In the post, Shields explains what led him up to the point, how seeking professional help has positively impacted him over the last year, and thanks all of the people who have supported him. Check out the full post below (profanity alert):
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A little over a year ago I tried to hang myself. If G didn’t miraculously turn around and come home from her commute I wouldn’t be alive today. She called me out of the blue at a time I normally wouldn’t be reachable, and distracted me til she got back. The best description I can offer of what happened: I was a caught in a certain line of thinking, one that convinced me “I should get out of the way of the people I hurt, I will never get my shit together, or be worthwhile. I am simply incapable of becoming the person I want to be, so the best course of action would be to die, and cease the pain I bring into the world”. I had spent many years fantasizing and reveling in this line of thought. My therapist has convinced me that this belief is not connected to who I am. It is rather a “neural pathway” that may have helped me survive an earlier time in my life, but is simply hurting me now. I have learned many strategies to help me deal with it, but it’s a daily battle. If you feel any resonation with the above, I urge you to seek help immediately, because it could be any old day that the thoughts take over, and you act out against yourself. I owe thanks to more than I can ever mention, but to those in my life who rescued me; my wife, the guys at cal, Dave, Chase, my friends back home, USA swimming, a special shout out to @sean28mahoney, and even more people who, with or without knowing it, helped me unfuck my brain and gave me time/support to grow. This past year has been the hardest, coolest, most rewarding time of my life. This is the first picture of Gianna and I after that time. She had gotten us a hotel and took the rest of the week off to be there for me. I am so thankful for her, and do not understand how I got so lucky. She is the light of my life, and the most supportive, kind, loving, and patient person I’ve ever met. It’s crazy to look back. I am so thankful for a year of growth, one I wouldn’t trade for anything. A younger version of me would be bummed I didn’t swim a best time or good at all for a 5th year in a row, but I am finally learning to recognize and to value different kinds of growth.
The now 28-year-old wrote that he tried to hang himself before his wife gave him a call and distracted him until arriving home.
A multi-time NCAA champion with the Cal Golden Bears, Shields has gone on to lead a successful professional career that includes a berth on the 2016 U.S. Olympic team where he won a gold medal in the men’s 4×100 medley relay.
This past summer, the two-time SC World Champion won a pair of gold medals at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, and followed that up with a very successful performance in the inaugural season of the International Swimming League competing for the LA Current. He won 3 races in the opening ISL season, and finished 11th in the season-long MVP scoring.
If you or someone you know has had suicidal thoughts or exhibited any of the warning signs, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit their website here (suicidepreventionlifeline.org) if you’re in the US.
You can find a list of international hotlines here.