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Ask HN: Did anyone else lose their marbles?
568 points by throoowwawaayy on Feb 6, 2023 | hide | past | favorite | 341 comments
Typical story I imagine-- ambitious, smart, promising career, was a technical co-founder at a small startup, and things seemed fine. Then I found myself wandering in the woods all day, crying for no reason and looking for non-existent fossils, which I found. I eventually saw petrified sea creatures everywhere and stopped going to work, or answering my phone, paying bills, etc. Things ended predictably, in horrible slow motion. Now I have a two year hole in my life, and I’ll never forgive myself for what I put my family through.

But nobody else will ever know that. I’m functional and back in the industry, but it’s not the sort of thing people discuss at the water cooler.

So I’d like to ask if anyone else had a secret breakdown? I’m curious if my story is an outlier, or if this is one of those things that “just happens” to some people.




I've just become completely lethargic lately. And there's some sort of mental block stopping me from working. It's kinda insane because I can work on other stuff, but as soon as there's a simple task for my employer my mind just wanders off.

And when I really try to focus I just go blank in my head. Can't explain shit.

I'm trying to slowly get back on the pony just because I'm ashamed of all the salary I've collected for what little work I've been able to do.

Haven't done therapy lately but one thing that comes to mind is how futile everything is. I know it's a cliché but I'm almost 40 so this isn't your regular teenage angst "nothing matters", I thought I was past that.

It might be rooted in the fact that I don't have kids, I haven't found purpose yet. But the thoughts that come to mind is that this could all end tomorrow and wtf are we working for when we could be living?


> It might be rooted in the fact that I don't have kids

As a parent: nope, it's definitely not that.

Yes, having children is a rich and beautiful experience. It's also a ruthless grind. So, if you think you're feeling lethargic and it's all a bit futile, imagine doing everything you do now, but also arguing with a smaller, more annoying version of yourself for a couple of decades while sleep deprived, and with 1/4 of the disposable income you have now.

For me, it's a battle between "if I do something, someone's just gonna fuck it up anyway" and "I used to love this. I can still get excited by this, right?" I constantly find myself in a state of paralysis where I know what to do, I know how to do it, I even know how to do it quickly so it can be over and done, but I still just don't want to START anything.

I suspect it's a result of a decade or so of working in startups with borderline psychotic egomaniacs. For instance, one CEO would periodically grab me, walk me a few blocks away from the office and proceed to scream in my face for 20 minutes on the sidewalk. There are many, many other examples, but honestly, it's all too familiar and boring to recount.

At times I feel it may be akin to PTSD. The psych I saw suspected it may well be, but unfortunately there are many more needy patients being treated for far worse PTSD (e.g. Afghanistan, Iraq, etc).

Apparently, there's a term for this "inability to do stuff": executive dysfunction. That's about as much as I know.

One of the other unsettling things that has recently manifested itself has been stuttering. I've never stuttered and always prided myself on being a persuasive and confident speaker. But since the above horror-show I've often found myself unable to string sentences together, getting tongue-tied, long pauses. Maybe it's just age, but it seems correlated time-wise. Yes, I know, correlation is not causation.


If INTPenis hears anything I hope it's that not having kids isn't the root of this problem. I have kids and it's wonderful, but I too feel all the same lethargy and lack of purpose interspersed with bouts of helping kids with their homework and relentlessly getting their grumpy asses to school at ungodly hours every day and generally trying hard not to fuck them up. If you're already in a shitty situation, having kids definitely does not fix it.

If you find it inexplicably hard to make it to your 9am standup, try making it your responsibility to get two other humans out of bed and ready for school at 6:35 every day and then make it to your 9am standup.


This. Kids don't help with burnout. I drive my kids to school each morning at 7:20. This is preceded by 35 minutes of insanity asking them 100 times to get out of bed, eat their breakfast, get dressed, brush their teeth, etc. This morning on the drive in, I got in an argument with my kid over the stupidest thing that is probably my fault but the result was he got out of the car upset and I drove back home irritated, sat down to work and opened my emails and essentially raged at the requests the people were asking of me. Lately my wife has been on me for not practicing sports with my kids but I literally don't have breakfast or lunch most days because I cannot get up from my desk, the pings and requests just don't stop coming. By the time I get up its dark out. I am lucky to get to the gym once a week and if I do its on a Saturday at Noon. I work from home and I had to hire a nanny just to distract the kids and do homework with them otherwise they keep coming into my office and I have to context switch and I am useless for the next 45 minutes, then they would come in again.

