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How is everyone's mental health at the moment?
21 points by atlasshorts 3 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 28 comments
With a 1/100 year pandemic sweeping through the world, recent progress with the #BlackLivesMatter movement and one of the worst economic recessions since the great depression, I think it's okay and appropriate to ask this right now. The goal is to provide emotional and psychological support to those that may be struggling in this unknown chapter of human history and through these challenging times.

I have been suffering from anxiety and depression for the majority of my adult life. Recent events have had an interesting effect on this. I was following the COVID-19 news in early January and I felt very anxious all the time. Strangely, my anxiety felt lighter when my country of residence locked down. I've seen this reported elsewhere too. I think seeing everyone reacting to the outbreak was almost comforting to me. For the first time in my life, people were reacting to an event with anxiety in the same way that I was. I no longer felt that anxiety was a disability but rather a reasonable response to events. Purchases of supplies slowly over a period of 8 weeks before lockdown proved a wise move and family members commented on my sensible reactions. Behavior that I have been trying to eradicate with therapy and medication for many years had proven to be the right choice.

This experience seems to have confused my brain. I am questioning old patterns of thinking and having to establish boundaries for negative thought-patterns again. It feels very odd and I feel I have gone backwards many years in my mental health development. My thoughts go out to the many people suffering from these problems, indeed many much worse than I.


Even before Covid I was already going through a bad phase, I think I will never be as good as I once was in my job. I make stupid mistakes, I have a hard time focusing, I used to be one of the top performers of the team and now I struggle to do basic tasks without making mistakes. I stop and check my phone or the news every 15 minutes.

I have a partner, a baby and a small kid and absolutely no family members to help with anything in an 8.000km radius. Kids can't go to school so wife is even more miserable by being stuck taking care of them the whole day while I attempt to work and fail miserably. I feel horrible that she has to take care of the kids while I'm here in the office absolutely failing to do my work.

My mother just did a Covid test yesterday and she is also showing sign of Alzheimer's. I can't travel to the country where she lives to see or help her.

I am honestly afraid of losing my job for being so unproductive. I even like what I do, I get excited thinking about the things I have to learn, but when it's time to sit down 9am to try to do work, I am just mentally exhausted to even begin to start. Then I check my phone.

I can't just quit my job due to the need for money. I don't think switching jobs will be any more helpful since I am in such a bad productivity stage right now that the new employer will probably fire me upon realizing how crappy I am.

I feel I will never be the productive programmer I once was, and this scares me.

Thanks for the attention.

Hang in there, buddy! Once the fire burns again, you'll be cranking out code like a freshman. Do you have a separate room for home office? Changing it a bit might help. Ask your kid to make a painting to put on the wall (actually, I should do this too!).

I think switching jobs does not help because it's the not thing demotivating us.

It's so hard to break the spell called daily routine. I know because I'm in the same spot you're in.

It won't last. The current situation will pass. Nothing lasts. Everything changes. You will make it through this time. We all will.


Coming to the table with low inherent trait extroversion and even lower trait neuroticism I was primed to do just fine.

Mix in a decent home office space coincidentally already setup, a job that lets me work from home, a great wage, absurdly low rent, decent savings, a caring partner also fine working from home, and top it all off with living in a country with a more help-others than individualistic culture that happens to be in a more progressive swing of the political pendulum, and I feel like a right lucky S.O.B.

Where u at bro

I'm in the pacific northwest in the entertainment industry. There's a bit of footage we're milking and it seems like things are going to slowly turn back on with higher restrictions of on set production. But long term? I think we'll keep working.

I’ve transitioned to working full time as a software engineer after running two startups, right before the lockdowns started (February).

While I’m extremely lucky, I’m also at a very uncertain period in my life - as I assume most of us are.

Working from home (not being able to go to a coffee shop or co-working space) makes it hard to transition in and out of work, so days just feel a bit of a blur.

I know there are people doing way worse, going for months without jobs, so I don’t mean to diminish their situation - but this whole period just feels like waiting.

Sometimes it's just harder to appreciate and enjoy freedom we've generated for ourselves than actually to make all that work leading to that freedom.

It's a self-resolving paradox though. Later in life we're wiser, and most of us can better understand our life thru complex layers of abstract models. Like how good are we with diminishing risks and what kind of and how many options we can generate for ourselves. Life is good after that. You trust yourself, you have control. For now just enjoy the ride!

