Nicole, wife of swimming superstar Michael Phelps, talks to TODAY Parents about her concerns over her husband’s struggle with depression. Phelps has been battling with mental health issues for some time now, and there are days when she is really frightened for his well-being.
Opening up about the highs and lows of Phelps’ journey with depression, Nicole and Michael spoke of their determination to get through it although the road ahead seems very tough. The interview which was published on January 12,2021, saw the former model lay bare her insecurities as a mother and a wife.
When the news of Kobe Bryan’s tragic death surfaced in January 2020, Michael was in a dark place. “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,'” Nicole remembers.
Nicole wed the swimming sensation in 2016. She has been very actively supportive of Michael’s struggles with mental health through the years. He has won 28 Olympic medals, surely he could brave the challenges of his ailments too.
However, the recent past has made Nicole realize how limited her support can be. “I used to think, ‘Oh, I can fix him. I can be his therapist. I can be what he needs,'” she says. However, she now knows that much of the battle is Michael’s own.
The retired swimmer had had quite a few scares in 2020. He knows how much his family, especially Nicole, love him and want him to get better. He admits he finds himself making her suffer equally lonely battles of her own. She too needs support, he says.
The couple have three children: 4-year-old Boomer, 2-year-old Beckett and 16-month-old Maverick. Although Michael loves his kids dearly, there are times when he needs to keep himself away from them because of his mental health. Nicole mentions, “The boys want to be near Michael when he’s having a rough day. They want to try and make him happy—especially Boomer because he’s the oldest. So we’ll say, ‘Hey, Booms, Daddy’s having a hard time and just needs to take a moment to be alone.’ We want Boomer to understand it’s not about him, it’s about Michael.” Despite the episodes, Michael has been an incredibly amazing father to his children and Nicole firmly believes no one can be a better dad to her children than him.
The Phelps have tried their best to keep life going on a schedule to lessen the effects of the pandemic on Michael’s mental health. They exercise together and Michael has the daily responsibility of cooking dinner for the family. Even though Michael admits he has not had an easy year in 2020, Nicole is very appreciative and encouraging of the way he has faced his worst moments this past year. “We’ve definitely grown together through this and learned a lot,” she says. “It’s not easy, but I’m married to the most incredible human being.”