On Friday I committed to delivering a feature set in an insane timeline. I open my email this morning and they are asking me for a bunch of other busy work that I just don't have time to deliver but its on me to figure it out.

Life should really not be like this.

I am seriously considering a test run of taking a couple hits of marijuana before work one day to see if there is any difference on my stress level and work delivery.

I sometimes watch the garbage truck and I am incredibly envious of the two guys on the truck.


I feel this.

I am having a really hard time coping with parenting. I am logical person but my toddler is not. I like reading books and just silence which allows me to think. That is completely gone in our house now. It is mostly crying, screaming, followed by more crying. There are some beautiful moments that I will cherish, but I really have a hard time. Other times, we are asking to brush teeth, get ready for bed, get in the car, get inside, or do something else which is met with MASSIVE resistance.

I don't know how people have 3-4 kids. I would probably go insane.


Don't get too worked up about it. The crying and screaming rate goes down as they get older. Bedtime routines get easier as they get more independent. Of course other issues might come up, but I think it gets easier as they get older.

Hang in there! In a few more years you'll remember all the good times and the hardly remember that bad times.

(Speaking from experience as a father of two biological children of 15 and 11, and an adopted son of 3. And I'm 51. I never thought I'd have a 3yo at this age. He'll start driving when I'm 64. I don't have as much patience as I used to, so I have to watch my emotions. But it's worth it!)


I think the answer is that they're not all equally challenging. My first kid is easy as pie. Still a lot of work, but generally does what's asked of her, has rarely thrown fits, is quiet, etc. The second kid is a constant battle.


That's the nice thing about having multiple kids. The second kid situation is only 4 times harder than the single kid situation.


A second kid is nice in theory. In practice it sounds like a nightmare.


In the long run assuming the age gap is only a year or two it's actually beneficial. First couple years are very hard but after that they are friends and entertain each other. Sure they fight but when they are getting along and helping each other out it's peace on earth.

Schedule can get challenging. Kids are all pretty much great by the time they hit 8 years old. It's a bear to get there though.

Plus they are paired up at boxing so they get most of their resentment out there :)


> Kids are all pretty much great by the time they hit 8 years old.

Having a rather tricky 10 year old, I think this magic number is a bit off.


*results may vary. Not a guarantee of actual performance

:)


Multiple family medical issues mean if I were to have another kid, there'd be more than 5 years of age gap. Then it means different friend groups, different sports/activities teams, etc. Then add in that one parent works evening hours... Scheduling hell.


Yeah, that is a tough one; 5 years is trickier.


And at most ONE YEAR where they actually go to the same school. Ugh.


It takes a village to raise a kid so find your village.


you wouldn't go insane. you would adjust. it gets easier.


To me the problem here, is an unreasonable attitude by the employer. Many employees are parents. We cannot work at quite the same breakneck pace. Its abusive to the whole family to expect that. Employers need to understand and make allowances, and they themselves will benefit if they treat people reasonably. You could always go work for public sector though, perhaps the government, and/or ask to work 4 days a week. The salary hit is more than worth it, even if that requires some real frugality or change in lifestyle. Time spent with kids is precious. More chilled out parents make for more chilled and better behaved (though far from perfect ;) kids. I think the garbage truck guys have to get up early so that might not be compatible ;). Might be in a union though, so salary hit might be less than expected ;)


You are not wrong.

9 meetings so far today. All booked over my blocked work time.


This is the truth. The advice I give to expectant friends is this: get your shit together, mental health wise, before that tiny human shows up in your life. My partner and I found that the stress of having a child brings all that shit up.


All of the above is true...And yet I (39 years old, father of 2 boys- aged 4 & 6) used to have existential crises routinely and I really don't anymore. Despite often being huge pains in the ass my kids make me so...Content? Happy? I don't know.

