Olympic swimmer Leisel Jones’s dive into depression

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Leisel Jones thought she had it all after snaring gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. What followed was an unexpected bout of depression – leading to her darkest moment of all. […]

I lie in bed at night wondering what’s wrong with me. You’ve done it, I tell myself. You’ve won the gold! Achieved your dream! This is the part where you’re ecstatic. You should be over the moon! It doesn’t feel at all like I expected.

Because even as a gold medallist, you still have to get up in the morning. You still have to eat your Weet-Bix and brush your teeth. Life goes on. It was stupid to think all that would change. Yet somehow, I now realise, I thought things would be different. That life might be smoother, more perfect. I thought my friends would like me more, my fiancé would love me more. And most stupid of all? I thought I might even like myself.

After Beijing, a bunch of my teammates go on holidays together. Some go to Bali, others to Thailand. Me? I pack my bags, say my goodbyes, and then head home to Melbourne to break up with my fiancé. […]

And so one hollow, grey Tuesday afternoon in Spain, while the snow outside is beginning to whirl and dance, I sit down on the bathroom floor with sleeping tablets and plan how I will steal a paring knife from the hotel kitchen to try to kill myself. I will start with my legs, with the big veins in my thighs. Then I will slash at my arms, at my pale white wrists. I shake as I think about it. I imagine the knife and how I will run its blade gently over my skin, scrape it across the smooth skin of my wrist – then go further, do what I need to do.

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Photo by Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer

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About Author

Production engineer and certified swim coach. Full-time IT consultant, spare-time swimming aficionado. 2 sons, 2 daughters and a wife. President of the Faroe Islands Swimming Association. Likes to run :-)

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