Bachelor Nation favorite Blake Horstmann is speaking out about why he won't be appearing on the upcoming season of Bachelor in Paradise, telling fans on Instagram that it was the best decision for his mental health.
"I am in a good place in my life. Personally, professionally, and mentally," he wrote during a Q+A on his Instagram stories on Thursday. "I didn't want to go back into an environment that breeds toxicity and emotional abuse."
The 32-year-old first appeared on Becca Kufrin's season of The Bachelorette and went on to season 6 of Bachelor in Paradise, where he faced conflict as a result of relationships he had with fellow cast members offscreen. Still, Horstmann planned on returning to the beach for season 7 before making the call to sit it out.
"I didn't want to put my life in the hands of people that don't really have your best interest in mind. It's like having a life coach who pushes you to do the wrong things," he continued. "I decided my mental health was more important than some followers and engagement."
The reality television personality went on to clarify, "I absolutely do not think there is anything wrong with people who do go on the show...it's just not for me."
While addressing other questions, Horstmann admitted that it's difficult to stay true to one's self, even after the show. "I often say you kind of become who you were edited to be," he wrote. "There are alot [sic] of people that want to take advantage of who you are now and that's hard."
Horstmann isn't the first person within Bachelor Nation to address the toll that being a part of the show has taken on his mental health. In fact, former Bachelor Colton Underwood — who came out as gay in April 2021 — spoke to the difficultly that he faced both during and after filming a podcast with Reality Steve.
"I had so much anxiety and so much depression that I was like, throughout the majority of my season, I was pretty heavily medicated," Underwood shared in April 2020.
He went on to explain that the way that women treated him in real life as a result of his onscreen persona had a deep impact on him. "I just remember feeling so powerless and like such a piece of meat," he said. "That for me was a big turning point in my mental health, of like, 'Wow, I have no clue what I'm in for right now.' And it got pretty bad. It got dark."
Kaitlyn Bristowe, a former Bachelorette lead and co-host of the current season, also opened up about depression she battled while filming the show and "facing all that scrutiny." She even shared that being a part of Katie Thurston's season was triggering for her.
"I think it was such a perfect storm and breeding ground for anxiety because I truly was back in this world," she said in an episode of her podcast Off the Vine. "I'm so happy to be part of this Bachelorette show, but I didn't realize how much it brought up some either trauma or anxiety that I may not have dealt with as much as I thought I had."
While Underwood recently shared his stance on Bachelor Nation, writing "I don't f*** with them anymore, they don't f*** with me," on an Instagram story, Horstmann wrapped up his Q+A by sharing that the show "will always hold a special place in my heart."
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