Michael Ray knew it was important to share how he has struggled, living with anxiety. That's why in a series of Instagram videos posted in August of 2017, Ray opened up to fans about how he finally decided to confront the anxiety he's experienced most of his life.

"I didn't know what anxiety was," Ray tells Taste of Country and other media about how his anxiety was triggered when his parents divorced when he was 8 years old. "I held everything in to where on the outside everybody thinks everything's cool, and it wasn't."

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Ray explains that he nearly slipped into a depression, so he spoke with a doctor to determine the cause. He'd been been battling anxiety for years without realizing it. "The bad thing with anxiety and the beginning signs of depression is you can't get out of your own head, and so then that leads to worse things," he explains. "I wanted to get ahead of that."

The Amos star was vulnerable, and he let his fans see that. He admits that he still battles fear and anxiety before he gets onstage, though being on a stage is his "happy place." His honesty has created a safe space for fans to share their own struggles with anxiety.

"I woke up one day and it was like this voice in my head went, 'You need to say something, it's your job to say something,'" Ray says about why he decided to speak out. "I think it brought me closer to my fans. I think you knock down that fourth wall until everybody goes, 'Hey, this is real. We're all going through the same stuff.'"

The connection he made with his fans has changed him for the better.

"Now I'm in the best place I've ever been in my life, personally and professionally, and there's a lot of reasons why on both ends," Ray says assuredly. "I've never been more excited of a chapter in my life and I think that I will look back on this time and be able to say this is where a lot of things changed for me."

Ray and Carly Pearce recently confirmed that they are dating, and have been for awhile. The "Kiss You in the Morning" singer tells CMT's Cody Allan that it was Pearce who pursued him, however.

"She did all the work," Ray says. "I don't know if it's a guy thing, but I don't catch on to hints worth crap. I was also afraid to be like, 'I think she's into me,' because I want to see her again. So if she's not into me, and I go in thinking she is, that's weird."

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