‘I thought I was going to drop dead’: Elizabeth Olsen reveals she suffered her first panic attack at 21 and details how ‘brain games’ helped her deal with anxiety
Elizabeth Olsen thought she was going to ‘drop dead’ after suffering her first panic attack.
The 33-year-old actress was 21 and living in New York City when she started experiencing the attacks ‘on the hour every hour’ for a six month spell.
She told Variety: ‘I didn’t understand what anxiety or a panic attack was until I was 21. I remember I would get them on the hour every hour.
Battle: Elizabeth Olsen, pictured here in LA on September 28, has detailed her struggle with anxiety
‘I used to live on 13th Street between 6th and 7th. I was crossing 6th Avenue at 14th Street, and I realised I couldn’t cross the street — I stood up against the wall, and I just thought I was going to drop dead at any moment.
‘If I went from cold to hot, hot to cold, full to hungry, hungry to full — any kind of shift in my body, my whole body thought, ‘Uh oh, something’s wrong!’
‘And I just started spiraling. It was so weird. A ENT doctor said that it could be vertigo related because it was all about truly spinning. So it was an interesting six months.’
The ‘WandaVision’ star revealed she was put in touch with a professional who taught her some ‘brain games’ to help her focus.
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She added: ‘I had a friend who was seeing a neuropsychiatrist — or psychologist, I don’t know if they medicated — because she had panic attacks before me.
‘And learned a lot of brain games. It actually was very similar to an acting exercise that we did at Atlantic, which is called repetition, where you just are constantly making observations about the person in front of you and you’re just trying to connect.
‘When I would walk down the street, I would just start naming everything I saw out loud to get myself out of the spiraling thoughts in my brain.’
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Elizabeth admitted the system worked, and although she ‘didn’t want to be on medication’, she carried some with her as a comfort.
She explained: ‘That was a helpful tool. But it just became a practice that got me out of it.
‘I didn’t want to be on medication, but I had medication in case I felt like I was having an emergency and just having that in my bag felt good.
‘It’s very weird because I was not an anxious child. I was very loud and confident.’
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