Depression and thoughts of suicide: Swimming legend Thorpe opens up about troubles
00:27 GMT, 14 November 2012
Australian five-time Olympic champion Ian Thorpe has revealed more about his fight against depression and thoughts of suicide which plagued his record-breaking career.
In a revealing interview on BBC Radio 5 Live the 30-year-old opened up about his troubles away from the pool that led him to consider taking his own life.
Amongst his revelations Thorpe said he had been treated for depression since he was a teenager and that it had led him to drink during the night in the lead-up to the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Revealing: Five-time Olympic swimming gold medallist Australia's Ian Thorpe explained more about his depression
He also recounted that he had been too 'embarrassed' to tell even his family about the disease until this year.
While Thorpe believes he has now learned to control the problem enough to speak about it publicly – he has also released an autobiography entitled 'This Is Me' – he admitted there were 'still times that are really tough for me'.
'I realised that I had desperation early. I was having treatment for desperation when I was a teenager,' he said.
'Depression comes in bouts. You can feel okay most days and then just get hit with it. I experienced that through what was mostly a very successful swimming career.
For sale: Thorpe has had his autobiography published, pictured right
'I have struggled with it before but I feel like I am on the other side of it. There are still times that are really tough for me, but I feel as though I know enough about it.
'There's no way that I'll ever say that I'm cured because I know where I can go back to.
'It's the first time that I've been comfortable talking about it because I feel as though I have some sort of control.'
Asked whether he had ever contemplated suicide during a glittering career that also saw him claim 11 world titles, he added: 'Yeah, I wouldn't talk about it otherwise. It's not something that is a throw-away line.
Admission: Thorpe said he had thought about suicide
'I actually think it's quite normal
for people to consider what it would be like to commit suicide. I think
it is a normal thing to think 'what would that feel like, would it be so
'But usually that's all you think
about, that's it. When you go through what the process of what it would
be like and it becomes and obsession in your mind where all rational
thought is devoid in that situation you realise that this has gone
beyond just a thought.
'When you are trying to get it out of
your mind rationally and you can't. To consider it as being a rational
solution to the way you are feeling you realise this is a problem, that
this isn't just a fleeting thought or feeling.
'This is a very clear guideline that
you do need more help and that you're not in control of your life and
that the irrational thought has taken over.'
Popular: Thorpe is one of Australia's most recognised sports people
Disguise: Thorpe felt he could hide the truth from his colleagues
Thorpe revealed that a key moment in
his recovery was realising the extent of his problems in the lead up to
the 2004 Olympics, when he was drinking to avoid his demons.
He said: 'Leading up to Athens Olympics I was actually drinking in the night to try and avoid be depressed.
'Everyone knows that doesn't work.
It's a stupid thing to do and so you wake up the next morning, have a
hangover and you are more depressed than you were the day before.
'I was fortunate that I woke up to
this. I needed to seek more treatment. It's not that I got over it –
there is no way of getting over this – it was that I have a little bit
more control over my depression.'
Winner: Thorpe shows his gold medal after winning the 400m freestyle at the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece
Thorpe made an unsuccessful attempt to qualify for the London Olympics after coming out of a four-year retirement in late 2010.
Despite that failure he revealed he
still harboured ambitions to compete at Rio in four years and that he
would look to add to his Commonwealth titles in Glasgow in two years.
'I'm going to work in two-year cycles.
I'm looking to swim until the Commonwealth Games and then make a call
on whether to swim through until the Olympics after that,' he said.
'Starting out when I came back I knew the odds were stacked against me (to qualify for the Olympics).
'I thought it was 50-50. Realistically I thought it would take three years to get back.'