The term “panic attack” is often thrown about lightly by those who haven’t experienced one and assume it simply refers to “stressing out” over an everyday life matter.
However, anyone who’s actually had the pleasure of this phenomenon knows how debilitating these attacks can feel. Once an attack begins, sh*t gets real: The whole room heats up, the walls close in, and the next 15 minutes are spent hunkered down on the nearest couch, floor, or — god forbid — steering wheel.
Amber Smith of the United Kingdom regularly feels these attacks and grew tired of hiding them. She chose to post before-and-after photos (both “normal,” as she says) to show her unwanted transformation to the world. Her first image includes typical selfie fare with hair, makeup, and all the filters she prefers. The second picture shows Smith raw, shattered, and desperately wishing for the nightmare to end. Smith hopes these photos will show how anyone, even the most polished person sitting next to you, can suffer from mental illness, and you’d never realize it. Here’s her visual shout-out to the close-minded folk who think anxiety is all in one’s head.
Part of Smith’s caption reveals a strongly-worded message for those who think panic attacks are simply an excuse to take a time-out from the world:
“F*CK YOU. F*ck all of you small-minded people that think that because I physically look ‘fine’ that I’m not battling a monster inside my head every single day. Someone actually said this to me one day ‘aren’t you too young to be suffering with anxiety and depression? What do you actually have to be depressed about at your age?’ Wow, just wow. I’m a strong person, I’ve been through my fair share of crap in life (the same as anyone else) and I will be okay. I have the best family and friends around me and I am thankful every day that they have the patience to help and support me.”
Smith’s images have gone viral, but she’s not looking for fame. Instead, she aims to remind others that they’re not alone, and no one should ever be afraid to ask for help. She also encourages people to share her pictures, as unflattering as the “after” image may be, to spread awareness. A man named Pete Laws saw Smith’s post and felt inspired to share his own experience too. Anxiety disorder is a beast, but it’s all too human.
(Via Amber Smith on Facebook)