Missy Franklin Battles Back From Depression: GMM presented by SwimOutlet.com

Gold Medal Minute presented by SwimOutlet.com

Five-time Olympic gold medalist, Missy Franklin, struggled through 2016. That was the opening of her message to 75 young women at the LEAD Sports Summit in Austin, Texas, an event designed to empower female athletes in academics, sport and life.

Kara Lynn Joyce, Madisyn Cox, Elizabeth Beisel, Missy Franklin, and Eva Fabian at LEAD Sports Summit

Franklin hide the battle from the media during the Olympic year, suffering through it with her familiar smile.  Franklin explained that two months before the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials she was diagnosed with depression, insomnia, anxiety and an eating disorder.  Franklin was hitting a low when the world and swim fans expected her to rise up.  Despite the challenges, she performed, winning another gold medal, and stepping up as leader and mentor on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team. Still, her personal problems remained, further exacerbated by shoulder problems that required surgery. After a break from the pool this past summer, Missy’s back, training with the Cal Golden Bears men’s team under coach Dave Durden.   See the video above and learn more about Franklin’s journey and what she’s learned in the process.

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This is a Gold Medal Media production presented by SwimOutlet.com. Host Gold Medal Mel Stewart is a 3-time Olympic medalist and the co-founder of SwimSwam.com, a Swimming News website.

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Caeleb Dressel WILL get 7 golds in Tokyo
3 years ago

Excited for a comeback!

Caeleb Dressel WILL get 7 golds in Tokyo
Reply to  Gold Medal Mel Stewart
3 years ago

Please predict a 2:05 200 back, 58.9 100 back, and a 1:54.8 200 free for U.S Nationals ? (reference to some certain “crazy optimistic” predictions for a certain swimmer at 2015 Phillips 66 Nationals)

Swimmer
3 years ago

Missy is awesome.

Mel – I love these videos and your insights are great. Could you maybe have the background music a touch quieter? It almost drowns her out at some points.

Swimmer
Reply to  Gold Medal Mel Stewart
3 years ago

Thank you!

Swammer
Reply to  Gold Medal Mel Stewart
3 years ago

No Mel. Let the bass drop. Louder

Walter
3 years ago

It’s sad that swimming sometimes eats its young. 2011 4 x 200 relay: Missy Franklin, Katie Hoff, Dagny Knutson, Allison Schmidt.

Mike
Reply to  Walter
3 years ago

It’s not swimming it’s the world. Success brings expectations and when people are young they may not be able to deal effectively with them. Look at those that have early success in show business and some of the troubles they go through.

cynthia curran
Reply to  Mike
3 years ago

Well, Swimming you peak earlier than sports like Track and Field where you are more adult, but any elite sports person is going to feel the pressure.

Swimfan718
Reply to  Walter
3 years ago

I agree with you. As a 16 year old swimmer, I can tell you starring a black line for countless hours and the expectations and all the stalkers on Meet Mobile who wonder what is wrong when you add after coach asked you to swim through a meet. I don’t compare my struggle to Missy’s but at every level of swimming there are more parents etc that you all realize who put too much pressure on us. Worse part of swimming – the car ride home.

marklewis
Reply to  Walter
3 years ago

Did you see the interview where Allison Schmidt told her story (with tears dripping down her cheeks) about driving alone on a snowy road, and thinking maybe she’d drive off the road and crash into a tree?

I think elite swimming can cause mood disorders, with the emotional extremes of competition and the physical pain of hard training.

Sophie
Reply to  marklewis
3 years ago

Yes. I’d like to expand off of this. Six years ago when my (twin) brother and I were still in age group swimming, my brother started to get serious depression. At the time, he was one of the top swimmers for his age, having national top 10 times in multiple events and at one point he was even first in the country for the 200IM and 200Breast for his age. He worked himself harder than anyone I knew – and that’s coming from me who also considers herself an overachiever. At one point my brother just cracked under all the pressure and overdosed on Tylenol and Aspirin. In the hospital, we discovered he had severe depression and anxiety and had… Read more »

Danjohnrob
Reply to  Sophie
3 years ago

Wow, thanks for sharing your brother’s story here! I hope the story had a happy ending and he went on to a happy life after swimming?

