I’m finding solace in boredom and using that as a catalyst for change. I’ve been reading more, already finished three books in the last few weeks. I’m on a mission to pour rocket fuel on my personal consulting business.
I’m also seeing a psych and a psychotherapist. It’s helping, albeit slowly.
Eliminate cognitive load. Eliminate distractions. Eliminate things from your life that don’t bring you joy and happiness. Do it. Rip it off like a bandaid. Every little minuscule things counts and adds up to the “death by a thousand cuts” anxiety ridden life we are all enduring.
Ignite a fire in the forest that is your life and let all the shit burn to the ground. The big strong redwoods will remain. Don’t be afraid to seek help from professionals.
We are only on this earth for one life. I only get to watch the Super Bowl maybe 30 more times. I only get to own so many more vehicles. I only get to spend time with my dogs for so long.
It’s not just tech workers. Everyone is struggling. Be good to yourself.
“Eliminate things from your life that don’t bring you joy and happiness.”
I see this sentiment a lot in the techie self-help sphere, along with corrolaries like “ruthlessly eliminate negative people”. While I understand the motivation and agree it is true up to a point, it can also lead to a shallow and avoidant approach to life if you get carried away with it. Many of the most potentially rich and satisfying aspects of life are also the most dark, difficult, and complex when they go wrong. You shouldn’t always run away.
The trick is to find a balance—sink some roots into the inherently chaotic and often ‘negative’ emotional substrate of life without letting yourself get pulled under. Offset the weight with lightness, but don’t try to avoid carrying any weight whatsoever.
There is nothing wrong with taking this approach, while you get yourself back on track. I've gone through this myself. Became an "asshole" in some peoples' eyes - "Why should I attend that social event? What am I going to get out of it? Nah, pass". They've gotten over it. So have I.
Truly though, who gives a shit, if that is what you need. Like OP said, it's your life. Do what you need to do for you. If you keep investing in things that suck the life out of you endlessly, it's going to drag you to a dark place, which is no good for anyone.
I trust selfish people more than I trust "selfless" people. Simply because selfish people are less likely to snap, and take out all of their repressed frustration at a seemingly random time.
It's taken me a while, but now I have a more diplomatic approach to extending my personal energy to benefit those around me, or invest in projects, work, etc.
You are right. It requires balance. However, you should not be afraid to tip the scales the other way for a while, so that you can refactor your priorities.
As you say, there is a lot of value in sticking with shit that can be really irritating, and hard.
In Texas, they go too far the other way, and tolerate things for longer than they sometimes should.
Funny how that tendency maps so well to the foundations of their politics (progress / conservation). As usual, the right way is somewhere in the middle.
I think it’s true. My take on it: Mostly occurs because California is filled with people who come from somewhere else. It is filled with restless people who are goal oriented and need results to be filled with joy.
I think places with more rooted populations find their joy in people and not goals. They are not on the move. There is a certain personality that thinks..I am going to move cities, zip codes, countries, jobs ..in search of something better. Always something better than where I am now. They are never going to be happy with status quo for long..joy is always a moving target. That’s what makes them tick. That’s what makes them good at what they do. People are people.
I think this is what is supposed to be true diversity. Diverse personalities. I find diversity based on skin colour or language or gender etc are such shallow classifications. Considering that, I don’t think we have diversity at all..because birds of a feather flock together.
The key here is to have a long-term view of this. Obviously this doesn't mean to disown your relationships with anybody who didn't bring you joy this week, but you should look at the history of the relationship, and how you think the relationship will be in the future, and decide whether or not the relationship is really a value add in your life.
Outcomes are often impossible to predict in advance because you just can't know which relationships will end up challenging you in ways that help you grow. Also, you and your circumstances will change and those changes will affect the nature and affect of your relationships.
I'm not saying one should cannot or should not make decisions about who to keep close in one's personal life. I am saying, however, that predictions about the future value of any personal relationship is as likely to be mistaken as correct.
I don't think relationships should be about maximizing one's potential, whatever "maximizing" may mean. Relationships are important and so is happiness, but I don't think relationships should be cultivated and curated in the service of maximum happiness.
I'm undoubtedly the most negative person in my life.
This can change, it takes work.
But to summarize — you should optimize for things like quality of happiness rather than happiness units. And this gets messy and you will make bad calls, it’s a moral framework for decision making no one has a perfect system. But be optimizing for great happiness and make those long term investments.
This seems to be a really common sentiment, and I could not disagree more. At worst, it comes across as severely narcissistic. At best, it's avoidance of reality.
The "always on" culture that has become prevalent in the past decade has, in my opinion, contributed greatly rising angst/anxiety/stress.
We don't give our brains any time to rest anymore. Most people start and end the day by injecting thousands of images, words, and ideas into their thoughts via screens with no time to process and "clear the queue" so to speak.
