Michael Phelps on Life After Swimming and His Battle With Depression.

The most decorated Olympian of all time wants you to know he has bad days — some very bad days — just like so many people. “I’m not a superhuman,” Michael Phelps tells LIVESTRONG.COM. “I’m a human being who was very fortunate to find something that I love and find something that I’m good at and really never give up. But, really, that’s it.”

While he made success in the pool look easy, a shadow hung over the star athlete for years as he battled depression. Now Phelps is sharing more about his mental health issues. “These are things that have been a part of me for so long,” he says. “I just decided it was time to open up and talk about some of the struggles I’ve had in my life. Just being able to get out and talk about it and communicate about it — almost become vulnerable — I think is something that will help a lot of people,” Phelps, who will appear in a new documentary titled “Angst” to talk about his depression and being bullied, tells LIVESTRONG.COM.

Since retiring from swimming with 23 gold medals after the Rio Olympics in 2016, Phelps has had to readjust his routine and figure out what’s next for him. “For a long time, swimming was that thing that got me out of bed every morning early to go and jump in a freezing-cold pool. But now, kind of starting the next chapter for me, I’ve been asking myself where I want to be and what I want to do.”

Those next steps include working on a cause close to his heart: water conservation. “I obviously grew up in water and in around water for a very long time,” Phelps, a global ambassador for Colgate’s Save Water campaign, says about the world’s most vital resource. “I think it’s little small things that we can do together — no-brainers like not leaving the faucet running when you brush your teeth [and taking] shorter showers.”

His life at home with his wife, Nicole Johnson, is also becoming more of a focus, as their son, Boomer, is now 17 months old and they are about to become parents for a second time. But Phelps says he would never force his kids into the athlete life. “For me, I had an awesome mom growing up who was just so supportive of everything that we did,” Phelps says. “If I wanted to quit swimming, she was fine with it because she wanted us to follow our hearts. The only thing I’m adamant about is that [Boomer] has to learn to swim. Other than that, he can play another sport, whatever makes him happy.”

Reposted from: https://www.livestrong.com/article/13590348-michael-phelps-on-life-after-swimming-and-his-battle-with-depression/?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=Keywee&kwp_0=599482&kwp_4=2116520&kwp_1=884107

The One Year Mark

It’s been one year since that fateful day where I decided to seek help for what I was struggling with. It’s scary to realize how fast time flies and how much has changed in that one year. I’ve begun to find that happy place where I was once and have gotten back to being passionate about many things I was once passionate about.  I have reached a much better place than where I was last year at this time and it’s largely thanks to those who stuck by me during those dark times. I now have control over my life and have been able to live my life to the fullest over the past twelve months. Now when I have one bad day, they are still better than my best days combined before I sought treatment.

Although I can happily say that I am in a much better place now, I am not afraid to admit that I still have my struggles. Even though I have many more happy days, I still see some dark days. It’s still an odd feeling to me, it’s almost like feeling devoid of emotion, empty of feelings that you feel sad to not be able to feel. I’ve been able to love again, love all the people who have come into my life and made an effort to be there. But I have also learned how to mourn again, seeing some people walk in and out of my life or sadly pass away. Let it be known that antidepressants, self-talking, and months of therapy have helped to get me to where I am today. Therapy has been a wonderful component of my journey of recovering and it has allowed me to gan a different perspective, after being so lost in my own thoughts and despair.

This year has seen some pretty notable people brining attention to the realm of mental health, particularly those struggling with a major depressive disorder. Starting off with the death of Robin Williams in August, highlighting the prevalence of depression and the importance of seeking treatments. It was almost a wake up call in the sense, showcasing the hold depression has on people, regardless of their age, socio-economic boundary or even colour. Mental health disorders affects everyone and it’s sad to think that there’s still stigma around a disorder that affects so many people. On a more positive note, there way Canadian Olympian Clara Hughes riding across Canada to bring awareness in local communities about the effects of mental health and helping Bell’s Let’s Talk” campaign. It’s heartwarming to see someone who has struggled through something so dark, being able to shed positivity and inspire all Canadians to erase stigma. Erasing stigma is possible  but it will take each and every one of us to accomplish this goal.

Its a scary thought to think that by 2030, the World Health Organization predicts that depression will be the world’s leading cause of death and disability- outpacing cancer, stroke, war, and accidents. What’s even more eye opening is that fact that 1 in 5 Canadians are estimated to be struggling with mental illness.

I appreciate all those who came up to me with their own stories of having gone through their own struggles and messages that in time things will get better. I also appreciate those who have come up to me over time and confided in my with their current struggles, know that you are never alone. I hope that through our talks I have somehow helped you all find your way with getting to that happy place. For those people still battling in silence, I know your pain and know that there are people that love and care about you. Have compassion in yourself, and believe that things will be better, because if there’s one thing I’ve learned is that they will. Find the courage to open up to someone you trust, this battle isn’t meant to be fought alone  and know that it is completely controllable. Know that help starts with you, it’s starts with acceptance of knowing something doesn’t feel right and that you need help to feel strong again. For those of you looking to open up, know that I am here for you and I hope I can help guide you in a direction where I can help remove some of the stigma you may feel and help you seek help with all that is available to treat it.

