The Truth About Mental Illness in Your Early 20’s
Your early twenties are a time for exploration and self-discovery. It is also a time that is accompanied by stress as you begin to navigate the “real world”. Whether you are aware of it or not, this stress can turn into a mental illness. Sometimes, we have to acknowledge that we aren’t as happy as we thought. Sometimes, we have to take a risk and reach out to others, like mental health professionals, for answers to the questions that plague us.
If you thought you were alone, think again. According to the National Institute of Mental Health the reality is one in four American adults over the age of 18 suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder. Many are afraid to pursue treatment because of the stigma surrounding those who suffer from a mental illness. The truth of the matter is, like any illness, psychosis can be treated; and while misery loves company, you don’t have to stand for it.
For young adults between the ages of 18-25 living with mental illness, it can be difficult to find support. Though most, if not all colleges have mental health resources, many young adults find themselves “on their own” after graduating into the “real world”. They feel isolated because of their mental health, and don’t have access to relevant services and support. The fact is, that the onset of serious mental health conditions like depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia occur during transition-age years—like your early twenties!
Early signs of mental illness are often missed during adolescence
A recent study published by researchers at McGill University in Canada reveals that more than half of young adults are first diagnosed in the Emergency Room. Even though the study was conducted in Canada, its results speak to a greater mental health problem that also touches us here at home in the United States.
While early signs of mental illness are often overlooked—don’t worry! It is never too late to address your mental health. Your mind is amazing—and, just like your body, there are measures you can take to keep your inner-self happy, bright, and smiling.
Your mental condition is not a reflection of you as a human being
Mental illness is completely treatable—just like a broken arm! Taking time to work on yourself can be intimating, but it is well worth it. Mental health professionals are here to help you, not judge you. Give yourself permission to accept that you are worthy and deserving of happiness and peace of mind. Also, consider this—what do you really have to lose? If you hit rock bottom, the only place to go is up. Find a health professional you trust—don’t just settle for the first one available. If you have a friend who might be suffering from mental illness, be supportive and encouraging. Let them know how much you admire them, after all, it takes incredible strength and courage to admit that you need help.
Alright—you saw a professional, you got a diagnosis—now what?
Build a support system. Tell the people you love and trust—they won’t judge you because, don’t forget—they love you just as you are, no matter what! If someone does judge you—they don’t belong in your support system. Remember too, that space is not necessarily a negative thing. Taking time to work on yourself calls for deep introspection. Don’t be afraid to tell your friends and parents that you need space—because space is healthy! If your friends and family love you, they will respect your need for distance. Also, do not be afraid to ask for it—just because you need time alone to self-reflect does NOT make you an anti-social hermit! To play devil’s advocate, don’t lock yourself away in your room for weeks on end. This is a life-changing event—you need love and support at this time in your life.
Understand your situation
Become an expert in your diagnosis and research all the available options at your disposal. If you prefer more natural solutions, you can always ask your health provider about natural, healthy alternative medicines (mother nature is amazing—don’t underestimate her!). Be sure to follow through. Now that you have a support system and have found a health professional, don’t skip out on your appointments! Be responsible. Studies have also shown that alcohol and drugs can triggers episodes. You are an adult and are responsible for your own destiny. Make the right decisions—you know who you are—and only you can decide which treatments are right for you.
While the advice of friends and loved ones is always appreciated—listen to your heart and be true to yourself. Regardless of a mental illness, never forget you are an incredible human being. True courage is finding the strength within yourself to reach your full potential. Your story deserves to be heard—because, within the entire universe—you are singularly unique.
Chelsea Lynne is a freelance writer, stand-up comedienne, and musician. As a writer, she believes in using her gifts to inspire and encourage others. She is passionate about mental health and believes in practicing and embracing self-love. Chelsea earned her B.A. in History from Willamette University in Salem, OR. She has a background in education and linguistics. She currently resides in Tucson, AZ.