I've start implementing "nothing" days once every two to three weeks. These days are spent with absolute 0 screen time. At first it was extremely difficult to detach, but after the first couple hours of the day, I start to feel more centered and at ease. Reading, talking, getting out of the house, sitting on a park bench, visiting a museum, investing time in a hobby - all these things help remind me WHY I spend so many waking hours working and being connected.
I won't ever advocate for the complete removal of technology from all aspects of life. But, as in all things, boundaries are very important.
I don't think we can function as humans without regular long, meaningful detachment from all these digital tools.
There's a lot of ways to do it. But I feel like everyone needs to pick one.
That's always seemed like a barrier to consciously 'accepting' Zen, the way one might accept Confucianism or utilitarianism or any other moral philosophy.
But I also have no degree of certainty that it doesn’t happen.
One of the core concepts of Zen is abandoning western concepts of duality. I’m increasingly willing to be confortable with the idea that I have no ability to conceptualize and verbalize the concept of myself existing before life or after death, and likely never will.
So it’s not that I will or won’t, it’s not really a yes or no answer. More like a NaN answer.
Yes, this is exactly it! Perfectly summarized my day-to-day after doing everything you listed on that first paragraph. Hackernews a few times a day at most for no more than 5 minutes at a time is all the social media for me.
Not seeing a therapist or anything but my outdoor activities are therapy for me personally, in their own way. Started riding my motorcycle again. Just generally treating myself better, spending tons of time working out and having way more energy, and more time to explore ideas and trying things.
The last distraction I still have is my phone, which goes on airplane mode for a good chunk of the day. Do Not Disturb mode for the rest. I'm done with it all.
20 years ago no one would have ever stood for all the shit distractions that bombard us constantly today. People called and texted... and waited hours and sometimes days for a reply, if they got it at all.
On that subject, the only way to break the expectation that are "always available" is... to not be always available. Just turn that shit off. Don't reply unless you absolutely have to.
Anyway... my phone is beholden to me. I choose when I open apps. I have notifications disabled for virtually everything. I also have it on perma-silent. It will vibrate once for certain things... and ring only when those aforementioned special people call me. At 9pm it goes into do not disturb. At 7am it goes back to normal.
My wife on the other hand... good grief. She is a solo dog walker / sitter and is getting bookings CONSTANTLY. Her phone sounds like R2-D2 having an aneurism. I’m working on her... but she has insane FOMO since she is still gaining a strong foothold in our community. It’s tough to talk to her about this stuff because she’s right in the midst of it: anxious, worried she will miss client messages, worried she will miss a booking, etc... so until that dies down a bit it’s not even worth pursuing with her. I hope she can eventually get to this level, though, and realize that she will be much happier when she controls her attention instead of allowing others to do it.
I agree with the bulk of your comment, but I couldn't help but notice...
If the solution is to not use all these apps, apps that are being developed by those very same anxious workers, what does it say about silicon valley's sunny optimism that they are changing the world for the better?
Does anyone else feel it's paradoxical?
I'm not saying there is any correlation. Merely that if tech companies in the SF Bay area cared about 'making a difference' - there is ample opportunity to do so, literally outside their door.
This is all marketing hype speak from the type-a extrovert hustlers at the top. No sane person truly believes things like FB etc... are changing the world.
It's cover for their employees to make the world a worse place, while collecting massive checks, and not feel bad for it.
I don't think it's working anymore.
Social media is a curse on our society's mental wellbeing, even if it can be a very useful tool in spreading important information.
I'm actually working on a book which documents my process I developed to do this for myself. Mental models, different perspectives on your habits and vices, etc. Please let me know if you have anything that's worked for you. I think this is something everyone should do.
I haven't seeked help from professionals yet but I will definitely consider it.
Approaching it from changing mental models, perspectives and learning new skills is how we view mental health issues management/prevention. If you're interested in this angle, you should try out one of our sessions at Mindset. It'd be really great to hear what you think of them.
I'll check out Mindset, thanks. (I couldn't find it on google, send a link if you don't mind)
It's only on the Apple App Store at the moment, if you search Mindset on the App Store it will be the first non-ad app.
And then organizing and compiling it into a book.
I recommend you to read Taylor Pearson's article on how he approached writing and marketing his book:
A shorter version written by me can be found here:
Edit: done! Can't wait to hear from you, I'd love some more ideas to put into the book.
Let go of control and hand it to someone else for a while. Give it a shot, even if for just one or two sessions to start.
* YIMBY activism. Facebook especially is a great, low-friction way to get new people involved.
* FB can be a great way of sharing, say, photos of kids or activities or events with people who are... maybe a bit more peripheral than friends I see every day, but who I still find value in keeping in touch with.
