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Have psychological issues ever had a big impact on your career/life, and how did you deal with that?

_bigblind profile image Frederik 👨‍💻➡️🌐 Creemers ・2 min read

For the part couple of years, I've been having some psychological issues. I don't feel ready to write a full-blown post about this, though I want to do that at some point, because I really think it can help people in similar situations.

For me, a big part of my problem was that I'd often be late with tasks. When people asked for a progress update, I'd not respond but think "if I work on this for a little bit longer, I can come back with a better progress update." I'd delay getting back to that person for so long, that I became anxious about having that conversation, and having to explain why I'd been silent for so long, and I was scared of their reaction. This leads to a vicious cycle where you're too anxious to even open that chat conversation, but not responding also increases the anxiety.

Now, I'm getting back to many of these people, with the help of my therapist, and as you can imagine, many of these conversations are far less dramatic than my anxiety-driven mind had made them out to be.

When you get physically ill, it's easy to say "Sorry, I was out for a few days because of the flu", but it feels weird to have that same conversation about psychological issues.

Can you share your experiences with psychological issues impacting your career or other parts of your life that you value greatly? I think it's great for people in similar situations to know that they're not "weird", that many people have issues, and that they're not alone.

I really like this community, and I know that the code of conduct already makes this clear, but writing posts like this is scary, so please be gentle with the people who are giving us a view into their personal life and mind in this discussion.

Discussion

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val_baca profile image
Valentin Baca

During a particularly bad project (15 hour days, everyday), an Anxiety + Burnout + Imposter Syndrome cycle sent me down a spiral that triggered depression to where I sought professional help.

Step 1: Having read about other's experiences with the same allowed me to recognize the problem and the need to get help.

Step 2: RUN, don't walk, to help.

Even when I got back to an "okay" state, it took months for me to get back to "normal"

I've since become ruthless with establishing and keeping professional boundaries, and putting a lot of effort into self-care. I know "self-care" is amorphous word, but for me it's eating right, at least walking everyday, staying in touch with my friends (even if I'm not feeling super social), being kind to myself, and spending my free-time as free-time (no workaholism).

While I don't see a counselor regularly, I have no qualms about seeing another if The Black Dog returns (jppreston.com/2013/09/21/the-histo...)

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Jess Lee (she/her)

Love The Black Dog reference.

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

I can relate strongly to all of this. My email inbox gives me really bad anxiety for reasons that seem similar to what you go through. I'm lucky enough to have carved out a situation where I can feel comfortable talking about my needs. My best advice would be to try and address problems when you're not having the problem. Let people know you sometimes get anxiety and burnout etc. when you are not currently experiencing it because then you don't have the added anxiety of finding your words and having a potentially difficult conversation.

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_bigblind profile image
Frederik 👨‍💻➡️🌐 Creemers Author

There certainly are levels to anxiety like this. With one person I was working with on a side project, I often found myself quickly opening and closing the facebook messages popover, so the red number would disappear, and I would'nt have to see the new icon lit-up on Facebook. Whenever I got a notification from someone else, I quickly clicked the thread, so I wouldn't have to look at the other unread thread waiting for me. It felt more like a physical aversion than a concious decision to avoid it.

I really want to be open to people about this anxiety, so that they know, and we can collaborate and communicate in an honest way. But what makes this scary is the idea of "how can I expect them to understand, when I don't even understand it myself?" But I think it's the best way forward. And conversations around this going well will hpopefully encourage me to be more open about my issues in general.

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Ben Halpern

Yeah, definitely. I find it helps to go into these, or any situation, with a plan. It might not go as planned, but you have something to work off of. Also, if you have a plan for when and how to have a needed discussion, it can help alleviate the other times where there might be a chronic "I should be talking about this" feeling in your mind, with no end in site, and feeling sort of constantly guilty that you're not dealing with it. If I've told myself when and how I am going to deal with a thing, it helps me let go of it for the meantime. That's me at least.

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Tiffany White

I won't elaborate on my specific issues, but majority of my life has been spent dealing with one form of issue or another. I had to put off college, for the most part, until I was 30.

Lately, though, it's been crippling anxiety. As I learn and grow as a developer, I go through all kinds of emotions: will I get a job being black and female and over 30? OMG how is this ever going to work? Why don't I know all about insert technology here.

It's difficult but I try to find time to meditate and journal. Really, it's the only way I can cope with the stressors of being unemployed and one last semester of university. I won't be able to finish university; I just don't have the money. But fear and downtrodden times are a motivator, regardless of the anxiety it brings me.

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Jess Lee (she/her)

Hey Frederik, I have anxiety too. At my previous job, it got so bad that it caused physical symptoms. Like, really gross internal symptoms ranging from rashes to digestive issues. The org I worked for was actually very pro-mental health & focused on eliminating the stigma against mental health issues, which made me feel even worse about experiencing the anxiety. The irony. The physical symptoms only lasted about a month after I started that job, but the non-physical symptoms persisted til the very end. Being 100% present in meetings is something I always struggle with, and being put on the spot with questions. My mind goes blank almost instantaneously and I feel like a person with no opinions or input. Then I beat myself up for it for the next two days and become filled with dread at the next meeting.

I've been seeing a therapist for the last few years, something I recommend for absolutely everyone, with or without any mental health concerns, and that's helped a lot. I've had this somewhat crippling anxiety for several years now, and I need to constantly remind myself that it takes time and patience to retrain the mind. I'm also trying to be more forgiving on myself and striving for less perfection.

Greg Baugues has a really good talk on mental health, and you can check out an interview with him here. My ideal self would also be out in the world giving mental health talks at conferences, but not sure I'm quite ready to yet.

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Alex Jover

Going through the same stuff... It got me in between swtching jobs, and it started quite bad, with all kind of physical symptoms and frequent panic attacks. That started 3 months ago, and never started with that job I was switching to, so got time for myself.

Now I'm starting to feel better and thinking about reincorporate to work, but I'm filled with insecurity and social panic.

What have been good for me: mindfulness meditation, cognitive/conductive therapy, exposing myself to stressful situations (in a controlled way), and watch tedx talks about positive thinking. But above all: patience. It takes time to develop those techniques (just as sport), but every single step leads you forward

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Gearloose Jones

I won't get into the details because it's largely irrelevant, but you need to put yourself first. Get help, and take as much time off as you need, if any's needed as all.

Otherwise it will encroach. You'll insist that you're okay, but you really need to grasp just how complicated the subconscious can be, and how much it will just outright screw with you.