By this level, Allison had been battling depression for over two years, ever since she returned from the 2012 Olympics in London, the place she’d gained 5 medals for the U.S. Olympic Swimming Team. She was welcomed again with congratulations and help, and other people telling her that they wished they have been her. Her response? “I wish I felt that way.”
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Nobody knew about Allison’s melancholy—not even her household. “I didn’t want to complain, because I knew I was lucky, and I knew I was in a spot where not many people get to be,” she tells Women’s Health. “And I didn’t understand why I would be feeling like that. I always thought that people who struggled had a traumatic event that happened to them or they had a reason to struggle. I had a picture-perfect life.”
As an athlete within the worldwide highlight, she felt the necessity to sustain an look of happiness, pleasure, and gratitude. She equated her adverse emotions to different troubles you may encounter in life, in class, and in swimming—simply maintain working, maintain pushing, and it’ll get higher. “From a young age, I was taught to persevere and to push through and you’ll be stronger.” But she didn’t really feel stronger.
This is what melancholy and psychological sickness is absolutely like:
One individual had observed a change in her, although: Michael Phelps. A couple of weeks after her journey to Penn State in 2015, she was competing in a Grand Prix meet, the place Michael Phelps was watching. As an in depth good friend, he had observed she was totally different—her angle, her racing, every thing. Allison says Michael approached her and stated, “I know there’s something going on, and if you’re ready, I am here to talk to you, or I can get someone else to help you.” Allison broke down in tears. She says that was the primary time she acknowledged she wanted assist. She began seeing a psychologist, however nonetheless none of her pals or household knew—simply Michael and her coach Bob Bowman. Michael had skilled his personal darkish occasions, telling Sports Illustrated that he did not need “to be alive anymore” after his DUI arrest in 2014.
Flash ahead a couple of months to May 2015, when Allison’s 17-year-old cousin April dedicated suicide. The information struck Allison exhausting—April, a highschool basketball star, was so glad, so liked by everybody. “How were those demons so dark inside of her that she couldn’t bear it?” she says. “But I didn’t know. No one knew. And I thought, if she would’ve spoken about it, if we knew that we were both struggling, could we have helped each other?”
That’s when she determined it was time to talk publicly about her wrestle with melancholy. It was robust at first (she broke down throughout an interview with reporters), however Allison says it obtained simpler over time. “I hate public speaking because I get really nervous, but when I’m speaking about mental health, I can do it easily because I am so passionate about that,” she says.
Allison now travels across the nation to talk at faculties, and attends occasions and galas that help psychological health consciousness. She just lately attended the gala for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and on May 15, she’ll be talking at a Mental Health Awareness panel on Instagram Live with Women’s Health Editor-in-Chief Amy Keller Laird, Barbara Ricci from the National Alliance on Mental Health, Elyse Fox, founding father of Sad Girls Club, and Carolyn Merrell, who handles public coverage at Instagram.
Her general objective is to teach individuals about psychological sickness. She hopes to get extra conversations began so that folks know they don’t have to act like every little thing’s okay, and that they’ve allies. “Being vulnerable is not weakness,” she says. “It shows you are strong enough to know that life is sometimes hard for you to handle and you need support.”