Former pro Iván Gutiérrez shared his personal story of battling depression, which included eleven suicide attempts after his cycling career ended, in an interview with Spanish radio Cadena COPE.
“I didn’t know why, but something was wrong in my head. I wasn’t happy, I felt I had too much responsibility and cycling was very stressful for me,” Gutiérrez said, according to Cyclingnews.
“I have been hospitalized 11 times because of trying to hurt myself. I took every pill I had around, first to catch the eye of those around me and later on as serious attempts of killing myself because I couldn’t see the way out of my situation.”
During the interview he said the low point came during the 2013 Tour de France.
“In the Pyrenees I left with a nervous breakdown from the Tour. I was totally panicked and wanted to ride off course … and end my life.”
“One can’t say out loud he is depressed because his contract can be at stake. I had to make out a lie and tell everybody that I had a very bad day and didn’t know why.”
“I felt that was it for me as a cyclist. I was heavily medicated to hinder my self-destructive ideas, which were recurring and very strong. It got to a point in which I had to take a decision along with Eusebio. The most difficult moment of my life came when I had to tell him I was no longer fit to compete. And the worse part is that I couldn’t even bid farewell.”
“I have to take a nap of two-three hours every day because I still haven’t regained the amount of energy I used to enjoy. I visit the doctor a couple of times every month and will keep medicating myself at least for another two years. The goal is to reduce the amount of medication I need to take daily, but I am afraid I will never be able to drop it completely.”