Psychosis is just one type of mental health problem. It’s most likely to start when you’re a teenager or a young adult so it’s helpful to be aware of what psychosis is and what it isn’t.
"I think that fear of diagnosis with anything is quite real in anyone". - Sean aged 23
You might think the word psychosis is a bit scary and maybe it’s putting you off reading anymore? Unfortunately, this may well be because of stigma. We can blame some of that on the media but we can all feed into it too. What do you imagine when you think of psychosis? Would you be surprised to know that half the people pictured on this website have psychosis?
Psychosis is not a diagnosis; it’s just a description of a set of experiences. They include things like being paranoid, thinking someone’s following you or out to get you, having other strange or upsetting thoughts or indeed real experiences of hearing, seeing, feeling, smelling, and tasting things that other people don’t. It can be scary at the time, but you can get over it, have a life, a good job, a relationship and a family.
Even psychosis is quite common. Some people think that psychosis is just an extension of anxieties that we all have. Some people think that psychosis can happen when people are traumatised or extremely stressed by something that has happened to them.
Myth buster: Young people have mental illnesses too. In fact, it’s very common. 1 out of every 10 teenagers will have some form of emerging mental illness and as many as 2-3 people out of 100 will develop psychosis. Imagine nearly a third of a college class having one problem or another. This is normal!
Although psychosis is not a diagnosis in itself, some people who experience it may be given a mental health diagnosis. Sometimes a diagnosis is helpful, as it can help you and others understand more about what’s going on. It can also help to get benefits and support so that you can do what you want to do in life, in your own time.
There are specific mental health diagnoses like Schizophrenia, Schizo-affective disorder, Bipolar disorder, Delusional Disorder, or Drug-Induced Psychosis which all include unusual distressing (psychosis) experiences. They just describe slightly different experiences, like how much your experiences affect your emotions (happiness and sadness), the types of unusual experiences you have, how long they last and how much they affect your life overall.
"Cos lot’s of people don’t really know what it is. They just get the idea of a crazy person cos they don’t really understand it." - Mark, 22
Sometimes a diagnosis is not helpful and again, this is often linked to stigma. If you are someone who is affected by psychosis, you may want to discuss with your EIP team whether a diagnosis will be helpful for you or not.
"I was hearing voices. I thought there was someone trying to get me out of the house. I thought I heard my neighbours walking past and I thought they were talking about me. Then they went round the corner and I could still hear them. I looked out and I thought I saw some guy in like a van trying to contact me and I thought well that’s my next door neighbour or whatever cos I’ve seen him going in the house once. I went outside, just to check, and like a leaf fell from the tree and I thought I heard the leaf like saying something." - Ben aged 20