With more Olympic medals under his belt than anyone else in history, Michael Phelps has led quite the life. But contrary to what his 28 gongs might imply, he isn’t actually superhuman. At the end of the day, he’s a normal person – and he’s experienced his fair share of problems, too.
Across his Olympic swimming career, the American athlete broke countless records and picked up the silverware to boot. Of his 28 medals over the years, a massive 23 are gold. He obtained eight of these in 2008, at the Beijing Olympiad. By doing so, in fact, he ended up surpassing fellow countryman Mark Spitz’s previous mark of seven wins in one tournament.
But like us all, Phelps has his vulnerabilities, and over the years he’s experienced bouts of poor mental health. And back in December 2017 the Olympian opened up about his struggles to NBC TV show Today. He revealed, “I can tell you I’ve probably had at least half a dozen depression spells that I’ve gone through. And the one in 2014, I didn’t want to be alive.”
Indeed, 2014 was the year in which Phelps was taken into custody for driving his vehicle while intoxicated. This was his second instance of such behavior, and it resulted in a six-month suspension from competitive swimming in America. As a result, he fell into a depression and reportedly didn’t leave his room for several days.
But Phelps decided to act, reaching out for professional help and ultimately making improvements. As he explained on Twitter in May 2019, “I struggled with anxiety and depression and questioned whether or not I wanted to be alive any more. It was when I hit this low that I decided to reach out and ask for the help of a licensed therapist. This decision ultimately helped save my life.”