Whatever it is I don't have existential crises anymore.


Kids provide a VERY easy answer to “why am I doing this inane shit” - because they would literally die if you don’t.

And people will naturally go through lots of pain if there’s hope their kids will have a better life than they did, and there’s almost always that hope, even in total societal collapse.

And a second side effect is kids force you to get to know the parents of other kids, even if only accidentally. Many people are quite starved for general human conversation, even if it is just about the immense number of diapers encountered per annum.


I thought this was common understanding but the comments here seems to indicate otherwise. It is surprising. People’s behavior changes after having kids, and in the main this generally means they become more ‘responsible’ modulo ‘bad parents’. There is powerful biological machinery to make this regenerating process work for both sexes and it operates at a more fundamental level than higher level (‘conceptual’) processes.


For me it was trauma from long past. I didn't get existential so much beforehand, because I had learned that looking too hard wasn't awesome. The complete life-upending force that is a slug in a onesie forced me to look at a lot of things. Further, keeping my relationship / career / everything else afloat required me to then do something about what I saw.


I think existential crises often come because people have too much time to think. That's certainly the case with me. Perhaps you just don't have enough time to overthink things now! Kids, if you let them, also keep you in the moment pretty well - there's not much time to chew over previous mistakes when you're in the middle of a play fight.


Agreed. Every time my kid naps, I find myself with an hour of "free time", but right around the time the existential questioning would begin, he's screaming for a diaper change.


I agree that kids absolutely do not help with existential angst, and in some ways make it worse. But, and this is a nuanced point that I hope comes across as something to ponder rather than advice, I've found having kids and therapy at the same time has really has helped me in a way that I'm pretty sure therapy alone wouldn't have done. There's something about learning how to be loving with your kids (which I didn't have much of growing up, so had nobody to model that behaviour from) that has fixed quite a bit of my own self-loathing. As I've learned how to be a good dad (and to be clear, I wasn't actively cruel or abusive beforehand, just confused) I've learned how to be kind to myself. That has gone a long way for me in many areas of life, including work.


I'm going to say something that sounds shitty, because I don't want it come off like I'm bragging, I promise I'm not. Just trying to bring context to how financial circumstances might affect your outlook in this situation.

I founded a startup 15 years ago and have done well. It's nothing youve heard of and Im NOWHERE close to owning a yacht or a private plane.

With this mild success I was feeling depressed, didn't know why I was building this company for. Sure I could buy nice things, but it seemed pointless.

Then I had kids and it changed everything, I love every minute of it. Its very clear to me I'm working for their future benefit.

I think the difference is that my mild success allows me some game changing luxuries:

- We have a maid that handles all cleaning duties.

- I'm super involved in my kids lives daily, but we do have a nanny that can care for them if we want to take a break. This allows me to lock myself in my office and play guitar, piano or read whenever I want to. After 60-90 minutes I start to crave hugging my kids and go play with them. Its also not a big deal for me to work out daily.

- I only have to take on work projects that interest me, all the boring stuff I've done 50 times I can delegate to other engineers. Forget building another API endpoint, integration or CRUD.

There's an interview with Steph Curry where they ask him what the greatest luxury money allows him: A Nanny.

So I guess my point is, money doesn't fix everything but it can make things a lot easier and enjoyable.


> For instance, one CEO would periodically grab me, walk me a few blocks away from the office and proceed to scream in my face for 20 minutes on the sidewalk. There are many, many other examples, but honestly, it's all too familiar and boring to recount.

Wh..why did you even stay long enough for this to have happened more than once?


That’s a very good question. Hubris? I guess?

What I mean by that, was I was REALLY invested in the project: not the business case, or the brand or anything else about the company, and particularly not the CEO. I REALLY wanted to complete the project as a badge of honour for myself.

I’d built 4 x tech teams of a total of 25 senior devs up from nothing, entirely re-wrote the broken legacy backend systems and switched over flawlessly, under-budget and on-time, as well as gave the other teams I managed the autonomy and trust to rebuild front-end and mobile systems using best practices. We had a great engineering culture that I was proud of.

