BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Michael Phelps, the most successful Olympian of all time, has a powerful message for anyone who is suffering from depression.
Phelps has so many medals and accolades, it’s hard to keep track. But one of his most significant challenges was asking for help to overcome suicidal thoughts.
His legend still stands more than a decade after he plunged onto the international stage. Maryland’s Phelps captured 28 Olympic medals, but the superstar swimmer struggled with deep depression.
In an interview with CBS News’ streaming network, he admitted he considered suicide.
“There was one point I didn’t want to be alive. So for me, at that point, instead of going through with it and taking my life, I wanted to find another road to go down,” the Olympic athlete said. “A lot of us do suffer from depression and I think that nobody has really talked about it in the past because we are supposed to be this big macho strong person that has no weaknesses.”
After he got help, Phelps decided to use his worldwide platform to bring awareness to mental health struggles. The National Alliance on Mental Illness says one in five people in the United States will fight this battle in their life.
“I think a lot of the stigma that surrounds mental health is really because people don’t understand.It may not be something that impacted them personally, and they just don’t know. So certainly this can help to challenge that stigma,” says Caitlin Mulrine with the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Phelps says he’s no longer embarrassed to ask for help if he’s feeling isolated, and he’s encouraging others to do the same.
“Just to be able to help somebody who is going through the same thing, because we know there are a lot of people in the world who struggle from the same thing,” Phelps said.
By being vocal about his struggles with depression, Phelps says if he’s about to save even one life, that’s better than gold.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness has local offices in Maryland and offers free services.