Appearances can be deceiving, especially on social media, as Amber Smith well knows.
The British woman posted selfies before and after suffering from a panic attack, along with a very frank post about the stigma of living with anxiety and depression.
And Smith clearly struck a nerve. The post was shared more than 17,000 times.
In Canada, anxiety is a common mental health issue, with some 12 per cent of people experiencing anxious episodes on a given day.
But for some reason, as prevalent as anxiety is, we still don't own it.
For some reason the face we present to the world is one like Smith shared: “Dressed up, make up done, filters galore.”
Smith goes on to educate others over the judgment and misunderstanding she regularly faces over her anxiety:
“I’ve been battling with anxiety and depression for years and years and there’s still people that make comments like ‘you’ll get over it,’ 'you don’t need tablets, just be happier,’ 'you’re too young to suffer with that',” she wrote.
“F*** YOU. F*** 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.”
Like depression, suffering from anxiety doesn't make you weak. It doesn't make you less. If anything, it makes you human.
Smith cites that one in three people will suffer from a "mental illness at some point in their life." Anxiety knows no boundaries. It isn't selective. Smith is proof that it can - and does - happen to the pretty and the young, too.
I've only had a panic attack once, and I can tell you it's not something I would wish on an enemy. I raced outside of a class I was attending, leant against a brick wall, hyperventilating. I dialled my husband, convinced that I was dying.
It felt exactly like a heart attack. It wasn't just happening inside my mind. It was happening inside my body. I wasn't imagining it.
Though an attack only lasts a matter of minutes, symptoms can include "accelerated heart rate, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, chest pain, numbness, nausea," according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
It takes a brave person to make herself vulnerable like Smith did. I was too young and scared and proud to understand. But that was then.
No one deserves to be judged or to suffer in silence.