Sydney - Swimming great Ian Thorpe on
Thursday revealed he has battled mental health issues since his teenage years
as he opened up about his struggle with depression.
Australia's most decorated Olympian, with
five gold medals at the 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Games, was admitted to a
rehabilitation facility for the condition in 2014 after being found disoriented
on a Sydney street.
The 33-year-old has said previously that he
kept the problem secret from his loved ones, but is now part of Young Minds
Matter, a campaign designed to raise awareness of children's mental health
issues backed by Prince William's wife Kate Middleton.
"I am someone who has struggled with
mental health issues since I was a teen," Thorpe wrote in a blog post for
news website Huffington Post Australia.
"From the outside, many would not see
my pain nor be able to relate to the sometimes-daily struggle I was facing.
"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."
Thorpe, still hugely popular in many parts
of the world, became the first person to win six gold medals at one world
championships, in 2001, among 11 world titles overall - along with 10
Commonwealth Games gold medals.
But the demands of a celebrity lifestyle
and grinding training saw him quit in 2006.
He was unable to find a direction, dabbling
in jewellery design and television while attempting a number of university
courses before a comeback in 2012 in which he failed to qualify for the London
In 2014, several months after treatment for
depression, he received widespread praise by revealing he was gay in a move
advocates said helped remove the stigma of homophobia in sport.
In the blog, Thorpe admitted that in the
past he sometimes became "a hermit and tried to shut out the world"
as he encouraged young people to recognise and confront any mental health
"If you concede to your illness and
accept its reality you fall into the trap of not only being depressed but also
taking on the depressed mindset," he said.
Thorpe, who is reportedly dating swimwear
model Ryan Channing, added that since recognising his problem and taking
control of it, he was "tremendously happy".
"Even though I may at times struggle
with depression, I've decided I don't want it to define me," he said.
"Although it may have taken me a while
to get to this point and realisation in my life, I assure you it's worth it.
"I realise the wonder of the world and
I approach each day with an enthusiasm that I haven't felt for what seems like