Developers and Depression

closed account (1yR4jE8b)

I would like to share this video I saw a few days ago. I believe that keeping your mental health in check is a very important subject that very few people discuss today; as it is either social stigma or many people just don't understand it. This is a very important and sensitive topic, and there needs to be open discussion about it.

Mental illness affects more than just developers, but there seems to be something about software development that seems to attract more people that are affected by it. I have several software developer friends that also suffer from depression, for example.

The brain is an organ just like kidneys, lungs or heart and there are various things that can go wrong with it. We are afraid to admit that something could be wrong with our brain because that is where our sense of self derives from. Nobody wants to feel broken. Let me assure you, that if you feel this way you are not broken in the slightest.

I, like the speaker in this video, have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder and Bi-Polar Type II and it has made some aspects of my life extremely difficult. Basic social interaction, and simply taking proper care of myself -- among other things -- very often seemed like insurmountable obstacles. I've wrestled with suicidal thoughts, paranoia, extremely deep depression (often I would sleep for days or weeks at a time) and much much more. In my case, there is also periods of extreme uncontrollable euphoria. These times can be just as scary as the depressing times, because of poor judgement which often put me in situations that were not safe or healthy. Irresponsibly spending excessive amounts of money even though you cannot afford it (and you are aware of it at the time too), for example, is a symptom of a Bi-Polar Manic period.

My story really began during my last semester of university: I fell into a depression so deep that I could not finish my thesis, and dropped out 2 weeks before my defense and completing my degree. I ended up taking 8 months off from school after that. When I went back, I opted to take equivalent course credits instead. During this time, I would sleep through most days, would not do my homework and was unable to study. This was not due to lack of trying or laziness; often I felt completely incapable of doing anything no matter how hard I tried to focus. Although my mind would race that I had work to do but I would be physically unable to do it. My mind would tell me to do things, but the connection between my body and mind was somehow separated, like the small alien in the Men in Black movie but the body is automated and I cannot control it -- only watch as things happen to my body that I can not control.

Very seldomly, I would become so focussed on a single topic that I would work on things for hours and hours and often into the late hours of the night. I would neglect myself, and often became physically ill because of it. Often, the topics I would become fixated on were not coursework: instead of working on my Software Engineering projects, I would be making a website or programming a game (for example).

I somehow managed to pass my courses and receive my degree. To this day, I do not know how I did it but I am very grateful: I probably would have commited suicide if I hadn't. I feel very lucky.

When I finally mustered the courage to seek help for my mental issues and was diagnosed proper and given medication, my quality of life improved significantly. Nobody asks a diabetic if "they are going to get too dependent on insulin, and use it as a crutch"; that is how I feel about my medication. My life still isn't perfect, there are still good and bad days but it is much easier to cope. However, I no longer sleep for days at a time, I am very productive at work and my marriage is much happier.

If I can help even one person, I will feel like a made a difference. Even if you do not suffer from a mental illness, if you know someone that might that you will come away with some kind understanding that will help you relate or empathize. I realize it is not easy; but if we can work together in a positive and constructive way we really can make a difference.

If you think someone you know needs help, please, approach them carefully. Let them know that you care for them, and you want them to be happy; but do not try to force them to do something they do not want to do or make them feel guilty. Only they can make the decision to seek help for themselves, but knowing that they have people backing them up will make it much easier.

God speed, and much love. Be safe.
I'd like to get tested. At last I'd know if I'm actually terribly lazy or just ill(?).
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the lifestyle + the lack of sunlight etc cant help much.
I'm diagnosed with dyspraxia but that's a developmental disorder that makes me clumsy, forgetful and uncoordinated, which thankfully doesn't affect my programming (for some reason I can actually type faster and more fluently than most people). It does make guitar playing a lot less fun though. That said, up to 50% of dsypraxics have ADHD and judging by some of my traits, I could have it (non-hyperactive sub-type though). I'm not going to bother trying to get checked though because even if I do qualify, I'm certainly not severely afflicted enough to warrant medication, so I'd be wasting the NHS' money for what would, in my case, be nothing more than a certificate.

