Richard Simmons, who has been missing from the public eye for most of 2014, reached out to fans on his Facebook page Thursday to say he was struggling to bounce back from an injury, but TMZ reported that the exercise celebrity has bigger problems.
Michael Catalano, Simmons' manager, confirmed to People magazine
that the longtime fitness guru has been battling with a "knee injury for the past several months," but wanted to keep his rehabilitation private.
Simmons made his first public comments about it with the brief Facebook post this week.
The Facebook message was sparked by a TMZ story
posted online earlier in the day that said Simmons' physical problem "has led to debilitating depression."
TMZ noted that Simmons was last seen in public during a charity event on Jan. 11.
"He has gone radio silent with (his friend); he does not accept or return phone calls, and he has his housekeeper turn people away when they come to visit him," reported TMZ.
"Richard has not shown up at his famed studio, Simmons in Beverly Hills, for months. Simmons was a fixture there, regularly teaching classes. The staff offers no explanation for his prolonged absence," TMZ continued.
In another TMZ story
, sources told the celebrity site that the January death of Simmons' pet Dalmatian Hattie, who was with him for nearly two decades, also played a large role to his current state of depression. The sources said Hattie was a constant companion and he would often take the dog with him out and about around Los Angeles and to his exercise studio.
"Richard – who never had kids of his own – treated Hattie like a child," a source told TMZ. "Richard had several Dalmatians and Hattie was the last survivor. Richard had a deep bond with the dog, who was 17 when she died ... and it destroyed him.
"The knee was the trigger, but the dog was the emotional tug that contributed to Richard's life paralysis," the source said.
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