Being diagnosed at a young age
You might be wondering if you’re too young to have been diagnosed with schizophrenia. In fact, most people are diagnosed as a young adult, i.e. before the age of 30,24 so it’s not uncommon for people to still be in education when they learn they have schizophrenia. However, some people may receive a diagnosis later on in life, or their diagnosis may evolve over time.
Having any health condition as a young adult can be challenging, but there are some steps that you can take to make sure that you are getting the support that you need. This page will provide you with some tips and ideas about how to face your condition.
Above all, remember that as difficult as finding out that you have schizophrenia may be, there are people around you who can help you throughout it. From your own family and friends, to your tutors and doctors.
Consider making some people aware that you are having treatment
You might occasionally need to take time out of your studies to attend doctor’s appointments or get your treatment. Many treatments offer flexible dosing which fits around your schedule, but if you do have to take time out, make sure that someone in your place of education knows in advance when this will be.
You decide who you want to tell about your schizophrenia
It’s completely up to you who you tell about your schizophrenia. You don’t have to tell anyone if you don’t want to, but it might be good to inform a trusted tutor or a first aider, or maybe at least make them aware of any treatment you are receiving in case you experience a side effect.
You can still focus on your goals
Just because you have been diagnosed with schizophrenia it doesn’t mean that you need to give up on achieving any goals that you have, including your education. Many people living with schizophrenia lead largely normal lives and can even accomplish great feats. For example, the mathematician John Nash was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 31, and still went on to win a Nobel Prize for Economics.
You can still work towards attending university or carrying out an apprenticeship. However, starting a new phase in your life like this can be a bit of a disturbance to your normal routine, so preparation is key. When looking into universities or colleges, maybe consider what mental health support services they have available in case you need some extra help if you move away from home. Also think about where you will be going to get your treatment (if you don’t take it at home), where the best pharmacy is to collect your prescription from and how you will order it.
Getting out and about
Some people worry that they won’t be able to continue going out and doing the same things they used to with their friends. When you’re first diagnosed and getting used to your treatment it might be better to be cautious until your body and mind get used to your medication. Why not have your friends come to your house during this time to keep you company? If your treatment is right for you, you will soon be able to get out of the house more and continue to enjoy your hobbies as usual.
Talking to friends about your diagnosis
Remember, you are under no obligation to tell anybody about being diagnosed with schizophrenia. However if you feel the time is right and you want to share your diagnosis then feel free to, and why not teach them a bit about what having schizophrenia really means at the same time?
Feeling left out
There may be times when having schizophrenia and taking your treatment make it more difficult for you to socialise in the same way as your friends. For example, you might be trying to make sure that you get enough sleep, or you might need to be home to take your medication or miss a social event because of a doctor’s appointment. Allow yourself time to get used to your new routine – why not try occasionally suggesting activities to your friends that you could all enjoy? It is also important that you try to avoid peer pressure, particularly when it comes to alcohol or recreational drugs as these substances may make your schizophrenia worse.
Some young people occasionally experiment with alcohol and recreational drugs. These can have effects on the brain that might impact your schizophrenia or how your treatment works. This could set back your recovery, so it’s best to avoid taking them.
Managing your medication
Taking your treatment on time
Taking your treatment exactly as your doctor has told you to is important, but people can sometimes forget their doses. Some tips and tricks for helping you to remember to take your medication or attend appointments to receive it are below:
If you are taking your medication at home:
- Work your medication into your routine. For example you could keep your medication next to your toothbrush to remind you to take it every time you brush your teeth
- Set reminders. Use your mobile phone to set a recurring reminder
- If you take oral medication (pills or tablets), consider carrying some of your medication with you in your purse or wallet in case you forget to take it at home
- Use an online prescription service to set up a repeat prescription request so that you don’t run out
If you receive your treatment from a doctor:
- Set reminders, on your phone or other calendar, to help remind you when to take your medication
- See if your doctor has a reminder service whereby they text or phone you to remind you of an upcoming appointment
- Ask for help from your family. Get them to also keep reminders in their phones or calendars for you too
Taking regular medication can be frustrating for some people, especially if your family keep asking you if you’ve taken it. For some people it can make them feel like their family doesn’t trust them, or that they’re being treated like a child.
Try and remember that they’re only reminding you because they care about your wellbeing and want to make sure that you are healthy. Try and have an honest conversation with them about any frustrations you’re having, and maybe you can jointly come up with a way to work together when it comes to your medication.
There are a range of treatment options with different dosing schedules and methods of administration, from daily oral administration to long-acting injectable treatments that are administered bi-weekly, monthly or every three-months. If you think that you might be able to benefit from this, talk to your doctor about the different options that are available to you.