Archives for Public Speaking

A Panic Attack On Live TV? ABC News Anchor Dan Harris Reflects

[Warning: this video might (obviously) be triggering for those of you with panic disorder. It definitely put me a bit on edge. It does end on a happy note, if that's of any consolation.]

Have you ever had a panic attack in front of a large audience?

I've had my (unfairly large) share of panic attacks -- but most of them were only in front of small audiences, like the gaggle of shoppers who were behind me in line at CVS when I doubled over in dizziness at checkout.

(The moments between that first scanned item and that final step of swiping my payment card is akin to being stuck on an elevator between floors. After the first "beep" of the UPC scanner, I am trapped. I no longer have an easy excuse to run out of the store, if needed. I have to have to have to keep it cool and stay non-panicky, dammit, until that receipt is in my hand, right? I mean, otherwise...I'd look like a complete ass running out of there.)

And, oh, the marketing meeting at my former job in a stuffy, sardine-can-of-a conference room! I'll never forget that panic attack.
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Why Order Your Fears Into A Hierarchy?

Think back to first grade, if you can. Alphabet posters on the wall, Dr. Seuss books, and simple math.

You were probably pretty comfortable with counting to ten, twenty, thirty, and beyond. In first grade, you probably began doing some easy addition and subtraction problems, too.

Maybe you used flashcards. Maybe you remember your teacher using beans or pasta or coins to illustrate the concept of adding something more or taking something away.

And then, you feel like a genius when you master 7 + 2.

And then, you move right into long division. Right?

No. Come on. Of course not. You can't jump right to long division right after learning how to add. It just doesn't make sense.


And likewise, it doesn't make sense to dive right into treating your worst fears when you've got some minor and mid-level fears that you need to work on first.
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My TEDx Talk: Anxiety — Hibernate, Adapt, or Migrate?

Awhile back, I wrote about how nervous I was to speak at my local TEDx event in Williamsport, PA.

I was pretty scared. Would I get lightheaded? Would I pass out? What if I couldn't remember anything I wanted to talk about?

I wanted to talk about panic attacks. I wanted to talk about how hard it was to work in a call center while dealing with panic disorder. I wanted to talk about those dreadful "inspirational" posters on workplace walls and I wanted to...
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I Hope I Don’t Panic…While Delivering a Talk About Panic

Perhaps you've noticed my lack of posts during this past week.

And even if you didn't, now you're aware of it. Because I mentioned it.

Here's why I've been so quiet: I've been busy preparing to speak at TEDx Williamsport, an independently-organized TED event in my town. (If you haven't heard of TED, go here and watch a few talks.)

Yes, that's right -- this panicky lady is going to stand on a stage and talk to people.

About her anxiety.

Believe it or not, this is a sort of a first for me. Does that sound strange? I mean, I've recorded anxiety-related videos for my blog, and I've lead online and telephone support group discussions in which I shared my panic-littered personal history. And I share my stumblings and my successes with you, weekly, via my blog. real life? Not so much. I can't remember a time when I got up and spoke to a group of Real Live People about what it's like to have a panic attack.

It's happening tomorrow.


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‘Celebrating’ World Mental Health Day With a Panic Attack

Ah, yes. It's World Mental Health Day.

And what better way to celebrate than to have a full-fledged panic attack at 12:30 pm while driving home from the coffee shop?

Sigh. I honestly didn't want my "Blog Party" post to be so, uh, negative -- but I need to accept each day honestly, authentically, and for what it is.

I teach a marketing course at a local college. When I walked into the front lobby of the building where I teach, I was happy to see a nice display of mental health-related brochures and pamphlets in honor of Mental Health Awareness Week. I grabbed the "Panic Attacks" brochure (in part because the corny image of a frantic woman on the front really annoyed me) and headed off to class.

Can I teach in front of a class full of students?


Can I leave, grade papers at the local coffee shop, and chat with the other regulars?


Can I drive home from the coffee shop?

Apparently not. That's where the panic began.


It's not like I overloaded on caffeine or anything, but I do suspect my blood sugar was a little low. (Yes -- low blood sugar can trigger anxiety!) I knew I ought to eat, so I packed up my half-graded papers and walked out onto the sidewalk. Then, I saw the orange ticket on my windshield.

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The One (Surprising!) Thing I’m Not Too Afraid Of

Earlier this week, I returned to my alma mater to give a presentation to a class of senior business students.

Yes, you read that right: to give a presentation.

Me. That girl (well, woman) with panic disorder.

How did I do it?

Well, to be honest...I've always loved public speaking. I'm one of those oddballs who looked forward to the opportunity to raise my hand in class & ask questions. I DJ'ed a radio show for four years in college -- and speaking through a microphone to an audience of complete strangers was thrilling.

I felt so connected to the world in front of that microphone...even though, in reality, I was locked in a tiny foam-padded radio studio tucked deep within a giant brick building labeled "COMMUNICATION." (Physical isolation doesn't always equate to mental or emotional isolation, I guess. But I digress.)

I have incredibly fond memories of the public speaking class I took as a college sophomore. On Impromptu Speech Day, some of my classmates slunk down in their seats to avoid being selected to speak about a random topic on the fly.

But I sat up straight and tall. I raised my hand, even. I loved the challenge of formulating a coherent 3-minute speech with only ten seconds of preparation. It was exciting to me.

And now, despite my myriad anxiety problems, public speaking still excites me.

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