It's a preposterous notion that someone like Kendall Jenner couldn't possibly deal with anxiety, yet that seems to be the consensus as Jenner has begun to detail exactly what her panic attacks look like. The supermodel was a trending topic on Facebook yesterday after she talked about her coping mechanisms in a post on her app. Seeing the collective response from FB users—punctuated by laughing emoji reactions, of all things—was a jarring exercise in the complete lack of understanding (and empathy) surrounding anxiety. Commentary ranged from tasteless jokes about how Jenner could possibly suffer from this when she lives such a charmed life to actual outrage that she would comment on a mental condition. (Really? People are angry that someone with such a huge platform would spotlight and effectively de-stigmatize something that millions deal with every single day?)
Jenner first touched on her anxiety last year, revealing that she often experiences sleep paralysis—a scary disorder that is often brought on by intense stress. The model launched into more detail about her personal struggles this week on her app as she reflected on the highs and lows of 2016. "Anxiety was a huge hurdle for me to deal with this past year (and security concerns didn't help)," she writes. "I'm not always very good at getting a handle on it… I once had a really bad attack on a plane and just had to ride it out. I felt my heart beating a million miles an hour and I even went a little numb."
As for how she's coping, Jenner says she's figuring it out as she goes. "I've learned that it's all mental, so I try to prevent anxiety attacks by bringing my mind somewhere else. Breathing exercises have become a regular tool." She's onto something with that strategy—research shows that deep, controlled breathing can stop anxiety and stress in its tracks.
But this all serves as an important reminder that anxiety doesn't discriminate based on fame, wealth, or success. Almost one-fifth of all adults suffer from some form of the mental condition—and it's a serious disservice to those who suffer in silence when we criticize the people who speak out about it.