If you've been following the Kardashians and Jenners for more than a decade now, then it probably doesn't come as a surprise to you that Kendall Jenner suffers from anxiety. In the later seasons of the show, when her modeling career started taking off, we saw clips of how her busy scheduling affected her mental health. Here's a clip of Kendall calling momager Kris Jenner while she was having an anxiety attack:
When she gets on a plane, like for Fashion Week, she feels "super lightheaded". The supermodel spoke about experiencing sleep paralysis, too: "I can't travel that much. I'm scared. I'm scared to fall asleep because it keeps happening to me. It's almost like my heart stops."
Unpacking Anxiety with Kendall Jenner
In the first episode of Vogue's Open-Minded: Unpacking Anxiety, Kendall spoke to Dr. Ramani Durvasula about this mental health struggle: "Being overworked and being in the situation that I'm in now is kinda what set it out of control. I've had times when I feel like I need to be rushed to the hospital because I think my heart's failing and I can't breathe. And I need someone to help me. Sometimes, I think I'm dying. Sometimes, parts of my body will go numb. It can be intense and scary."
She shared that people probably think her life is so perfect that she has nothing to be anxious about; Kendall acknowledged that she's more privileged than most. Pointing to her mind, she said, "I still have one of these. That thing up there—It's not always happy. It's not always connecting. I'm still a human being at the end of the day."
During her talk with Dr. Durvasula, we learn that anxiety is on a continuum. When it's mild anxiety, people are still able to get through the day. But when it gets in the way, "it makes people more uncomfortable at work. It makes people more uncomfortable in their relationships. It makes people more uncomfortable out of the house...Everything is scary." That's called clinically significant anxiety.
Speaking about her social anxiety, Kenny said, "We've all been super isolated, to the point where I'm almost used to that, now that things are slowly opening up, if I go to a dinner or if I see a few more of my friends that I'm used to seeing throughout this last year, that gives me an anxiety." Likening it to when you come up for air too fast while scuba diving, Dr. Durvasala advised taking your time with social interactions. You don't have to say yes to every invite, you guys.
Panic attacks are common when it comes to experiences with anxiety. According to Dr. Durvasala, "It's all a miscommunication in the brain. Everything gets ramped up." She added, "Anxiety is like a magnifying class, and it magnifies only the bad things—every little pain...In essence, what we're trying to do is take that magnifying glass and put it to being a regular lens, especially physical sensations, because anxiety is such a physical disorder."
How social media affects Kendall's anxiety
"There's just literally too much. I find that the more I'm looking at a screen, the more detached I feel with my own body or to what's happening right in front of me," Kendall shared in another Vogue interview. The model revealed that she doesn't like the fact that she *needs* social media. Dr. Jorge Partida explained, "There's plenty of research that really demonstrates that social media acts very much like an addiction. It stimulates the same part of the brain as substance use. So when you think about it, you are always looking for that positive reinforcement." It can be because we don't see that positive reinforcement in our home that we tend to "look outside of ourselves for that reward."
Asked about a time when the model felt the most anxious because of social media, Kendall recalled, "Something that really boils my blood, that really frustrates me and upsets me the most is someone claiming a false narrative for me. The Internet bases things [on] such small moments, with no context, they don't know the before or the after...and they'll take that and run with it." She continued, "I have moments of feeling like I'm breaking or feeling like I can't take it anymore. Sometimes, it just feels like I can never do anything right."
Dr. Partida also spoke about the irony of social media: "[It] can allow us to feel like we have millions and millions of friends in the world when in reality, we could be very lonely right at home. And it's the sense that you start to trade your real life for an imagined life. We're constantly being bombarded by a new role model, or by a new standard of beauty, or by a desire that we just can't quite be adequate enough to meet."
The next time you engage in social media, Dr. Partida recommended asking yourself, "Why are you doing it? Why are you connecting?" Recognize your intention and set some limits for yourself.
How to be an ally to someone who has anxiety
"When you're in the midst of a panic attack, the reason you're calling someone is you're scared, you want some sort of comfort and you might also want that distraction. Sometimes, you just have to, as their supporter, sit there and ride the wave with them." Kendall said it can be difficult to explain what anxiety feels like for her, especially to Kris Jenner, who is both her mom and her manager. "I just wish you could be inside of my body to know exactly what I'm feeling right now and why I physically can't get out of bed."
Dr. Curley Bonds said that if you want to support someone who suffers from anxiety, the first step is to recognize that it is very common. To put it simply, it's our body's response to something that makes us afraid. There are physical symptoms to check for, like if someone has an elevated heart rate, is experiencing shortness of breath, dizzyness, and so on. And there are the "psychological components: fear that I'm going crazy, fear that something is going to happen, and then there are these obsessive thoughts about things that have happened in the past..." These can affect someone's behavior; people can start isolating, avoiding things, and may not want to go out.
Kendall revealed that one of her sisters recently came to her about having similar symptoms of anxiety, ones that the model can relate to. Dr. Bonds said that it's good to let someone know when you've experienced the same thing so that you can help them find their "personal cure."
If you want older generations to understand anxiety, Dr. Bonds explained that finding a common language can help: "Talking about your experience of fear, uncertainty, disappointment...those are things that people of all ages should be able to relate to."
What is anticipatory anxiety?
In the last episode of Open-Minded, Kendall tackles "anticipatory anxiety" with psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb. The supermodel said that when she thinks of something that takes her out of her comfort zone, she can't stop focusing on it until it actually happens. When it's triggered, she feels like her "blood is boiling" and she can't stop "shaking." An example she gave is public speaking, something she can't exactly avoid completely because she is a public figure.
Gottlieb explained, "The thing about anticipatory anxiety is people feel like, 'It protects me to know what's going to happen.' And eventually, something bad will happen 'cause it just does in life, but really what it is is a hypervigilance." It's almost always a negative view of the future. "They add meaning to something that's not actually there."
But it's not always a bad thing, you guys. "Some anticipatory anxiety is healthy. You're going into a new experience, like you're taking a test or you're going into an interview. You want to have that adrenaline going. You want to be focused and on your game." But as we all know, it starts being a negative thing when it interferes with how you function.
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