Australian weatherman Nate Byrne has gone public about his anxiety. He wrote an article for the ABC, published this morning, explaining how he suffered from panic attacks for years, and explaining how he has learned to cope with them.
He described his first panic attack, which occurred live on air, as “absolutely terrifying.”
“As I stood there under the studio lights, talking to people having their morning coffee and wiping sleep from their eyes, my heart was racing, I was gasping for breath and sweat was pouring out of every pore as my brain screamed ‘RUN!'” (ABC).
“Anxiety had never been an issue in my life before, even though high-stress situations weren’t a stranger.”Nate Byrne, writing for the ABC
“I had just jogged the 40 metres from my desk to my position at ABC News Breakfast’s weather wall — I had left it a little too late and the show’s control room was worried I wouldn’t make it in time.”
“I did, and it was barely an exertion. But it was enough to trigger an anxiety problem I still deal with to this day.”
Mr Byrne said this experience completely changed his perception of mental health.
“As I stood there trying to make it sound like I wasn’t slightly puffed (probably not a great look for breakfast TV, I thought), all of a sudden, my body started tingling, my heart rate rose and I realised I was drenched in sweat,” he wrote for the ABC.
“As soon as the camera was off me, I dropped my on-air demeanour and doubled over, trying to catch my breath, light-headed and confused about what was happening.”
Mr Byrne then said that he refused help from his floor manager and went back to his desk, only to experience a second panic attack 15 minutes later – one he says, “nearly broke me.”
“Standing on my usual spot, completely calm and composed, I saw the words ‘WEATHER THROW: NATE JOINS US WITH THE WEATHER …’ and the bottom dropped out of my world.”
“This time, it was much worse — I started shaking, my vision narrowed, my heart was pounding like I’d run a marathon, I couldn’t breathe.”
Mr Byrne said he felt like he had to get out of there, even though there wasn’t a clear reason he needed to leave, or an obvious sign of danger or stress.
After this experience, he learned to manage his anxiety with beta-blockers and small adjustments to his routine, and by taking baby steps back to normal.
Two months later he weaned himself off the beta-blockers and learned to distract himself from his anxiety in other ways.
He got better but then, a year or so later, he had another panic attack. This time he learned another important lesson – make sure that you have a support network around you who know you might sometimes need assistance (he had neglected to tell his co-worker it might happen – something he now regrets).
Before having panic attacks, Mr Byrne said he appreciated anxiety and depression were real, but he “had no idea about the complete lack of control you can sometimes have over your brain, nor the ways in which it can take over.”
He’s not alone – and him sharing his experience is helping others who suffer from anxiety feel ‘seen.’
This is so close to home —— took me 20 years to recover from my first panic attack. Terrifying.— Jonny Weeks (@WeeksJonny) February 23, 2022
One Instagram user, @jadeflorencephoto, wrote the following on one of Mr Bryne’s Instagram posts: “Thank you for your article. Really helps people in workplaces who haven’t ever had to deal with anxiety understand it’s something anyone can struggle with and shows panic attacks in real time and how to react. We appreciate it.”
Another said: “Great article! You’re the realest weather reporter around!”
happened to a colleague of mine in the ABC Canberra newsroom a few years ago; myself and a woman reporter, both of us no strangers to anxiety and depression, recognised it immediately, got his wife on the phone, and whisked off to hospital, all good and managed these days 🙂— marcus kelson (@marcuskelson) February 23, 2022
Another wrote: “I liked your article on your personal experience with anxiety and panic attacks. I suffer silently from anxiety and the occasional debilitating panic attack. I’ve taught myself to control my attacks and my anxiety. Man it’s a struggle sometimes. Lucky I have a wonderful wife, an amazing family and friends. Take care of yourself bud. You’re fantastic on TV dude.”
Thank you Nate! Your piece helped me understand the idea of what might trigger a panic attack, how it can come out of the blue, and seem to not have a rational connection. I’ve sent to my partner so it should help us both. It can be so scary. Thanks again.— anna sublet (@subbie) February 24, 2022
On Twitter, one user wrote: “You did so well to even stay and finish that. I had my first a couple of years ago and thought I was dying and presented to a hospital (who thought I was mad and sent me home). Not fun at all. Important to share experiences though.”
Hopefully it helps??? Mate! One of the most relevant and helpful 7 minutes of TV for me personally I have ever seen. Thank you. It has allowed me to understand the panic attacks I had in 2013 and separate cause, the event itself and the treatment. Thanks Nate and ABC— stephen mcgrath (@Stephen78250313) February 24, 2022
Another said: “Hopefully it helps??? Mate! One of the most relevant and helpful 7 minutes of TV for me personally I have ever seen. Thank you. It has allowed me to understand the panic attacks I had in 2013 and separate cause, the event itself and the treatment. Thanks Nate and ABC.”
Pulled the pin on an overseas trip many years ago because of this.😕 I now know what it was and am ready for the next one. 🙂 Some relatives & friends will never understand.💩💩 You’ve helped others by stepping up. Thanks from them and me.🥇— Don’t wait for the muse. (@Lightbuthearty) February 24, 2022
There you have it. If you’ve experienced this kind of anxiety attack; you’re far from alone.