Viewers witnessed some emotional ups and downs during Colton Underwood’s season 23 stint on “The Bachelor”— from breaking hearts to hopping fences — but according to the man at the center of it all, that was nothing compared to the ups and downs viewers never knew about.
In a new interview, the 28-year-old explains that with “Bachelor” fame came personal and profound mental health struggles.
Underwood’s time on the show gripped Bachelor Nation, and when he made a mid-season promotional appearance at a charity event, he discovered that fan interest didn’t equal respect when a woman grabbed him inappropriately.
"I just remember feeling so powerless and like such a piece of meat,” he recounted during a chat for the latest episode of the “Reality Steve” podcast. “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."
And he knew he needed help to get through the strain as the remainder of his season aired in 2019.
"I had so much anxiety and so much depression that I was like, throughout the majority of my season, I was pretty heavily medicated,” he said. “I'm not going to lie. I was taking medication for anxiety and for depression during the whole entire season.”
But his problems with the show weren’t just about toxic fans, depression or the pressures of being in the spotlight. He also had a problem with the long-running series itself — a series that he wouldn’t return to again, if given the chance.
"There's just been too many things that I've found out about, and that has happened, for me to feel comfortable working with them again on a professional level, not even personal," he stated.
As for what’s happened to him to make him feel that way, part of it involves the relationship he started on-air with contestant Cassie Randolph and ended off-air.
Underwood and Randolph broke up in May, seemingly on good terms — at least until “The Bachelor” came back into their lives.
“I have nothing but good things and love and well-wishes and friendship with Cassie right now,” he said. “I love the girl and miss the girl dearly.”
But those feelings became complicated after Randolph appeared on “The Bachelor: The Greatest Seasons — Ever” over the summer.
"Cass stayed extremely professional and extremely quiet about our breakup, which I was so happy and thankful for," he said of how things were before that roundup special. “I even texted her. I said, man, I appreciate that. Like, thank you. What bugged me was the fact that the show took advantage of her."
He blames producers for Randolph’s decision to speak openly about their split for the special.
“She loves people even if they abuse her, or even if they take advantage of her, which is what they did,” Underwood continued.
And ultimately, he feels she was used to get to him, and that’s fueled his not-so-amicable split from the franchise.
“You have (‘Bachelor’ host) Chris Harrison pointing questions, saying, 'I sense you don't want to make Colton mad or you're afraid you're going to upset Colton,’” Underwood claimed. “It's like, 'No, Chris. I literally talked to her the morning of that interview. We're good.' Stop worrying about me or painting me to be this controlling or angry person. I'm not angry. If there's anybody I'm upset about or upset with, it's you guys.”