Sydney radio host Ryan ‘Fitzy’ Fitzgerald has revealed he had an extreme panic attack before speaking at an event on Tuesday.
The star of Nova’s Fitzy & Wippa with Kate Ritchie was an MC at the Australia Hotels Association NSW Awards at Royal Randwick, which he hosted alongside co-host Michael Wipfli.
Speaking on their radio show Wednesday morning, Fitzy, 47, confessed he almost bailed on the gig moments before hitting the stage, as he opened up about his previously little-known problem with panic attacks before speaking in front of crowds.
But Fitzy said the one he suffered on Tuesday – in front of a 1200-strong audience – was “large” and more “magnified” than normal.
“There was a moment where I grabbed Wip, and I said to him, ‘I’m having a panic attack’,” Fitzy said on-air.
“And Wip, I didn’t tell you this, but on one shoulder, I had a voice saying to me, ‘toughen up. What are you doing? You’ve been through this before.’ On the other shoulder, I had another one going, ‘leave Wip and just walk out of here and let him do it by himself.’
“My heart rate was 183. So my heart was flying. I was pacing. Remember Wip I was pacing?”
Wippa, 44, whose been co-hosting with Fitzy since 2011, said the former AFL player puts “too much pressure” on himself.
“I’ve never seen somebody more natural on a microphone as a public speaker than you. I think you’re brilliant at it,” Wippa told his co-host.
“But that may be, knowing that you’ve had some success as a speaker before, maybe you put that pressure and expectation on it.
“You were doing a lot of talking to yourself just running through what you’re going to say. And we’re behind the stage and Fitzy says, ‘I think I’m having a panic attack.’
“I said, ‘that’s okay mate. We’re just gonna get up, we’re gonna say that we hosted it last year, and don’t overthink it, we can’t control what the audience is going to think.’”
Fitzy went on to talk about how he’d long suffered with performance anxiety prior to speaking gigs, but always managed to get himself together once he was underway.
“I’ve always got a little bit nervous talking in front of crowds, and my heart rate will elevate,” he said.
“We did get up on stage, we were introduced, and I was a little bit nervous at the start, but as soon as I started talking into the mic, everything was fine. I was totally fine.
“I was up there with Wip, and everything was fine. But it was just that lead up to it.”
Ritchie, 45, was surprised to hear of Fitzy’s struggle, particularly given he puts himself out there on radio each morning.
“It’s so surprising Fitz, like, you talk for a living. That’s what you do every morning and you come in here and you seem super confident. You’ve always got something to offer and you’re great being you,” the former Home and Away actress said.
“So it would be very surprising I think for anyone to think that.
“It’s the head noise that’s not even true.”