Having depression doesn’t make me weak, it makes me strong. It’s something i’m constantly working on and it’s something I want to share with others because I know I am never alone in this battle. I now know that I didn’t elect to get into this situation, and I should never have to feel that way about what I went through and still go through. Depression is NOT okay, but know that it’s okay to go out and get help either from a confidant or a professional.

It’s been a constant journey and I appreciate each and everyone of you that have come along for my journey of healing. For those just entering my life, I welcome you to join me in helping to end the stigma surround mental health. All of our voice combined can hopefully lead this change to see a “stigma-free” Canada for those suffering from mental health.

For those of you who haven’t gone through the struggles of mental health, it’s hard to comprehend exactly what depression feels like. There’s no resource that could show you the despair and sorrow depression has on a person, but perhaps this blog can give you a glimpse of what it is like:




Day 5

I was talking to someone yesterday about my antics from the last two months and how they had felt like it had negatively impacted thier life. In essence, I had been really clingy to them during a time when they needed to focus on something highly important in their life. It’s a strange feeling to be depressed though, having someone you enjoy talking to pull away is a very alarming feeling. It’s like you feel a sense of panic and get anxious when they ask you to give them some space, when normally you wouldn’t feel that way. It’s like every thing runs into over drive, and you become a lot more sensitive to things that are normal to other people to deal with. It’s almost like a fear of abandonment, even though you have so many people in your life who support and love you, it’s like it’s not enough. I could stand in a packed room full of people I know and still feel isolated.

It’s true that if you have never experienced depression, it is incredibly hard to be empathetic. I would also have to say it makes room for people to develop misconceptions about what a depressed person is feeling and generalize it to everyone. Let’s be real here, no depression is the same, what one person feels or thinks may not be the same as another person experiencing the same mental health issue. While talking to someone about how I felt panicked when they were pulling away, even though they said we would reconnect in the new year after some space, I panicked almost feeling like it was a lie. Almost like the suggestion wasn’t a good enough, regardless of who said it the fear would be there for anyone that I talked to. I enjoyed talking to this person, to them it was weird to hear something like that. It’s like you genuinely enjoy talking to someone and having them there and then you push them away because you become clingy and needy for attention. Needing to talk to someone more than you normally would. I guess in life it makes sense to think that the harder you try to hold onto someone, the more the would feel the need to pull away and breathe. It’s like how depression and anxiety go hand in hand, you can’t help but act on your feelings because they are so overwhelming. I mean if you asked me 8 months ago about someone clingy on to you for “apparently no reason” or “knowing something was up”, I would feel the same way. No one like to be smothered, it’s an awful feeling. It doesn’t make for a healthy type of relationship at all.

How can a depressed person experience feelings of joy? How can you be diagnosed as clinically depressed? I feel like this is such a huge misconception. There are periods when I experience joy, like talking to people, but once they stop talking to me the joy goes away. Almost like it’s a temporary feelings, once they leave you feel empty, isolated, and bored again. It’s almost like a fake happiness in a sense.

I have learned that depression is not something you go through on your own. I know it’s not a weakness and you can’t treat it on your own, partially why I was in denial for so long. Depression is more than just grieving or a bout of the blues. It can also be triggered spontaneously or by something stressful that happened in your life.

I know i’ve talked about it in my previous posts, but there really is no time frame to seek help. You genuinely have to be the one to admit you need help and that something is “wrong”. It’s like telling people it’s unhealthy to smoke and they should quit. You can give them your opinion and encouragement to quit, but they have to be the one’s who want that for them self. Even though someone told me that they thought I needed to seek help and support from my family and friends and spend time to focus on myself, I refused to listen and admit something was wrong. It felt almost like I was defective or something and it felt disappointing to have to admit to myself I was broken. There really is a period of denial in depression, and I admit it took my a long time to admit that I needed to reach out. It’s a bit upsetting to see how it has really affected others both before and after my diagnosis. But listening to other people reach out and give me their own personal stories has made things a bit more optimistic and helps me find peace knowing that eventually things will be better, you just need to take it one step at a time. Everyone has a different healing time, but eventually you’ll get there.

It does make me feel a bit better to know that luckily my depression is just mostly within myself. I admit I did have feelings of “ending” things at one point in time. Such as “maybe it would be nice to not have to wake up tomorrow”, but I would definitely say that I was never full out suicidal or would go through with something that drastic. Although while at a dinner yesterday, someone did bring up a story about how one of their friends had gone overseas to teach English. Apparently when they were there their girlfriend had tried to kill “her boyfriend” multiple times. I’m really grateful I never had experienced any feelings like that, to have to harm another person or myself. Such a scary thought to think about.

I feel a little bit better today after shopping for a bit and going for lunch. It’s nice to feel a bit more relaxed and have the ability to rest and hopefully get a start on my take home exam today.

On an unrelated note, I have never seen my dog so excited to be here with me, my sister and my roommate. She hates it when we leave her by herself. As much as I love my dog, I remember why I don’t like finding a random turd on my floor or walking out in the cold weather every few hours haha.

Living with depression is almost as hard as getting better.

– Megan