British Woman Shares Selfie During Panic Attack to Dismantle Stigmas

Amber Smith said she was sick of judgmental people.

ByABC News
April 7, 2016, 2:34 PM
A post by British woman Amber Smith, 22, went viral after she opened up about her life with anxiety and depression.
A post by British woman Amber Smith, 22, went viral after she opened up about her life with anxiety and depression.
Amber Smith

— -- A British woman, who suffers from depression and anxiety, said that after a night out with friends, she took to Facebook to rant about people who misjudge those with mental illnesses and claim that they're not really suffering.

Amber Smith's post features one photo of herself looking polished and another photo where she's crying. The post has now been shared more than 5,000 times on the social network.

"Top picture: What I showcase to the world via social media. Dressed up, make up done, filters galore. The 'normal' side to me."

She then described the contrasting picture.

"Bottom picture: Taken tonight shortly after suffering from a panic attack because of my anxiety. Also the 'normal' side to me that most people don't see."

"I'm so sick of the fact that it's 2016 and there is still so much stigma around mental health," Smith continued in the post. "It disgusts me that so many people are so uneducated and judgmental over the topic."

Smith, 22, told ABC News that she penned the post because her friends didn't understand how she suffered silently.

"I kind of reached a point where I recently wasn't feeling too good with everything and I got forced to go out with some friends," she said. "[My friends] kept saying, 'Why are you late for this...? The whole time they didn't know that I've been at home feeling nauseous, panicky, feeling sick and just generally not in a good place."

Smith said she has been living with depression and anxiety since she was 16. She was officially diagnosed only three years ago.

Smith said she turned to Facebook to share her feelings because she wanted people to know anxiety and depression affects people differently.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one out of 20 Americans older than 12 years of age reported suffering from depression in 2005 to 2006. Although the CDC doesn't have specific statistics on the prevalence of anxiety and other panic disorders, the agency says they are, "the most common class of mental disorders in the general population."

Since posting her rant last Sunday, Smith said she's been "overwhelmed" by "messages from people all around the world."

"The messages that people are sending are beautiful and they're so lovely -- but that wasn't the reason why I did this," she clarified. "People are so quick to judge. I get it all the time when people say, 'What do you have to be depressed about? You have a good job. You have a good life. You have a good family.' People don't realize that even though in life we all go through problems, [those with depression] still think differently and it still affects us differently."

"I was sick of people suffering in silence," she added. "The most important thing for me to do is use my voice so they don't have to feel like they're by themselves."