Coping with Mental Illness as a Young Person

Becoming mentally ill at any age is an extremely challenging journey, but in today’s world there are many more people beginning to suffer with mental illness at a young age. When mental illness occurs at such a crucial time in an individual’s life, it can cause a variety of problems and complications.

Once a child reaches adolescence, it is seen as the time where you start thinking about and working towards your future. The work you do at school becomes far more important, you begin to start summer jobs, puberty kicks in, and you begin to find yourself. Any form of mental illness can severely disrupt this process, causing problems in both the present and the future. Soon exams are to follow, and you start to think about which college you’re going to, or whether you’re ready to enter the real world and start a career. These can be very stressful times, without the addition of a mental illness.

A lot of the time, this is when a mental illness may begin to show. As a young person you already have more than enough to cope with, that being education, puberty, your home life, social life and work. As there is already so much going on within your life, the way you’re feeling may be put down to either puberty or stress, however this is not always the case. Dismissing the possibility of yourself suffering from mental illness can lead to a lot of issues in the future, as mental illness tends to get worse when left untreated. Too many young people are not educated about mental health, the subject may never have crossed their mind, therefore leaving them in the dark if they do fall victim to a mental illness. Even if a young person wants to get help, they may fear stigma from friends, family, their teachers and their employers. This can leave you feeling like there’s nowhere to turn to, or leave you feeling too scared to get help. This can lead to you internalizing your problems, which may work at first but they soon begin to resurface in your life. Another problem with coping with mental illness as a young person is the fact that now they are aware they are ill, they feel there is nothing left to live for and that they won’t get better, particularly if the illness is chronic.

However, this is not true. Whether you live with or without mental illness, there is a better way of life and it does start with you. Firstly, find yourself a good support network. This can include friends, family, psychiatrists, counsellors and teachers. There will always be people willing to listen to you and provide advice, or simply listen if that’s what you need. Having a good support network is extremely useful as you know you always have people looking out for you, plus it will also help to ensure that you are getting the support you need within education or the workplace. Getting professional help is the first step to recovery, you’ve accepted that you are ill, and now you’re beginning your journey to recovery. The help you get depends on what you want and need, unless you are an immediate danger to yourself or others, you will be the person choosing which services you use and which methods you use to reach recovery, whether that be through different types of therapy, medication, counselling or a combination of those treatments. The next step is to find coping methods that work for you, these can be things such as hobbies and keeping yourself busy, or using things such as art and writing to express the way you’re feeling. It’s also important to make sure you have some relaxing time for yourself, whether that be for reading, meditating, or whatever you choose. Becoming involved within the mental health community is without a doubt one of my favourite coping methods. There are people out there that will understand and support you in any way that they can, and you can do the same for others. For me, helping others has let me see that there is still so much to live for, it has let me see the beauty of this world, and the beauty and kindness of other people.

The road to recovery can be a long one, and it is very different for each individual, but things truly do get easier with time, and recovery is very much possible. Your life is worth living, simply because you’re you.

Advertisements

Psychosis

Psychosis is a mental health problem which causes impairment in both thoughts and emotions making the sufferer lose contact with reality. Although the sufferer loses contact with reality, what occurs during this experience is very real to that individual. Psychosis is triggered by other conditions, such as schizophrenia, bipolar, and schizoaffective disorder. However, it is a symptom of many different mental illnesses which can make it difficult to identify which condition the said individual is suffering from. Symptoms of psychosis may also appear if an individual has used a substance such as alcohol, stimulants and psychedelics. However these symptoms tend to cease once the consumption of the substance stops. Some people may only experience one psychotic episode in their life time, but for others it can be a chronic and reoccurring condition.

Psychotic Episodes

Causes

There are many different triggers and factors that can cause psychotic episodes. The most common is other mental health conditions and substance abuse. Although, factors such as simple as stress can also cause a psychotic episode. Other triggers that can cause psychotic episodes are traumatic experiences, physical conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease and brain tumours.

Symptoms of Psychosis

The most identifiable and main symptoms of psychosis are hallucinations and delusions. There are many different types of delusions and hallucinations which I have gone into detail over in a previous article called The Positive and Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia: In Detail. Delusions and hallucinations can severely disrupt an individual’s thoughts, emotion, behaviour, and perception. This can make day to day life extremely difficult for those suffering from psychosis.

When an individual experiences psychosis, they will have their own unique experience and set of symptoms as psychosis effects each individual differently. An example of this is those who suffer from psychosis in third world countries often experience positive hallucinations and delusions which are uplifting rather than frightening, whereas in the western world hallucinations and delusions are typically of a negative stance.

Psychotic episodes can last for any duration of time, and those episodes which are severe enough often end in the individual being hospitalized in order to stabilize them before they are release. The duration and how often an individual experiences psychosis for often depends on the underlying cause of the psychotic episode.

Treating Psychosis

There are a few different methods used to treat psychosis. An immediate intervention is typically the use of antipsychotic medication, however, this is very much trial and error as medication effects each individual differently and those who find a medication that works for them, may not work for other people.

As previously said, hospitalization is a common treatment for psychosis.

In the long term, it is important for the individual to recognize what triggers a psychotic episode, so they can be prevented. However, this does not always work as psychosis is a very complicated issue which can leave the said person with a lack of insight, making them unaware of the fact that they are currently experiencing psychosis.

Psychological therapy such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) can also be used in treating and preventing psychosis from reoccurring. Family therapy is also a useful tool as it decreases the chance of the individual needing to be hospitalized as their family now know how to cope with and help treat the psychosis.

Social support is another factor in treating psychosis, this can include things such as accommodation, work, education and any other social needs.

Managing Mental Illness without Medication

Over the past few months, I have been living without medication. There are a vast amount of reasons for this, which I went over in a previous article called The Trouble with Medication.

So far, I am very happy with the outcome of this decision as the benefits outweigh the disadvantages by far in my opinion. When taking medication, all I have experienced is the negative side effects of that medication without seeing any improvement in my disorder. Since stopping medication, I have a clearer mind and seemingly better cognitive function, although that is still hindered by the illness itself, it’s no longer as intense as when I was using medication. I feel both better in myself physically and mentally; and of course, with no medication, there is no side effects. Therefore it makes sense to me to cease all consumption of medication, and manage my illness in other ways.

I tend to manage my illness through mindfulness and physical activities like yoga, going for walks amongst nature, art and other things. Meditation and mindfulness have been a great tool in learning to manage my illness without medication as it provides me with the insight I need to recognize unhealthy thought patterns and when I am going into an episode. Therefore being able to prevent such things from happening. I find keeping myself occupied is also extremely helpful, as it stops the mind from wandering down all crazy paths, and keeps unnecessary thoughts away.

However, as expected with mental illness, this is not always the case; and that is what brings me to the disadvantages. Without medication my psychosis and mood disorder are still apparent, although they are controlled at the moment, it is very possible for me to have a ‘relapse’ at any point. I use inverted commas because I do not believe I relapse as such, rather I have never been stable but the illness becomes less severe at times.

Although my current psychiatrist respects this decision, she believes that I need another severe episode to occur then I’ll be convinced to take medication for life. I strongly disagree with this. I’d prefer to ride the wave and experience all of life, than become the hollow shell I once was due to medication.

Managing mental illness without medication is a huge learning curve, but it is possible and can be done successfully. Which is what I intend to keep doing, however it is important to be aware that many different people use many different methods in order to manage their mental illness, and that each methods effectiveness can vary from person to person. Therefore if you have found a way to successfully manage your mental illness with or without medication, that is what I recommend you keep doing.