Phelps: 'Grateful I didn't take my life'

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"I didn't want to be alive anymore". "I didn't want to be alive".

Australian Ian Thorpe, who broke 22 world records, wrote in his 2012 autobiography that not only did he consider suicide but he planned ways and places to do it in. There is no shame in seeking help from a mental health professional.

When he hit a low point in his depression, Phelps said, "You do contemplate suicide".

Phelps, who won 23 gold Olympics medals during his illustrious 16-year career, revealed that he was at his most psychologically vulnerable following the conclusion of each Olympic Games.

Phelps made a decision to go for treatment and even though initially he did feel a bit unsettled, the fact that he shared his emotions with people who were ready to hear him, turned out a major turning point in the battle against depression. That same year, as a 15-year-old, he said he experienced his first "depression spell", The Telegraph reports.

"Really, after every Olympics I think I fell into a major state of depression", he said.

Even after winnings 28 Olympic medals, Michael Phelps couldn't sleep.

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There were times when Phelps self-medicated, too, "basically daily, to try to fix whatever it was that I was trying to run from" in an effort to escape his mental health issues.

After years of "compartmentalizing" his emotions, Phelps said he was finally ready to open up about what was feeling.

Since mental health has a stigma around it, Phelps admitted that he started self medication and as he got older, he resorted to alcohol and drugs.

In an interview with CNN's David Axelrod, Phelps spoke candidly about not only his triumphs as an Olympian, but the hard days that would often follow the event.

Phelps has raced with a shark, has one of the best chiseled bodies any man can dream of having, has been privileged to afford the 12,000 calorie diet and even lucky enough to have found a wife as handsome as former Miss California USA victor Nicole Johnson.

"I remember going to treatment my very first day, I was shaking, shaking because I was nervous about the change that was coming up", he said. His first morning in treatment, a nurse woke him at 6 a.m. and said, "Look at the wall and tell me what you feel."On the wall hung eight basic emotions, he recalled."How do you think I feel right now, I'm pretty ticked off, I'm not happy, I'm not a morning person", he angrily told the nurse, laughing now at the memory.Once he began to talk about his feelings, "life became easy". "I think people actually finally understand it is real".

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