Thankfully I've not had trouble with depression, at least not that I know of (and from what I know about MDD, if you've had it, you definitely know about it). I have contemplated suicide in a sense, but it was never serious, it was really just errant pondering - what would it be like, how would I do it, how would it affect others, could I go through with it (no). My moods are generally very stable, just with occasional dips. They seem to be semi-regular (every 1-3 months maybe); I get restlessness/boredom, irritability, and sometimes social anxiety. On the plus side I seem to be more creative when I get in those moods, although I can't really draw or play guitar very well (see previous paragraph) so my only outlet is words, but I don't like writing poetry either so I end up just doing all those things badly and then getting rid of the results when I feel better. I always feel stronger afterwards though.

As for sleep, I have real problems there. No matter how hard I try, I just can't sleep for normal amounts of time, or at normal times. I've made progress - less than a year ago I was waking up at 4 pm every day and I wouldn't get into university; these days I'm managing 1:30 and occasionally I'll somehow trick my brain into getting up between 7 and 11 am for almost a whole week before falling back into my regular pattern. My bed time gets pushed back every night until it goes back to 2-4 am, even if I make sure I'm in bed at midnight. Sometimes it is just lack of discipline - I'm doing a programming project and I can't pull myself away until 4 am and then I know I've screwed myself for the next week or two - but even if I didn't do anything wrong, it would happen anyway. It's not just the time I fall asleep and wake up, either, it's the duration too - I'm sleeping for 9-12 hours most nights. I just don't get up. Alarms don't do anything - I either sleep through it or just turn it off and go back to sleep, and when you're half asleep it's hard to reason with or override your barely-conscious brain. I know I should get up, but my brain has all these tricks to stop me: "You'll just close your eyes for a few seconds, you won't fall back asleep, there's no need to set another alarm or hit snooze". My brain's a liar but I believe him every time because I'm half asleep. I'm thinking of getting prescription sleeping pills so I can force myself into a regular sleeping pattern.
closed account (S6k9GNh0)
Yeah, every single time I see one of these speeches, I feel like just about every symptom or story they describe about ADD and depression exactly fits me.

I had actually told my parents about this when I was a kid and they kept telling me I was lying. So, things are a little bit deep unfortunately and I feel uncomfortable seeking professional help about it.

It doesn't affect my current job as my current job has very little to do with the way I think (and is also a place where I can curse constantly (lol)). But it has always affected my school work. From my freshman year in college, it was quite obvious that I was slipping. Unfortunately, my family was probably the worst people to be around during that time and did nothing but exponentially make the situation worse... fucking religious people...
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This was quite the eye opener for me. I have always been like this ever since I got into programming in the high-school. Back then we were still programming in vb and every time my dad will come to the basement and I will be 'programming' or 'trying to figure it out'. In university, I was not interested in doing any assignments, I will just do other things that interest me; like online judges programming sites or creating some data structure or 'trying' to implement an interesting algorithm I found online.

I loved pressure; which was why I would leave the assignments until the last minute, then pull out of my ass an amazing work to hand in the next day. Or some times I wouldn't even give 2 shits about the assignment and let it slide no matter how bad my mark was getting in the class. I would some times just not go to school for 3 days to a week and only come to school to use the computers to pursue only those things that mattered to me.

I recently got a 'required to discontinue' letter in the mail from my university because my marks in my 2nd year didn't meet the 65% average requirement; so I have to take a year off and resume the next year(2014).

