Australian swimming great Ian Thorpe has opened up about living with "crippling depression" throughout his career.
In excerpts from an upcoming biography, the five-time Olympic champion has revealed the illness was so bad at times he thought of suicide.
The 30 year-old said there were times in his life that made him "shudder" at what he might have done as he planned potential places to end his life, although he was quick to add he is still uncertain whether he could have gone through with it.
And Thorpe - one of Australia's most recognised sports people - also revealed that at some of the worst times he turned to alcohol in a bid to quell the thoughts running about his head.
"It was the only way I could get to sleep," revealed Thorpe in an extract from his upcoming book This Is Me: The Autobiography.
"It didn't happen every night, but there were numerous occasions, particularly between 2002 and 2004 as I trained to defend my Olympic titles in Athens, that I abused myself this way - always alone and in a mist of disgrace."
Thorpe said he was able to hide the effects of alcohol from team-mates and coaches and continued to enjoy one of the best periods of his career, despite his private battle with depression.
The swimmer said he also felt the need to stay silent about his depression, thinking it was a "character flaw".
As a result he has never spoken about it to his parents.
"Not even my family is aware that I've spent a lot of my life battling what I can only describe as a crippling depression," he wrote.
"Now I realise it's time to be open.
"I need to talk to them about it...I know how Mum will react; she'll cry and ask me why I didn't tell her and then she'll tell me how proud she is that I've finally talked about it.
"Dad is different. I'm not sure how he'll react. I know it'll take time for him to come to terms with it and how it fits in with his religious beliefs.
"I hope it does because family means a lot to me."