"I wanted to come home with hardware", said Phelps, acknowledging this feeling helped him break his first world record at age 15 and later win his first gold medal at the Athens Olympic Games in 2004.
Phelps made a decision to go for treatment and even though initially he did feel a bit unsettled, the fact that he shared his emotions with people who were ready to hear him, turned out a major turning point in the battle against depression. "Hardest was after 2012 Olympics, I didn't want to be in the sport anymore, I didn't want to be alive anymore".
"I said to myself so many times, 'Why didn't I do this 10 years ago?' But, I wasn't ready", he continued.
The champion swimmer, 32, opened up about his years-long battle with depression for the first time in an interview this week, recalling the agonizing lows he battled through after each major tournament since 2004.
Speaking at a mental health conference in Chicago on Tuesday, the 23-time Olympic gold medal victor talked openly about his long battle with crippling depression and is encouraging others to get help like he did.
"You do contemplate suicide", he said.
After years of "compartmentalizing" his emotions, Phelps said he was finally ready to open up about what was feeling.
For sure, but we were completely unknown about the fact that even Phelps had to go through enormous depression in his life.
In 2008, after winning a record eight gold medals at the Beijing Games, Phelps was photographed smoking from a bong.
Phelps has also been arrested twice for DUI.
"I remember going to treatment my very first day, I was shaking, shaking because I was nervous about the change that was coming up", Phelps told Axelrod.
He further added that the stigma around mental illness needs to be removed. "I am extremely thankful that I didn't not take my life". "I think people actually finally understand it is real. I think this is the only way that we can change", he went on, encouraging others to continue speaking up.
Phelps eventually bowed out from the sport following Rio 2016, where he won five gold medals and one silver to make him the most successful athlete of the Games for the fourth Olympics in a row.
Post-retirement, Phelps has devoted his time to the Michael Phelps Foundation, which offers stress management programs to those who endure physical as well as mental problems during their career, which will see a lot of youngsters benefiting from his confidence-boosting presence.