Brandon Donlon on Survivor 45 Panic Attack: ‘My Body Shut Down’

Just moments into his long-anticipated appearance on the beloved CBS series, Survivor 45, Brandon Donlon’s dream turned into a heart-wrenching ordeal. As the opening challenge began, the reality of the situation hit him like a tidal wave, triggering a paralyzing panic attack. This challenging start began a gruelling five-day journey for him. It ultimately led to his elimination.

Speaking of the panic attack he had, Donlon shared with EW, “I was wonky on the ladder and my weight was distributed weirdly, I couldn’t grip on and I fell. And I’m telling you, getting up there from the base of the bottom of the ladder, wet clothes, already exhausted — it is very, very hard.”

He added, “And I’m telling you, I pull with all of the muscle that I have — which, admittedly, not a ton — but I’m pulling with everything that I have and I’m not moving an inch. And that made me panic. I felt my body shut down. And the panic attacks that I’ve had, my hands freeze up. So Sean comes down, and we do the really beautiful handholding shot. He gets me up there and then I get to the mat and I black out. I have no memory beyond kind of getting up past the thing there.”

Survivor 45 Brandon Donlon

“I was laying there for quite a bit. And again, you don’t want to open like that,” he elaborated.

Donlon shared, “So it was all of the things where it’s just like: Oh, this is my biggest nightmare coming true. This is exactly what you hope doesn’t happen. I would venture to say maybe the worst day-one opening that you can get in the history of the program. But you know what? We truck through. My way of coping is by making jokes, and I loved my little, ‘I’m going to sit out of sweat.’ A contextual joke is just like a chef’s kiss to me, so it worked out for the best. I went back and told everybody, ‘Hey, I had a panic attack. It’s a thing that happens to me, but we’ll press forward and we’ll hang out for a little bit and, hopefully, we forget about it.'”

Survivor 45 episodes air from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. ET every Wednesday.

Joanne Wells

Joanne Wells is a media journalist for ScreenNearYou. She reports on the inside conversations in Hollywood. Also, she loves pizza!

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