I had known from the very beginning that the CEO was a loose cannon, but I stupidly thought I had the experience and willpower to keep them under control and largely out of the way of the tech team. I was so horribly wrong.

When the above rebuild of the backend was finished they placed an incompetent buffoon in charge over me, threw out the roadmap I’d created and started micro-managing the senior devs. When he was shouting at one of the senior devs for daring to be 5 minutes late to work, I took him aside and said “you just can’t do that, these people are hard to come by” he fired me on the spot.

So, yeah, hubris.


Forget everything else. If you accept being treated this way — holding on to some hope that “some day it’ll get better” — you are going to feel like shit (even after you quit or are fired).


If the person is on a visa they can be deported if they walk away without another job. Lots of bad behavior ends up excused because of this risk. A similar situation where this can go on is student/advisor in phd studies, especially when there is no other advisor in the field they can switch to at a small university.


Laws regarding this are different from country to country. I know that the US laws are very biased towards the employer, and the employee gets to be put in a terrible situation.

Australia had laws like this in the past (thanks Liberal Party, you pricks), but they were being seriously abused and eventually rolled back. Abuse still happens though, just less of it.


Have you ever walked away from a job? It's really hard to do.


I have.

When I was young I detailed cars for a small dealership with 3 owners. It was a hot summer day, no AC in the shop, boss wanted me to get a car detailed in 2 hours. Kept asking if it is ready, and at some point he started screaming at me.

I literally said, "Fuck off man, I'm done, you can do this shit yourself". It was the most liberating moment in my life. Other owners called me and asked if I would come back, that the other guy was sorry. I didn't.

Today my emergency fund will cover 2 years of living expenses, because I never want to be stuck working in a crappy environment.


I know it can be hard. However, walking away abruptly from someone disrespectful ( but with a very short -but polite -explanation) I have already done. Generally people cool off and come back either with apologies or at least explaining themselves calmly. Don't accept this.


Twice. And each time was better off for it mentally, and ended up securing higher paying jobs afterwards. It's just a matter of courage -- or maybe just not giving a fuck. Might get me into trouble one day, but, frankly, I don't give a fuck.


Same, I did so once. By a sheer act of God I already had another job opportunity lined up from a recommendation by an old co-worker at a new gig they were at, and I landed the job immediately, with a nearly 50% increase in base salary, and a team culture I wouldn't trade the world for.


>Have you ever walked away from a job? It's really hard to do

Of course, and of course. But (I presume) the OP works in the same industry most of us do, and that getting another job has been incredibly easy for more than a decade.


I have. It is hard. It gets easier the second time. I have no data on a third.

No regrets.


Holy Shit! This is me exactly except for the decades in start ups, I've never worked in start ups. Also, I'm not stuttering but I do stop in the middle of a sentence and can't finish it. That has been happening for quite a few years.

I never heard the term "executive dysfunction" and always used the term "paralysis by analysis". I'm currently learning Common Lisp and very excited about it, but when it comes to doing any sort of actual programming for my own personal reasons (whatever that is) I have a hard time working on it. That is regardless of what PL I use.

If I have two things that I want to do, say Thing-A and Thing-B, when I work on A my mind says I'd rather work on B and when I am working on B I'd rather be doing A. It is a vicious cycle.

And as a parent I agree that kids would not help the OP situation.

I recently switched jobs (Aug 22) to a huge health care org. The work has way more purpose than my old programming job but I still feel like I am missing something.


I know it as "analysis paralysis".


What I know of this, is that stressors work like water pooring into a bucket. But anytime you do anything that feels fun, creative or relaxing, a hole magically appears and water poors out.

The more stressors you have, the less water will poor out and you gain stress until your bucket is full. Then the warning systems kick in, and your brain or body starts giving signals. If you ignore them (motoring through or I got this mentality) you reach orange or red levels. A full PTSD is definitely possible (it’s like a short circuit)

Thing is, you can’t spend what you don’t have. If your reach a limit, it’s a literal limit of your body/mind.

The only to reverse the situation is to have good, refreshing times and periods to make holes in the bucket. Anything fun, creative and/or relaxing will do, and emphasizing it needs to be both for body and mind.


