“I Was On My Knees Crying For Help” Why The Most Titled Athlete In History Wanted To Take His Life

Date June 5, 2019 09:39

When a person is objectively great at something and has opportunities to improve, many predict his or her bright future. Famous actors, singers, writers, and athletes win the hearts of millions with their talent and determination. Their example and achievements inspire people around the world. But at the same time, they may feel deeply unhappy. It just so happened that an athlete who turned out to be the most titled swimmer in history, Michael Phelps, almost took his life at the peak of his career.

The most successful Olympian of all time was born on June 30, 1985. His life seemed perfect: 23 amazing victories, 7 world records, millions of fans, a staggering bank account, a beautiful model for a wife, and 2 lovely children. What more could a person wish for?

When Michael was 11, he was diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). The coaches struggled with the talented boy’s tantrums and painful reaction to his own mistakes and criticism. With age, outbursts of anger only got worse.

He became really uncontrollable in 2004. The young man would choose noisy parties over training sessions and got into legal troubles. One of his antics (driving under the influence of alcohol) cost him 18 months of probation.

Much later, Phelps noted that it was then, in 2004, that he started having periodic fits of depression. One of the worst moments in the swimmer’s life happened in 2014 after another arrest and a 6-month suspension. After returning from another competition, he locked himself in his room for several days, shutting himself off from others, which he told in an interview in 2018.

I didn't have any self-love and quite honestly, I just didn't want to be alive.

And I think over those three or four days, where I didn't want to leave my room, I didn't want to talk to anybody, I finally realized that I can ask for help.

I was basically on my knees and crying for help.

And Michael was helped. It was extremely hard for him to open up. But as he started, he gradually felt better and better. Why didn’t he turn to specialists before? Not only wasn’t he ready to talk about his condition, he wasn’t ready to accept it. Only after 45 days of rehabilitation, the swimmer quit alcohol and psychotropic substances. He quickly bounced back in shape and won 3 more gold medals at once in the US Championship in 2015, and a year later – a staggering further 5 at the Olympics in Brazil. That is when he decided to finish his career.

The athlete launched the Michael Phelps Foundation aimed at stress management programs for American youth, among others. The athlete realized that mental disorders are not something to laugh at, hide, or be ashamed of. Asking for help is okay, and the fact that people are afraid to talk and open up is the reason behind the surge in suicide rates.

After retiring from the sport, Phelps devoted himself to his family and to helping others cope with mental issues. He is very thankful that he didn’t end his life because he can do so much more!

There is no shame in feeling weak, helpless, failing to see anything good in the future, and not knowing what to do next. It is much worse when a depressed person rejects those who can help, wouldn’t you agree?