What got me off Facebook (>3y ago, not a passing whim) was the realisation that I found no value in keeping in touch with people I was only 'in touch with' via Facebook.
> * YIMBY activism. Facebook especially is a great, low-friction way to get new people involved.
Okay, that probably helped too. ;)
I pretty aggressively prune my facebook friend list. I think I'm at something like 68 friends right now. The majority of them are actually older family members who like my random rants about the antics our kids get into.
Basically if I add someone on facebook and they aren't actively part of my life or social / family circle, they get culled.
It seems like a nice compromise.
Yeah, an example might be my 4th grade teacher that I liked a lot and added me. She's a sweet lady who's almost 90 at this point. Not sure I would have had any contact with her otherwise, but it makes me happy to see what she's up to.
This. If you're only interested in keeping in touch with people as long as it takes zero effort on your part that means that you don't really want to stay in touch with said person. Once I realized that, being done with social media was easy. I run a nextcloud instance that allows me to share photos and large files with family, and anyone for that matter.
What appears in my feed seems very curated.
I also don't have friends who post random political news stuff.
My FB feed has become enjoyable and fun now. I get to see my friend who moved out of the big city to start a farm run her now successful farm. I get to see my friend who moved to Germany talk about work/life balance in another country. I get to see my friend who is a prof at college talk about his student's essays.
Honestly... it is sorta nice now. It wasn't a year ago, but these last few months have been great.
Reddit is completely what you make of it. I belong to some super positive communities, some great recipe groups, and some technical subreddits. I get an endless feed of healthy food suggestions, opportunities to help out students just entering the work force, and some awesome discussions on science and engineering topics. /r/askculinary is great and I've had multiple people reach out to me due to my activities helping people out on various smaller programming subreddits.
I spend more time on HN than either of the above.
> Eliminate cognitive load. Eliminate distractions.
Agreed! My reddit feed is small enough that if I refresh it after an hour, odds are nothing new will show up! Facebook is similar now, it is no longer an endlessly scrolling list of stuff, honestly after 10-15 minutes I am back to where I was yesterday. Overall it is a win for FB because I have gone from "0" to "10 minutes", even though I imagine these changes may have made some of their heaviest users drop their total engagement time. If they can get more people back on the platform, it may be worth it to them.
> Ignite a fire in the forest that is your life and let all the shit burn to the ground.
I think this is why Marie Kondo is so popular right now. Throw it all out! I've always tried to get rid of things I don't use, but forcing functions and absolute rules can be useful at times.
It’s been really eye opening to me how much better I feel after deleting my Facebook and Twitter accounts.
I think some of us use a lot of electronic communication for work, so we kind of get the idea that there is a human at the other end of these threads. The average Twitter user has not quite made that connection yet, and see it more of public performance art than person-to-person communication. The results are not good.
(There is also some cultural thing going on right now where it's no longer OK to compromise on anything. This results in extreme polarization everywhere.)
I love it.
The most negative energy I get now is people begging for money, because they don't have enough and need some more. The classy ones try to sell something other than a sob story.
Maybe I should mute "Ko-Fi", "GoFundMe", and "Patreon".
Unfortunately, a few of the programmers that I'd like to follow retweet a lot of the cultural warfare crap (left vs right, white vs nonwhite etc.), and there is no feature to filter that out specifically. In the end, I decided to just unfollow them, as the agitation created by vitriol and stupidity was just not worth it.
The other kind of negativity I see is people tweeting dumb/argumentative things at the people I follow. The solution for that is to only read replies that the people I follow replied to and ignore the rest of the randos. This makes my daily Tweeter routine very quick BTW.
I've been off of social media for over a year and I don't regret it. I'm happy to miss an event because I wasn't on Facebook, it allowed me to see who actually wants me to be there versus those who just invite everyone in a group.
Thought I had already experienced bad times but nothing came close to that half year of what is called "Burn Out". Wouldn't wish that to my worst enemy.
People, take good care of yourself, OP is totally right.
I did a lot to turn it around, including running regularly, and a better diet. I lost a lot of weight. But what's more amazing in the long term is the mental transition that's come with it. When I get anxious, often I think "when is the last time I went running?" and if it was more than 2 days ago, getting my gear on and getting outside is nearly automatic. It's an emotional outlet. Anxious? Run it out. Angry? Run it out. Happy? Run with it!
Truly, we are meant to run. We are meant to exert ourselves. And our bodies crave it, if given the ability to.
you seem to be very active on HN. HN is my main distraction too.
Most of us were raised by imperfect people trying their best who still made a lot of mistakes. Even people who had really prepared parents probably experienced things which might have left us with some unresolved issues.
Go see a therapist. Its not a big deal.
