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“Looked at Myself as an Athlete Not a Human”- Michael Phelps Struggled With Finding Self Love During His Legendary Olympic Career

Published 04/11/2022, 8:30 AM EDT

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No matter how many medals or records you have broken, depression may hit you during tough times. It is hard to get a grip on oneself, as Michael Phelps found out after his illustrious career. He couldn’t handle it as he had depression nearly after every Olympic Games. Those times were tough for Phelps as he went through different complexities of emotions. Loving oneself is not a straightforward task.

But now, he talked about understanding that concept in a better way, which is helping him now. He opened up about dealing with his emotions and how he is still learning about self-love.


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Michael Phelps’ struggle with depression

In a candid interview, Phelps talked about the problems he faced in his career. He had earlier stated how he first encountered depression after the 2004 Olympics. In the interview, Phelps opened up on how he was more of an ‘athlete’ rather than a ‘human being’.

“I can tell you, I didn’t have much self-love, probably, through most of my career. Honestly, I looked at myself as an athlete and not a human being. So for me, it was a long journey trying to learn more and more about myself and accepting who I am. Who looks back at me in the mirror.”


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As an athlete, he was incredible. He won 28 Olympic medals. 23 of those medals won were gold. With the rigorous training methods and other routines, he was tailormade for the sport. After opening up about his problems, Phelps also revealed how he achieved better clarity in his life.

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What is Self-love?

Having self-love is important for many people. It is a state of appreciation for oneself that grows from actions that support our physical, psychological, and spiritual growth. Michael Phelps is learning about that concept as he spoke candidly in the interview.


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“It took a long time. But it was, honestly, me going through some difficult times. Me opening up about things that I have been holding onto for a long time. I feel like I know how self-love but I feel like I’m still learning more about that. I think a lot of it comes with the self-care you do. That you do for yourself. And it looks different for everybody,” mentioned Phelps.

via Getty

Opening up about oneself is important for the mental state of a person. Phelps admitted it helped him to handle his mental health struggles. As of right now, he is a prominent advocate for raising awareness of mental health problems.


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Jacob Gijy

1704 articles

Jacob Gijy is a US Sports and NBA writer at EssentiallySports. Gijy finished his Post Graduation in Psychology and worked in a hospital for 2 years before his passion for sports compelled him to find his way to sports journalism. A fan of the great Tim Duncan, he is always ready to pick up a debate with anyone who does not offer the power forward, the respect he deserves.

Edited By: Simar Singh Wadhwa