20th Survivor Fiji contestant left because of “overwhelming panic attacks”

The 20th Survivor Fiji, who quit the show the day before production began, says she left because of “overwhelming panic attacks.”

Melissa McNulty tells TV Guide that she knew she “suffered from panic attacks, and [she] thought, ‘What better way to face that challenge?'” Before she left, she says, “My doctors and I thought I was ready.”

But once in Fiji, “I had multiple panic attacks in one day, which I’ve never experienced before. I tried to pull myself together,” she says. “I talked to my point person and said I was getting overwhelming panic attacks. They sent me to the on-site psychologist, and the producers talked to me. They were very accommodating. They wanted me to stay, and it was my decision to decide that I was not in the mental state to participate.”

She says that after she decided to leave, “They got me home very quickly. They didn’t make a big deal or make me feel bad.”

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.