This is starting to change and I hope it continues
That wouldn't be so bad, except there are consequences to going to therapy. Paperwork and records are generated. There are certain positions where you have to disclose any therapy that you've received (see for example Section 21 on the SF-86: https://www.opm.gov/forms/pdf_fill/sf86.pdf). Then, you answer that truthfully, and your paperwork leaked. You are supposed to be open and honest with your therapist, but can you do that in good faith? Knowing that truly anything you say can come back and haunt you in the future? Even if you work through those issues and they are firmly in the past?
There needs to be a way for people to truly feel secure and talk through troubling thoughts without fear of reprisal. I have personally avoided going to therapy for the fear that I would be denied opportunities if it was disclosed that I had a "mental illness".
It's the same reason I refuse to obtain genetic testing or DNA sequencing for myself; if I do that and, as a result, I learn that I am potentially at risk for an illness/cancer/whatever due to my genetic makeup, undoubtedly some life or health insurance policy will use that information against me to deny coverage in the future. So I remain ignorant out of fear.
Is there really? I haven't really seen it, at least among people who I hang out with (which admittedly, include a good number of therapists. Also a good number of knowledge workers who have a therapist.)
I suspect this might be class-based. The therapist market bifurcates into high-functioning professionals who can afford $400/session without insurance and just need someone to talk some feelings out, and people who really need therapy and are often referred by the school or court system. Therapists will usually take on a number of the former to pay the bills, and then a few of the latter to feel like they're doing good in the world. Who doesn't get therapy? What's left of the middle class, who are the people who usually need it the most.
If you're a member of the missing middle class, who do you see who goes to therapy? Usually the latter group, the folks who are visibly mentally ill and have trouble functioning normally. You probably don't know a whole lot of corporate executives in general, and if you do, they're often fairly good at keeping quiet that they have a therapist. So you get a very distorted picture of reality.
And knowing these class-based distortions, it's only when the highly-paid professionals, managers, and executives get together that they will casually remark, "Oh, my therapist said..." Occasionally you'll catch glimpses of this in media meant for this social class though, eg. TED talks or songs whose audience is primarily this class.
Fearing seeking help because of possible consequences is the act of creating a personal hell.
There will always be consequences no matter the choice. The chance to live life without consuming fear is the missed opportunity for not seeking help.
Why do we live in fear of our own healthcare system? It's truly upsetting for US citizens to fear getting professional medical help.
It's like if you got into a car accident and your car is totaled, but you try to fix it yourself and keep driving it around because you fear the repair costs.
We're all just broken cars afraid of going to the mechanic.
Seeking counseling for depression/anxiety does not fall under any of the questions being asked in this form.
Any mental health issue is covered by that question.
Discussion of the change: https://news.clearancejobs.com/2016/11/29/dni-announces-chan...
My thoughts on this are that first and foremost, my health is more important than my career. And for SW professionals, the reality is very few jobs require disclosure. You can easily go to a mental health professional without adversely impacting your career.
Regarding the national security position disclosure, from what I see:
- You have to disclose a court appointed order to get mental health, or a court finding of mental incompetence.
- You have to disclose a hospitalization for mental health problems.
- You have to disclose any of the following:
"Have you EVER been diagnosed by a physician or other health professional (for example, a psychiatrist, psychologist, licensed clinical social worker, or nurse practitioner) with psychotic disorder, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, delusional disorder, bipolar mood disorder, borderline personality disorder, or antisocial personality disorder?"
I don't know about the last two, but the rest are serious conditions that are often treated with medication and not with therapy. If you have any of them, I think it's a lot better to get help and be excluded from those jobs. Furthermore, they're about issues orthogonal to the article and most of the discussion here.
You have to answer this:
"Do you have a mental health or other health condition that substantially adversely affects your judgment, reliability, or trustworthiness even if you are not experiencing such symptoms today? (Note: If your judgment, reliability, or trustworthiness is not substantially adversely affected by a mental health or other condition, then you should answer "no" even if you have a mental health or other condition requiring treatment. For example, if you are in need of emotional or mental health counseling as a result of service as a first responder, service in a military combat environment, having been sexually assaulted or a victim of domestic violence, or marital issues, but your judgment, reliability or trustworthiness is not substantially adversely affected, then answer "no.")"
This is an easy "No" for almost everyone.
I think for most stress/anxiety related issues that one would seek help from a therapist, you would not have to disclose any of it for this form.
Furthermore, I want to ensure the economic viability of my family. So regarding genetic testing, you have to answer questions asking whether you have pre existing conditions when applying for life or health insurance. If you know that you are x% more likely to contract a certain cancer due to your genes, do you take the chance and lie on the application? Or do you tell the truth and run the risk of being denied wholesale?
There is no clear answer and so to protect the economic future of my kids, I can still choose not to know.
I have not touched on the “leaking” of information which I think is where you were going with your question. While I do not consider myself interesting enough to be a target for “doxing” wouldn’t it just be easier if there was nothing to “dox” in the first place?? Just in case I do end up in a public position or otherwise targeted for harassment?
