After an Instagram death announcement that the former 'Bachelorette' suitor has called a hack, Seiter tells PEOPLE he wants to take this moment to discuss his work as a mental health advocate
On Monday, a statement attributed to the 36-year-old former reality star’s family appeared on his official Instagram feed announcing that he had died, with no cause declared at the time. Less than 24 hours later on Tuesday, Seiter himself corrected the record by deleting the previous post and uploading a personal video in which he said his account had been hacked.
PEOPLE spoke to Seiter on the phone on Tuesday and can confirm he is alive. Seiter — who has been open about his mental health journey ahead of the false death announcement — called the hack “very unfortunate” and said he wants to keep being an advocate for honest discussions about mental health.
“If you’re not open and honest, it precludes a connection to other people that are going through something similar,” Seiter says. “I feel like silence is going to lead inevitably to more suffering and more pain. I feel like when you’re open about something, it opens up connections to other people who might be going through the same thing, and through those connections, I feel like you can find mores strength — it’s kind of like strength in numbers.”
Seiter, who appeared on Kaitlyn Bristowe’s season of The Bachelorette, believes that these frank conversations “make what is already a difficult journey a little more bearable.”
“I feel like anything that’s tough, it’s going to be even tougher if you do it in silence,” he continues. “Being open and honest allows me to connect with others going through something similar, but it’s also a cathartic. It allows me to get something off my chest. If I’m just dealing with obsessive compulsive thoughts and depression and anxiety in silence, it tends to build on itself. If I can speak to somebody about it, it allows me to get it off my chest. I think it just makes finding a solution a little bit easier.”
Seiter acknowledges that he does sometimes feel the stigma that comes with talking about your mental health conditions.
“It’s embarrassing to say, 'Oh I have bipolar, I struggle with OCD and suicide ideations,' but I think the net benefit of doing that outweighs the embarrassment,” Seiter says.
In July, Seiter posted about his mental health journey on Instagram, writing, “When I was 21 I was completely catatonic and committed to a psychiatric ward. When I was 22 I tried taking my own life. At 23 I underwent electroshock therapy.”
Today, Seiter uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and exercise to manage his mental health as a “holistic approach to battling back against the depression and anxiety.”
“It allows me to restructure lots of the anxiety that I feel is from faulty thinking,” he says of CBT. “The thinking is usually, ‘I must be liked by others, I must have others approval, I must do well. I must be great. I must got embarrass myself.’ And then we don’t live up to those impossible standards of perfection, we denigrate ourselves and we make ourselves miserable.”
Thanks to CBT, “instead of saying, ‘I must be liked, I must be successful,’ you just say, ‘I would prefer to be these things, but if I’m not, that’s OK and I will try better next time,’” Seiter says.
He continues, “It’s all about restructuring your thoughts so you don’t make yourself miserable when you’re not perfect. And because none of us can go through life being perfect, we darn well better restructure our thoughts or else were going to be miserable all the time if the bar is perfection.”
Seiter has also been public about his journey with his sexuality, identifying as pansexual and then bisexual. Currently, the single star says, “I just love everybody. I mostly just dated women, though.”
Seiter has found success on OnlyFans but says he doesn’t see online modeling as a career.
“I’ve done well at it, but my long-term goal is to really just to do something worthwhile,” he says. “OnlyFans pays the bills, but it doesn’t give me a sense of fulfillment or sense of accomplishment, and I feel those things if I talk about mental health. I feel that that fills me with a sense of purpose and meaning.”
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Seiter wants his life to continue so he can keep searching for that sense of purpose.
“I just want to keep working on myself,” he affirms. “I want to keep living. I want to keep searching for peace and happiness. I don’t have any grand goals of conquering the world or anything, I just want to find meaning in life.”
If you or someone you know needs mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.
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