Elizabeth Olsen never had to deal with anxiety or panic attacks until she was in her 20s. In a new interview with Variety, the WandaVision star who is 33 years old talked about her struggles with mental health which she first had when she was 21 and living in New York.
Before she turned 21, the actress says she didn’t even know what anxiety or a panic attack was.
“I remember I would get [panic attacks] on the hour every hour,” Olsen recalled to the outlet. “I used to live on 13th Street between 6th and 7th. I was crossing 6th Avenue at 14th Street and I realized 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 spiralling. It was so weird,” she continued. “A ENT doctor said that it could be vertigo-related because it was all about truly spinning. So it was an interesting six months.”
“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,” Olsen stated.
“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 spiralling thoughts in my brain.”
“That was a helpful tool. But it just became a practise that got me out of it,” she added. “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.”
Olsen has talked about her mental health problems and how she got back into working out after having panic attacks.
“I love training even when I’m not working on the Marvel movies. I grew up doing ballet and playing pretty competitive volleyball. In college, fitness is suddenly not part of your curriculum, so I stopped doing anything,” she told the New York Times before noting the beginning of her panic attacks.
The actress said that working out and “taking the attention off of herself” helped her get through them.
“It was then that I found yoga to be really helpful and when fitness became a big part of my life again,” Elizabeth Olsen said. “I found that after a hard workout, I could sit by myself.”
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