Long story short this is a real issue and not something that “has never happened to anyone in human history”.
I've long argued that we should come up with a better term. I prefer stress counselor instead of therapist. It allows more natural discussion with others too. "I see a stress counselor and we just talk about how to be less stressed at work and home" is a very easy and non-clinical way to discuss the same thing as going to therapy. We also need to mandate that mental health is covered by all health insurance plans. Anything we can do to remove the stigma is a positive.
The real solution is the one we've already been pushing for and have had a great amount of success over the years, which is to treat mental health issues with the same importance as physical health issues.
Crappy upbringings and suboptimal mental habits do not always come with psychiatric disorders. And such people often don't live their best lives because they forego therapy on the grounds of "I'm not that bad, others have it much worse, I don't want to be self involved and drain resources. Also I don't want a diagnosis just to get therapy." But something like counseling has been provided by elders or religious authorities for millennia across various cultures. It's strange that now, that form of counseling is provided mostly by medical professionals to a big chunk of the Western middle class. But it's absolutely better than nothing.
However, they will most certainly help you change the way you think about that mistake. Which can be extremely helpful in moving past those mistakes and making the best of where you find yourself now in life.
I just recently started seeing a therapist, and this was a huge revelation to me. More specifically, helping me realize I was holding onto a lot of guilt over things where it made no sense to cling to that guilt. Learning to let go of that mental overhead has been extremely helpful.
Well, OK - that realization didn't make my problems go away, but it did set me down a path.
As others have already said, the role of a therapist isn't to solve those problems you have in your life. They might be able to help you not get mentally affected by those problems, though.
When I found out my insurance included therapy, I said "Heck, why not?" Had only 3 sessions with him. The outcome?
I learned that my problems are not severe enough to warrant serious therapy (based on a heuristic they use). That's not to say I shouldn't feel bad about them or anything, but to highlight that yes, people have ups and downs, and I may have just a few more downs than the median, but I'm not far from the median.
The problems I was dealing with had solutions. He outlined a few options to me and recommended some books. I picked one of the options and started reading those books (frankly, I was interested in the topic anyway).
Knowing that my problems were ultimately due to the lack of a few (learnable) skills makes a big difference. And now I can see people around me who have similar issues - some who think they've got serious psychological problems - and their internal mental torment is rather sad.
Agree with what others have said: Plenty of crappy therapists out there. I seem to have been lucky with mine.
Rather therapists help you not make the same mistake again.
A lot of humans think "But I'll never make that mistake again!"
But then they do. We're just not evolved to live in modern environments, so our brains and nervous systems lead us to do silly things.
Therapists help reduce the likelihood that you keep making the same mistakes. And they provide techniques to mitigate the risks arising from new types of mistakes you might make.
It's why our sessions all focus on brief therapy and practical psychology principles.
it may very well change very concretely how you feel about past present and future
Not an easy task I'll give you that
In Europe, my friends working in finance are close to going mental as well.
I would assume most people are not that candid with their partners, but that's the sort of thing you can discuss with a therapist.
Another aspect is that often times sensitive subjects involving the spouse come up that you have previously been unsuccessful in discussing with them, or you are simply uncomfortable discussing with them.
An easy comeback would be to say "you should be able to discuss anything with your spouse," but reality ain't that simple for everybody.
i think 8ch used to fill that roll for me but now it's gone and there's no one else to talk to & everything's spiraling out of control.
And therapists will not charge crazy rates. You'll get plenty of good ones for half that cost.
No idea if still true.
Insofar as it works, therapy is "preventive care" -- it should help you to live a healthier life, thus reducing your overall cost to the insurer.
This gets tricky when we consider the frequency and cost of therapy. If you go every week, and a session costs $200 (not unreasonable in much of the world) then it's probably only coverable in a single-payer, "healthcare-is-a-human-right" system, and even then only after building a pro-therapy consensus that might be difficult.
Because even if everyone should go to therapy, lots of people think they shouldn't.
And routine checks on basic indicators like blood pressure and cholesterol are part of conventional health advice, particularly as people age, in order to identify and respond to problems early, before they become much more severe and difficult to treat.
Equivalent preemptive/preventative treatment for mental health is less understood/available.
Get help if you need it and remember that no one is worth working for if they degrade your mental health. No one.
This said, therapy is not as "modern" as people think. Catholic confession has been around for literally millennia, and it basically had that same role: one guy will listen to your deepest thoughts and shames, absolve you from guilt, and discuss ways for you to be a better person. It's just that we now know how to do it without all the religious baggage.
There are other therapy approaches which are more suited to be delivered through a phone. Something that we've seen work really well is teaching coping skills, mental models and different perspectives. It's much less about focusing on your past and life situations, and more about actionable skills that you can learn to manage mental health issues.