It does sound like PTSD or CPTSD. You can treat this yourself with the right resources.

For starters, there are journaling practices for processing emotions. And then there are various kinds of meditations.

Then there is psychoeducation, which will - over time - help dealing with difficult emotions.

Notable authors and researchers in this field: Pete Walker, Bessel van der Kolk, Peter Levine, Arielle Schwartz.


hmmmm .... PTSD? he's probably just in the same existential funk 90% of the rich world is in. action is the way out, whatever that means for you.


No, it's not the same.

Action is good, but if the emotional state is too bad, you can't just act your way out of it. You'll just overreach and break down again. You have to metabolize your emotions. For example through grief and acceptance.

I've tried action and many other things for decades. What finally freed me was crying it out for a few weeks, and now I'm fine. Now I can take action to get out of a funk.


i should be more careful with my comments then. such a wide spectrum of human experience. glad you're freed :)


I've only learned about this stuff in my late 30s, although I was deeply affected since childhood. I don't think your comment was particulary callous or ignorant. It just scares me when I see actual trauma being trivialized and thrown in with the "usual" stuff that stresses us out and feel a need to point out the difference.


>For instance, one CEO would periodically grab me, walk me a few blocks away from the office and proceed to scream in my face for 20 minutes on the sidewalk.

This would happen to me exactly one time, and never again. I know it happens, but how people put up with such abuse is beyond me.


Yeah, I dunno why I let it happen either.

I’d never been like that with any other job. My only guess is the explanation I gave in my other post above/below.

It certainly hasn’t happened since or ever will again, you can be sure of that.

Noone ever goes to there grave saying “If only I’d spent more time at work!”


On the stuttering thing, I've recently developed a similar problem. I had a stutter as a child and went through years of speech therapy and for all intents and purposes it was gone for over 3 decades. Now it's back? Not nearly as bad, but it's there and it's frustrating and distracting.

Another recent speech related development, I'm losing words. I'll be mid-sentence and I'll have a specific word in mind that I want to use but it's like the dictionary entry for that word is blank in my mind. Only seems to happen with verbal speech, haven't really noticed it when typing.

I also think it's age related in combination with past experiences and the fact that I have 3 young kids and everything that entails but who knows.


That sounds similarly to my condition, but I'm just in my early thirties.

I was stuttering since I was a small kid. In high school, went to therapy and I was stutter-free for around 8 years, then I started to stutter again. Since then, I have a better and worse periods, I can speak without much stuttering for as long a quarter of a year, then suddenly start to stutter even doing small talk with the family.

Regarding losing words, I really like your analogy with blank dictionary entry. It's like, "I can speak without stuttering as long as a... what is the word for a period of three months?", then I need to search my memory for this word, and quite often I can find the word I'm looking for, but it takes time. I had these symptoms as a child too, but they have gotten a bit worse in recent years.

I always half-jokingly thought there must be some consequences of being born almost 4 months ahead of schedule.


>> It might be rooted in the fact that I don't have kids > As a parent: nope, it's definitely not that.

As a parent, I'm not so sure. I think every person is different, and some people (myself) respond really well to having kids. They give you a purpose in life and make everything seem more meaningful.

Other people absolutely do not get as much out of having kids, and it feels like a grind to them.

People are just different, nothing wrong with that at all. IMO problems may arise when your reality is misaligned with the kind of person you are.

Or it could be something else entirely.


Oh, absolutely agree. Some people really THRIVE when they become parents, and hooray for them. It’s different for everyone.


>For me, it's a battle between "if I do something, someone's just gonna fuck it up anyway" and "I used to love this. I can still get excited by this, right?" I constantly find myself in a state of paralysis where I know what to do, I know how to do it, I even know how to do it quickly so it can be over and done, but I still just don't want to START anything.

This is a much better explanation of what I was trying to say, you nailed that. I'm not a native english-speaker so I struggle with the right wording.

The kids part probably stems from the classic midlife crisis feeling that I haven't accomplished anything, and I'm sure that contributed to my state. So I'm not too focused on that part really because I've lived my life so far, and chosen my partners so far, with the goal of not having kids.

