Sammy Nickalls
April 12, 2016 8:34 am

Living with anxiety can be incredibly difficult for so many reasons — the tight chest, the pounding heart, the panic striking you in public. But perhaps the most difficult aspect of anxiety, and any mental illness, is the pressure to pretend like you’re OK when internally you feel like the world is caving in. That’s exactly why a heartbreaking but important Facebook post is going viral — because it depicts the constant pressure everyone with a mental illness goes through every single day.

Amber Smith from Warwickshire in the UK posted two pictures of herself to Facebook on April 3rd. The top picture, she explained, is “what I showcase to the world via social media. . . dressed up, make up done. . . filters galore.” Amber’s second picture, taken that evening shortly after she suffered through an anxiety-induced panic attack, is much more raw.

“I’m so sick of the fact that it’s 2016 and there is still so much stigma around mental health,” Amber wrote, continuing:

She also highlighted that just because she looks “fine” on the outside doesn’t mean that she’s not struggling every day. “Someone actually said. . . to me one day. . . ‘What do you have to be depressed about at your age?'” she wrote. “Wow, just wow.”

Amber had message for everyone who struggles with their mental health. “To anyone who is going through the same, please do not suffer in silence,” she wrote. “There is so much support around. . . don’t be scared to ask for help.”

The way to truly combat the stigma surrounding mental illness, she wrote, is to be kind to and patient with one another:

“I can’t stress enough that it costs nothing to be nice to others. Don’t bully others, don’t put others down and the hardest one of them all (as we have all done it at some point) don’t judge another person,” she wrote. “We’re all human. . . So build one another up instead of breaking each other down.”

The post has been shared over 17,000 times, with dozens of people commenting their support and thanks. “Was really ashamed of being so weak when I was diagnosed,” wrote one commenter. “Now I know I’m not weak. . . I’m not ashamed anymore.”

“Reading your post is both heartbreaking and inspiring,” wrote another commenter. “. . . Mental illness is real. It’s a crippling disease. . . Thanks for sharing your experience.”

If you suffer from panic attacks or an anxiety disorder, you can find more information on the Anxiety and Depression Association of America’s website. Thank you, Amber, for shedding light on such a deeply important issue that affects so many of us in this world. Above all, we need to keep this dialogue going.