The 32-year-old spoke candidly to Us about his role in a new documentary titled Angst, where he speaks out about his anxiety and depression: “For me, it was all about being vulnerable. 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.”
As previously reported, the retired swimmer has been open about his struggles in the past, which have included DUIs and a stint in rehab.
“For me it’s like, I always make a joke like, ‘Yeah, I learned how to communicate like two years ago.’ It made my life a hell of a lot easier, but also understanding your emotions is something that is so big,” Phelps said. “There are a lot of different things that we have going on and you’re starting to see more, whether it’s athletes or celebrities who are opening up and talking about depression and anxiety more. I think they’re understanding that it is OK to not be OK.”
“When I went into depression, I went into the darkest part of my life by far and I didn’t want to be alive. Hopefully, we can lower the suicide rate and continue to open up and probably get people to talk about the mental health disorders that they’re going through and to communicate more,” he says of his battle with depression.
When it comes to his son, 17-month-old Boomer, Phelps can’t stop snapping photos and creating hilarious captions for an Instagram page dedicated to the tot: “We’re trying to process some of the things that are going on in his head. I mean, the photos lately just with his long hair. He loves being in a hat. He’ll reach for his sunglasses every time we get in the car, so it is a treat seeing more and more of his personality come out daily.”
Phelps shares Boomer with wife Nicole Johnson, whom he secretly married in June 2016 after dating on and off for eight years.
The couple is now expecting their second child and Phelps tells Us exclusively, “I kind of had an idea that she could be pregnant … I could tell she was acting, not different or funny, but I could tell that she wanted to say something. Nicole had made this little journal for me of photos of just Boomer and I and photos of Nicole and I and experiences, and we just put like special moments in that little journal. I woke up [one] morning and she handed me the journal and said open it. I opened to the photo of them in the backyard with the pregnancy test. I was pumped!”
Another positive place in his life is his work as the global ambassador for Colgate’s Save Water campaign, he tells Us: “For me, water is such an intricate part of my life. Now, having a family and now growing a family, there are so many things that we can all do to that can really help the world. There are so many people who don’t have the opportunity to have clean drinking water. I think that this is simple to turn the faucet off when you’re brushing your teeth. It’s simple to kind of not take a 30-minute shower or … so many little small things that we can all do together to save precious water. Every drop really does count. I think we can do this together.”