Nearly five years after Michael Phelps opened up about his battle with depression, wife Nicole Phelps admitted she feared for the worst.
“After Vanessa [Bryant] lost Kobe, all I could do was look at Michael and be like, ‘Can we please help you? Because if I lose you, I don’t know what I’m gonna do,’” Nicole recalled, praising the Olympian, 35, as “the most amazing father and partner.”
The former Miss California admitted she believed she could take on more in regards to her husband’s mental health.
“I used to think, ‘Oh, I can fix him. I can be his therapist. I can be what he needs,’” she said. “But what I’ve learned is that you can’t take ownership for how they’re feeling, no matter how badly you want to.”
Nicole has since started going to therapy herself, which she told Today is “helping me with everything,” including being there “properly” for Michael.
The pageant queen previously opened up about her husband’s struggles with depression in an October 2020 anniversary post via Instagram. “There’s good days and there’s bad days but all days with you make me smile even when I don’t want to,” she wrote in the caption. Earlier the same month she marked World Mental Health Day with a post in which she told fans, “It’s OK to not be OK.”
Michael himself told ESPN in May 2020 the coronavirus pandemic took a toll on his emotional wellbeing. “The pandemic has been a challenge I never expected,” the 23-time Olympic champion shared. “All the uncertainty. Being cooped up in a house. And the questions. So many questions.” According to the interview, quarantine left Michael feeling “on edge” and “worthless” at times.
In 2017, after he and Nicole revealed they were expecting baby No. 2, the gold medalist opened up to Us Weekly about his depression. “For me, it was all about being vulnerable,” he explained. “I think it’s scary for a lot of people to think about that word. I just wanted to change. I was to the point where I didn’t like who I was. I didn’t like looking at myself, like, seeing the reflection that you see in the mirror. I kind of just tackled it head-on.”
He previously discussed his mental state in a 2016 interview with Today, revealing he “didn’t want to see another day.” The Maryland native said, “I think my mom was happy that I was alive because I think she saw the sort of the path that I was going down,” alluding to his legal troubles.
In 2004, Michael’s life took a drastic turn. He pleaded guilty to drunk driving in November of that year and was arrested again for DUI in September 2014. The following month he checked himself into rehab.