Michael Phelps and Fellow Olympians Shed Light on Depression in HBO's 'The Weight of Gold'

Michael Phelps opened up about his depression in a new HBO documentary which follows the mental health battles of Olympians. The trailer shared a preview of their hard-hitting words. 

HBO is laying bare the dark side of the Olympic journey in a new documentary titled, "The Weight of Gold." Several athletes were interviewed for the segment, including famed swimmer, Michael Phelps.

In the film, former Olympians delve into the mental health struggles they faced both before and after competing on the largest competitive stage in sports every four years. The trailer is found below.

Michael Phelps attends The Ultimate Fan Experience, Call Of Duty XP 2016 presented by Activision at The Forum on September 2, 2016 in Inglewood, California. | Photo: Getty Images

Michael Phelps attends The Ultimate Fan Experience, Call Of Duty XP 2016 presented by Activision at The Forum on September 2, 2016 in Inglewood, California. | Photo: Getty Images

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE OLYMPICS END

Along with Phelps, filmmakers also interviewed David Boudia, Jeremy Bloom, Jonathan Cheever, Gracie Gold, Lola Jones, Bode Miller, Apolo Ohno, and Katie Uhlaender. 

In the preview, one person recounts the pressure competitors face upon reaching the Olympics, where they'll finally reap the rewards of a life's worth of hard work and relentless training. 

Yet it is what comes afterward that sometimes sends athletes into a spiral. One athlete noted: "After the Olympics, the doors closed, and that's kinda it." Another added: "Win or lose, I felt a dramatic emptiness."

PHELPS DESCRIBES LACK OF HUMAN IDENTITY

Phelps explained: "We're just so lost. A good 80%, maybe more go through some kind of post-Olympic depression. I thought of myself as just a swimmer and not a human being."

A female athlete admitted that she had developed no interests outside of the sport she practiced to compete in the Olympics. One claimed that none of them had normal childhoods. 

As the former sportsmen and women describe how their entire lives revolved around the Olympics, viewers will better understand why many Olympians hope to bring more awareness to the situation.

THE DOCUMENTARY TO AIR THIS MONTH END

The director, Brett Rapkin, revealed that he did not even know what was going on before working on the project. He notes that things are even more urgent now with the postponement of the 2020 summer Olympics. 

The event, which was to take place in Tokyo, Japan, this year, will instead happen in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The documentary will premiere on July 29, at 9 p.m. ET/ PT.

The new film follows after Phelps opened up in June about his severe depression over the years. Even after winning 28 medals and being adored by the nation, Phelps was suffering inside. 

PHELPS BETTER ABLE TO HANDLE DEPRESSION

While it is an ongoing process, Phelps now uses his platform to help others like himself who are familiar with that dark place that follows the Olympic season. 

At one point in 2012, Phelps' depression was so bad that he considered taking his own life. Thankfully, he ended up getting help and learning about himself and how to better deal with the issue. 

Phelps is also thankful to have his family by his side for strength. The 35-year-old is happily married to Nicole Johnson with whom he shares sons Broomer, four, Beckett, two, and Maverick, who is almost one. 

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org.

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