In an emotional new New York Times profile by Karen Crouse, Gold reveals that at the height of her depression in 2017 she sometimes slept for 24 hours at a time, covered every mirror in her home as "she could not stand the sight of herself," and often couldn't even manage to brush her teeth or hair

By Lindsay Kimble
January 28, 2019 11:57 AM
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Gracie Gold
Nam Y Huh/AP/REX/Shutterstock

U.S. figure skating champion and Olympic medalist Gracie Gold is opening up for the first time about the harrowing battle with mental health that led her to withdraw from both the competitive skating circuit — and her life in general.

In an emotional new New York Times profile by Karen Crouse, Gold reveals that at the height of her depression in 2017 she sometimes slept for 24 hours at a time, covered every mirror in her home as “she could not stand the sight of herself” and often couldn’t even manage to brush her teeth or hair.

“I was suicidal for months,” Gold, 23, told the Times, explaining that she imagined her death and thought about no one finding her body until the landlord came to get her rent. Continued Gold, “If I had just continued the way I was in Detroit, I’d probably be dead.”

In September 2017, Gold — who earned a bronze medal on the U.S. figure skating team at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia — announced she would be “taking some time off” from her sport to “seek some professional help.”

“My passion for skating and training remains strong,” Gold said at the time. “However, after recent struggles on and off the ice, I realize I need to seek some professional help and will be taking some time off.”

A month later, Gold withdrew from her scheduled competitions and confirmed that she was specifically being treated for anxiety, depression and an eating disorder.

“It saddens me deeply to sit out this Grand Prix Series, but I know it is for the best,” she said in a statement to PEOPLE at the time, adding, “I will not have adequate training time to prepare and compete at the level that I want to.”

“I would like to thank U.S. Figure Skating, my fans and my sponsors for their ongoing support,” her statement continued. “I also want to thank [coaches] Marina Zoueva and Oleg Epstein for standing beside me through this journey and most of all my family for their unconditional love.”

Speaking to the Times now, Gold admitted that it took time for her to understand her mental illness, sharing, “I’d hear someone say, ‘I’m so depressed,’ and I’d think, ‘Tough it out.’ ”

Coupled with her depression, Gold also battled an eating disorder — in the lead up to the Sochi Olympics, she subsisted on a tomato and coffee some days.

“I almost created this other person,” Gold told the Times of her on-ice appearance, adding, “I wanted to be the most flawless, angelic, plastic, Barbie-doll-face human who just says all the right things and does all the right things and is sterling. And people just don’t like her because she’s so perfect.”

Gracie Gold
Peter Kramer/NBC/Getty

And the weight loss, she said made her feel “quicker and faster.”

But at the 2016 World Figure Skating Championships, Gold finished in fourth and was “devasted.” Weight gain followed in what the Times described as “bing-purge cycles.”

It was actually American figure skater Ashley Wagner who noticed something was wrong, and alerted a skated official. But despite U.S. Figure Skating’s attempts to offer licensed help, Gold said she resisted.

“You want people to see your pain so they see you need help,” Gold told the Times, “but you don’t want to ask for help. So you live in this kind of terrible limbo.”

In summer 2017, Gold appeared at a monitoring session in Colorado Springs 50 lbs. heavier and without even a hint of a smile. Her performance was so far from Gold’s former glory that some of the judges cried, according to the Times. And eventually, pushed her again to seek help. U.S. Figure Skating helped cover Gold’s entry into an inpatient program for eating disorders.

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“I just dropped off the face of the earth for 45 days,” Gold explained of the experience, after announcing her withdrawal from competitions. “It was liberating.”

In spring 2018, Gold moved to Philadelphia and began training with a new coach. She’s returned to skating — though opted to withdraw from this past weekend’s nationals.

And she’s reached some of her former prowess, again executing a clean triple lutz, according to the Times.

“You forget how magical those moments are,” she told the newspaper.