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Tanya Mott
Tanya Mott

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How My Software Development Experience Changed My Mental Health

Mental health is something that is not mentioned enough, especially in the tech industry so I wanted to share my story.

I first became a software developer February of 2015, so about five years ago. It was almost two years after graduating with my BS in Information Systems degree. I already thought I was “behind” back then, because I couldn’t find a job right after college. I was working full-time as a technical writer after I graduated but continued the job search.

I remember interviewing at Bluetube Interactive (now, no longer exists)…the interview was over two hours long. I didn’t do too well on the technical exercise on the computer, but the manager gave me a chance anyway, in hopes that I learn and grow. I only lasted there three months, before my manager fired me. He gave me an “ultimatum” in that, if I didn’t finish a project in two weeks, that he would let me go. I remember sitting in his office when he told me that. I wasn’t allowed to ask for help, even though I was learning 3 new technologies on the job (C#, Entity Framework, and responsive design). I learned .NET in college but it was with VB.NET. That really set the tone for most of my experience going forward. I was underappreciated and emotionally abused during those 3 months, it was rough.

I was unemployed for a month before moving on to PowWow HR (also no longer exists). This company was at the Atlanta Tech Village as a startup, which back then, I thought was pretty cool. Turns out the micromanagement was pretty emotionally draining and abusive. Being in a small room, with your boss/CEO walking around and making sure you do your job everyday is not ideal. One day, in the middle of a week, my aunt passed away from cancer. It was sudden, even though she had cancer, so I was pretty upset. I found out after work and went in the next day. My boss could tell I was pretty upset, so he told me to go home for the day, so I went to see my mom. I came in the next day and everything seemed fine. Later on that week, they let me go. The reason being the deadline didn’t get met, even though it was an unrealistic one to begin with.

I was unemployed for two months before finding my next job at Project Time & Cost. This was the first decent company I’ve worked for, everything was good…until my CTO hired a new team lead 8 months after I got there. Things went south pretty quickly and I ended up leaving voluntarily after a year. The new team lead was a micromanager who was also a fraud, who loved to demonize us developers. A lot of us jumped ship during that time.

My next job at BreakAway Loyalty came smoothly after, I started right after leaving my previous job. Everything was great there until I had to work OT to meet a drastic deadline but no emotional abuse. I ended up leaving voluntarily after staying 2.5 years, my longest running job to date.

I then went on to Improving Atlanta, a consulting company, which was absolutely horrid to begin with. Loved the culture but hated the work. What little spark and passion I had for technology, died there. After being burned out at BreakAway, I needed a good place to recover but IA wasn’t it at all. I ended up getting laid off, with no notice at all.

After two months of unemployment (which was hell btw, but I’ll share in another post) brings me to my current company, CRH, which has been absolutely amazing so far. I have a wonderful boss, the best one I’ve ever had, I believe. Everything is almost perfect and a true “dream” job. The only problem is that I no longer have my passion “spark” that I once had and I am not sure how to get it back. I’ve only been with CRH for not even 2 months but I struggle with demonizing thoughts at least weekly. It’s horrible for my mental health. I know I need to see a therapist but I am waiting til I am financially able. Yes, I’m kind of in a “lull” stage cause I’m new and we are starting a new project, which is exciting btw. Rewriting an app from Angularjs (v.1) to Angular (v.9) is exciting, I love Angular. I was hired to do this project! But I’m afraid that my demons are going to kill everything and I’m not sure what to do except talk to a therapist. I remember when I interviewed, it was my last interview, as I received a verbal offer 2 hrs after I left. I remember my passion and excitement, the same feelings that got me the job. Those feelings are fading away but I hope they come back soon! Everyday is a new opportunity to change thoughts, I just have to take it in strides and hope time heals. I hope I get back to being “me” soon because I miss that drive and passion I once had.

What has helped me the most in the past, and still continues to do so, is running and exercise. Also having a good support system.
I hope my story inspired you, I wanted to share with the world because it’s been so hard over the last 5 years for me, especially being a woman developer.
Thanks for reading!

Top comments (1)

napicella profile image
Nicola Apicella

Hi Tanya!

Thanks for sharing. It s good to get it out from your system.

Do you have a mentor?
Mentorships do not need to be necessarily about a technology; on the contrary.
In my experience, a mentor can help a great deal in these situations.

You might be surprised how many others have experienced something similar during their carrers; a mentor might give you her 2 cents on what was that helped her moving past those feelings.

Stay strong and if you are up for a talk DM me :)