Sophie
Reply to  Danjohnrob
3 years ago

Yes, happy ending! My brother made the decision not to swim in college, but he is starting his final year at Columbia University where he is majoring in political science and statistics, and is currently applying to grad school! He is much better now; doing well in college (much better than me!), is in a great relationship, and he just generally seems much happier.

As much as he loved swimming, it was better for him to let it go. Which I think is something many of us struggle with – letting go of something that has given us joy for so long even though you know it might be the right decision.

MrsTarquinBiscuitbarrel
Reply to  Sophie
3 years ago

Thanks for sharing your family’s story, and its happy ending. We depressives are really good–TOO good!–at hiding, under faked, forced smiles. As you no doubt know.

Missy’s a great spokesperson for mental wellness, in addition to its opposite.

ice age swimmer
Reply to  marklewis
3 years ago

yes, extreme exercise sometimes uses up hormones (like adrenal and thyroid hormones) faster than you can make more. I went through something similar to what happened to Missy. Adding thyroid hormone without helping the adrenals can actually make it worse. There are books called The Schwartzbein Principle vol. 1 and vol 2 that are written by an endocrinologist that explains this well. Sleep is HUGE and so is blood sugar control. Rhodiola Rosea and Holy Basil are a couple of herbs that can be helpful, along with a hormone doctor, adequate sleep, and a blood sugar controlled diet. Antidepressants alone will NOT solve the underlying problems,

swammerjammer
Reply to  Walter
3 years ago

Cal women’s coach eats recruits. Wonder how much depression was caused by her experience with that coach? Missy is not alone. Swimmers have PTSD after living through this “winning” coaching “style”. Franklin is an Olympic gold champion for eternity and she has the heart and soul of a champion. Her future is based on the stellar foundation she built in the past. Her present should be a joyful experience. Go Missy!

marklewis
Reply to  swammerjammer
3 years ago

If you read Missy’s book, she gives an insider’s look at Teri McKeever.

Teri comes across as a coach who is loyal and supportive, but also kind of controlling and intimidating. She had Missy swim lots of freestyle instead of backstroke because that’s what Cal needed at the time.

Troy
Reply to  marklewis
3 years ago

As a coach, Missy should have done what the TEAM needed not what she wanted. That is what college swimming is about.

ACC Swimmer
Reply to  swammerjammer
3 years ago

So sick of you TM haters. Get over it! Look deeply at any successful program and there are problem swimmers. It’s the nature of college Swimming.

W3T
Reply to  swammerjammer
3 years ago

One person cannot “cause” another person’s depression. It is a complex chemical imbalance inside the brain that we don’t fully understand, we know is influenced by a variety of factors.

M Palota
3 years ago

Thank you, Missy!

You may not know it but by talking openly about your struggles with mental health, you have almost certainly saved someone’s life. And I’m not exaggerating. Those that suffer need to know that they’re not broken, they’re not alone and that they can get better and that’s what you did.

I was always impressed by your performances in the pool. Today, I’m even more impressed with your character as a person.

Mikeh
3 years ago

God bless her. Whether she is ever world class again is immaterial. It sounds like she has her life back, and that matters more than anything.

Romans 15:13: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
http://bible.com/111/rom.15.13.niv

Stu
3 years ago

She’s so fake. I always know she was really depressed

Phelps swims in 2032
Reply to  Stu
3 years ago

I honestly couldn’t stand her post race interviews… they where way too perky

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Phelps swims in 2032
3 years ago

I’m pretty sure I criticized her at one point for still being so bubbly, even when her performances started to slip. I wanted her to be angry! or something, like that would somehow make her results different?

I hope I don’t do that again. It was sh*tty and I regret it.

