Rachel Lindsay 'Stepping Away' from Bachelor Happy Hour After 100 Episodes: 'I've Been Struggling'
Rachel Lindsay is saying goodbye to the Bachelor Happy Hour podcast.
During the show's 99th episode Tuesday, Lindsay, 36, concluded with a message to her fans announcing her departure.
"I'm going to make this short and sweet: All good things must come to an end and I feel like certain things run their course and for me I have run my course when it comes to the podcast," the former Bachelorette said.
The milestone 100th episode next week will mark Lindsay's final appearance and a new co-host will be announced at a later date, according to a press release.
"You know we started off this podcast talking about how much fun it is, and it is, and the community that we've started and we're already here with 100 episodes and I'm proud of it and what it's become and it started off with Ali who's fantastic — I feel like I don't give her enough praise," she continued, referencing original co-host Ali Fedotowsky.
"Then Ali had to go and you came in and you like didn't miss a beat and that's been a lot of fun to see our friendship grow through the podcast, just to have fun with all the new blood that's coming in from the show to work through hard moments, to come here and vent when we're going through something like that's what the podcast gives you, that community," Lindsay told current co-host Becca Kufrin.
A rep for Lindsay did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
Lindsay — who has been outspoken about calling out racism within the Bachelor franchise over the past year and had to delete her Instagram at one point due to harassment from fans — then cited her mental health as a reason for leaving the popular podcast.
"But for me I've been struggling, that's no secret," she said. "And it's been really, really hard for me lately and a lot of the things that we talk about on this podcast are also about taking care of yourself and finding your peace and protecting that peace and protecting your mental health. And so for me, I just feel like I've come to the end of doing the podcast and I'm glad that I'm leaving on a high note where it's the 100th episode, it's such a big milestone."
She continued, "This is the first podcast I've ever done and for me, it's just stepping away. You should never say never. I'm definitely closing the door but I'm not locking it and throwing away the key. It's just I have to, for me, walk away. And I feel like this podcast is in amazing hands with you. For you, I just feel like this is at a place where I can walk away and I know it's all good and I know it's gonna be great and you've allowed me to have the space to step away when I needed to and I would listen to the podcast on the side and I'm like, 'Oh, she's got this,' and like, for me it's like you can walk away now, I can walk away. I'm doing some other things, I'm sure I'll pop in from time to time to say hello."
"It's just time," Lindsay later added. "It's just time for me to move on, and I will be supporting you from a distance."
"I just want to say thank you guys for riding with me for such a long time, continue to ride with Becca support her uplift her, and this podcast as well."
Kufrin, 31, then gave a brief tribute to her longtime co-host, "Rachel, I'm gonna save a lot of my sentiments for next week because you're not done with me yet. I've still got you for one more episode, but I absolutely love you. I'm in awe of you. I'm inspired by you, your loyalty, your friendship, your charisma, all of the things. You've brought so much to this not only to the podcast but to our friendship and so I know you say you're not going to lock the door and I hope you don't."
"I always will welcome you back with open arms, it's not going to be the same without you and you know, selfishly, I don't want you to leave but I totally understand I know for your mental health, for your sanity and your sake in your head and in your heart," Kufrin said. "I will always be your biggest supporter in anything that you do in any way shape or form, anything that you need from me."
"I'm gonna miss you too," Lindsay concluded. "I'm not gonna throw away the key but I'm sure as hell gonna lose it for a while — I need a change of scenery."
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Lindsay previously said she had "had enough" with the Bachelor franchise amid the controversy surrounding the show and longtime host Chris Harrison during Matt James' season, which aired earlier this year.
The controversy arose when contestant Rachael Kirkconnell was called out for past racially insensitive social media posts which saw her dressed in Native American attire in costume and attending an antebellum plantation-themed college party in 2018. (She has since apologized.)
Harrison, 49, addressed the situation during an interview with Lindsay on Extra. During their 14-minute, unedited conversation, he said people should have "a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion" in the wake of the resurfaced photos and questioned the "lens" of 2021 compared to 2018.
Following an outcry online, he issued a statement apologizing and announced he would be stepping away from the franchise for a period of time. Days after his initial comments, though, Lindsay called Harrison into question for his remarks and said she plans on leaving the franchise once her contract is up.
"I can't take it anymore," Lindsay said on her other podcast, Higher Learning with Van Lathan and Rachel Lindsay. "I'm contractually bound in some ways, but when it's up, I am, too. I can't. I can't do it anymore."
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When co-host Lathan asked where the current controversy puts her within the franchise, Lindsay acknowledged that while her experience with the show benefitted her in ways — notably, it introduced her to now-husband Bryan Abasolo — she has "had enough."
"As far as me, I'm f---ing tired," she said. "I'm exhausted. I have truly had enough. My entire reason for doing The Bachelorette — and I was lucky it worked out for me in the most beautiful way, in finding Bryan — is that I wanted to be a representative as a Black woman to this audience. And I wanted to pave the way for more people to have this opportunity. In some ways, that has happened. I wanted the franchise to be better. I have a love-hate relationship with it. I'm connected to it."
"It did stuff for me, and I'll never forget that," she continued. "But how much more do I want to be affiliated with this? How much more can I take of things like this? I said I was going to leave if they didn't have leads of color. Okay, they did that, and they made some other changes. They hired a diversity consultant. ... Did Chris Harrison not sit through that?"