I am glad I figured out that this was the cause, otherwise I had no idea what was happening to me. Thank God I have never considered suicide; I have only been praying for myself and hoping that I would one day wake up and not be the way I am. Deep down I somehow knew both from my parents talks with me and the way I see myself, that something was not right about the way my life was going. It didn't/doesn't make any sense that I would put that much time into what seemed like creative work only to get kicked out of school for not meeting average requirements...
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I think you should see one. Remember that a therapist is only allowed to divulge to others what you give them written permission to divulge (unless, for example, you're threatening to kill someone, of course).
I've always had social phobia/anxiety of some form. Though, possibly as a result of that, I was misdiagnosed with a lot of this other crap. Was 'forced' into therapy and even got put on medication. Let me tell you... there is nothing more panic inducing for someone with social anxiety than sitting in a room being psychoanalyzed by someone. Really... the therapy + meds just worsened everything for me.

I kind of identify with what that guy was talking about.. but not really. I think a lot of the way I was was imposed on me by people's preconceptions and further exaggerated by ... I want to say self-medication... but what's the opposite of that? I was 'self-medicating' in a way which worsened my symptoms rather than treating them.

I was diagnosed with depression, but I don't think I was ever depressed. I think people thought I was because I hated doing things that they thought were 'normal'.

Anyway it turned out my problem was largely that I was spazzed out on caffeine all the time and that was causing anxiety and even inducing panic attacks. I quit caffeine about 5-6 years ago and have been remarkably stable/leveled off/more normal/mellowed out since then.

I still hate doing a lot of things most people like. I still don't enjoy heavy social interaction. I still prefer to hang out with a small handful of close friends or be by myself rather than be in a room full of people. I still don't like to meet new people. But none of it really "gets to me".

I definitely get into 'grooves' and then work on them until I get burned out. That's something I very strongly identify with from the video. But the performing under pressure thing... not so much. In fact not at all... it's one of my weakest areas.

Maybe I am a "mild" version to what he's talking about... but it's not severe enough for me to pursue treatment or change the lifestyle I've built for myself (of which I'm very comfortable with).

EDIT: Also... school is just depressing in general. I don't think that's a sign or symptom of any medical condition... I just think it's something everyone suffers through (some more than others). Though maybe I'm wrong? I see this less as a mental/pshycological problem and more of a problem with our education system. Learning is fun, and kids love learning. By all accounts, school should be fun.. but every kid everywhere (in the US) hates it.

I was.... less than a model student in high school... and I didn't go to college because I knew it would just make me miserable. Why would I willingly pay money to go to MORE school? Why go any longer than I had to? Seemed like an absurd concept to me. Fortunately I got more than a few lucky breaks in life so it worked out well for me.
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Disch wrote:
I want to say self-medication... but what's the opposite of that?

"Self-medication", but bad for you? I believe that would be called "self-medication".

I still hate doing a lot of things most people like. I still don't enjoy heavy social interaction. I still prefer to hang out with a small handful of close friends or be by myself rather than be in a room full of people. I still don't like to meet new people. But none of it really "gets to me".

This is just a personally trait IMO. It's not clinically significant disordered behaviour at all. It's just being introverted, and most programmers are introverted.

Also... school is just depressing in general. I don't think that's a sign or symptom of any medical condition... I just think it's something everyone suffers through (some more than others)

I agree. I think there are a few reasons for it. Part of it is the getting up in the morning. Children and teenagers just aren't wired to do it. Then there's the putting hundreds of people who haven't really learned about their emotions or how to empathise or that other people have feelings together and just letting them eke out their own social hierarchies. Sometimes the actual material being taught is interesting, but they really focus too much on the what rather than the hows and whys, so you end up with people who can list unrelated facts on a topic but don't really have any depth in their knowledge. A lot of the time the teachers don't want to be there, since they aren't really just teachers, they're also discipliners and bureaucrats, which I imagine is very draining. I think one of the biggest reasons students don't find the material interesting is because they can't see how it's relevant to every day life. Personally I didn't have that problem since I see learning as an end in itself, and not a means to an end, but a lot of kids would say they don't care about balancing chemical equations because they don't want to be a chemist or whatever.
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