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If You Live With Depression, You May Relate to Michael Phelps' Statement

For people who live with depression, this mental illness can always be a part of their life and a part of their identity. Swimmer Michael Phelps knows this well.

In an interview with People, Phelps told the publication that “depression is something that will always be part of my life — it’s part of who I am.” Phelps has been open with his struggles with depression, including his experience with suicidal ideation.

In the January 2018 annual conference of the Kennedy Forum, Phelps talked about how unmanaged depression and anxiety have impacted his life, which affected him negatively while he publicly seemed like he was just an extremely successful Olympian. Phelps said that he was “extremely thankful that I did not take my life” and thinks that mental illness “has a stigma around it and that’s something we still deal with every day.”

Phelps also credits going to therapy for saving him when depression and anxiety were controlling his life. He wrote the following in a May 2019 tweet:

I struggled with anxiety and depression and questioned whether or not I wanted to be alive anymore. It was when I hit this low that I decided to reach out and ask for the help of a licensed therapist. This decision ultimately helped save my life. You don’t have to wait for things

In addition to daily workouts during COVID-19, Phelps also manages his depression by writing about his feelings. “I look at quotes for motivation but, sometimes I write down negative messages, things that aren’t always friendly, names I’m calling myself or what I’m going through mentally,” Phelps told People.

Mental illness does not just affect one person, it affects those around them as well. Phelps’ wife Nicole told People that the couple’s children are aware of their dad’s mental health struggles. “We teach them that daddy or mommy is having a moment and we need to either give them space or ask if they want a hug,” she said. “And that’s taught them they have permission for their feelings to be heard too.”

Phelps’ foundation, the Michael Phelps Foundation, offers financial support to causes addressing mental illness, including how it affects athletes, among other issues. You can learn more on MPF’s website.  

Image via Wikimedia Commons/Agência Brasil Fotografias