Allison Schmitt Shares Harsh Truth About Depression

August 11th 2016

Lucy Tiven

Olympic medalist Allison Schmitt got real about her struggle with depression, during a Wednesday "Today Show" interview.

schmitt depression

Though Schmitt earned a silver medal in the 4x100m freestyle relay and helped team USA team bring home a gold in the 4x200 freestyle relay, she's also one of about 350 million people around the world who struggle with depression each year.

us gold swimmers

Schmitt candidly described her experience.

"When I woke up in the morning, I would look forward to going back to bed," she said. "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 added. "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."

Her words are particularly powerful due to the myths that depression is a sign of weakness or something you can just "get over."

No one is immune to mental illness — not even star athletes, J.K. Rowling, Sarah Silverman or the Rock.


People who experience depression are often told to try harder to move past it or practice "self-care" rather than encouraged to seek actual treatment.

But, as Schmitt explained to the Huffington Post in an early August interview, depression isn't always something you can work (or swim) through on your own.

AS Swimming

“I think as an athlete we’re taught that if we can push through anything we can make it wherever we want to go, and we’re always told to not ask for help,” she told the Huffington Post.

Schmitt eventually sought treatment from a psychologist in early 2015 and also received support from her friend and teammate Michael Phelps, Today reports.

First Lady Michelle Obama addressed this stigma in a February blog post published on the Huffington Post.


"We would never tell someone with a broken leg that they should stop wallowing and get it together," she explained. "We don't consider taking medication for an ear infection something to be ashamed of. We shouldn't treat mental health conditions any differently."

On the "Today Show," Schmitt also powerfully addressed her 17-year-old cousin's suicide in May 2015.

"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 said.

You can watch the full video on NBC.