For World Mental Health Day, we look at some celebrities who have opened up about their issues of mental health.
Looking at 28-Olympic-medal-winning Michael Phelps, it’s hard to imagine Michael as unhappy.
I mean, he has won the highest number of Olympic medals. EVER. He’s even won more medals than some countries!
He’s famous, rich, and has a good body (a side effect from being an athlete).
But Michael used to suffer from anxiety and depression, which goes to show that mental illness hits anyone, no matter how rich you are, how strong you are, no matter your gender or status in society.
“100%, I was lost, pushing a lot people out of my life — people that I wanted and needed in my life. I was running and escaping from whatever it was I was running from.”
People around him tried to help… but no one seemed to understand what was wrong. They even asked, since he had money and influence, what did he have to be sad about?
“He had no idea what to do with the rest of his life. It made me feel terrible. I remember one day I said: ‘Michael, you have all the money that anybody your age could ever want or need; you have a profound influence in the world; you have free time — and you’re the most miserable person I know. What’s up with that?'”
~ Michael Phelps’ coach Bob Bowman
Which goes to show that even people who seem to have it all still can be hit by depression. The man who had ‘everything also had mental illness.
It got to the point where Michael was charged with drunk driving in 2014 – and he just hit rock bottom.
“For me, getting to an all-time low where I didn’t want to be alive anymore, that’s scary as hell. Thinking about taking your own life, I remember sitting in my room for four or five days not wanting to be alive, not talking to anybody.”
Eventually Michael checked himself in rehab… and it was hard at first.
But finally he managed to get treatment for his health, and began talking about the root causes of his problems, including his difficult relationship with his father.
“I was kind of in a lost place so we did some research on what we could do and I went to treatment for a couple of weeks and just basically rebuilt myself. They kind of tore me down and built me back up and I went through some things that I never wanted to go through before.”
His advice? Just start talking.
“I started talking about the things that I went through, and once I opened up about that and things I had kept inside of me for so many years, I then found that life was a lot easier,”
“I got to the point where I understood that it’s okay to not be okay.”
Michael is in a much better place now. After leaving rehab, he has managed to deal with his parents’ divorce, and made a commitment to his girlfriend Nicole Johnson. Now they are married and have one son.
I’m so glad that Michael is now open enough to share his feelings to the world. It’s such an important message for people to see that even physically strong Olympic champions can still be affected by anxiety and depression – that they too struggle with insecurities and demons. Michael Phelps is definitely a true merman!