Watching the NYT (and others) from within tech over the past few years has done more to destroy any trust in mass media than anything else in my lifetime.
It's been a while since I read this article, but I believe James Risen also talked about government employees working with the NYT to publish pre-approved "leaks".
Every rag has its issues. The pieces are written by people and edited by more people in turn. It’s more about reading the least worst of a bad bunch. NYT and FT are in that category for me at least.
Forgiveness for myself and towards others is the most powerful medicine I've ever known. We are all human, yet so many people judge so harshly. I've learned that the energy expended upon blame/shame is not worth it compared to the energy recycled by forgiving and forgetting. I wish more people realized this, this simple truth could transform the whole world.
I've quit smoking weed, drinking, vaping nicotine, eating meat, porn. This is a big deal for me at age 29, I didn't think I'd ever be able to let all these vices go. I've started to wake up at 5am everyday (most days without an alarm). I feel grateful as I brush my now straight teeth (they were crooked 2 years ago). I like how I look and feel, this natural confidence attracts women I thought were 'out of my league' not too long ago.
I spend my mornings working towards my highest aspiration of spreading good by design through my agency/consultancy. Under this umbrella, I have started to improve my skills as a developer to build products/platforms that I feel should exist that don't. I read books/articles by people who have done the things I aspire to do and offer concrete principles to help me keep evolving.
I got rid of my smartphone, don't miss it to be honest. I use my Sony a6000 for photography now. I don't use Facebook at all, use Instagram only to see nature photography (a few interesting people I admire), use reddit and twitter to keep up with my interests (culled most of my feed in both down to high-signal, low-noise).
I'm just happy to be alive. I was morbidly depressed in May 2017. I was feeling like a loser for not getting into YC, for getting laid off, for not having a degree, for not being married like most people my age in my culture, for being a joke to many people I grew up around. I don't care about any of that anymore, I am a victor, not a victim!
I'll shut up now. Hopefully this helps someone out there struggling, we are all in this together.
I started out with psilocybin in 2009 when I was 19. Over the course of the last decade, I dove deep into EVERYTHING from Antiquity to the Renaissance to the Counterculture. I feel psychedelics helped me synthesize so many different aspects of STEAM fields in a meaningful and practical way.
Meditation and gratitude keep me child-like, I can't even put it into words really. It's just something that has to be experienced to be understood, I'm sure you know what I mean!
I don't doubt that a lot of these psychedelics, about which almost every person who tries them for depression raves, are effective for some people. But like any strong drug affecting the brain, I'm wary that they could just as easily cause even more anxiety and depression in those already predisposed.
It's been almost 2 years since my first ayahuasca ceremony and I don't feel depressed at all, I feel a child-like absorption with life and a need to serve the planet I call home. I wouldn't attribute all of this to the entheogen itself, I made a conscious choice to change and the ceremonies were catalysts that helped. People go to ceremonies and revert back to their old ways if they don't 'integrate'. Integration is just as important, if not more, than the ceremony itself.
I've been using thc as self-medication for a decade and decided to quit cold turkey, and my anxiety and self-doubt is through the roof. I know the baggage is coming from childhood, but I'm not sure how to solve it.
First time was in October 2017, I flew to Colombia after getting a 'scholarship'. They let me do a 10-day retreat with 3 ceremonies (plus 2 sweat lodges and 2 san pedro ceremonies) for $400 instead of the $2K+ that most centers charge. I would not have been able to afford it otherwise. Before going, I had already gone 4 months without drinking, smoking, meat, or sex though. I was all-in on this transformation and saw this plant medicine as a way to reach the deepest parts of my psyche to do a 'reboot' of sorts. That's what I got from it.
The 2nd and 3rd retreats were in upstate NY through a girl I know who has pure intentions and good connections. She runs a center that is donation-based and is basically a commune. I couldn't live there but it's nice to know I can always go there if I find myself at a crossroads again.
Quitting pot was difficult, it's everywhere these days. Ultimately, my grandma's death put everything into perspective for me. I listened to the Steve Jobs Stanford speech recently and everything he said echoes what I realized in the last few months.
Do you journal? Do you have access to a steam room/sauna? Sweating the THC out of your body is a good start. Meditation and fitness can help curb your anxiety. I didn't go looking for ayahuasca or bufo, they both kinda found me. It's a long story, so I'll spare you.
Therapy is rubber-ducking for your brain and thinking patterns.
Sure, you can figure the bugs by yourself but you often get stuck in your ways of thinking which make you blind to them.
The therapist is the equivalent of a senior brain & behavior engineer. Use them, talk to them. Talk about your quirks and your bugs.
You may think you have a perfect solution, but that solution is most likely flawed. You wouldn't expect a software to debug itself. You wouldn't expect a junior to fix huge breaking issues.