No instead I'm trying to reason that I need to see more of the world and meet more amazing people. I met an amazing woman last summer who was a digital nomad, and following her around the world has given me the travel bug.

So I need to reason in my head and come to a logical conclusion of how best to facilitate unlimited travel, and for the moment that is to stay with my employer and at least put in enough effort that they continue to be happy with my work. And use my freedom to travel and meet people while I'm still young enough to enjoy myself.

I'm coming from a 20 year long career of over-achievement, overly loyal to my employers and staying up long nights nerding out on tasks. I need to make a big switch from that to more of the do the bare minimum necessary to keep them happy and focus on the life part of work/life balance a bit more.


The travel thing is definitely something I wish I could do more of, so if your current employer enables that, that’s a big plus for your mental health.

Do you think your current employer would respond well to an honest discussion about how to make the work you do more, I dunno, exciting? Envigorating? Less stressful? More meaningful? Less contact hours? Some managers would respond well to that. Others, not so much.

Dare I say it, it may also be worth talking to your partner? That’s definitely something I wish I’d done way sooner when I was seriously depressed. My partner has been so understanding and helped greatly get me back to a state where I was getting more joy out of life. For me, it was always this fear of feeling like a failure, something that is definitely intensified by having 2 people depend on you as much as a mother and child do. If they love you, they will really want to help you and you’d be crazy not to ask for their advice at least.

Worth noting that the HR department are NOT the ones to be discussing this with: they work for the company, not for you. It sounds harsh, but NEVER trust HR, no matter how nice they seem most of the time.

> the classic midlife crisis feeling that I haven't accomplished anything

Totally frivolous aside, the Germans have a word for that: “Torschlußpanik".

> From Tor +‎ Schluss +‎ Panik, literally “gate-shut panic”. For safety reasons city gates used to be shut at nightfall (Torschluss, from Tor +‎ Schluss), leaving latecomers no other choice than to stay outside, thereby exposing them to various dangers.

A German once told me “yeah, but in Germany that usually hits people in their 20s”. LOL.


Thanks for all the advice, I think we're pretty much on the same page here. It's not hard for me to understand intellectually what can be done, but motivation is a strange beast that doesn't seem to follow logic.

And my employer has been amazing, truly amazing. They basically gave me free reign to find projects on my own that could benefit the company.

No I'm afraid I'm stuck at stagnation and if I don't find another remote-only job that allows me the freedom of work/life balance I've become accustomed to I will just have to suck it up and do some effin work. Which is exactly what I've been doing lately.

Using all the known techniques, pomodoro, timeblocking, dividing tasks up into smaller components, I have managed to do some work lately and it feels good.


so maybe for you living == achieving? maybe takes this as a golden opportunity to reassess things. do something for you! that has no meaning, or purpose. just to do it. see what happens.


Sounds familiar, especially the stuttering. Not really sure what's going on with me, but I found that sitting down for about 10 minutes and drinking one or two glasses of water alleviates the symptoms. Might be I just need the break, might be I'm stuttering because I've been dehydrated.


> I constantly find myself in a state of paralysis where I know what to do, I know how to do it, I even know how to do it quickly so it can be over and done, but I still just don't want to START anything.

I'm stuck in the same position you described, except that I want to, but pretty much everyone around me is actively preventing me to work on anything.


Been in that situation before too. Damn that sucks.


Ha, and like 5% of the spare time.


You're burnt out. We've all been there.

Focus on yourself to get better. As far as work, break tasks down AS SMALL AS POSSIBLE. Do a portion and pat yourself on the back. You'll be able to build up from there.

Part of burnout is seeing a wall of work and your body/mind having an adverse reaction to it. You need smaller portions to get back on the horse.


And part is a rebellion against postponing giving time to things that matter personally. 'Yes, BigCo project xyz launches tomorrow and you've got xx people depending on me, but I ... really wanted to spend some time today ... reading a book ... gardening ... watching a movie ... a little shopping ....' Don't underestimate your mind's capacity to rebel against delayed gratification.


...especially the later it gets. "I haven't had enough time to just mess around today - I'm going to stay up another hour. The guy who has to get up at 7 is a different guy!"


