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Brian Barbour
Brian Barbour

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Learn Webdev: Mental Health and Learning

Most self help books make a hopeful assumption that people, given enough knowledge and motivation, can accomplish anything. That's part of the allure, what draws people in. They attempt to convince people by laying out some steps, either philosophical or tangible. And if the person follows those steps, they will get to the same place.

To some degree this is possible, but a lot of those books don't touch on the harshness of reality at times. Optimism is good and all, but like most things in life it's a tool that must be wielded with deftness.

To accomplish something, no matter what you are trying to do, takes two important traits: persistence and grit. There's a mental toughness that one must have, as they have push themselves forward even while facing adversity or difficulty.

Those traits are privileged ones to some degree. Not everyone can muster a reserve of self confidence or determination to be able to smash through doubt and fear. Perhaps a person suffers from clinical depression and/or anxiety, which often alone is an uphill battle against the odds as it is. A clean bill of mental health is very important before trying to go down a self-learning path or trying to become successful

Mental Health

If you are fighting against your mental state and willpower and feel like accomplishing basic things is half the battle, it's time to consider getting an allies for your fight.

The allies I suggest is a mental health professional or your doctor. Be honest with them, and tell them the truth of your mental state. If they can't help you, they very well be able to refer you to someone who can.

On a personal note, I spent much of my early to late twenties struggling with depression. Most of my days were not pretty. Looking back, it was gross how much time I wasted wallowing in self doubt and pity. I gained tons of weight, became complacent and frustrated. I seldom wanted to do anything but play video games and distract myself from the cold and merciless reality around me. Work paid the bills, but I found little joy in my actions. Entire weeks or months went by where it felt like I was stuck on auto-pilot.

The past three to four years have been my slow recovery from that era. I lost weight (still working on that), I got help. Now, I have a career that brings me excitement and joy. My next step is to envision my future, plan for it, and start to build wealth and assets. A few years ago, I could have never thought about any of this being a reality. I thought I was trapped and that I would never escape the shadow that plagued me.

The good news is... there's a way out. It can get better. So long as you chip away at it a little bit everyday and you get the help you need. I'm not going to tell you that you'll win the war. Hell, I'm not sure I've won it yet, entirely. That's assuming too much about your life and about whether help you need is available.

All I'm saying is, if you feel like you're getting knocked down, take some swings back at the demons doing it. Fight for yourself and your happiness. This is your world to improve.

If you get help and it works, like its doing for me, great--you will gain momentum and feel like you're lucky. Remember the past. Be humble, and always reflect on the time when you felt like you were't in control. It will be an anchor point, the thing that keeps you grounded. It will be that motivation you need to surge forward.

We all fall down when learning to walk. Its those harsh lessons, the pain we felt that helps us learn to balance and walk, and then eventually run.

If you are losing the fight right now, have some patience with yourself. Give everyday the best effort you actually can muster. Do one thing, even if its little (for example: write one line of code.) The skill behind building a habit is actually build it, no more and no less. Do your one thing a day and mark it as a win in your book. Doing a thing is taking a step forward. In the end, it doesn't matter how many steps you take each day. The law of averages will help you out. Some days you will leap forward, others you will crawl. You're always moving though and that's what counts.

The tortoise versus the hare is a fable that reiterates that very message. You will reach your goal, so long as you make some progress. It may not be in blur of eight months, like I did it. It may be one or two years. So long as you don't give up on your dream or on yourself, there's a path forward.

Action Items

  • Be patient with yourself.
  • Seek help from a health professional if you need it.

Top comments (4)

robustenigma profile image

Awesome post dude, love the attitude!

Mental health is super important, and finding a level of personal balance through the manotany helps.

Personally, building healthy daily habits to include the things I'm passionate for has been an important step to going beyond the daily tedium.

Where even if I wasn't outwardly productive. Inwardly, reflecting and focusing, I was able to prepare myself better for times of action.

It can't be stated enough how important the rule of averages is. One small change at a time adds up, no matter the situation.

nicolaerario profile image
Nicola Erario

Sorry if not related to your post. My brother fight against depression everyday; for any reason, even without reason, if you want, pm me: there is always time for a word!

bbarbour profile image
Brian Barbour

Thanks man!

chrisachard profile image
Chris Achard

Mental health is so important - thanks for the post.