Clayton Echard isn’t focused on meeting someone right now. Just weeks after he announced his split from Susie Evans, who he met on season 26 of The Bachelor, Clayton opened up about whether he’s ready to put himself back out there. “I’m just keeping to myself right now,” Clayton, who partnered with the Anxiety & Depression Association of America to share his experience with Body Dysmorphic Disorder, told HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY. “There’s still a lot of pain. The feelings are still too fresh. I’ve just tried to prioritize myself, working on my book that’ I’m coming out with in a few months, and just spending time to focus on these things in life that I can do to better improve upon myself.”
In the weeks since his split, Clayton has been making it a priority to “get outside and get some fresh air,” while also getting in some quality time with his brother, who he lives with. “I’m really prioritizing my mental health at this moment,” Clayton admitted. “I feel like I’m still healing, so I don’t think bringing anybody else into the equation would be smart when I’m still in this healing stage.” But, would Clayton go on Bachelor in Paradise if he’s still single next summer? “I don’t use absolutes anymore!” he teasted. “I try not to. But I don’t plan on going on TV again. But I guess crazier things have happened!”
Despite breaking up in September, Clayton said that he and Susie still check in with each other “every so often.” They even did a joint podcast interview earlier this week, proving they’re on amicable terms. “We obviously have love for each other, so we want to make sure that we’re handling this breakup in a good way, or as good as we can,” Clayton explained. “We did the podcast because we want everyone to understand that we’re only going to speak on this once, but we’re in support of each other and have so much love for each other.”
Clayton also didn’t shut the door on a possible reconciliation with his ex, who he was dating long distance before their breakup. “Who knows what’s down the road,” he said. “Or what it looks like. But right now, we just feel like we need to heal ourselves, and once we’re able to heal ourselves, who knows what the future holds? Right now, we’re taking the time to prioritize our own mental well-being separately.”
In our interview, Clayton also talked about his struggle with Body Dysmorphic Disorder, a mental health condition that causes people to be overly concerned about a physical flaw. See more from the Q&A below:
Why was it important for you to publicly talk about your BDD? It’s received such a positive response from the first time I talked about it on a national platform and it aired on TV. I had both men and women reaching out to me in my DMs on Instagram. They thanked me for being so open and vulnerable. On the male side of things, the guys would say, “I thought only women struggled with this, but it makes me feel really great that I’m not alone.” It’s something that a lot of us struggle with, but might not feel comfortable talking about. It’s prevalent, but maybe not as prevalent as other disorders out there.
I think sometimes we feel a sense of guilt, like people won’t understand us, so we’d rather not talk about it. I used to see it as an issue that only affects a select few and I didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t think it was prevalent amongst men, so I didn’t want to put a target on myself by opening up about it. But I’ve realized all that does is lead to a pile up. So my big focus now is having these conversations. It’s therapeutic and I see the benefit across the board — the more we talk about it, the more it becomes commonplace in our discussions and the more people will come out and externalize their pain.
When did you realize you were struggling with BDD?
It was probably late high school to college. I started to do research online and I started looking at resources and I found these statistics about how men suffer from it just as much as women do. It was a shock to me because my narrative prior did not fit with this true narrative. So my reality was somewhat of a lie to that point. Now, especially with the spotlight I’m in, I just want to be able to highlight this message to those who maybe haven’t come to that place of understanding yet.
Through partnering up with organizations like the ADAA, they have support groups people can join, or if they want to find a therapist in their area, ADAA has a tool for that. Talking to these professionals and experts and knowing there’s resources out there to better manage the struggles…that’s what it’s all about.
Has being in the spotlight amplified your struggle with BDD?
There was an episode where I was stripped down to just my briefs and I had to run around the streets of LA and I remember when that was going to air, I was freaked out. I thought if I had a bad body then all the people online would let me know. But I’v since realized that that’s a very dangerous place to put that much power in the hands of others. Thankfully, through that experience, I found that, in order for me to manage these struggles I have, I need to protect myself. I really need to only place weight in the opinions of those around me who love me. The show brought to light my insecurities in areas that I felt I thought I had a good grasp on, but realized I actually had to make adjustments to to better protect myself long term.Click to Subscribe to Get Our Free HollywoodLife Daily Newsletter to get the hottest celeb news.