"I'm in this picture and I don't like it"


"as far as work IS CONCERNED"

sorry, pet peeve of mine. usually I have a bit of a controlled inner "aaarrgh" moment and then move past it, but I'm in a foul mood today (hence clicking on this thread) so it couldn't be helped. I'm sorry I'm sorry.


As far as your mood, internet arguments aren't likely to improve it :P


[inserts gif of homer choking bart]


"This is the worst pet peeve of my life."

"The worst pet peeve of your life as far."


omg, stahp! xD

it's painful as!

ps: apparently the above is legit in new zealand slang


Eh. As far as my typing, I type as I speak. :)


No worries. As far as I, we're ok. :)


Eh, I didn't even notice. I think my brain autocorrected it to "as for work, ...".


I envy you. Once you start noticing it, it's everywhere.

The bit that pisses me off the most is that this will predictably get included as a legitimate phrase in dictionaries very soon, on account of all the abuse, much like "comprises of" and "irregardless".

Don't get me started on "codes" ...


oh yeah, keep feeding the grinder, never stop feeding the grinder or else.


We all need to be able to make a living, whether it's software engineering, wood working, or day dreaming (if you can get paid for that).

In general life is about getting big things done. Whether it's raising a kid, bagging 20 tons of groceries, wiring a house, or shipping 2M lines of code.

The point being made is how to do that sustainably.

Don't be a curmudgeon.


> Don't be a curmudgeon.

don't tell other people to cheer up. that's always a dick move.

also "we all need to" is a blatant lie. only those who have not inherrited "need" to.

we wouldnt have to if we organized better. if we valued each life equally.

but we are not. and we do not. we are strangers, your life means squat to me, and mine means even less to you.

you have no idea where im coming from. and therefore no right to ask me to stop being a curmudgeon.

best regards,

a curmudgeon


> don't tell other people to cheer up. that's always a dick move.

I didn't tell you to cheer up. I told you to stop being a curmudgeon. Go be anything else.

We do all need to make a living. In our most natural state, we would be hairless apes that have to go outside and pick berries or kill antelope. That is doing hard things and making a living. Measuring yourself by snowflakes (rich people) is a losing battle. Be your best self with the realities of life.

> but we are not. and we do not. we are strangers, your life means squat to me, and mine means even less to you.

Right on both counts.

> you have no idea where im coming from.

Right again.

>best regards, > a curmudgeon

A word of (truly) friendly advice, attempt to become more satisfied in life. This reeks of dissatisfaction and unhappiness.


Oh, i AM unhappy and dissatisfied with the state of things. So, thanks for noticing?

However, just like most people i dont have the political might to change anything about what im unhappy with. Except vote. which i do. which doesnt do squat either.

so, you do you, and i do whatever i do.


"The point being made is how to do that sustainably."

This is something I've battled with my whole life. By default, I have two switch positions -- on and off. When I flip a switch to the on position, it'll eventually flip back to the off position.

In my experience, balance is key. Make consistent progress and maintain interest without becoming obsessed or otherwise overly invested. This is easier said than done.


> In general life is about getting big things done.

Based on your responses, I envy your clarity and general attitude towards life. You seem to have purpose and drive that comes from that purpose.

I've never found that clarity of "life is about X". Even if i did, it only last a while and then i was back to square one. You are experiencing what OP is experiencing, complete attachment to your beliefs, in your case its very productive. kudos.


This is not quite the same as a full breakdown, it sounds more like a burnout. Which is still important and a lot of people will relate with, including myself. Part of it (i.e. as long as it doesn't affect your life experience in a disproportionate way) is also very normal -- we all wander what's the meaning of our life.

Searching around for burnout, including on this website, might give you some relatable stuff to read. It's possible that solving it might require you taking a long break (if you can), or reevaluate your life and change careers. These are things that take courage however, and a lot of people just keep going because they hate it, but it's still their comfort zone. Give yourself time to mature a decision, might be a few years, even.


I've had this happen more often than burnout. For me, it's simple lack of engagement. Even if you never gave much, when you really stop giving a shit, it becomes difficult to give even a bare minimum. It's usually coupled with a feeling that anything else you do with your time is more important than work. Like anything. I recall skipping important meetings to go outside and pick up dog poo from the lawn. Also for me, it's usually solved by finding a new job/challenge.


