Olympic Swimmer Allison Schmitt On Struggling With Depression

Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images.
Allison Schmitt may have just won her eighth Olympic medal, but the elite swimmer can recall a time when victory seemed impossible. In an interview on Wednesday with Today, Schmitt says that her struggle with depression almost ended her swimming career.

Anyone who has battled depression might find her experience familiar. "When I woke up in the morning, I would look forward to going back to bed," she told Today. "As soon as my alarm went off, I knew that it's time for practice. But my thoughts were, Okay, when can I get back into bed."

"I was failing every time I dove into the pool," Schmitt continued. "A place that I loved, a sport that I loved. [I would] dive in every time and fail, what I thought was failing. I didn't know what else to do."

Schmitt had previously opened up about her experience with depression to ESPN, where she explained that she began to speak publicly about the illness after her cousin committed suicide last year.

"If there was one thing I could say, is — if I knew and [could] help her and let her know that there was a light at the end of the tunnel," she told Today.

According to a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, one in four college athletes experiences "depressive symptoms," with women being twice as likely as men to have symptoms.

Schmitt began seeing a psychologist early last year, and has also received support from fellow Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, whom she counts as a very close friend.
"When you're in a place like that, you just kind of continue going into a dark hole," Phelps told Today. "I didn't want to see her go through some of the things I went through."

Today, Schmitt continues to speak out about her own experiences in hopes of removing the stigma surrounding mental health, particularly among athletes — who don't necessarily have higher rates of mental illness, but do seem to struggle more when it comes to reaching out.

"I knew this was a time that I could save the next person who was struggling, the next person who thinks their life is not worth it," she told ESPN.
Advertisement

More from Mind

No one goes through life trying to be a horrible person. But sometimes, it's a challenge to go that extra mile (or even just a few steps) out of your way...
Living with anxiety can feel like a constant battle. You have to stay alert to catch anxiety creeping up on you, and it can turn into an all-day fight to ...
We explore the unconscious messages a voice can give off and why snap judgments can be harmful, even if they're innocent
(Paid Content) Taking short breaks during the workday can bring your sanity back to earth. Of course, they have a calming effect, but did you know breaks ...
It's not always easy to predict how much you're going to drink when you go out — or how drunk you'll actually get. And according to a new study, your ...
This story was originally published on May 19, 2016. A few years ago, I called my dad for one of our weekly chats — but he wasn’t happy to hear from me...
As much as it sucks, anxiety doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Without a little bit of it, you wouldn’t make sure to show up on time to that job interview or...
(Paid Content) Moods are fickle things. You can be going about your day in a happy, productive, and calm manner, and boom — everything changes. And ...
This story was originally published on May 19, 2016. I am six years old, in the first grade girls’ bathroom with my friend. We are washing our hands. ...
This story was originally published on Jul. 19, 2016. Several months ago, a woman I’m very close to checked herself into a hospital because she’d been ...
This article was originally published on May 27, 2015. Now that pot legislation is making its way across the country, it's time for a refresher on the ...
Depression is one of the most common mental-health issues in the United States, and it affects roughly twice as many women as men. Yet new research ...
On social media, it's easy to catch all sorts of digital diseases, such as FOMO, internet addiction, and anxiety. Facebook and Instagram-wary researchers...
As a culture, we have a slight tendency to exaggerate. We don’t just love PSLs — we’re obsessed. We aren’t just neat and tidy — we Kondo. Another term we ...