Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, opened up Tuesday about his personal struggle with mental health and suicidal thoughts, a struggle he said dates back to the height of his swimming career.
Speaking in Chicago at the Kennedy Forum's fourth annual meeting, Phelps spoke candidly about his experience in an effort he hopes will help others facing similar struggles.
“Finding myself in that dark spot where I didn’t want to be alive anymore... I never want to go through that ever again in my life,” said Phelps. “I just learned how to communicate. I mean, I learned how to communicate at 32.”
Phelps was one of more than 50 leaders who attended the all-day event to highlight the importance of speaking about “a life free from discrimination and stigma, the opportunity to overcome health challenges in pursuit of a fulfilling life, and the right to affordable healthcare that treats the whole person – body, brain and spirit,” according to the official Eventbrite description.
Although it took a while, Phelps said he is now an open book and recommends anyone going through similar struggles to understand that it is ok to seek help.
“That’s part of my reason for wanting to opening up and talking about this…We’re supposed to be this big macho strong physically strong human beings, but this is not a weakness, we are seeking and reaching for help,” Phelps said.
Other notable leaders that attended the event include American politician and mental health advocate Patrick J. Kennedy, Mayor Emanuel Rahm and American political operative & analyst David Axelrod, to name a few.