Amanda Beard. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
By Michael McCarthy, USA TODAY
Olympic gold medalist and model Amanda Beard confesses to self-mutilation, bulimia and depression in a harrowing new memoir coming out April 3.
In her book, In the Water They Can't See You Cry, the 30-year old Olympic swimmer describes how her parents' divorce and the pressure from world swimming drove Beard to abuse herself.
Beard stole America's hearts as a 14-year old when she competed in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics while still carrying a teddy bear named Harold. But behind the scenes she struggled with her parents' divorce -- and the swimming pool became her "sanctuary," she tells the New York Daily News.
During her teens and 20's the clinically depressed Beard became bulimic (an eating disorder characterized by binge eating, then purging), abused drugs and alcohol and began cutting herself with a razor. The self-mutilation continued -- even as the 7-time Olympic medalist became a sex symbol, posing naked for Playboy and PETA.
In the book, Beard writes about how she finally went too far with the razor. With blood all over her bathroom, she finally confesses her cutting craze to then-boyfriend Sacha Brown:
I grabbed the razor, a two-inch handle in a cheery shade of pink with an extremely thin and sharp blade at its tip. I surrendered to the object so tiny in my palm. With the razor in my right hand, I revealed the underside of my other arm, cradling it close to my body. The energy ran too fast to contemplate the moment before the half-inch silver blade hit my arm. It flashed briefly in the sunlight before slicing into the meaty part between the wrist and the elbow. One. Two. Three. I made the small lines as I had done so many times before. I didn't have to press hard, only run the razor across my skin as lightly as a blade of grass moving across the leg of a child running through a field.
I knew immediately. Something was wrong. The calm that usually washed over me as soon as I made my light little cuts with their delicate beads of blood was replaced by a new fear. In the moment when thinking was not possible and the energy took over, I must have applied too much pressure, because one of the cuts gushed blood. This was not in control.
Within a second or two, blood spread across my arm, dripping down from my elbow to the white tile floor below. It was getting all over the place, on my tank top, my jeans, my feet. I yelled at my boyfriend, Sacha, all the time for the messes he made around the house we shared. I was never the cause before.
Beard went through therapy and medication. She's now happily married to Brown and the couple has a 2-year old son. She hopes to make her 5th Olympic team in London this summer.