Michael Phelps, The Olympic swimmer and multi-multi-multi gold medalist is living at the top of his game as a father and husband right now, and because he’s in such a good place in life, he’s been more outspoken about when times weren’t so good.
Speaking at the fourth annual conference of the Kennedy Forum this weekend, Phelps told the audience about his long, complicated battle with depression and how it was intertwined with his chosen career as a swimmer.
The Olympian revealed (below):
“I was always hungry, hungry, and I wanted more, I wanted to push myself really to see what my max was … But really, after every Olympics I think I fell into a major state of depression … I would say 2004 was probably the first depression spell I went through.”
And while Phelps dealt with a DUI after his 2004 Olympic run, and pictures showing him smoking from a bong after his 2008 Olympics, it was 2012 that he believes was the hardest time of his life.
He recounted to a hushed audience how he hit an all-time low after 2012, retreating to his bedroom for “three to five days” and barely eating or sleeping (below):
“I didn’t want to be in the sport anymore … I didn’t want to be alive anymore.”
It was at that point that Phelps realized finally that he needed help.
He sought counseling, stress management programs, and more — and he finally confronted his depression head-on.
And now, he’s glad he did it, and he’s glad that he overcame the stigma of talking about mental health.
“I was very good at compartmentalizing things and stuffing things away that I didn’t want to talk about, I didn’t want to deal with, I didn’t want to bring up — I just never ever wanted to see those things. … [Mental health] has a stigma around it and that’s something we still deal with every day. I think people actually finally understand it is real. People are talking about it and I think this is the only way that it can change. That’s the reason why suicide rates are going up — people are afraid to talk and open up. Those moments and those feelings and those emotions for me are light years better than winning the Olympic gold medal. I am extremely thankful that I did not take my life.”
Amen to ALL of that!