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Hannah Brown made some major life changes over the last year. ET spoke with the 27-year-old former Bachelorette ahead of the release of her memoir, God Bless This Mess, and she shared what she learned and how she changed after singing the N-word on Instagram Live.
In her memoir, Hannah writes that, on May 16, 2020, she "started drinking at 11 a.m. -- and never really stopped."
Drinking was something she'd been doing a lot more of since coming off of The Bachelorette as "another way of avoiding big problems." She didn't question her increased alcohol consumption until that night, when she got on Instagram Live and sang the N-word.
"If you had asked me when I was sober, I would have told you that of course saying the N-word is wrong and not in my vocabulary," she writes in her memoir. "A white person should never say it, under any circumstances, even when singing along and it’s right there in the lyrics. But on that night, I was so drunk that I truly didn’t know I said it."
"In no way am I blaming alcohol," Hannah told ET. "I take complete ownership and accountability for my actions and how that hurt other people, rightfully so."
Since then, Hannah said that her "relationship with alcohol has definitely changed a lot."
"I'm actually, just for my mental health, not really drinking right now," she told ET. "I'll have a glass of wine or two, but [not more]... I thought I'd never have problems with [alcohol]. I just never had that personality."
Before she was on TV, Hannah "never really drank." That stayed true during her appearance on The Bachelor, as well as for the most part on The Bachelorette, she said.
Afterward, though, she split from her Bachelorettefiancé, Jed Wyatt, after it came out that he had a girlfriend when he came on the show. That, Hannah writes in her memoir, was when she began "drinking more than I ever had in my whole life."
"It was really interesting to see how it goes from one glass of wine, two glasses of wine, three glasses of wine, tequila," Hannah told ET. "I've definitely reassessed how alcohol is a part of my life... You just are not going to find what your heart needs in that. I think just a lot of people, we do that. We kind of fill a void. I was definitely finding myself in that cycle."
It was amid that cycle that Hannah sang the N-word.
"It was so out of character, and so very wrong -- all kinds of wrong. I felt sick. I started crying uncontrollably. I wanted to apologize to everyone and talk about it, but I also knew that I had stepped into something that was much bigger than I knew how to handle," she writes. "Plus, I was in no shape to talk. I needed to fully understand what I’d done, the repercussions of it... I was filled with shame."
Hannah lost her endorsement deals and cried her "eyes out for days on end," before becoming "humbled by the education that resulted from that moment." She hired an ethnic studies professor, who led her through an "extensive personalized training" on "the history of race, racism, and white privilege in the United States."
"I didn’t feel as if I could have conversations about race before it happened. That’s just not something a southern Christian white girl from Alabama has any place or practice doing," she writes. "But now? It’s not even a 'could' thing. It’s a 'should' thing. I’m trying to focus on that, and not let this moment go away."
The experience, Hannah writes, made her want to "work to be part of the solution. To raise my voice and to help others learn from the mistake I made, which I own, and for which I am very, very sorry. I promise to try to do better for the rest of my life."
After all the ups and downs detailed in her memoir transpired, Hannah found a therapist, who allowed her "to feel, and to grieve, and to deal with my own emotions, so I could finally move forward instead of staying stuck in the mud."
"After a year of self-reflection, and breathing, and writing, I can honestly say I’m a changed woman," she writes. "I am shocked at how little time it took to really start to change for the better."
"I'm really glad that I've gotten the help that I needed," Hannah told ET. "The therapy, the emotional support that I needed to kind of deal with my own stuff going on inside my heart, and mind, and just my mental health, so that [alcohol] is not something that I go to for any type of solace."