Legendary swimmer, Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time with 28 medals has been using his celebrity to spread the word and become an advocate for mental health.
The Olympic medalist opened up about his own struggles with depression and anxiety at the Kennedy Forum's annual mental health conference in Chicago. In the conversation with David Axelrod about his depression following the Olympics, his suicidal thoughts and the moment he looked for help.
Phelps talked about how he pushed himself to his maximum potential while training for the Olympics but after the games were over, he was left feeling depressed.
"Really, after every Olympics I think I fell into a major state of depression, After 2012 that was probably the hardest fall for me. I didn't want to be in the sport anymore."
It was then that the suicidal thoughts began to creep in.
"I didn't want to be alive anymore. I'll never forget being in my bedroom at home, literally sitting in there for three to five days just not wanting to be alive."
That's when he knew it was time to talk to someone. That doesn't mean he wasn't reluctant.
"I remember going to treatment my very first day, I was shaking, shaking because I was nervous about the change that was about to occur."
Speaking out for mental health has given empowered Phelps. He knows there is still a stigma around the issue but that won't stop because it gives him the, "the chance to save a life."
Phelps has hope for a different future now that society is becoming more willing to discuss these issues:
"Finally people are aware of everything that's going on and are talking about it. I think this is the only way that we can change. I am extremely thankful that I did not take my life."
People reached out to Phelps on social media to show their support and appreciation for what he is doing.
My admiration and respect to you Michael. This is a very harsh illness, you have courage to talk openly— Gail Cavalli (@roxwhisper) January 19, 2018
If more celebrities admitted there problems and troubles they have been through it would give others the courage to admit it too.— Alan (@Alan_Anguish68) January 19, 2018
Remember how people reacted about Robin Williams died. People can be smiling and laughing but inside be crying and wanting to die.
THE Michael Phelps, Depression Survivor too! 💪🏼 #YouWillBeAlright— TJ Manotoc (@tjmanotoc) January 19, 2018
“it's OK to not be OK"
“mental illness has a stigma, that's something we still deal w/ every day. people finally understand it‘s real, talking about. It’s the only way that it can change” https://t.co/T6yD9Eql6c
Courageous of @MichaelPhelps to speak about his depression. It just shows that you have no idea what’s really going on with someone. Having money, popularity, and success doesn’t equal happiness. We should all be nice to others because you never know what they’re battling.— Paige Spiranac (@PaigeSpiranac) January 19, 2018
“I am extremely thankful that I did not take my life." - Michael Phelps— DebN (@mudderbae) January 19, 2018
So are we Michael. And thanks for bringing awareness to mental health, and possibly saving a life.