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Ask HN: What are you doing for your mental health?
102 points by lainon 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 92 comments

Mostly trying to relate with people on HN. Hit me up on Keybase if anyone wants to chat (username sillysaurus). Just had an enjoyable one with a longtime member.

Keybase feels like the chat program HN never had.

Why is it good for mental health? Well, it's easy to get isolated. Sometimes the data you're receiving paints a very different picture to you than it does to someone else.

It's probably an unpopular view that mental health is improved by adding more internet, not less.

I'd tend to agree, if only there were non-internet activities to go to. Church is out. No school. I'm sure there are hackerspaces somewhere near by, but those have to be planned. I can't just go there at 2am, which is what I feel like right now.

People who say it's good to disconnect are kind of like wealthy people telling the poor to just have money. Yeah, it would be nice, but programming and conversations are two fulfilling activities.

Especially from people I don't know. Hi! Talk to me, if you want. If you need anyone to listen or to let you unload on them, use me as an outlet. I won't mind. And I don't care if it's random bullshit or things that seem like bullshit. I won't judge you, only listen to you and talk it over. And I'll keep your secrets.

It is good to get talking about mental health with other mentally ill people and psychiatrists as well.

I used to do that on Kuro5hin, but it went down, I used to do that on Reddit but got banned from some subreddits with no feedback given.

I have websites I am working on to develop into organization etc.



I can be reached by orionblastar@gmail.com

I have a keybase but haven't used it much. I don't have many friends, many reject me for my mental illness, and I am not allowed to talk about it in public areas of the Internet.

For some reason, I get along with people who have autism because I have social issues like they do, and might be misdiagnosed, but still I might have been on the spectrum before the changes got made.

Yeah, it is unpopular to discuss mental health or politics on the Internet. Rather than ban the people attacking the mentally ill person, they find it easier to just fire the mentally ill person from work or ban and censor them on the Internet etc.

I'd like to do some sort of non-profit that helps mentally ill people find work or start up their own businesses.

I’ve started going to Meetups (via Meetup.com) about anything vaguely interesting looking (especially the non-technical ones). I think it’s good to get out and meet new people, and talk about things which don’t involve programming or technology for a change.

I’ve also stopped eating fast/oven food and started properly preparing my meals. I know very little about cooking so it’s a good learning experience (Youtube is really helpful) and I’m probably eating healthier as a result.

Another thing, about a year ago I stopped using Facebook, and I rarely use Twitter, and never use Instagram. I’m convinced they are the psychological equivalent of junk food.

Making food for oneself is such a wonderful way to spend time. It lets us focus on what we put into our bodies. It’s amazing to do this for yourself if you have time.

Prepared foods are proven to be as bad for us as smoking but it’s not well publicized by the mainstream media.


"Overall, the lifetime risk of someone developing colon cancer is 5%. To put the numbers into perspective, the increased risk from eating the amount of processed meat in the study would raise average lifetime risk to almost 6%."

> Making food for oneself is such a wonderful way to spend time

Definitely! It's just so damn relaxing.

Preparing food requires using all my senses, using my hands and walking around, and helps me come into my body after a day spent mostly in my head.

In addition to Facebook, I stopped consuming refined sugar/corn syrup, refined flour and coffee.

My cognitive resources are clearly increased. Now I need to stop HN, Reddit and Twitter ;)

Yeah you need to modify your hosts file to redirect HN and other sites to to a local webserver on your PC that displays a "Get back to work" or something home screen.

Then there is this: https://focusme.com/



I heard that Apple is modifying their iOS and MacOS for parents to block access to websites and apps for their children, and it could help for us adults to stay productive during certain hours.

I have to admit I've become addicted to the Internet since 1995, but I always read job-related sites like HN that discuss technology, etc. Sometimes you have to get a discussion going on to help yourself get unstuck from writer's block or help others as well.

Thank you for the resources.

I quit Facebook too and feel much better.

Who are your favorite food channels? I've enjoyed food wishes, eater, wolfe pit.

I find Jamie Oliver's Youtube channel good, I will check out the ones you mentioned, cheers

Not working more than 35 hours a week, like my parents used to.

Continuing my refusal to have email/slack/$other on my phone.

Telling people that if they want impossible target a, then they need to let go of target b, and then walking off to let them figure shit out.

