Flex Wheeler continues to inspire the bodybuilding community even into retirement. Having the motivation and dedication to push his body to the limits is something he has in excess. In a recent podcast, Flex Wheeler opened up about his right leg partial amputation, his suicidal thoughts, his surgeries, and his bodybuilding career.
Flex Wheeler is one of the most decorated bodybuilding champions of all time who never won the prestigious Mr. Olympia title. However, during his illustrious tenure, he achieved a total of four Arnold Classic championships.
Despite that fact, “The Sultan of Symmetry’ still pushed names like Ronnie Coleman to the brink of defeat. Looking back on his tenure, ‘The King’ said had it not been for Wheeler, he never would have reached the success he’s enjoyed in the sport.
Over the course of several years, Wheeler has endured a number of health scares. Blood clots and kidney failure resulted in several hospital stays. However, in 2019, medical professionals informed Wheeler that he would require an emergency amputation of his right leg.
Flex Wheeler Opens Up About His Struggles Including Numerous Surgeries And Battling Depression
While Wheeler wouldn’t wish these circumstances on his ‘worst enemy’ they have only helped him grow as a person. He’s opened up about his health struggles with former seven-time 212 Olympia Flex Lewis and now is back to discuss a few more sensitive topics regarding his legendary bodybuilding tenure.
“In 2003 I had nine surgeries in eleven weeks that I almost died from. Literally they told me ‘you’re going to die cause you’re not eating.’ They had so many IVs in me, I remember counting 16 cause they were trying to also save my life cause my body was eating itself up. I went form eating 9,000 calories to not eating. So nine surgeries in eleven weeks and it just beat me down so bad I just gave up I’m like ‘Okay forget about sports, forget about anything. I need to be here. I need to fight.’
“What I’m getting at is there is no room that I can’t sit in and be comfortable. You’re a millionaire. Been there. You lost millions. Been there. You got problems. Been there. Suicide. Been there. Seriously, I’ve learned to be honest and open and understand that some people might not understand my story. Some people might not be ready to hear my story. They are going to rebuke and come after me because I hit home and they’re not ready to hear that. We are all wounded and it takes a wounded person to help another one” Wheeler said.
Wheeler explains that he would rather stay in pain than take the medications prescribed to him because he struggled with negative side effects including horrible hallucinations.
“I remember when I went through my kidney transplant. It was just really rough and I came home and the first day I came home I remember looking at my wife and I just said help me upstairs and I passed out.
I made a decision I wasn’t going to take any of the drugs that I was on. I flushed them all down the toilet because I got so many weapons in my house and I hallucinate really bad on the morphine, not morphine the opiates that I take. I hallucinate really bad so if anything happens my brain grabs it and runs with it.”
For a long time, Wheeler struggled with depression and thoughts of suicide. Eventually, he realized that he wanted to make the most of the time he had on earth.
“Two years ago I had no desire, I just wanted to get out of here and you know the bad thing about when you are really suicidal, people think ‘look how you have done, what about your kids?’ Those things are triggers. They don’t help you put the gun down it make you want to pull the trigger faster. What a real person who is going through that say ‘Yeah I fell that, that’s horrible’ I have visivble thoughts that roll through my mind of my kids walking by my coffin. I think about it like a picture, that doesn’t stop me. I tell myself pull the trigger you wont feel that. Hurry up man pull it.”
“I don’t want to go to sleep and wake up and Im not here. I don’t know how to explain it to you brother but it was like these images in my room and they were being real with me. They were talking like the way I talk. “Ya thats right all these years you’ve been trying to take your life. It’s a lot closer than what you think Flex” and I thought to myself Jesus Christ. I just said to myself, I don’t now how much longer I got here but I’m gonna be happy. I’m gonna love, I’m gonna forgive people. I’m gonna enjoy my life no mater what it gives me i’m gonna enjoy it cause i’ll still be here. So now my desire switched because I don’t have that type of control over my thoughts anymore.”
“It takes a hurt person to go through that and I know that so I try to just take my limits, lifes going to give you limits no matter what. I don’t care if you are a millionaire. I don’t care what you’ve got you are going to have problems.”
Now, Flex Wheeler is focused on his children whom he tries to be as open and honest with so they know how to combat the issues he’s dealt with.
“My desire now is helping people and loving my kids. I know my good and bad is in me ,is in them, so now I’m very vulnerable with them. WIth everything I go through cause all they see and hear is their dad is Flex Wheeler and all the greatness I’ve done. And I want them to no this is what i go through and I know some of them are goung to deal with it.
Ive gotta be honest with them so my desire is now I’m gonna bang my chest as hard as I can and as long as I can about what I go through and let you know hey man you can get through that. You can get through it I guarantee you can but you have tounderstand the bigger picture.
He added that getting through obstacles in life doesn’t mean you’re going to be happy.
“Getting through it doesnt mean you are going to be happy. Getting through it doesnt mean that my leg is gonna grow back. Getting through it doesnt mean my pain is gonna go away. Getting through it means you are getting through it.”
Wheeler also opens up about his lifetime achievement awards.
“I got, I don’t know why I have four lifetime achievement awards. I got three of them after I lost my leg. I was like jeez is that what it takes? But I try, when Arnold Schwarzenneger gave me my last lifetime achievement award ,I try to read the scripture because I think it realy sets the tone for me, for my pain”
While Wheeler is still in pain he refuses to take drugs because he would rather have his mind than feel numb. He also fears he would become addicted since he has struggled with self-control when it comes to women.
“It is a drug induced world. What’s the first thing the doctor says back in the old times, the greatest cliche of all time, take two aspirin and call me in the morning. Basically saying get out of my face go take some drugs and hopefully it will work. That’s just that world we live in. I just pray and I’m so thankful that I don’t have that desire to be a drug addict. It is easy for me. They cant deny me, I’m an addict in other things. I used to be an addict for woman. An addict for sex because I was raped all my life so I thought ‘Hey thats just how you show love.’
Though Flex Wheeler has struggled with his physical and mental health he is still an inspiration to all. He shares his struggles in hopes of encouraging others to go through challenging times. His influence on the fitness community has been invaluable as he continues to defy the limits of his injuries.