Ian Thorpe, Australia’s most decorated Olympic swimmer, has written a blog post about overcoming depression for the Huffington Post.
In the post, which is part of a series focussing on the mental and emotional heath of young people, Thorpe admits that he has struggled with his mental health since he was a teen. “At times it does feel all-consuming,” he writes.
“It would have appeared as though I had grasped the world with both hands - a gifted athlete, student with a youthful naivety and innocence who chooses to believe in the best the world has to offer (I hold this view to this day, while accepting without delusion the myriad of struggles the world faces).
“My future seemed boundless. This is part of the deception of depression and also mental illness: what may appear at face value is a stark difference from the agony that lies within,” he writes.
Thorpe says that he often felt guilty about how fortunate his life is compared to others. “I grew up and live in a country where my mere existence is not challenged day to day. I have many opportunities and access to the best people to assist with my illness.” he says.
However, he says that at times his privilege felt like a burden. “Weighed down by guilt and a revulsion for who you are leads and perpetuates the cycle of depression, where self-loathing feeds the darkest part of your mind, playing and toying with your emotions that make it nigh on impossible to leave the house or even your bed.
“You withdraw from society and your friends. Unable to work, you are left in solitude with yourself and the emotions that have incapacitated you.”
Thorpe says that today he is in a place where he can appreciate his life. “I am tremendously happy and I want to remind people that it's worthwhile to pursue your happiness. I do not take for granted each and every opportunity that I have, “ he writes.
He concludes: “I look to the future with zest, without trepidation of when or if I may have another depressive episode. I'm mindful that I work each day on not allowing myself to be a depressed person.”
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