Ryan Lochte has been footloose and fancy-free as a contestant on this season of Dancing With The Starsbut he admits that he was barely leaving the house just before production began.

Lochte, whose victory at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil became scandal after he and teammates fabricated a story about being held up at gunpoint, says he melted down in the story's aftermath. Though he publicly apologized for his made-up narrative as sponsorships and friends abandoned him, but it did little to mitigate his anxiety. In a new story with New York magazine, Lochte says he became his own Boo Radley upon returning home to North Carolina.

"I was at my lowest low. The darkest place of my life," Lochte said. "I didn't want to put myself out there just yet."

"It’s hard because I was always like, ‘Yeah, everyone loves me," he added. "Because that’s how I am. I love everyone."

Lochte said he was hesitant when met with the opportunity to join DWTS, and later found validation in his apprehension when a pair of protestors charged the stage during the show's first round to protest Lochte's inclusion. Still, Lochte credits the show for helping to extract him from his gloom, and said he's become proud of his involvement.

"I was scared to show my face in public," he said. "[But] if I wasn't on this show, I don't know what I would have done. This has really gotten me out of the dark hole."

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