Deleting people who are unable to tweet politics objectivly/first hand (ie anything other than non specialist journalists)

How are you employed? I'm doing the 43h grind (+ travel) to boost my career a bit, but plan to reduce that a lot as soon as possible :)

Sadly it's a bit more difficult as a product manager. Simply being around for anything that comes up is very valuable in that position. I might need to plan the jump to consultancy some day.

I spent the time to find a company that understands what its like to have a family. My wife is a doctor, so she works all hours, this means that I am looking after the kids.

So someone having issues on the system is frankly worth shit all compared to feeding/bathing/putting to bed my children.

I'm a sysadmin/sre/devop (delete as appropriate) so I do _occationally_ work out of hours. However I make it clear that I only expect to be called when there is a buisness level event (as in, if this doesn't get fixed we are going to go bankcrupt)

I am honest with my potential employer. I say I have to be back at my children's nursery by 18:00 of it'll cost one pound for every minute I'm late. Once I am home, I'm off the clock, and unless they are going to pay me _at least_ double time, I'm not ever working out of my contracted hours.

My rational is this:

In england, people have literally died for workers rights. I will not undermine other by "going above and beyond" The contract pays me for x hours, and thats what they get. Would a company expect a SaaS contract to offer 30% free funcionality? no, thats what contracts with SLAs are for. Why should employees be any different.

Very reasonable, I totally agree.

Do you receive compensation for the occasional out of hours work that you do? Just asking since it appears that you've drawn a distinct line.

I have a similar role in London and having a hard time processing the situation. Employer confirmed that they won't pay for more than the contracted 35 hours a week, but I'm subtly expected to be available at any time and frequently work Saturday and/or Sunday when there's scheduled maintenance. I've had phone calls on weekends when the stuff I'm solely responsible for stops working. I'm not interested in time in lieu as weekends are the only time my wife has at home for us to spend time together. I also need the money,job is reasonably paid, so I can't just walk.

Fellow PM here- I think as PMs we have a tendency to feel like we should be involved in as many projects as possible, but it is important to really pick and choose where you can add value (and get value back) so that you don't stretch yourself too thing. I've been using a framework to evaluate opportunities and only focus on the most important ones- the others I ether say "no" to or delegate to another PM/team. It is highly unlikely that "anything that comes up" is truly that valuable/worth the distraction.

Indeed, one must limit the "wip" to avoid constant tail spin.

Being a PM I would say is harder to just do the contracted hours, as you are expected to always be there, just like the carpet.

Also you need to provide guidance to the rest of the team, who may choose to work late.

But, I have worked with very effective PMs who literally forced people home at the end of the day. Productivity (as measured) was not affected

With "always there" I mean normal business hours, making it harder to do it in less than 40h/week.

In a small company there is also less possibility to delegate.

Gave away most of my furniture and electronics, packed the rest in a cheap storage unit and fled London to a pristine and mostly unoccupied south Indian beach, where I spent 5 months worth of mornings going for a swim before sitting down to remote freelance work, at a table overlooking the ocean.

It wasn't a perfect move (the working holiday part), but damn it's by far the best winter I've had in a decade. 10/10 would flee again!

Currently writing from Bangalore, had to head central for good Internet and power, and a quiet desk, but that's a story for another time.

Mind sharing the name / location of that beach? I might want to check it out some time. I did something like that but on the Western coast of India some years ago, for some months. In fact in that period, for about a month, I stayed in a beach hut, about 10 seconds walk from the water's edge. Used to hear the roaring of the waves at night (and in the day too, but it tends to sound louder in the night). A great experience.

Well this sounds absolutely incredible, congratulations.

I'm curious, do you experience any loneliness? Presumably the internet facilitates communication with distant friends and family, but how about meeting people in meatspace?

Oh god! Hadn't heard of "meatspace" before to reference the world outside the internet. :D

William Gibson used it. That's where I came across it. E.g. "Neuromancer", "Count Zero".

Bangalore is my home town!

Hit me up if you want a Bangalorean perspective on how to deal with the city.

I live in San Diego now and have been out of touch with the most recent developments, but I’m sure the city is still the same at heart.

That's amazing!