Joel Lin
Reply to  Steve Nolan
3 years ago

Not directed at anyone in particular, but people did get most tweaked by Missy’s ‘everything is great’ shell & we know a lot more now. One positive for Missy is despite all that the sport of swimming has so many great people she will always be able to rely on & count on. Are there better people anywhere in the world than John Urbanchek, Eddie Reese? That’s just 2 names & is not meant to exclude so many more. I hope that can help make a real difference for Missy. Depression isn’t something that goes away with a prescription for an infection or a cast on a bone, it’s a seriously vexing thing. I think it is also notable from… Read more »

northern light
Reply to  Stu
3 years ago

As someone who has suffered from depression, it is very common to deny the depression. She may or may not have been fully aware off how depressed she was. The is a lot of pressure to maintain “a positive attitude”, which does not really help matters. Certainly I would never call her keeping up a good front a “fake”.

E P
Reply to  Stu
3 years ago

harsh statement but yes in retrospect it appears she was masking things. Good for her for getting treatment

chbarbrobro
Reply to  E P
3 years ago

I struggled with depression all through middle school and i’ve been in hospitals for self harm and when i was depressed i would seem happy to all of the people who didn’t know me, but at the same time my arm would be bleeding so people knew something was wrong with me, i honestly hope missy gets better and doesn’t resolve to self harm like i did. and missy if your reading this i’m rooting for you!! Go to your closest friends and family for support!!!

A former swimmer\'s mom
Reply to  Stu
3 years ago

I don’t think she’s fake, I just think she’s trying to positively get through swimming and life. Some look at the glass half-full, and others look at it half-empty. So much of your attitude effects your life. Keep being positive but stay authentic and realistic. My best to you Missy:)

Stu
3 years ago

She’s sooooo fake I kinda knew she had these issues

Aussie crawl
Reply to  Stu
3 years ago

Are you for real ??

Swimmer A
Reply to  Stu
3 years ago

Don’t need you

Swimmer
Reply to  Stu
3 years ago

I think she’s actually really brave for trying to seem like the same bubbly person when she had all of that to deal with. It’s hard to win – if she had looked down when she wasn’t having her usual success at trials/in Rio she would probably have been criticised for looking sulky or being a bad teammate, but by not doing this she gets labelled “fake”? Give the girl a break. She’s strong and she is brave.

Hswimmer
3 years ago

The only thing that’s fake about missy is how she swam through trials knowing she wasn’t at her best and said in press conferences that she was at her best. She could’ve given her spots to the 3rd place finisher in 200 Back who could’ve done better.

2Fat4Speed
Reply to  Hswimmer
3 years ago

This is very stupid…

Hswimmer
Reply to  2Fat4Speed
3 years ago

How? It’s not a lie?

Dan
Reply to  Hswimmer
3 years ago

She earned her spots. There is no reason to think that someone who didn’t beat her at trials would have done better in Rio.

commonwombat
Reply to  Hswimmer
3 years ago

I would look at it as being in a “no win situation” with there being no “good” option readily available. Had she opened up about this at the time; she runs the risk of further media intrusion and conversely further criticism for “distracting attention away from others deemed more worthy”. Maybe a replacement US swimmer could’ve swum considerably better than she did in Rio; maybe even better than DiRado …… but we cannot know this for certain. Franklin was not the only one in a similar situation; her long time rival Seebohm went through major health issues in the lead-in to Rio but the story never came out until well after.

Franklin may, or may not, have a “second” top… Read more »

sven
Reply to  Hswimmer
3 years ago

That point is completely nonsensical. If the 3rd place finisher in the 200 back could have done better, then she should have when it counted. Missy earned her spot in the 200 back.

About Gold Medal Mel Stewart

Gold Medal Mel Stewart

MEL STEWART Jr., aka Gold Medal Mel, won three Olympic medals at the 1992 Olympic Games. Mel's best event was the 200 butterfly. He is a former World, American, and NCAA Record holder in the 200 butterfly. As a writer/producer and sports columnist, Mel has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Universal Sports, …

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