Tiffany's breakdown on I'm A Celeb begs the question, why is anxiety still seen as entertainment?

When she was picked for a challenge on yesterday’s episode of I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, singer Tiffany Darwish immediately looked scared, ashen and deeply stressed.

She began to shake. She weakly proclaimed that producers had promised to warn her before she was asked to undergo a challenge involving heights.

The following day, Darwish faced dangling – upside down – high on a wire over a dam. She made it clear she is not just afraid of heights, but phobic.

“It’s the scariest thing for me. You feel like you’re going to throw up. I feel like I’m going to throw up,” she said. 

She wept. She shook uncontrollably. She struggled to catch her breath. She felt sick. She sat down, rocking back and forth, trying to comfort herself. Covering her mouth, gripping her stomach. Medics were called. She showed every symptom of an acute panic episode.

As a sufferer of Generalised Anxiety Disorder, the footage left a knot in my gut. This was not a diva moment. This was someone in distress.

A psychologist was quick to comfort the 46 year old, as were hosts Dr. Chris Brown and Julia Morris. She was given every opportunity to exit the situation, but she should never have faced it in the first place.

Image: Channel Ten.

That's where the guilt takes over. Darwish cried real, breathless tears as she admitted defeat and pulled out of the challenge. Between raw sobs, she spoke of feeling immense guilt at letting everyone down. Her face crumpled in pain.

"It's too much for me. And then I felt guilty because everybody else can do stuff and I can't. And I just feel awful. It just feels awful. It feels awful," she intoned. 

I know that guilt too well - apologising for my fear, for my limitations, for those things I cannot do and those people I let down. Feeling a failure because I am unwell. Those experiences that are almost as hard as the illness itself.


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To the show's credit, the singer was given support, and Dr. Brown offered to step in and take the challenge in her place. The relief on her face, his act of sacrifice, and the warm embrace of sheer thankfulness she offered the vet, was heartwarming.

But it all begs the question: why are we consuming anxiety as entertainment?

Watching willing participants overcome fear to undergo difficult challenges is inspiring, yes. But watching a woman, a real person, have a panic attack - a hideously painful, draining experience - for a few minutes of thrilling television, well, aren't we better than this? Aren't we a little more sensitive, a little more 'woke'?

There's a voyeuristic enjoyment to seeing gagging celebrities eating offal and being splattered with grimy dung water. Even in seeing their apprehension as they take part in dangerous-looking tasks.

But it's not enjoyable seeing someone, who has notified us all she's struggling emotionally, suffer.