Thanks for sharing.

Well, surprisingly good. Assuming I have no job, stuck alone in an asocial country, miss my home, and had a much worse mental state before entering pandemics.

TL;DR: stoicism rocks. the best thing I've adopted ever.

Secret? First of all, stoicism. When COVID started, I got into and quickly merged into my philosophy. I still have a lot to learn, read and internalize (finish the big 3 stoics, yudkovsky, taleb, kahneman), but even now it works pretty well. It successfully moves away from the orthodox version, so I'd recommend you to meditate a lot about the statements it gives instead of just accepting them. For example, I think I started to understand how all this "you can shape reality with your mind" stuff works. Nothing magical, just a proper mindset which is surprisingly similar to the stoic one.

Second - of course, I have savings. I anticipated a crisis long before so I started to stash money. In the best case, I have a couple of years of runaway (and even more if I return home).

Third - I have some ideas to build. So I plan to enrich my github / cv and in the meantime apply to interesting jobs (yes, I'm still picky). I planned to build the stuff anyway, so why not do it in a comfortable manner (and not tired after day job in the evenings). Plus, I can rehearse the proper escape to full-time tinkering which I hope the future will allow me to do.

Fourth - the upside of being a small asocial country is that it has already removed the quarantine. So I've already started going to coworking and got an awesome boost to productivity.

This. Being prepared and thinking clearly is the cornerstone of being able to practice indifference to fate.

I'm also in a good shape thanks to that philosophy, and moreover - thanks to a life I've managed to generate for myself. One can't work without the other.

And I'm not a kind of lucky and happy-face hipster taking success in life for granted. Life has been throwing enormous problems at me. I have no idea what I would do without a proper philosophical backbone in order to deal with that.

I almost spit out my coffee when you mentioned TALEB as a stoic, much less a member of the “big three”

He’s as far from stoic as I can possibly imagine. His hairtrigger easily offended argumentative twitter presence is maybe even more sensitive and reactive and thin skinned than trump.

The most basic definition of stoicism is "indifference to fate". In that scope Taleb definitely is a stoic. His approach toward stoicism, though, is less philosophy focused and more (that's kind of unique) targeted toward statistics. Ancient stoics don't write about their philosophy in such a way, but the logic remains similar. The whole concept of antifragility Taleb has promoted is pure "opportunistic" stoicism. Taleb is like a Seneca the Younger, minus some charm ;)

Regarding his online presence, anyone knowing his works also knows that he's using Twitter purely to mess with people. He stated that many times in his Incerto series.

Sometimes it's easy to forget what is the actual core of a given philosophy / enterprise / etc. Hence my whole comment. It's worthwhile to know, I think, that stoicism has a very important component comprised of pure logic, which Taleb seems to be hyped about (not without a reason).

I wouldn't call Taleb a member of the top-3 stoics though. He's balancing on the verge of being an outcast rather than hanging out with mainstream stoic crowds.

I was looking for a job for 12+ months as I am bad at interviewing. I found one during the height of covid at a startup that seems to be unaffected.

Finally got a chance to prove myself which is going well.

The lockdown gave me time to reflect and reset my habits. I am much more into exercise and yoga.

I got more time to talk to my grandparents as I moved in with them during my miserable job hunt.

So yea, pretty good! The only thing I can’t shake is my job hunt experience. I am pretty mad for working so hard at university and people simply brushing me off as inexperienced and later brushing me off as “missing the hiring cycle”

I wish I partied a shit ton more and I regret doing my best, except for the courses that taught something useful. Like the courses on hacking and that one course where they left us all free to learn whatever we wanted (I learned objective-C). But the UML course, bad intro to programming course or the “pervasive computing” course, what a waste of my years.

I'm currently in the job hunt and also starting to question why I got a degree. I definitely learned some useful stuff but no one cares. Instead of 4 years on a degree I could have spent 1 year learning on my own. I wouldn't be as well prepared but everyone is looking for shallow signals anyway.

Spending a few weeks following a tutorial to build some crappy web app will look more impressive to a recruiter than spending a few years going through grueling coursework.

It's not hard to build that crappy web app but it's just weird how it matters more.

I guess being able to showcase what you can do matters a lot more than what you can actually do.

