December 25th, 2010. While most people were home celebrating the holiday with their loved ones, Mallory was being rushed to an emergency room. A friend she had been confiding in for months about her undiagnosed anxiety, panic, depression, self-harm, and suicidal ideation, no longer felt that Mallory was safe. After breaking the silence about Mallory’s struggles to her parents, Mallory was immediately rushed to an emergency room, and eight hours later, began the first of many stints in a psychiatric unit.
After many years of struggling behind closed doors, Mallory took her story public, sharing her journey in speeches and blog posts all over the internet. Although she will never use the word recovered, believing recovery is an ongoing process, she is finally in a place where she feels she can use her struggle as a way to connect with others who are in the throes of battle. Her catchphrase, a variation of a quote from “Perks of Being a Wallflower,” is used to instill hope that life isn’t finite, but has infinite possibilities. Tattooed on her arm, it reads, “And at that moment I felt infinite”.
Here are some of the things Mallory and I chatted about:
The Christmas Day she ended up in the ER and spent eight hours in the psychiatric unit
Her diagnosis of anxiety and major depressive disorder, and the hospital stays that followed
Why her diagnosis brought her family closer, but some behaviors also caused distrust
The turning point when she, on her own, finally decided to invest in her recovery
Why she said “yes” without hesitation when asked to speak to other patients about her journey
The pivotal moment when her illness took on a sense of purpose and her advocacy began
The significance behind her tattoo, which reads, “And at that moment, I felt infinite”
Her decision to share her message with a bigger platform and the reaction that followed
Why some topics related to her illness are harder to open up about, like self-harm and OCD
Her sense of gratitude for the people who stick by her through the ups and downs of her illness
The power of writing your own story in a way that’s unique and genuine to you