Katie Thurston is opening up about her mental health.
Alongside a snapshot of Thurston, 31, taking a dip in a swimming pool and blowing a kiss at the camera, the star got candid in a lengthy post.
"To those who continue to show kindness, thank you," she began. "Last year somehow feels like 3 years of highs and lows. I remember a producer texting me saying 'the old Katie is dead and the new Katie will rise from the ashes.'"
"He was right about one thing. The old Katie did in fact die. But I was not some girl on fire. If anything, the sparks I once felt for life were doused with the judgement and criticism of not only strangers, but even ones I worked closely with."
The Bachelor Nation star added, "I was drowning in my tears, unable to even recognize the girl in the mirror."
"I started taking antidepressants for the first time before my season aired," she revealed.
Thurston admitted it was challenging to find the strength to "handle the negativity" she encountered on social media, listing the measures she took to "block the hate." She said she limited her screen time with a password only boyfriend John Hersey, 28, knew and surrounded herself by loved ones: "Anything I could do to bring myself out of a dark place."
"If you're reading this and you ever said something mean to a stranger online, I hope you reflect for a moment and reconsider hitting send next time," she wrote.
She went on to thank fans who sent her uplifting messages.
"And for those complete strangers who write positive DMs and comments, I want you to know. I see them. I feel them. And there were times I even needed them. So thank you," she wrote.
Thurston concluded the post with a plea for kindness: "At the end of the day, we are all just people trying to coexist on this earth and make the best of our short lives. You'd be amazed on the impact putting positivity into the universe will have on your own life. Stay kind."
Season 21 Big Brother contestant Holly Allen commented: "Louder for the bullies in the back! 🙌❤️ And yes to all of this! Hugs!"
Earlier this month, Thurston shared an update on her life in an Instagram video that showed her walking along the beach while on vacation in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, with Hersey.
"You're gonna meet the happiest version of yourself, and it's all gonna be so damn worth it," the audio said as Thurston threw her arms in the air.
Thurston and Hersey met on the Bachelorette early last year, although she sent him home in week 2. Previously the Washington native had gotten engaged to Blake Moynes on season 17 of The Bachelor, but they announced their split in October.
RELATED VIDEO: The Bachelorette's Katie Thurston Opens Up About Finding True Love with Fiancé Blake Moynes
One month later, Thurston's rep confirmed to PEOPLE that she is dating Hersey.
"It's known Katie and John became close friends post-season," the rep said in a statement. "John has been there for her through all the major changes in her life and they are excited to explore this newly found romantic connection."
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.