Widely regarded as the greatest professional surfer of all time, Kelly Slater says it's not always nice to be in his position.

In a candid interview with the Olympic Channel Podcast, the 47-year-old opened up on his struggles with mental health, revealing he often feels isolated.

"I sometimes wake up and feel totally alone in this world, which probably sounds strange to people," he said. "I think it happens to people who have had a great deal of success in their lives. I've heard that happens to other people.

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"I sometimes feel just, like, super alone and like people don't quite relate to (me)… even my brother. You know, I've had this thing with my older brother where he just has, for a long time, thought 'everything was just great for Kelly' and he doesn't realise that I have my own challenges and things that are really tough for me to express or communicate or deal with or resolve.

"Sometimes even somebody in your family doesn't understand that, so how can somebody who's seen you in a magazine? They have no idea what your life's like."

Slater has been surfing professionally for 30 years, winning 11 World Championship titles. During his time on the Championship tour, he's experienced plenty of ups and downs – from poor results to career hampering injuries.

First crowned World Champion in 1992 at 21-years-old, Slater soon found out how unpredictable life as a professional would be.

"When I was 21 years old I was engaged, I was doing really well; making money, winning, blah blah blah, and then the next year I found out I was totally broke – in debt actually – and my relationship fell apart and I almost fell off the tour," he revealed. "So I just went 'OK, I'm going to get this thing together and see how far I can go with it' – that was where I went five years in a row winning world title."

Making his debut as a fulltime competitor on the Championship Tour in 1990, Slater has been on the tour ever since and is in contention to represent the United States at surfing's Olympic Games debut in Tokyo next year.

Slater needs to finish higher on the Championship Tour ladder than Hawaiian John John Florence to claim the second Olympic spot for the country, with Kolohe Andino already confirmed with one of the two allocated spots.

The second spot will be decided at the Billabong Pipe Masters, which began in Hawaii today.

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WHERE TO GET HELP:

If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.

OR IF YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE:

0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP) (available 24/7)
https://www.lifeline.org.nz/services/suicide-crisis-helpline
YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757 or TEXT 4202