Physical exercises, hiking and some other sports I practice. Sport is like magic, clears my mind and helps with anxiety. Doing legos and playing board games. Playing around in FL Studio and with my launchpad. I'll try to get into drawing/painting. Keep social networks at a minimum and just take a look in a while to see what the few distant friends I have are doing. I don't really want to delete them because they are a good source of news and other stuff you can learn. Reading/watching everything about technical stuff, documentaries, sci fi books. Worldbuilding on stack exchange is a good source to interact with people interested in sci fi stuff.

These are the things that keep me in a decent mental shape after writing code all day. I also play highly-tiltable multiplayer games so that affects me also. Cryptos and some stocks are also a source of stress. I also tend to avoid spending money on things I don't really need and then regret later, it's a discipline I learned while being a poor kid.

Taking a break to watch the sunset.

Praying and reading the Bible in the morning.

Biking to and from work.

Listening to music.



Visit the sick (there's a student club to play games with kids in the hospital), visit those in prison, feed the hungry (buy dinner for someone or invite & cook), welcome strangers into your home (CouchSurfing).

I attend the CouchSurfing meetup too, and church, but the social groups can bring stress sometimes, not only relieve it. Having several groups lets me vent the issues with one group to friends in another social circle.

Praying and Bible reading in the morning (mostly I manage to do just one of the two though), is definitely the one most efficient thing to keep me balanced and sane. Helps you put life and yourself in perspective and have so much more patience and peace during the day.

Biking to work and going out for a run a few times per week also helps quite a bit. I think we're created for being out in nature.

> Biking to and from work.

I enjoy backing to work and back, but entitled drivers (park in bike lane, dangerous passes) make me really nervous and shoot my stress up instantly potentially negating the relaxing benefits. How do you handle that?

My girlfriend is one of the least technical people I know. Spending time with her makes me almost completely forget about work.

Me too. I think asking couples how they met is a good idea to find out about friendly communities in an unfamiliar city.

You didn't ask me, but since the topic came up: I met my girlfriend in an amateur orchestra we play in -- we're both violinists.

Same here :-)

Spending time with a teacher (kindergarden teacher, no less!), helping out in the classroom from time to time, gives completely new perspectives.

See friends, exercise, and if the issue is serious enough, do not put off seeing a psychiatrist or another health professional.

Strangely enough you do not see an Ask HN: what are you doing for your T1 diabetes ? -- people will just see their doctor and inject insulin. Yet we do not treat mental health that way.

I think it's a very good thing that we don't treat mental health that way because, generally speaking, we're nowhere near understanding mental health issues the way we understand diabetes (although I wouldn't be surprised if we don't understand that one as well as I'm inclined to think).

A better analogy would be something like 'Ask HN: what are you doing for your front-end javascript needs', which of course is discussed a lot, maybe even too much.

To be clear, I do agree that if you have serious issues it would be good to see a professional. But it's not a panacea and so it's quite possible, likely even, that a lot of people asking questions like OP are asking specifically because a professional has not been able to cleanly solve the problem, if at all. In fact, I've met plenty of people who felt they were worse off after getting help.

Again, I'd still recommend you try if you're struggling, but it's important to not see a mental health professional as 'the' solution, because on top of quite possibly turning out to be a disappointing experience, it might keep you from trying other stuff alongside it.

Most of the places I've lived, especially in the bay area, psychiatrists were completely incentivized to prescribe as much addictive and known to be ineffective medicine as they could to keep the patient dependent and coming back / paying. There was no incentive for and few of them were interested in actual non-drug therapy. Some were actually hostile to the idea of non-drug therapy or reducing/stopping the medicine I was on at the time. In addition, in the US, there are many reporting requirements that require psychiatrists to report certain things said in meetings with patients to officials. One can end up in a mental hospital with the cops searching their house by simply saying the wrong things or saying the right things in the wrong way. This just begins to scratch the surface of why psychiatrists are not like other doctors. And lets face it, many doctors in general are not that great at their jobs in general--a job where one mistake can mean the difference between life and death. Having anxiety about seeing any health professional, mental or physical, is hardly an unnatural or abnormal reaction. Then you get to costs, health insurance, etc. and it gets even easier to see why people would be deterred from seeing mental health professionals especially psychiatrists.

I don't think that's what the OP meant. Type 1 diabetes has no known cause, but I bet many mental health issues are preventable.

