Michael Phelps is the most accomplished athlete of all time. He's widely considered the best swimmer to ever jump into the pool and is the most decorated Olympian ever.
He seemed superhuman on the television screen when he won eight gold medals at the 2008 Olympics, one of which was by just 0.01 seconds.
However, Phelps is not superhuman. In fact, he's very human and has had struggles that are shared by many. Depression is not selective and world-class athletes with mantles full of awards are not immune to it.
The swimmer opened up to Outside The Lines in 2020 about his own mental health struggles.
He openly stated that he considered taking his own life:
"I mean, for a moment, I thought it was going to be the end of my life. Literally! Just because it was like, you know, probably, just be better without me. People wouldn't have to deal with the BS that I give them or the crap I put them through."
The swimmer is notorious for having an unbelievable diet, reportedly consuming 12,000 calories a day. However, during this time, he wouldn't eat:
"I didn't really leave my room. Didn't eat. Didn't really sleep. I just figured the best thing to do was end my life."
Fortunately, he had a change of heart.
Michael Phelps' struggles with mental health
In the show, Michael Phelps went on to say that he eventually sought the help that he desperately needed.
"I think when you find your lowest point in your life, I think you're kind of open to a lot of things to try and change it and to try to get back on the right path. I was just surrendering."
The swimmer spent 45 days in a behavioral rehabilitation facility in an attempt to right himself. Fellow Baltimore athletic legend and friend Ray Lewis said that the Olympian had to find out who he was outside the pool.
"Michael had to take a step back before he actually went forward again to realize who he was out of the pool."
This all occurred before the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. While his performance at that event wasn't as impressive and otherworldly as in Beijing eight years earlier, it was a sparkling display.
Phelps took home five gold medals and one silver in what ended up being his final pro competition. In his retirement, he's taken up golf but also finds himself with a lot of free time.
In that time, Phelps has become a mental health advocate, trying to help others speak up and ask for the help they need.
Depression and anxiety recovery is not a linear path, but it does appear that the retired swimmer is doing well now.