Some people just get it.
Humans of New York, arguably the most feel-good place on the Internet, shared an anonymous profile Wednesday of a man who talked about his experience with anxiety. His thoughts perfectly capture the plight many people with the condition face on a regular basis.
“I knew a girl in high school that always complained about having anxiety. I used to make fun of her a little bit. It looked like nothing to me. So I assumed it was nothing,” he said, according to Humans of New York.
“I’ve had really bad anxiety ever since my father died,” he continued. “And it’s definitely not nothing. It’s the indescribable fear of nothing.”
The man’s statement also sheds some light on another common problem people with mental illness face: A lack of visibility. Mental health conditions are often belittled because there are no outward-facing signs of illness. From the outside, people who experience anxiety or depression may appear to be fine. However, the disorders aren’t always obvious, as some of the commenters on the photo point out.
“Thank you for reaching out to her and validating her experience,” one wrote. “As someone who struggles with an invisible illness, I wish more people grew up to be as compassionate as you’ve become.”
“I used to think people were being overly dramatic too until I had a massive panic attack,” another shared. “I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I hope your anxiety subsides and you find ways to cope with it when it does happen.”
Nearly 40 million American adults are affected by an anxiety disorder, and negative stereotypes often prevent people from seeking treatment. That’s why it’s not only heartening, but vital, for people to create a conversation about mental health in public forums — especially online platforms with a wide audience like Humans of New York, which has nearly 17 million Facebook followers.
Yet another positive step for mental health. Keep it up, Internet.