You're replying to a "Ask HN: What do you do to fix your mental health problems?", which is not the same thing. This thread is about prevention as much as it is about recovery.

Are you seriously comparing the two? Psychology is nothing more than a pseudoscience where most of the time the solution is to take some pills that will turn you into a zombie, sometimes even permanently.

Exercise (yes it helps), eat right, sleep 8 hours, have fun, be kind, meditate, create.

Great succinct list. It is the same for me, except I have a mandatory "spend time with love ones and close friends" in there, and I don't meditate regularly enough.

Quite right. I dashed out that list and should have added 'family and friends' - very, very important!

1. See a shrink about childhood stuff. 2. Have a girlfriend with no anger issues. 3. Exercise 3-5 times a week. 4. Don't avoid saying things because they're hard to say. Regretting or postponing important things puts a lot of strain on my mental capacity at work and at home. 5. Quit facebook. (Start by removing it from my phone.) 6. Go to bed early. No electronics after 10 or near the bed.

- deleted Facebook account - deleted Twitter account - kept LinkedIn account

Keeping things simple, hanging out with the 4-5 real friends I have rather than tracking 500 imaginary friends.

I cut out Reddit entirely, and severely cut down on my Facebook usage. I'm not on any other social media (I don't consider forums and HN comments etc. to be social media). In general, I abstain from most online non-specific discussion, because it always tends to devolve into politics and mudslinging.

IRL I go to a lot of concerts, and I spend a significant amount of time cooking and baking, with my girlfriend.

IMO the key is to do stuff YOU like, instead of getting caught up in the drama of others.

* weight training (gym) 3 times a week * martial arts/ parkour/ swimming 2 times/ week (on non-gym days) * practice mindfulness (not meditation but staying consciously in the moment) * eating heathy vegetarian freshly home cooked diet 6 days/week * try to sleep atleast 7 hours (i am not able to consistently manage this yet) * try to take mid noon naps (this compensates a lack of night sleep to some extent) * weekly meet ups with new people and maybe make new friends in the process. * removed facebook and instagram apps from mobile (may check updates on the web onve in a while but not regularly) * Trying to keep a watch on myself (taking notes of my unhealthy habits or routines) and try to replace them with healthier routines. * using Anki app ( spaced repetition memory technique ) and go through all flash cards for that day in first 2 hours of day. * take shower everyday in first 2 hours of waking up and grooming. this is already doing wonders to me as it forces me to go to gym first thing in the morning to avoid taking shower again. It also makes me feel fresher and ready for the day. * read a book for few minutes before going to bed.

Doubled my income and killed my commute by bailing from startups to work remote for a large company with early hours but it's only 8-9 hours a day not 14-20.

Psychologist every other week.

Meditate in the morning (10mins) and in the evening (20mins).

Pretty much would advise everybody to go to a psychologist regulalry, it really helped me to stay sane (had episodes when I was genuinely affraid of going mad)

Have become very settled into an exercise regime which includes weightlifting and plenty of cardio. Got to the weight that I wanted and the cardio makes it possible to eat a very ample amount of calories which feels amazing.

Quit drinking as well, which has had me beaming with a sense of accomplishment.

These two have had the secondary effect of falling asleep early and waking up well rested.

Did you have a drinking problem? I have a few beers per week but still think of "quitting" now and then. How much cardio do you do?

I was drinking Fri-Sat-Sun with the intent of being drunk each time. It was enough to regularly make bad choices and have regrets, so probably on the fringe at least of it being a problem.

Cardio, roughly 60-90mins per day at high intensity, on average 4-5 days a week. I've noticed that a big mood boost happens after about an hour in -- endorphin release maybe.

Deleting insidious social media accounts (Facebook for example) half a decade ago when it became clear which way the wind was blowing.

I seriously doubt I would be as happy, or even alive, it I hadn't.

Surprised no one has mentioned Mindfulness yet. Like most I was skeptical about this new-agey BS. But sitting quietly without interruption for 10-20 minutes every day, and just focusing on breathing, has helped me a lot. Note: I am a long time sufferer of PTSD.

