Sweating, trembling and terrified, Jason Tartick lay on the restroom floor at the headquarters of a corporate client after being bowled over by a panic attack in the middle of a critical meeting. “I felt my chest tighten and my heartbeat speed up something crazy, and I just knew I had to get the hell out of there,” he writes in the opening of his new book, The Restart Roadmap: Rewire and Reset Your Career.
Tartick subsequently became dependent on Xanax and propranolol to keep his anxiety at bay at work, concealing pills in Listerine strip cases and using roll-on deodorant to hide his sweaty palms. It would be years before Tartick found his escape from the stifling corporate world, after his “Bachelorette” stint led to an ultimatum from bosses – distance himself from the franchise, or leave.
Walking out, the moment marked Tartick’s long sought-for escape from chasing what he always thought of as success – money, titles and power – at the expense of his own happiness. It also triggered a “restart,” which birthed his fulfilling life today as a podcaster, motivational business speaker, investment banker and life coach.
“For so long, I had the complacency of knowing when my paycheck was coming and that my benefits were taken care of,” he tells ET Canada. “But that complacency drove so much dissatisfaction. Change was terrifying, but a launchpad for unbelievable things.”
What Tartick never realized was at the same time he was grappling with anxiety and misery, his future fiancé, Kaitlyn Bristowe, was working through the deep, dark hole which initiated her own reboot.
“I had nowhere to go but up from rock bottom,” the Bachelor Nation star, wine entrepreneur and podcast host tells us about mental health setbacks she experienced during her late twenties. “I was emotionally and financially relying on a relationship, living in Germany and had no friends. I was a shell of myself, feeling like I had no purpose, which led to us breaking up and then I felt like I’d lost everything.”
“At an age where all my friends had finished their education and were having careers, I had to move in with my parents, go on antidepressants and see a therapist. I [became] addicted to valium to numb myself from anything I was feeling and that’s not who I am. I’m a determined and motivated person, but I was lost.”
Family support helped Bristowe realize she needed to turn her life around. Getting off the couch, she “weaned” herself off valium and started working in hospitality, where she developed a passion for wine.
“I built myself back up doing therapy, finding out what made me happy and refiguring out who I wanted to be and that’s when ‘The Bachelor’ reached out,” recalls the season 19 contestant, who later fronted “The Bachelorette”. “I thought, ‘Why not go on TV, build something for myself, find what I’m passionate about and have a platform to do so?’”
Bristowe did exactly that. She evolved her wine obsession into her own label, Spade & Sparrows, turned her love for scrunchies into a hair accessory line and launched her popular podcast, “Off the Vine”.
It was while Bristowe was interviewing Tartick on “Off the Vine” that sparks flew and the couple are now planning an epic Nashville wedding, which will salute Bristowe’s Canadian heritage.
But while she and Tartick successfully restarted their lives, Bristowe continues to battle hormonal depression.
“It’s so hard because it’s like clockwork every month,” she says. “There are so many people in my life who suffer depression daily, while I’m on a clock, waiting for it to hit. Neither case is worse or better, but it can be really dark and lonely.”
While meditation and podcasting bring her joy during such lows, Tartick has also become a key supporter.
“It’s about being sympathetic, listening and asking what I can do to help,” he says. “Kaitlyn’s proactive about being open like, ‘This is coming and I can only control so much.’ She even found an app that sends me emails when there’s a spike in her hormones.”
Adds Bristowe: “It’s called MyFLO and it’ll send Jason emails saying, ‘This is the phase she’s in now and here’s what you can do to support and understand.’ It educates him. He’s always supportive though. He’s never like, ‘Oh, you’re just on your period.’”
Tartick’s family has also been supportive, surrounding her with “family presence and love” – something she was extra grateful for when border closures separated her from Canada-based loved ones for almost two years.
“It really started weighing on me when the borders closed because it felt like there was no light at the end of the tunnel,” she says. “When we were able to cross the border, it was magical.”
One positive aspect of the pandemic has been extra time together, plus a chance for Tartick to write The Restart Roadmap, out on April 4.
The eight-step guide features tips, insight and stories to help readers revamp their lives. Among the “Bachelor”-related revelations, Tartick opens up about missing out on becoming “The Bachelor” after Colton Underwood convinced producers he would get better ratings. Underwood entered a relationship with Cassie Randolph throughout the series but later came out as gay.
“If Colton’s living his true self, I’m happy he’s found happiness through that journey because I know it was a challenging one,” Tartick says. “We all fall on our face and through those failures and challenges, we learn and come out better people. But I hope through that process, he’s acknowledged some of the hearts he’s broken and the mental anguish caused, specifically with Cassie. I have a ton of empathy for Cassie for what she underwent.”
In The Restart Roadmap, Tartick also sets out to help readers with pay negotiation by detailing how he approached Underwood and other Bachelor Nation stars to gauge whether the $100,000 he was going to be offered if he won the role was reasonable.
“The best thing to do is talk to people in your same position,” he says. “We created a group chat between Blake [Horstmann,] Colton and I and talked about everything – our interview process, questions we were asked, pay offers. The producers were like, ‘What the hell?’ but it meant we had information to our advantage. Anyone in any industry can do that!”