Becoming An Adult – With Mental Illness

I am not independent, in fact, I think I am the most dependent adult you’d meet.

At 21 years old I made the first ‘adult’ step and moved out of the home of my mother.

It was a very quick and last moment decision and I don’t regret it. It’s been highly beneficial for me to be in a healthier environment, but, living with mental illness as an adult is hard.

I spent my childhood and youth being able to manage my mental illness through my parents.

If I couldn’t make that phone call or appointment, that was okay, mum would fix it.

It seemed that really, my mental illness had rendered me ‘incapable’ of doing things that most people can.

Though, it didn’t matter when I was young, I was a dependant: I guess I still am.

But when you make the transition into living as an adult (without adultier adults). Mental illness can prove to be chronic in affecting your ability to function and carry out ‘simple’ tasks. It feels overwhelming.

There is no one to help you because your ‘problems‘ are deemed ‘silly’.

It’s certain that at some point you’ll need to visit the doctor. You’ll need to find a dentist in your area. You’ll have to pay taxes and fill out scary forms. You’ll need to do grocery shopping and generally just survive.

It seems glamorous really, being in full independence of your life. No rules set but your own; freedom!

I remember being so excited to fly the nest and itching to get out in the world; I had no idea how much I took for granted.

But I can’t help but wish I could still have that support and help I did as a child. I wish I could avoid these tasks without the worry of side effects or punishment.

Sadly, being an adult means that you have to take responsibility.

But I have to tell you, with my crippling anxiety and chronic depression, responsibility is not something I can handle; not in the sense of doing the adult things, I probably should.

I can’t lie and say I haven’t let myself get seriously ill due to fear of making that doctor’s appointment. Or when I’ve missed out on important things because I refuse to answer the phone and respond to that voicemail.

Some days I won’t even answer the door, even if I’m expecting it. Other days, I can’t make it out of bed, let alone the house.

Routine, responsibility and taking control of my life, it scares me.

It feels like I make life harder for myself, that’s for sure.

I don’t mean to, it’s just, as much as I feel like I am fully grown, I’m still a scared child inside.

I believe I took my parents for granted, maybe I relied on them so much that I never faced my fears but I can’t change that now.

I just get so angry at myself for knowing that I would rather die of flu than get treated; that could be a metaphor for my whole life really.

But I’m also angry at the way the world is targeted at my mental illness.

People don’t take too kindly when I cancel last minute or send them an email over a call. They don’t get why I’ll have a panic attack over public transport. Or when I say “I just can’t”.

They don’t understand my condition.

Communities are so set in their ways with how we are expected to go about our daily life. Inadvertently it’s discriminating against people like me.

As much as a person with a physical disability may not be able to use a phone, walk up to a staff member or sort out important issues on their own; I can’t either.

It’s a given that the world is changing slowly. You can book doctors appointments online and email about prescriptions. You can even get text-based therapy. But that’s only medical; what about the rest of the inevitable things that impact our lives?

I would love to see changes where people like me, who struggle to deal with situations without a more responsible adult (even if I’m 22) are more included.

Shops, Businesses, Workplaces.. anything that requires even minimal human interaction, should never exclude a host of people due to not understanding how hard communication can be for people with mental illness.

It’d certainly lower my anxiety if I didn’t have to go through each day and consider what it would cost to get myself a carer. There are times when I need one – not just for the important things, reminding me to look after myself wouldn’t go amiss.

As much as my mental illness doesn’t define me, it does play a huge part in my day-to-day life.

..But that doesn’t mean I’m a problem.

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