I've tried meditation unsuccessfully a few times, and I tried mindful meditation unsuccessfully, but I was enlightened when I realized that mindfulness doesn't have to mean meditation. Mindfulness, at it's core, just means trying to keep your mind from wandering from it's task. In meditation, that task might be breathing, but I've found it useful for so many other things. Being present with my baby boy when a technical issue is bugging me. Listening to a boring story and giving feedback. Pushing through drudgery. It's an irreplaceable tool.

* Turning off every notification on my phone

* Biking (or alternate rigorous exercise) every day

* Getting out of bed as soon as I'm awake

* Setting a bedtime and a bedtime plan (blue light filtering glasses two hours before bed; no tech an hour before)

* Reviewing positive and negative experiences[1] to maximize positive ones and minimize negative ones"

* Setting measurable goals for improvement[2] that make it clear what the most important thing to work on is

1. http://gen.co/2017-review 2. http://gen.co/2018

No twitter. No more FOSS on github. Lots of exercise.

Just out of curiosity: why not on GitHub? Could you compare to other places to contribute? Examples of fulfilling project to contribute to?

Some things I did:

- Started learning a new language(along with my wife)

- Yoga classes and meditation

- Carpentry or home improvement projects

- Learning to keep things in their place and keep my room tidy

- Letting go at the end of a distraction filled day, but motivating(and performing) better on the next

- Reading inspiring words: The motivation manifesto by Brendon Burchard is my go to book.

- Make deliberate effort to do the opposite of what you Flight Response(System 1) wants.

- Having more friends over and playing some games with them.

- Not looking at political news.

- Trashing all junk food/unhealthy snacks in the house and replacing them with something better

Exercise 3-5x/week, and stay active throughout the day (standing desk, frequent walk breaks). High intensity exercise >>>> low intensity in re its effects on my mood (for me! YMMV). I feel virtually unchanged after 30 mins moderate effort on a bike, but like a brand new person after 10-15 minutes of bike sprints

Drink plenty of water (also helps with staying active--frequent bathroom breaks + the attendant socializing that comes with regularly wandering about the office :) )

Read and practice stoicism

Re-contextualize. When I feel myself in a rut, I force myself to do something new and uncomfortable. Keyword being "force" -- usually when in such ruts the last thing I want to be doing is putting myself somewhere unfamiliar. But this can help attenuate certain thinking patterns and/or give you new perspectives.

Oh yeah, and proper use of certain medications and therapies have also helped.

Related Question: How does one get counseling or other kinds of services like that if one is legally barred from doing so as part of their job? (gov job, so, yes, actually true)

Maybe your employer can provide some counseling services? I'm sure HR will have a way to do that

Visiting my family on the weekends, not giving myself a hard time for failing to do things that are optional, making sure I don't accidentally skip meals.

I go to work, nothing special as most of the remote worker in (subdeveloped country with great weather). Actually in nothern Europe, where most of the days are just gray and I don't get enough sunlight.

I have a wife and a dog whose I share my life with, we play games in the sofa and eat together, maybe once a year we travel to explore new places. Sometimes routine is hard, but I can always count on them snd vice-versa.

I see a really great and not too expensive psychiatrist who has worked wonders for me and takes a very holistic approach - he'll often suggest something for one problem but actually it solves two others and I realise years later. Anyone in the Hants area I can wholeheartedly recommend Lars Hansen.

I take the bare minimum medication such that I don't get side affects and just about notice my cycling is over a reduced range.

I drink very little nowadays and as a rule stick to a particular niche beer style for a period and only drink beer I haven't already tried. Having managed several craft beer bars and worked with most local breweries it's rare a pub has something I don't know. I don't take drugs outside of prescriptions and haven't for a few years.

I have one coffee a day, first thing, and again stick to a particular origin for a long period so I don't find myself grabbing a starbucks for the sake of it. I go to bed at a sensible time and never let myself lie in.

I don't eat much sugar, or carbohydrates generally. I don't eat beef or lamb either. I try and include something like spinach or kale into every meal. I don't eat takeaway food very often any more, last year it was twice.

I try and get outside for an extended period each day. I sit down as little as possible. We have one television and it mainly stays off apart from the odd bit of kids TV or Formula 1.

When I don't feel like doing something I need to, I try and challenge that and prove to myself I can do it and that my fears were unfounded. If I'm worrying about something I ask myself what am I really afraid of and then I can reassure myself that if that situation occurred I could handle it.

