'I Don't Have to Be Fine': Everything Simone Biles Has Said About Mental Health

The celebrated Olympian, one of PEOPLE's People of the Year, has shared her honest thoughts on her struggles, triumphs and everything in between

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People of the Year Simone Biles

"We're an amateur sport. Most of us are under 18, and most of the time we're told what to do — and we're all being judged. But to be 24 and say, 'This is not working,' took a lot of courage. I suppressed all this stuff for years, and it just blew up. My body and my mind said, 'No, Simone, you need to take a break.' Thankfully I listened. I know in my heart it was the right decision."

— to PEOPLE about her decision to withdraw from the Tokyo Olympics in the People of the Year issue

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Simone Biles
Simone Biles / Instagram

"for anyone saying I quit. I didn't quit my mind & body are simply not in sync." ...

"i don't think you realize how dangerous this is on hard/competition surface nor do I have to explain why I put health first." ...

"physical health is mental health."

— to her Instagram followers, along with a clip of herself at practice in Tokyo, in response to those who believe she "quit" the Olympics when she chose to withdraw from the team all-around final after her first apparatus and declined to compete in the individual all-around

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Women's Team Final
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

"I just felt like it would be a little bit better to take a backseat, work on my mindfulness and I knew that the girls would do an absolutely great job. I didn't want to risk the team a medal for, kind of, my screw-up — because they've worked way too hard for that."

— to reporters after her sudden exit from the women's gymnastics team final at the Tokyo Olympics

04 of 12
Simone Biles, naomi osaka
Jamie Squire/Getty Images; YUTAKA/AFLO/Shutterstock

"I say put mental health first because if you don't, then you're not going to enjoy your score and you're not gonna succeed as much as you want to. So, it's okay sometimes to even sit out the big competitions to focus on yourself because it shows how strong of a competitor or a person that you really are."

— to reporters when asked about tennis star Naomi Osaka and her struggles with mental health leading up to the Tokyo Olympics

05 of 12

"prelims ☑️ now to prepare for finals. it wasn't an easy day or my best but I got through it. I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times. I know I brush it off and make it seem like pressure doesn't affect me but damn sometimes it's hard hahaha! The olympics is no joke! BUT I'm happy my family was able to be with me virtually🤍 they mean the world to me!"

— on Instagram, following her first day of gymnastics at the Summer Games

06 of 12
Simone Biles WSJ Magazine
Simone Biles for WSJ. Magazine. Rahim Fortune for WSJ. Magazine

"Everybody expects me to speak out, but I kind of do it whenever I'm ready, in a good mental place, because it is a lot at the end of the day, and it does spark a very big conversation."

— to the WSJ on embracing the idea that athletes can be advocates

07 of 12
Simone Biles
Simone Biles. Tony Gutierrez/AP/Shutterstock

"I kind of let myself go through the emotions. Sad, mad, angry, pissed off, hysterical — all of the phases. And that's the first time in my life I've ever felt the emotions rather than somebody coming up to me and telling me, 'Hey, it's gonna be O.K.' I got to relish in all of those emotions and phases myself rather than people telling me, 'Hey, it's gonna be O.K. You should be fine.' It's like, Bro, no, I don't want to be fine. I don't have to be fine. I can be pissed off for now. I can be mad. I can be angry. I can be joyful, you know? So it was actually really nice because it was the first time in my life that's ever happened."

— to Sports Illustrated about dealing with the pandemic, the postponement of the Summer Games and the uncertainty of her future in gymnastics

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Simone Biles
Simone Biles. LOIC VENANCE/AFP via Getty Images

"I was like super depressed, I didn't want to leave my room, and I didn't want to go anywhere. I kind of just shut everybody out. I don't know, it was probably hard for me. I remember being on the phone with my agent, and telling my mom and my agent that I slept all the time. Because sleeping was better than offing myself. It was my way to escape reality. Sleeping was like the closest thing to death for me at that point, so I just slept all the time."

during a Simone vs Herself episode, recalling the time she had to accept that she had been assaulted by former USA gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar and dealing with subsequent depression

09 of 12
simone biles
Simone Biles. Kennedi Carter

"Probably by compartmentalizing. I try not to think about it because I can't afford to — if I let them rule me, they're winning."

— to Glamour, sharing how she dealt with the aftermath of being sexually abused by Nassar and being the only known survivor who is actively competing for Team USA

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simone biles
Kennedi Carter

"Before I would only focus on the gym. But me being happy outside the gym is just as important as me being happy and doing well in the gym. Now it's like everything's coming together."

— to Glamour about finding balance between her career and personal life

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simone biles
Kennedi Carter

"I thought I could figure it out on my own, but that's sometimes not the case. And that's not something you should feel guilty or ashamed of. Once I got over that fact, I actually enjoyed it and looked forward to going to therapy. It's a safe space."

— to Glamour regarding her experience with therapy

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Simone Biles for Health
Simone Biles for Health magazine. PHOTOGRAPHED BY AB + DM 

"For a while, I saw a psychologist once every two weeks. That helped me get in tune with myself so that I felt more comfortable and less anxious."

— to Health, about prioritizing her mental health

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