When Amber Smith, a 22-year-old from the U.K., decided to share her experiences with anxiety and panic attacks, she was just hoping to spread some truths about mental illness among her Facebook friends. But since she posted two photos to Facebook on April 3, more than 18,000 strangers have shared her powerful message. The first photo is a polished selfie she describes as "dressed up, make up done, filters galore. The 'normal' side to me." The second features a shaken Smith following a panic attack. "To anyone who is going through the same, please do not suffer in silence. There is so much support around," she wrote in the caption. "Don't be scared to ask for help."
Her experience has resonated with a lot of people. That's no surprise given that anxiety disorders are the most common mental health issue in our country; they affect 40 million American adults. A panic attack can be a symptom of generalized anxiety disorder, but experiencing them regularly is what's known as panic disorder; this affects about 6% of the U.S. alone. Yet Smith points out that despite the large number of people dealing with these issues, stigma and myths still swirl around the topic of mental illness in general. "I'm so sick of the fact that it's 2016 and there is still so much stigma around mental health. It disgusts me that so many people are so uneducated and judgmental over the topic," she writes. Read her post in full below.