MAFS star Tracey Jewel shares the story of anxiety, the condition affects two million Australians

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In the middle of the night, as his family sleeps, Ben Pobjie is overwhelmed with anxiety. He always feels powerless when he hits an attack, but it is in the first few hours that he feels more alone and desperate.

"He's terrified of something that's entirely generated in your head," says Ben to Sunday Night's Melissa Doyle. "You miss your breath, you sweat, you feel a pain in your chest, you feel things that weigh you down, you feel your throat closing, your teeth grind, your fists clench, you feel a desperate need to run away or to fight something – and not c & # 39; is nothing ".

Chevron Right Icon"In the worst case scenario, you're thinking this could literally be what kills you."

"In the worst case scenario, you're thinking this could literally be what kills you."

Anxiety is terrifying and common. It affects one in four Australians. It can strike anywhere, anytime.

And anxiety can affect anyone, even a reality television star.

Two years ago, Tracey Jewel was unknown, experiencing a stress-free suburban life. "I've always been a very resilient and very strong person," says Tracey.

Then he was married at first sight. During the night, it became a household name. Life for Tracey has changed dramatically.

"Being out of my routine and being in the public eye has certainly sparked anxiety for me," says Tracey. "It's really scary. It makes everyday life difficult. That's why I became a total recluse."

Brain overload

Catherine Madigan is a psychologist specializing in anxiety. He says that for people with this condition, the part of the brain that warns them of the danger is too stimulated leaving them in a state of constant fear.

"It can prevent people from leaving home," explains Catherine. "Even walking in their mailbox can cause them a serious panic attack. So some people have been at home for years."

"[For] some people, their amygdala is overactive. This is the part of the brain's anxiety and these thoughts get stuck. The more upset people get that this thought jumped into their heads and the more they try to push it out, into reality contributes to the persistence of thought ".

27-year-old Taylor Pulvirenti caught a panic attack on the camera while traveling for work.

Chevron Right Icon"My brain looked like it was maybe ten million different voices with different thoughts coming and going."

"I couldn't think clearly, I couldn't breathe. Then I just started hyperventilating, crying, getting very hot, getting very shaky," says Taylor. "I wish I could record what my brain was doing because my brain felt like there were maybe ten million different voices with different thoughts coming in and out. [There is no real understanding of what to listen to. It consumes you. "

Ben Pobjie's anxiety can be triggered by the smallest of things. He worries about them until they become huge and overwhelming. Experts call it catastrophic.

"They can be things like not being able to sleep. You lie there and something starts to tell you, & # 39; and if I could never sleep? And if you never felt better than that? And if this frustrated and irritated feeling lasts forever ? It can't last forever, it's ridiculous, but that's what happens. It brings you into a state of frightened panic and tells you: & # 39; This could be your life for the rest of your life, maybe you never will, never be panicked. ""

More than two million Australians live with anxiety. Melissa Doyle talks to some of those brave enough to share their story.

A safe place

When Taylor feels the anxiety growing, he retires to a "safe place".

"My home is definitely my paradise," he explains. "I am lucky enough to have even more places where I feel safe. I can go to my mom's house and feel the same. I can go to my father and my uncle; I feel safe in all those places."

Ben Pobjie relies on the calm good sense of his wife Rebecca to pull him back into his darkest moments.

"She is very good at reminding me of what I know sometimes when I find it difficult to concentrate on something that is not what I feel," he says.

Rebecca tries to use common sense to calm Ben down. "I'm just trying to say: & # 39; You know it'll be fine. You know it's not important. & # 39;"

As for the reality television star Tracey Jewell, she listens to the music and meditates to block the harsh sounds that trigger her anxiety.

Chevron Right Icon"I haven't healed, but I can certainly handle it."

"I haven't healed, but I can definitely handle it," Tracey explains. "This is an important message for others."

Now he is studying mental health, hoping he can use his experiences to help others.

"I love my life. I love my family and my friends, and I refuse to ruin it."

Reporter: Melissa Doyle | Producer: Margaret Parker

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If you suffer from anxiety, there are a number of Australian support services that you can turn to for information and help. Visit This Way Up, myCompass and MindSpot for more information.

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