A young woman has opened up about her battle with severe depression after her family lost everything in the deadly Black Saturday bushfires.
Mariah Payne was just 15 when her family home was gutted in the February 7, 2009 blazes in regional Victoria.
The town of Callignee in the Gippsland region was virtually wiped out, where four people were among the 173 lives lost across the state in what remains Australia's deadliest bushfire disaster.
Now 25, Ms Payne is sharing her mental health battle in the hope of helping young people devastated by this summer's horror bushfire season.
Mariah Payne (pictured) has opened up about her battle with depression to help young people
Ms Payne and her family fled to her grandparents' home after a neighbour alerted them that a fire was heading their way that unforgettable day in 2009.
She still has vivid memories of returning to the damaged property with her family several days after the fire.
While two tanks, a dog kennel and her dad's tractor were unscathed, their home was destroyed.
'Seeing the damage for the first time was very surreal and hard to grasp at the time,' Ms Payne told Daily Mail Australia.
'It didn't really hit me at first. It wasn't until six months down the track it began to affect my mental health.
'That's when it sunk in that I no longer had a home. 173 people were killed that day. The complete loss of life was tragic.'
Mariah (pictured as a teen) was 15 when she lost her family home in the Black Saturday fires
The Black Saturday fires claimed 173 lives. Pictured is Bunyip Ridge bushfire, near Tonimbuk, around 100 kilometres from where Mariah's town was wiped out
She admitted she contemplated taking her own life during her darkest moments.
'I was in a puddle in s**t and felt so helpless, unable to do anything,' Ms Payne said.
'I lost my focus at school and went depression because I no longer had what I had before.'
'There also wasn't much awareness or help for young people at the time.'
Ms Payne eventually sought help and support from Youth Insearch, a youth intervention service which helped her overcome and deal with the grief over the loss of her home and belongings.
'I don't know where I would have ended up if it wasn't for them as I was going though some hefty s**t,' she said.
But it wasn't until 2016 that she saw light at the end of the tunnel.
Mariah sees the Black Saturday fire as a positive life-changing period rather than a negative
The Gippland region was one of the hardest hit areas in the Black Saturday fires in February 2009, including the town of Boolarra (pictured)
The creative arts Masters student now volunteers with Youth Insearch and Headspace, where she helps young people impacted by bushfires that have recently devastated the Gippsland region, which she still calls home.
More than 400 homes have been lost in the recent fires in the region.
'They can't brush it off, talking about it and getting support is the key thing,' Ms Payne said.
'I now see Black Saturday as a positive life-changing period.'
Ms Payne bravely shared her story to coincide with the launch of Youth Insearch's annual End Youth