I volunteer a day a week helping young people with mental health problems challenge themselves.

I keep extensive notes on ideas I have, things I need to do, etc, so that I'm not trying to remember things needlessly. My wife and I have strictly delegated tasks like monthly budgeting, meal planning. If I'm struggling with something I know to communicate that.

When I need to take a break mentally I'll put on an album I'm familiar with and play along with it or write down some recipe ideas or similar. My garage is where I can go to be alone when I need that.

Probably there's a hundred more things that aren't springing to mind right now

I practice taijiquan & qigong everyday. Exploration and practice there have helped me become more comfortable in my own body. I run and walk quite a lot as well in preperation for ultramarathoning. In addition I play quite a lot of socially engaging video games, currently playing World of Warcraft on a private server which has a great community.

I spend some time daily doing exercises from Feeling Good book. Feel much better since I started 20 weeks ago.

Anyone know how to stop dissociating?

Exercising as much a possible (aiming for 3 times/week + walking as much as possible)

Practising mindfulness (I find it makes a big difference for me).

Spending time with friends and family.

Doing only enough programming to get by (no more OSS) and spending more time with family and doing more offline things.

Would you mind to share your experience with developing open source software so others can learn? Is it the same one can read elsewhere like unthankful and demanding people or just sheer amount of work, or something totally different?

Yes sure :) For me OSS has always been about scratching my own itch, i.e. Creating a framework or library that I think would make my life easier or would be just awesome if existed. Then release its source so other people with that same itch can benefit and contribute.

My experiences have been mostly positive though not very rewarding because when it comes to OSS people just think of your work as something they're "buying" for free, i can't put it in words but it's like.. so this exists without giving much thought to hours of effort someone has put into it, i.e very few people think about the author because their focus is mainly on the software. It's understandable because I may have done it too.

For me personally i like starting projects a lot and very bad at maintaining them, dread looking at the issues in github. Also for me personally, finding contributers has been difficult so I maintain it for a while then move on to something else. I'm sure like everything a lot of people have a lot of different experiences, mostly depending on the popularity of the project and the people it affects (e.g.systemd type of stuff)

- Reduce social media to minimum - Sport - Hobby unrelated to IT - Additional interests unrelated to IT


Behavioral psychotherapy (lucky enough to live in a culture with socialized health care)

Deep breathing helps to relax me. Meditation and waking up early.

Walk outside for 45 minutes in the middle of every day.

8 hours of sleep every night

Tai Chi

Less social media, more in-person interaction

Quitting online.

Quit drinking, get a good nights sleep.

Socialize, meditate and work out.



Binge drinking on the weekends... /s

But actually, sometimes. I am really not online much ever, I spend enough time in front of screens so I sign off, all the way. Don't even bring my phone 9 out of 10 times.

Connect to IRCs, chat with folks on random channels Sadly my work blocks all irc servers.

Vouched for your comment, because human connection - even in chat form - seems to help me. I have also found that as a "computer person" who has to spend a lot of time in front f a screen, I felt far more connected in the 90s IRC world when I was actively engaging with other frontier folk in the field.

After a 10-year hiatus, I rediscovered that IRC/Discord is still where it's at - and for some communities Slack (with its own set of problems).

When I am unable to have facetime, another mind online can anchor me offline.

It wasn't just the 90s, sometime after like the late 2000s meeting people online organically became hard. I guess everyone who wanted to could just go on FB now. It's like everyone got put into their own little box. Discord would have been awesome if I was younger.

But yeah. Talking, chatting, reading, and running. Marathon video game binges with old friends because we have less and less in common now. Everything helps.

There's an increasing trend of IRC networks having Matrix bridges (inc. Freenode) and Matrix works almost entirely over HTTPS. Perfect for corporate networks and proxies! Helps me to stay sane at work.


> Matrix works almost entirely over HTTPS

What do you mean, "almost"? The client-to-server API runs entirely over HTTPS port 443. The server-to-server API is also HTTPS, but on a different port, but that's not a concern for the client.

Source: I'm running a small Synapse instance.

I'd imagine the 'almost' here is that VoIP defaults to using SRTP and STUN/TURN (WebRTC) rather than HTTP.

That makes sense. I didn't try VoIP yet at all.

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