There's a stigma around mental illness that can make the very real disease invisible to those who don't understand it, especially on social media where keeping up happy appearances is the norm. Two Facebook users are challenging that by posting photos from before and after suffering from panic attacks due to their anxiety issues.
The first Facebook post is from Amber Smith, a woman from the UK, who documented her before-and-after experience with a panic attack on April 3. Smith felt compelled to share her struggles with anxiety and depression because of the stigma around it and the backlash she continuously receives. She wanted to help others who are in the same situation. "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." Smith's post has been shared more than 32,000 times, with so many people leaving thoughtful comments. You can see the post below.
Inspired by Smith, Pete Laws did the same on April 11. He posted a before-and-after photo that shows his experience with anxiety. In his post, he writes about how terrible and "real" it is to have anxiety issues. "The smallest of worries can be blown way out of proportion and start an attack, stuff you would probably laugh at if you knew and that's not even including the point where you become a social recluse because you can't face even your best friends," he wrote. Laws ends his note asking people to support anyone who might be struggling with the same or similar issues and try to empathize. Laws's post has been shared more than 3,000 times and has over 3,000 reactions. You can read it below.
These posts are part of a larger phenomenon occurring on social media, where people are lifting the veil on perfectly curated photos and, instead, showing their real lives. Thanks to Smith and Laws, that same concept is being applied to trying to remove the stigma of mental illness.