Colton Underwood Opens Up About His 'Lowest' Stage for Mental Health Awareness: It'll 'Get Better'

"When I look at this picture I'm reminded of how far I've come," Colton Underwood wrote beside a photo snapped during his "lowest" point

Colton Underwood
Colton Underwood. Photo: JC Olivera/WireImage

Colton Underwood is looking back on a tough time in his life.

On Instagram Friday, the former Bachelor posted a shirtless photo of himself standing on a paddleboard as his dog rested beside him. Underwood, 30, revealed that while the image is one of his "favorites for many reasons," he indicated that it's "not for the reasons many would think."

"The reason I like it so much is because at this time in my life, I was at my lowest and holding on to a secret that felt more like a ticking time bomb," he said, referencing how he once concealed his sexuality.

"I wasn't eating a lot, I was abusing my pills and I hated myself," he continued. "When I look at this picture I'm reminded of how far I've come. It's a reminder that even in moments that the world feels like it's crashing down on me, it's not. I now have the perspective of being on the other side of things. I got help from professionals, my family and my friends. They quite literally brought me back to life by loving and supporting me through this time."

Underwood explained that he was sharing this personal story in order to help others who may be going through tough times.

"It's a reminder to everyone that no matter how dark and traumatic it seems for you right now, it will get better," he wrote. "Ask for help, take care of your brain and check on your friends/family. May is mental health month and I want to continue to share my lessons learned and small victories. ♥️."

Three days earlier, Underwood posted about mental health awareness by sharing a note that he wrote to his younger self with the advice he wished he knew back then.

"I went through a major mental health crisis myself. i felt isolated, misunderstood, and scared," he wrote, in part, in the caption. "the support and conversations I needed to have needed to be in person, and that wasn't an option."

"if I could go back, i would tell my younger self that the brain is very good at playing tricks on you," he continued. "very rarely are you in a situation that is as extreme as your brain likes to play it out to be. i had so much anxiety as a kid and would always play out the worst-case scenarios in my head."

"whatever you are going through, you're not alone," he added.

Underwood came out as gay in April 2021 during a Good Morning America interview. Before that, he hadn't acknowledged to himself that he was gay — even as he tried to find love on multiple shows within the Bachelor franchise.

The Beyond the Edge contender picked frontrunner Cassie Randolph during his Bachelor season in 2019. After the pair announced their split in May 2020, Randolph, 27, filed for a temporary restraining order against Underwood that September for allegedly stalking and harassing her. But she dropped the order nearly two months later.

"I got into a place with my personal life that was dark, and bad, and I can list a bunch of different things, but they'd all be excuses," he said during his GMA interview last year. "I'd like to say sorry for how things ended. I messed up. I made a lot of bad choices."

Later speaking to Variety, Underwood stressed that that situation doesn't represent who he is.

"It's not who I am as a human being, and it's not how I carry myself," he said. "If there was anything I could do to take more ownership, I would... I want her to know that I hope she has the best, most beautiful life."

colton underwood and jordan brown
Sarah Morris/Getty

Today, Underwood is in a much better place. In January, he got engaged to political strategist Jordan C. Brown.

"After my birthday, Jordan and I went to Big Sur for a weekend getaway to decompress and relax in nature," Underwood told PEOPLE in February. "I couldn't have pictured a more beautiful place to celebrate an amazing milestone in my life and relationship."

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Added Underwood: "I'm extremely happy! 2021 was the most transformative year of my life. Starting 2022 off with my best friend, teammate and now fiancé is something I never thought was going to be possible."

If you or someone you know needs mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.

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