So heartbreaking! Despite being the most lauded Olympian ever, swimmer Michael Phelps has revealed he had suicidal thoughts after the 2012 games and didn’t want to go on living.
This is just more proof that depression can hit anyone, even one of the greatest athletes of all time. Michael Phelps, 32, has an astonishing 23 Olympic gold medals in swimming but fell into such a funk after the 2012 London games that he thought about taking his own life! In a heartbreaking interview with former Obama political strategist David Axelrod, he decided to reveal his struggle per CNN. “I didn’t want to be in the sport anymore,” he said at the Kennedy Forum, a mental health conference held in Chicago this week. “I didn’t want to be alive anymore.” Pheklps added that in his darkest times, “You do contemplate suicide.”
The aquatic hero said that after arriving home from London in 2012 he spent “three to five days” alone in his bedroom hardly eating or sleeping and “just not wanting to be alive.” Phelps called that time the “hardest fall” and said that he tended to sink into major states of depression after every Olympics he competed in, but that particular year was the worst for him even though he bought home so many medals.
Phelps realized he needed some serious help because he was at an “all time low” and he checked in to a treatment facility to help cope with his troubling thoughts. “I remember going to treatment my very first day, I was shaking, shaking because I was nervous about the change that was coming up,” Phelps told Axelrod. “I needed to figure out what was going on.” He went though intensive therapy and said that once he began opening up about his emotions with mental health care professionals, “life became easy. I said to myself so many times, ‘Why didn’t I do this 10 years ago?’ But, I wasn’t ready.”
Thanks to therapy he didn’t fall back into depression after the 2016 Olympics in Rio. It also helped that he had plenty to live for other than his life in the pool as he had a fiancée (now wife) Nicole Johnson, 32, and a then-two-month-old-son Boomer who was there to watch his dad become the most medaled athlete in Olympic history. Phelps has become an advocate for people to openly discuss their mental health struggles without there being such a stigma around it. “It’s OK to not be OK. 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,” he said before revealing “I am extremely thankful that I did not take my life.”