As anyone who's had anxiety can tell you, the last thing you need when you're in the middle of an intense anxiety or panic attack is an audience. In fact, Patti Murin, who plays Anna on Broadway's Frozen, decided to call out of a show when she had one about a month ago. Now, in an interview with Cosmopolitan, Murin explains more about her history with anxiety and how she gets through her attacks.
Murin said that she felt her most recent attack coming on after going through an intense work schedule for months.
She said she was rehearsing six days a week since January (including 10-hour days during tech rehearsals), recording the cast album, and preparing for opening night.
"This was maybe my third or fourth major panic attack, and they usually last about 12 hours," Murin added. "My husband and I sat and watched Marvel movies—there's something about the movement and colors. And he was so great, just asking me what I needed. The attack peters out, but the weird feeling lasts for days. I feel like I want to die a little bit. But I came into work on Wednesday because I knew that staying at home would only make me more anxious. It took a few days to truly breathe."
"For me, it's like the bottom of my stomach drops out. Everything becomes a little hollow. I freeze up, and all I want to do is throw up or cry," Murin said in the interview. "It sounds weird, but it just makes me want to heave or purge or something. On the Monday night before I called out, I was scheduled to sing the national anthem at a Yankees game. So I thought: I am not freaking out right now. I can hold this off."
But that turned out not to be the case. "I woke up the next day and the hollowness was there," she said in the interview. "I called out of the show pretty early in the day and just sat on the couch and let it happen.
Murin posted about her anxiety attack on Instagram at the time and said she received an outpouring of messages from people talking about their own anxiety.
"At the stage door each night when I sign autographs, at least two or three people bring it up and tell me it helped them," she said. "Even inside the building, coworkers have approached me to say, 'Thanks so much for that. I suffer from the same thing.'"
In the aftermath of the experience, Murin is getting better at anticipating possible anxiety or panic attacks. She also manages her anxiety with medication and therapy.
"Anxiety is like some secret society," she added. "I'd like to make it a not-so-secret society."