David Nail Lived 10 Years in 'Deep Depression'

04/02/2014 AT 01:00 PM EDT

David Nail made a name for himself in country music with heartbreak ballads like his 2011 hit "Let It Rain," but the truth was, the singer's real life was far more painful than his lyrics.

"I lived probably 10 years in a really, really deep depression," the Kennett, Mo., native, 34, tells PEOPLE Country. "Growing up in a small town, it was one of those things that you don't talk about and you try to sweep it under the rug."

Newly married when "Let It Rain" hit No. 1 (he wed wife Catherine in 2009), Nail appeared to be living his dream. But, he says, "I carried around a lot of guilt because I had all these blessings in my life and yet I was still struggling to try to find some joy. I'd be first to admit that I wasn't always the easiest guy to be around."

In 2012, Nail "bottomed out," he says. "But I finally realized I didn't have to do this on my own. I'm a singer, not a doctor. I decided it was time to seek out help so I made some changes and leaned on other people rather than trying to figure it out all by myself, which is what I had done for years."

Through therapy and prescription drugs, Nail has embraced a more positive attitude – and found a way to create more upbeat music with his new album, I'm a Fire.

"In the few months leading up to the record, I found an inner peace and good place that I hadn't seen in a long, long time," he says. "As a result of that, the music began to feel how I felt personally. It's brighter, it's bigger, it has more tempo. The lyrics are more positive than in records past."

Nail's new outlook seems to be working: His album's first single "Whatever She's Got" hit No. 1 and became his first single to sell a million copies. "Right now," the singer says, "things are marvelous!"

For more of the story, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE Country on newsstands now, or download the enhanced digital issue in the PEOPLE app in the Apple iTunes store. For full access to PEOPLE – including the digital Country issue, bonus Country extras only for subscribers, our weekly magazine and more – click below.

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