For years, Michael Phelps has shared his struggles with anxiety and depression, hoping to remove the stigma of talking about mental health.
Now, the swimmer’s wife, Nicole Phelps, is shining a light on the impact mood disorders have on their family.
“I’m very vocal about making sure that the kids are aware that maybe Michael’s having a hard day. [The kids] didn't do something that made Daddy feel this way. It’s Daddy having his own stuff,” Nicole told TODAY’s Carson Daly in an exclusive interview with Michael on Friday.
"One day I can wake up and I can feel like I'm on top of the world, and I can do absolutely anything and everything," Michael revealed. "And the next day I can wake up and not wanna get out of bed."
The 23-time Olympic gold-medal swimmer, who shares sons Boomer, 4, Beckett, 2, and 16-month-old Maverick, with Nicole, opened up after the 2016 Olympics about his battle with depression, and has become an advocate for mental health in the years since. He launched the Michael Phelps Foundation, which works with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America to help kids stay healthy physically and mentally, while getting them access to swimming lessons and joining participants to talk about mental health issues. He told Carson that one of the tools he often uses today when he’s feeling overwhelmed is to retreat to a quiet room.
“I can calm myself down. I always have that little area where I can just go and regroup,” Michael, 35, said. “It’s lifesaving.”
Nicole, 33, gives her husband of four years the space he needs, and she doesn't encourage him to look on the bright side.
“I keep reminding Michael that I'm not here to judge him. I’m here to support him. I’m here to love him. I’m here, open arms,” she explained. “I’m not going to say, ‘You can’t feel that way.'"
Earlier this month, Nicole opened up to TODAY Parents about her fear of losing Michael to depression.
“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,’” she recalled. “Michael is the most amazing father and partner I could have ever asked for.”
And Michael feels the same way about Nicole. As he told Carson, "I've never really had somebody that's really been there who understands me like Nicole does."
Recently, Nicole began working with a therapist. The sessions are helping her to process the trauma surrounding the thought of life without Michael.
“It’s helping me with everything. It’s support for me,” she shared. “But more than anything, therapy provides me with the tools to be able to help Michael properly.”