Michael Phelps on NBC's "Meet the Press." Screengrab: NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’

Michael Phelps saw himself as a swimmer — not a person.

During a heartfelt and honest interview on NBC’s Meet the Press with Kristen Welker, the multi-time Olympic champion spoke openly about his mental health challenges and bouts with depression. The 39-year-old Phelps revealed that his initial struggle with depression began after the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. And despite recognizing that something wasn’t right, Phelps feared appearing weak and worried his competitors might exploit this vulnerability.

He had to learn that vulnerability is a good thing — but that took time.

Phelps had to rebuild himself, but he emerged stronger—not just emotionally but also as a competitor. He’s going to go down swinging no matter what.

And that reminded Phelps of a conversation he had with his mental health “buddy,” Jay Glazer. The Fox NFL insider has documented his mental health journey in book and podcast form and is one of the few faces in sports media that’s creating content around mental health and depression.

It’s with people like Glazer that Phelps can be his most vulnerable.

“I just had a conversation with — hold on, I might get choked up here,” Phelps began. “I just had a conversation with a buddy of mine the other day. So, for me, this is all fresh. A friend of mine — he’s my mental health buddy — and he knows who I’m talking about.”

Phelps decided he’d just outright say it. After all, he’s been on Glazer’s medium before discussing his ongoing, everyday battles with mental illness.

“Jay Glazer and I, we’re both mental health buddies,” explained Phelps. “We both struggle, and when we’re both having our bad days, we go through similar ups and downs. And we do similar things when we’re down if that makes sense. We both had this conversation the other day because when it happens to me, I reach out to him. When it happens to him, he reaches out to me. I have a couple of friendships like that where we’ve kind of been really able to form a bond.

“And what we were saying before is, I literally sent a text to him and was like, ‘I’m never ******* quitting, ever in my life.” Like, that’s not who I am…I won’t quit anything. I will never give up at anything. There are so many goals of mine that I have and want to accomplish, and no matter how hard it gets, I’m never giving up. There’s a reason why I was able to win 23 gold medals, right? I’m determined; I’m stubborn; I’m a laundry list of things. I just don’t give up.”

Phelps’ candidness about his mental health will undoubtedly create an opportunity for those who have experienced a similar type of vulnerability to open up about their struggles. It’s not just his voice but the strong bond of mutual support he shares with Glazer.

Together, they can help shatter the stigma surrounding mental illness, showing that vulnerability is not a weakness but a necessary step toward healing and growth.

PSA: If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health and needs help, the National Suicide and Crisis Hotline can be reached at 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.