Be still, beating heart? Ireland Baldwin shares her unusual and debilitating phobia

A woman in a light blue jacket looks out toward off-camera photographers
Ireland Baldwin says her anxieties started when she was very young.
(Jordan Strauss / Invision / Associated Press)

Be still, my beating heart. Or, rather, Ireland Baldwin’s beating heart. Because she’s freaking out about it.

The 26-year-old model discussed her anxieties with Willow Smith on the most recent episode of “Red Table Talk” on Facebook Watch.

“I suffer from cardiophobia. And you’re like, ‘What is that?’,” Baldwin told Smith, 21, who admitted she didn’t know. “I didn’t know either until I did a lot of research for a very long time. I have a fear of my own heartbeat.”

That’s problematic, as a heartbeat is something one cannot live without. But what happens when a person is struggling to live with their own heartbeat?

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“When [my heartbeat] starts getting really fast, even when I’m nervous, even slightly nervous, or if I exercise or anything, I start panicking to the point where I’m convinced, no matter what anyone says, that I’m gonna have a heart attack,” Baldwin said. At that point, she added, she has to go to the hospital — and has done so more than 20 times so far.

The doctor will “basically come in and tell me that my heart’s fine and my health is great and that would be this huge release for me, this comfort,” she said. “Seeing an EKG monitor tell me that my heart’s OK.”

As for what might have set off this particular phobia, Baldwin noted later that when she was a kid, she saw a stranger have a heart attack at a restaurant. “That messed me up,” she said. “I think that image never left my head, ever.”

Ireland Baldwin says she’s gotten over the whole “rude thoughtless little pig” voicemail her dad left her when she was 11, so why can’t the rest of the world move past it too?

She also thinks her anxieties started during the ugly divorce of her parents, Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin, when she was a toddler.

Since then, her phobia has put her in some mortifying situations. Baldwin said she’s had the same paramedics come to her house a few times, and she assumes they are thinking she’s the girl with the fake heart attacks.

“It’s so crippling because everyone kind of looks at you like, ‘You’re young and fit and healthy. You’re fine. You’re fine,’” Baldwin said.

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That makes her want to to deck people, she said. Ditto to anyone who tells her “to breathe.”

Looking back, Baldwin said she didn’t want to label any of this as anxiety for a long time, because she was “so ashamed of it.” Now, clearly, she’s cool discussing it in front of the camera.

In the rest of Monday’s “Red Table Talk” episode, Basinger joined the conversation with her daughter, along with Gammy and Jada Pinkett Smith.