I feel like I'm reading my own words right now. Since I currently have a job at a company that pays slightly below average, but other than that is pretty amazing (I have no stress there and partially get to work on open-source), I'll give you some pro's as to why you have your degree:

1. It's easy to get up to speed. This has 2 consequences (see 2 and 3).

2. It doesn't feel particurlarly challenging, so you can focus on having a chill life.

An aside: if you live in a country where you're taxed highly, then I definitely recommend taking a 4 day work week as free days don't get taxed. To me, it almost strikes the right balance. I'm learning that I want a mix between a 4 day work weeks and 8 to 12 week vacations per year. I'd get there if I'd go to 3.5 days per week and use 26 free days as vacation days. For me, being able to work 3.5 days per week is similar to being rich and doing whatever the hell you want. Career progress is tougher (depending on what you do in your free time), but you're living life right now instead of later.

3. If it does feel challenging (had this with a previous gig before the 12 months), you have the confidence of having been through something much more grueling before.

Is that worth 4 years of your life? Probably not, but it's better than the psychology degree that I also happen to have :P

Dreadful. I am in a country far from anything I know. I had been applying to jobs everywhere in the EU, only to be refused every time. That was before the plague hit, and the UK officially withdrew from the EU. My local job teaching English died with the pandemic (I'm sure it will come back up when the pandemic stops, but for now I have no income).

I had been making games for mobile since no one else wants to hire me as a programmer, but between making roughly $1.00 on that venture, and the stresses of life, I haven't been able to keep focused on that. Some times I feel that the world feels I am useless, and the problem with feeling like that is that I struggle to keep it from being a self fulfilling prophecy.

I hate my job, but that was existing before all this stuff started.

What is it and do you have an option to change jobs?

Software engineer for a large financial company.

I don't really have the option to change. I became an expert (acting tech lead) in our Filenet based application, then they outsourced it. Then I worked with a Neoxam application including ASC work for a couple years (terrible management). I'm on an AWS team working with Python (sort of). The work is boring, the business can't describe their business process well, and we spend more time doing reports or troubleshooting than building anything.

The company doesn't follow it's own policies. I see people get promoted because they meet diversity metrics and work 12 hour days (policy is 7.5 hours). I put in extra hours as an acting tech lead, got my masters, and I'm still a mid level after 8 years. I feel this same sort of stuff will happen at other big companies as the one I'm at is ranked in the top 20 Computerworld best places to work. I'm a mid level developer and would need to find an entry level position. I have a kid now, so I can't afford to take a lower salary. I'm stuck.

I expect you're not alone in your position. Since it sounds like you can't do anything in work, is there anything outside work that can make it better?

Not that I've been able to think of.

It's not the virus directly or other issues.

It's the side effects.

Most of all my kids have been home and my happy working from home world for me, is horrible. Young kids don't understand working from home, and that's 100% understandable... but then I end up working after they go to bed, and before they get up.

My wife has to work from home.

In the meantime it's summer and there's no baseball, no fairs, no other things :(

You mentioned you end up working after they go to bed, and before they get up; and then left it at that. Is that necessarily a bad thing?

I ask since I do something similar semi-regularly now, and I don't find it to be a negative thing for myself. I was always remote even before COVID (and it sounds like you are too). There are parts of my job that aren't time-flexible (meetings) and parts that are (coding). I just tend to code before kid wakes up, when kid is napping, or after her bed time. For meetings, they have to happen in the morning of the work day and that's fine. Overall, I don't really mind the whole bending of my coding hours to work with my family's schedule. I actually kind of enjoy it this way because I know that when I'm coding, I'm undisturbed.

It's not a terrible pattern by itself but it can be a bit hard on sleep and such.

Weird - there have been both good and bad things for my mental health. For example working from home has been great and bad at the same time.

- Great because I have more time to myself, am able to relax faster, I have more time to work on my side project or play video games.

- Bad because my routine is really out of wack now. My sleeping patterns are non-existent at times. I feel extremely tired most of the time.

I think part of the exhaustion is that there's no in-between phase from work to home. A commute helps, because I have time to mentally cool down after ending the day. WFH, I get jumped by my kids as soon as I leave my office, but my brain is still working on that software architecture design document.

What helped me was to aim to stop working about 30 minutes before leaving the home office. During that time, just read a book, post on HN, answer/delete emails, all this lighter behavior.

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