I found one recently, but after my second email she just replied that she's overbooked. I have issues with rejection among other things :)
If the first one doesn't work out, they might recommend somebody more suited for you specifically or, in the worst case, you can just repeat the process above.
Unless you can get a recommendation from somebody you know, I think this is the best option. It's usually better to do something than to do nothing :).
The first appointments are usually going to be freeform discussions, so you'll be able to see if there's a connection.
I know I could use use therapy, although the fabulous graduate-level textbook I once read that I believe nailed the root cause of my issues (deep neglect as an infant) basically said that the only "cure" to most of my issues would be to, and I paraphrase here, to constantly reinforce that I am no longer a helpless child and I need to take control of my decisions as an adult.
Also, the book postulated that deep early-childhood trauma is one of the most devastating things that can happen to person and could very well be the primary driver of addiction later in life, and I remember quite clearly that the author (a German lady from the 20's if I remember correctly) said that it would be better to be addicted to heroin then to be neglected as an infant.
I read the book while in prison, so I am unable, thankfully, to figure out the author or ISBN number, but I sure wish I could find it again.
The idea is that you have stimulus->response, and while it's impossible to know root causes, you can identify stimuluses and change the response.
Analogous to ML engineering, versus Chomsky for AI. Not as pretty, but (currently) more effective.
edit to add - there are good books for CBT and other Positive Psychology approaches. Haidt's Happiness Hypothesis is accessible and interesting; I got good value from that.
I have Bowlby's books as well, so can recommend them.
Based on my experience, any therapist ought to be able to offer a reduced rate - the first session or at least inquiry can be used to establish such things. And I'd recommend trying to see someone in person vs. over the Net, if possible, but that has its own drawbacks (transportation etc)
First two chapters:
"tech employees who long ago fused their sense of self-worth to their work."
That could easily apply to any industry, just a reality of the world today that work consumes most of your time/energy, and most people are not entirely in love with your work. I have noticed recently that time off or vacation time makes working harder, like my brain realizes what life could be for an instant and rebels before getting back to the grind.
Some issues are:
JIRA / agile / whatever methodologies, so many metadata fields in the ticketing system that are all just matters of opinion. So much time spent hoarding and prioritizing "wishlist" items, and discussing which order to do things if, hypothetically, they were to be done... instead of actually doing them.
Pull requests / code reviews - now that these are done in a web browser, there is no bar to having an opinion and having your two cents. As a developer, the pull request is something I produce after executing and debugging some code for a few days, but then I cant merge it until people are happy with how it looks, not how it works.
Testing & documentation - everyone wants this, nobody can agree how it should work. It's in a constant state of "aspiration", a few broken / flakey test cases from the last attempt that slow down development, but provide no confidence in the safety of changes. You can improve the situation by writing new testcases and fixing old ones, but sooner or later someone will have an urgent change that they "know" is safe that breaks the test cases that they will merge anyway, and then it's back to square one.
General poor quality work environment - open plan, long hours, noisy, some "interesting" characters. Very little scope to ever control your work environment.
I find all these to be instances of cognitive dissonance, where there is a huge gulf between how people think things should work, and the actual, day-to-day reality of making a change. Somehow people are only interested in talking about some hypothetical future state, but nobody cares about how things are now and how to get there, and if you do, you are perceived as being "difficult".
Our society doesn't offer many places for people to feel safe truly opening up emotionally. It can take people a very long time, and sometimes it takes 5 sessions just to build up enough trust to start to scratch the surface of whats really going wrong. I wish your comment was empathetic towards things like that, but instead it feels dismissive, and I'd worry it makes people second guess going to therapy, or starting.
Most therapists can help anyone. The right one for you can be life changing. Don't give up finding one, even if your first, second or third don't get you as far as you need to go. It probably took decades to get you to where you are, don't quit after a few weeks trying to work on it.
So... don’t be afraid to fire your therapist if it isn’t working. Trust your gut.
My anxiety is about deadlines and such.
Yes I know there are software principles that help with this like KISS and YAGNI, but I have a hard time internalizing them.
I used to work in construction, and tasks were largely repetitive. I knew the "right" way to do nearly all of my tasks, and I was able to complete them well. That drives a feeling of accomplishment that I don't have in tech.
Absolutely. I save like 60-70% (depending on how you count taxes) every month and plan on stopping traditional work at 40. I'll probably have enough money to coast at that point and I can take up some contracting work a few months a year instead of being stuck in the 9-5. That goal is the only thing that keeps me sane.
Source: I work in the game dev industry. It’s brutal.
However, you can make a bit of a fine distinction: is your job making you unhappy, or are you unhappy in your job?
