The legendary American rivalry, Michael Phelps, writes the message on ESPN, telling of his beliefs and how he overcome difficulties in the time of social spacing.
“How are You?”, is the question we still hear every day. But how many times do we just answer the rules: “Healthy” or “okay”? How many times do we brave enough to acknowledge the truth, with myself and also others?
Do you want to hear the truth about me? How am I healthy, that I am confronted with this global quarantine and the epidemic? Let’s say this: “I’m still breathing.”
The past few months, my mood keeps up and down. This epidemic is one of the most frightening stages I’ve ever experienced. I felt lucky because I and my family remained safe and healthy. I am grateful that we do not have to worry about paying bills or worrying pieces of food like a lot of people are experiencing. But I still struggle.
From the previous Olympic 2016 in Rio, I had first publicly made my psychological problems with the commentary. Acknowledging her imperfections indeed is not easy, but it is like pouring a burden on thousands of pounds from my back. Sharing makes life easier, and now I’m doing it again. I want people to know that they are not alone. At this time, many of us are confronted by more inner demons than ever before.
Those who have lived with psychological problems will understand: it will never disappear. You will have good days and bad days, but never see the finish line. After the Rio Olympics, I went through a lot of interviews with repeated content: “Phelps talks about depression, experiencing treatment, winning the Olympic Gold HC in a career last tournament and now is much better.”
I wish it was true, that it was so simple. But it’s just stupid, and I’m trying to say it off. Those who do not understand people with anxiety, depression, or psychological consequences will not understand. And the media itself is such a component. They pulled me into the mud for all the wrong things I ever did, and believe me, I knew there was a lot of mistakes. I’m responsible for all those mistakes, not anybody else. I sought help and ended my career in the aura, so getting me back to the winning platform was a nice story. But the truth is that I will never be “cured”. This issue will never disappear and I will have to accept, learning how to cope with it throughout life. And it’s always easier to say.
This epidemic is a challenge I’ve never thought of. From instability, it is a must to prison in the home to questions. Lots of questions: When will the epidemic end? What will life be then? Do you have enough things you need to do safely? Is your family safe?… They made me want to get mad. I was accustomed to moving, playing, meeting others, and everything is crazy now. The emotion I fell into a state of chaos: I was always in a state of self-defense and ease of agitation.
At one point I felt absolutely worthless, when I had fallen, but there was a fiery volcano that was going on in person. More than once I had to scream: “I wish I was not myself!”. Sometimes there is a heavy sense of overwhelming feeling that I cannot cope. I don’t want to be myself anymore. It’s like documentary footage “The Last Dance”, when Michael Jordan sits on the couch, sucks the cigar and decides to terminate things. He can’t stand anymore.
I’ve never felt overwhelming this in my life. That’s why I don’t want to be myself, but I wish I was a Johnny Johnon.
The night before, I quarreled with my wife, Nicole. This service is bad, but at the same time, I can discharge the emotions contained in my heart. Sometimes you need it. It’s tough, but I feel a lot better today. Sometimes it’s part of what I need to go through.
So how to fight, control the mood? For me, every day I need your gym at least 90 minutes. That’s the first thing I do. I woke up between 5:15pm and 7h without alarm, and the province is up. If I get up at 7h, I will give you breakfast, but if sooner, I will hide into the gym. There were days when I didn’t want to go to the episode, but I pressed myself. Because I know it’s important for the mind to be a physical.
If I missed one day episode, that would be disaster. I’m going to step on the negative thinking path in the beginning, and when that happens, I’m the only one who can block it again. And this usually does not disappear quickly. I had to find a way to pull it out and even punish myself in some way. I always do that when mistakes, or makes someone sad, because then I will assume that it is his fault and self-punishment. When this is repeated day after day, you will quickly fall into a frightening situation. And most of the time this social isolation is.
When swimming, the pool is my outlet. I put all the anger and turn it into motivation. But now the outlet is gone. I learned from those moments, that knowing how to step back is important. Let’s breathe a deep breath and return to the line of production. Ask yourself: Where do these emotions come from? Why are you so angry?
That’s what I learned and tried to teach three sons. But when you’re in a bad mood, you don’t always want to do the right thing or what you think you should do.
I tried to write the notes to the mirror, so that the words of the staff in the office and often recorded ideas that arose in the beginning or the things that I wanted to do into the pieces of paper all over the house. But when things become bad, I often “rebooted” myself. I will go into private room, office or a quiet place, let the kids not see their father lose calm, stay still to think and calm again.
At times when I was stuck with myself and thought things couldn’t get worse, the 4-year-old Boomer son would come to my side, hug me and say love me. When you don’t look forward, the most magical thing in the world is happening. After the gym time, I usually eat with you before playing in the house or out to the pool. Afterwards, dinner will be ready at 5h. I am responsible for this and enjoy the cooking. Then to the hour of your laundry, bedtime, chat a little with Nicole before going to bed at 10h and repeat everything the next day.
I know what I need to do to keep my psychology good, but it’s not easy. Several years ago, I tried the service of the psychological consulting firm Online Talkspace, where you can meet with professionals whenever needed. It’s really helpful when I have to go away. I encouraged my family and friends to try this service and tell them how valuable it is to me. It actually rescued my life. We all always want to be the best version of ourselves. And being talked to a psychological expert, being open to the issues will help you, because no one can alone cope with life.
Early this month, I have donated 500 months of using free Talkspace to the leading medical personnel who are against Covid-19. To all of us, they are heroes. I don’t even dare imagine what they are experiencing and hopefully psychotherapy can sense to them as I have experienced. The Michael Phelps Foundation has also contributed more than 100,000 USD to the psychological curriculum for bar-to-teen throughout the United States.
But you will only get help if asking for it. You need to hold your phone, open the app, or schedule a meeting near your home. To be honest that in the last two months, I hardly do anything when I need the most help. I know that it’s a problem for yourself, but it’s also an example of how fast you can fall into a state of instability. I know I need better.
This is also the reason I decided to share these things. I want to help others and be responsible for what I do. There are countless people who are confronting the same difficulties, and what you have experienced, where to come from or want to be who… does not matter. Nothing can stop you. You need to learn what will help you and pursue those methods, put confidence in them and avoid yourself falling into a negative vortex.
I have given myself much more love and compassion. As I looked at the boys, I realized a lesson: they stumbled, banged head, cried a little and then pursued each other and laughed as if they hadn’t That’s what happened. They all took the step and lived the moment. That’s exactly what we should all do.
Not long ago, I was involved in a speech at a global psychological health company. After my talk, a young boy stood up and shared all the listeners about his difficulties. Sometimes I remember about that moment, the courage he had to acknowledge the challenges of himself before all colleagues. It shows that we have finally progressed to the threshold of understanding that psychological wars are real. It is very serious and is the problem of mortality.
You don’t have to conceal or fear anything. The only fight is with myself. Think about it the next time someone asks you: “Are you healthy?”
Thinh Joey (According to Espn)