Michael Phelps Asks Self “How Are You?” In Pandemic Then Answers During Mental Health Awareness Month

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Michael Phelps In Mental Health Awareness Month

Michael Phelps has been extremely open about his mental health struggles in the past, and has been an advocate for mental health awareness since opening up about his own dark days.

The COVID-19 pandemic is giving everyone around the world a mental health struggle — some bigger than others — but it is a global issue affecting everyone on the planet in some way.

Phelps released a first-person look at the question “How are you?” on Monday as told to ESPN’s Wayne Drehs.

“We are asked that question every day. But how often do we just say ‘fine’ or ‘good’ and move on? How often do we actually admit the truth — to ourselves as well as others?”

Phelps, a 23-time Olympic gold medalist the most decorated Olympian of all time with 28 total medals, said he wanted to open up again because he wants people to know they are not alone with mental health struggles, especially during this pandemic.

“So many of us are fighting our mental health demons now more than ever,” he wrote.

How is Michael Phelps doing?

“You want to know my truth? How am I doing? How am I handling quarantine and the global pandemic? Put it this way: I’m still breathing,” he wrote.

Phelps goes on to describe how the pandemic has affected his mental health, thankful that his family is safe and healthy, but also “one of the scariest times I’ve been through.”

Phelps said he wants people to understand that mental health issues don’t just go away, either. Struggles continue in good times and bad. There is no cure and it is a constant work-in-progress. But opening up has helped Phelps and he wants that to help others.

“The thing is — and people who live with mental health issues all know this — it never goes away. You have good days and bad. But there’s never a finish line. I’ve done so many interviews after Rio where the story was the same: Michael Phelps opened up about depression, went into a treatment program, won gold in his last Olympics and now is all better. I wish that were the truth. I wish it were that easy. But honestly —and I mean this in the nicest way possible — that’s just ignorant. Somebody who doesn’t understand what people with anxiety or depression or post-traumatic stress disorder deal with have no idea.”

Michael Phelps said his family has helped more than they know. That is the support that everyone needs, especially dealing with mental health issues, whether that be anxiety, depression, or other issues.

“But when things get really bad, I literally give myself a timeout. I just have to remove myself. I don’t want the kids to see me like that. So I’ll go to my room for a few minutes or the office or my closet. Just a quiet setting to think and be calm by myself. To reset, in a way,” Michael Phelps wrote. “There are moments, those times where I’m stuck in my own head, I don’t think it can get any worse, and Boomer, my 4-year-old, will walk up to me, give me a hug and just tell me he loves me. When you absolutely least expect it. It’s literally the greatest thing in the world.”

He ends with a plea for everyone to look into themselves and find out what they need, sometimes it is as simple as truthfully answering the question: How are you?

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2 comments

  1. avatar
    Benjamin van der Wel

    Michael Phelps is, to me, all kinds of awesomeness and I’m -not- talking about his swimming or medals. He’s a brave man with a kind heart who is navigating the current pandemic mess with everything he’s got and admits to having a tough time. May everyone rise to this occasion and have the same good results.

  2. Linda Marino

    Wishing Michael and all of those dealing with issues much happiness and peace in their lives.

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