Krystal Nielson, Bachelor in Paradise, Season 5

ABC/Craig Sjodin

Despite her triumph on Bachelor in Paradise and getting engaged, and despite her mostly upbeat Instagram posts, the year 2018 was not easy for Krystal Nielson.

The 31-year-old fitness coach won season five of the show along with Chris Randone, 31, who proposed to her on the finale. Months earlier, she competed on season 22 of The Bachelor, where she was dubbed a villain. In December, she had revealed that she was "hospitalized last November because of the DEBILITATING EFFECTS OF ANXIETY AND FEAR I was facing with the upcoming season of The Bachelor," and was slapped with a $12,000 hospital bill. In a candid essay posted on her Instagram page on Wednesday, she recalls how she fell into heavy credit card debt after her hospitalization and how amid her financial struggles, she took into her home her brother, who was previously homeless. 

"Yesterday I spent the day going through every single transactions that took place in 2018...As I recounted these purchases, I began re-living these moments," she wrote. "A year of extreme highs and lows. The year that my name would be synonymous with villain. The year that $12,000 in hospital bills would drop my 750 credit score to 620. The year that my little brother came to live with me in 300 square feet after being on the streets."

"Also the year that I said f--k fear and launched my own business," she continued. "The year that I made my dream to write a workout program come true. The year that I had to confront the self-limiting beliefs that I wasn't good enough for success and fulfillment. The year that I had to allow myself to trust. The year that I would surrender to love."

Nielson said that when she saw the hospital charges on her billing statement, she had a flashback to when a friend told her she needed to confront those bills "rather than pretending that they didn't exist."

"It wasn't just the fact that I had no money to pay them," she said. "I had to confront the emotional trauma that my body, soul and heart had endured. The heavy slap of defeat. The months of anxiety and depression. The confrontation that I had failed and fallen and didn't know what pieces could even be put back together. What the $2.20 purchases from my favorite Italian coffeeshop stopped, I remembered how I had to cut that out of my budget because I simply couldn't afford it anymore... Venmos from my Mom to send me money for food while I cared for my little brother sank back in."

Things began to look up when she published and sold copies of her workout publication Total Body Guide and after she appeared on Bachelor in Paradise.

"I watched the fall and rise. The come up. The dark nights and heavy storms my heart endured," she wrote. "Looking back, I now see that those thunderstorms are the reasons my dreams blossomed. And my tenacity, inner strength and beliefs reflected through every purchase and transactions. I don't know the how's but I knew the why's—my purpose, my family, my clients and dream for positive impact stayed close to my heart. I called to God to give me strength when I felt so weak I couldn't stand."

"I poured tears over the pages of my journal as I slowly came back to me," she continued. "I trusted in the Universe that everything was here to teach me how I could grow. How I could become better, stronger, more compassionate, more resilient, more knowledgeable and more loving to myself. 2018 you taught me that my heart is the only validation that I need. To embrace the dark nights because that is when we grow the most. And most importantly to never lose faith in my dreams."

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