If you're doing boring work with no appreciation and low pay, or if everyone else at work is unhappy too, then it's probably the job. At the other extreme, If the things you're unhappy about with your job are the same things you've been unhappy about with every other job you've ever had, then maybe you need to use the therapy to figure out why you are the common thread.
(Actually, those two aren't mutually exclusive. Maybe the job itself is bad for you, but you have a pattern of picking jobs that are bad for you.)
I think it’s really just that the employers treat workers badly and don’t pay them enough to escape personal life anxieties in the super expensive urban areas they are requires to live in for these jobs.
Bait & switch jobs, stalled out career progress, salaries that seem high on paper but don’t go far at all, insane open-plan offices whipping up anxieties all day every day, disallowed to pursue good craftsmanship.
I see these apps as new approaches to the traditional self help market but for a new generation. These are people like Tim Ferris who follow the traditional model of publishing a book, but now blogs, youtube, tweets etc... Then there are entrepreneurs making apps focused on journaling etc.., screening tools / lead generation.. which are trending towards, at best, finding someone a therapist.
Also the ACA opened up mental health resources payable by insurance so you also see health insurers developing web based tools as well. And you have the traditional therapists doing podcasts as well as video chat therapy etc...
I personally find the podcasts valuable to help understand the theory. Still, in practice, it makes sense to see a human therapist, preferably one well trained to work through issues.
We need to learn to just disconnect and focus on the real and whats in front of us. I can't tell you how many times I have sat down to do some work, looked a twitter for a minute and looked up an hour later severely depressed about the state of the world and angry over something I have zero impact on.
Just unplugging from social media may really be the answer.
Also In tech especially so many of us are always after the next job and raise that we are don't take time to establish roots and make friends. Isolation is an epidemic among tech workers.
Life is hard enough already, and there's tools out there available that can help. If you have access, you should take advantage of it.
I get that there's still stigma in some areas and cultures. Perhaps ironically, with some better social-mental-emotional-physiological tools, you might find that the stigma just doesn't concern you.
Yup. I'm increasingly considering doing the same. Climate change is really getting into my head these days. How do you deal with feeling there is no future?
Despair can be self-fulfilling. Fight it. "Rage, rage against the dying of the light."
> How do you deal with feeling there is no future?
Well, I'm a Christian. I believe that there is a future for me, and it's not here. That doesn't make me uncaring about problems here, though. It lets me approach them without despair, even when I can't see how they can be solved.
Fuck tech. Bring on the Butlerian Jihad!
Spend your time only on 20% of things that bring you 80% of joy.
Family, friends, awesome experiences that take your breath away, learning something new that you absolutely love. The rest is NOISE and is not important.
People of many occupations are probably seeking out therapy more, for the same reasons. I wouldn't single tech out, unless I happened to be obsessively focused on writing about everything that might be wrong with tech.
They're not from SV (or from the U.S.), and they'd hardly count as "tech workers".
They're self-taught programmers who built their app in an effort to address their own anxiety, as well as a digestive illness that afflicts at least one of them, and for which university research has found hypnotherapy can be somewhat helpful (I have my own experience with these kinds of illnesses and therapies, which is why I took an interest).
You can sneer all you like, but these guys are nothing like the "SV tech bro" stereotype you're invoking, and they're earnestly working on a profoundly important problem: huge and growing numbers of people in the world experiencing mental health challenges and many (or likely, most) of them don't have the proximity or financial means to access in-person professional therapy or mindfulness coaching.
Where a startup beats the odds and starts to become successful, it needs to employ a lot of people (and generate other benefits for others, such as returns to investors and, oh yeah, valuable products to customers) before the founders can get personally rich.
Occasionally it goes well enough for the founders to "make tons of money", but it's not the norm.
In this case, founders of these companies will only "make tons of money" if they succeed in helping vast numbers of people overcome anxiety and other distressing states of existence.
Of the founders I know who are working on one of these startups to help people overcome anxiety and ill health, if you could talk to them, and see the sincerity with which they are dedicated to building something that makes life better for troubled people, you wouldn’t dismiss them with such cynicism and snark.
In another thread the clathrate gun is about to go off big time
Anxiety is pretty warranted when you're literally looking at the end of civilization, and possibly an early, horrible death for you, or infinitely more sadly, your kid.
Read the last IPCC reports instead of randos from the internet: https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/
You may also want to read the individual papers that are backing those reports, they're also super informative`.
Some quotes that stuck out to me:
In response to a representative asking how to get more kids involved: "Just tell them the truth," she said. "Tell them how it is. Because when I found out how it actually is, it made me furious."
"Adults keep saying we owe it to the young people to give them hope. But I don't want your hope. I want you to panic."
But it also fuels a righteous frustration that she even needs to justify her obsession. "It's not because (climate change) is especially interesting," she said, rolling her eyes. "It's a matter of life and death."
Are you being serious? I genuinely can't tell.