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Famous Olympians That Struggled With Depression and Mental Health Issues

Battling with depression, anxiety issues, or other mental ailments isn’t merely confined to celebs who entertain us for the most part. Strange as it may sound, even sportspersons and athletes are not unknown to such struggles. Going by a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) survey conducted over athletes, it was found that close to 30% of the participants felt depressed over the course of one year. If you’re wondering why – the research findings from the Northern Ireland Association of Mental Health has stated that failure in competitive levels and associated factors produced considerable psychological distress. Some of these famous athletes have dealt with difficult periods in life, yet emerged strong and helped many others too.

Michael Phelps

One of the most successful and popular Olympians of all time, Phelps has been a brilliant and competitive swimmer. He has won a total of 28 medals and several such prestigious awards, but these didn’t stop him from falling prey to depression. In fact, in one of the interviews with CNN in 2018, Phelps confessed how after every Olympics, he battled with a depressive mental state. Such was his condition that he resorted to drugs and even contemplated suicide. However, after he has struggled for a long time and gathered enough experience, he decided to assist others via the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Michael Phelps Foundation, organizations focused on the well-being of the young generation.

Allison Schmitt

Allison spoke about her depression issue publicly in 2015. She had contemplated suicide, and just after a few months of that, her teenage cousin committed it. This incident changed her perspective about life in general and she was inspired to share the story of her illness. She actively worked for the mental health awareness of those fighting such conditions as her. Her activities include attending schools and events, where she presently educates others about the importance of preserving mental health. In an interview with Women’s Health (2017), she stated clearly that being vulnerable is not akin to being weak. Vulnerability is real and coming to terms with it implies that one has regained the strength to understand life. It also you accept that life can become very difficult to handle at times, and it is justified to seek support.

Amanda Beard

The gold-medal-winning swimmer of the Olympics had been open about how she coped with depression in her famous memoir, In the Water They Can’t See You Cry (2012). She also revealed how self-harm proved to be a better weapon to deal with the tough times as she suffered and struggled with issues of anorexia, bulimia, and even drug abuse. She also added in an interview with that she wasn’t the only one, and there are millions of people throughout the world who are still experiencing similar issues. Hence, she voiced something that several others deserve to listen to.

Imani Boyette

Olympics star and professional basketball player, Imani Boyette fought depression from a very young age. It was largely because she was raped by one of her family members during her childhood years. When she was just 10, she attempted suicide twice! Currently, she’s a noted spokesperson and summer camp counselor for Sparks of Hope, an Oregon-based non-profit organization focused on helping the vulnerable. Often she shares her stories to raise awareness about mental health, especially for children who’ve survived abuse. Her work also tends to particularly focus on the African-American community.

Serena Williams

She might not have chosen to participate in the Olympics now, but her name will always shine for the immensely successful career she has paved as a global tennis champion. Yet, all the awards and accolades she received over the years failed to prevent depression from setting in. Almost a decade back, Serena confessed how she tackled depression after winning Wimbledon in the previous year, and also succumbed to a few health ailments and injuries. Crying and feeling miserable significantly marked her suffering. In 2017, when her daughter Olympia was born, she opened up much about what postpartum depression means and how to overcome it, an attempt by her to help fellow mothers living through similar experiences.

Ronda Rousey

Former UFC champion and WWE fighter, Ronda Rousey isolated herself completely when she suffered from depression, and even contemplated suicide. In one of her interviews in 2018 with The Guardian, she added how her husband, Travis Browne, helped her in such difficult times. Her depression lasted for almost 2 years and it wasn’t easy. She believes the time was her greatest teacher, it gradually passed, even the difficult one.

The fact sportspersons are real people with real problems makes their stories believable and definitely inspiring.

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