Phelps: After Struggle With Depression, Rehab: ‘I… Rebuilt Myself’

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — He’s the greatest Olympian of all time, and he’s speaking out for a second time about his struggle with depression.

Michael Phelps first talked about his depression on National Children’s Health Awareness Day.

He and fellow Olympic swimmer Allison Schmitt decided to go public with their struggles to help others feel less alone.

Now, he says he’s talking about it again because it’s extremely important to him.

He says nothing in his incredible swimming career took more courage than asking for help when he needed it.

During his battle, he says there were times that he thought he “didn’t want to be alive anymore.”

“Those days when I was sitting in my room, where I didn’t move for a few days, I had my support team of my friends and my family and everybody who was there,” he told CNN in an interview this week.

“I just thought it was the best thing to do, just not to be here. That’s when I decided I needed to find help and to figure out what was going on.”

Phelps says he descended into a dark place after the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and following a second DUI arrest in Baltimore in September 2014 that led to a six-month suspension by USA Swimming.

“I’ve been known to not always make the best decisions,” he says. “So, with that, it’s put me in an interesting and tough spot sometimes.”

After his sentencing, he headed west to rehab, where he says he found the help he needed.

“We did some research on what we needed to do, and I went to treatment for a couple weeks and basically just rebuilt myself,” he said. “They tore me down and I built myself back up and I went through some things that I never wanted to go through before.”

Phelps and Schmitt are both honorary chairpersons of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

In his fourth Olympics, Phelps entered six events in Rio and won five of them. His tally of 28 medals makes him the most decorated athlete of all time.

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