That looks like a very effective defense mechanism for recovering from burnout. Maybe the reason you didn't noticed it as burnout is that you recovered while it was still mild.


Maybe but I don't think so. In my mind, burnout requires some point of burn. In my experience, these jobs are just cush and have a nice paycheck but lack any type of burn. I usually get paid well to do something I feel is trivial but they see value in it. The job doesn't actually challenge me intellectually and maybe it was fine when I liked the people or was building out the process but then over time it's not enough to keep my mind from wondering (and sometimes the people change, so my engagement tanks because of that).

I've had burnout too (I think). It's stressful as fuck. What I described above is not, because I don't care at all. My burnout situations have crashed hard and usually bleed into my personal life more so.


Huh, yes. I remember in my house at uni the washing up was never done more than when we should've all been revising.


In my 20's when i had no partner, i spent so much time working on my employer related stuff, these include learning new technologies, building tools in the off hours to make everyone at my company more productive, being generally driven and passionate etc... Now that i'm in my 30's, the feeling that most of my work is just meaningless drivel to get some arbitrary bottom line up is just overwhelming.


Hey, sorry you are going through that.

> I know it's a cliché but I'm almost 40 so this isn't your regular teenage angst "nothing matters", I thought I was past that.

Teenage angst has a time. Unfortunately Midlife Crisis also has a time:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midlife_crisis

It could be what you are going through, at least partially. I went through it recently - coupled with the pandemic and unfortunate family problems, I ended up depressed. I reached out for help. Therapy took the blunt out of it. Didn't fix everything, but I am functional. I get "you are a good parent" and "you are a good boss" from time to time. Brightens my day.

If therapy isn't for you, try the basics: exercise, diet, hobbies, family, friends. Anything that improves your mood will help you look at life with a more positive attitude. Be gradual with changes and expect short-term setbacks - what matters is improving in the medium-long term.

Good luck!


Oh I forgot sleep on the basics. Very important for mood. Get enough hours. You can be sleep-deprived and not know it.


As an allegory.

I've on occasion been in very cold water (cutting ropes from propellors of boats and stand-up paddle boarding).

While my core body temperature is still below normal, I've found myself incapable of going back into the cold water, like my body physically refuses.

The mind works to protect itself, and perhaps that's what its doing with regards to work - trying to protect you from further damaging yourself due to burn-out.


I see it as emotions that, despite being ignored by a more rational part of the mind, persist and keep functionning like they should. Emotions provide information about what's good for us. It isn't always perfect information and it makes sense to manage them rationally. But at some point, reason cannot function in a void. In my experience, once I've left a situation where I wasn't aware that I didn't feel good, it becomes very obvious I didn't feel good, to the point that going back into that situation sounds like a laughable idea.


This is what "ADHD" kind of feels like, but the emotions react to everything, even when the metaphorical water isn't very cold at all.


Interesting that you're mentioning ADHD, I've spent quite some time lately researching on this topic. I was able to try methylphenidate recently and an unexpected effect it had on me was that I noticed this lingering anxiety had disappeared, something I usually feel around the heart, but no longer notice. Unfortunately methylphenidate has its drawbacks, and to go back to the main conversation I can imagine how it could trigger psychosis for some individuals.


I had the exact same symptoms for many years. I would be able to do leisure activities, but not productive ones. My mind would go blank when trying to explain something. I had little or no initiative.

Initially I thought I suffered from "procrastistination", I tried all methods to fight it to no avail. Then I considered "burn out", "existential crisis", or weariness of work, but that was not the case at all. I started going to psychiatrists, initially they considered "depression", but I did not have a low mood. Finally, one of them figured out that I had "avolition" which can be considered disorder of volition or a disorder of diminished motivation.

After a meditation retreat I had a psychotic break, so finally the end diagnosis was "negative symptoms of schizophrenia" (here "negative symptoms" means those involving the absence of something common to most people). It is possible to have "deficit schizophrenia" without positive symptoms (delusions, hallucinations, etc). However, most psychiatrist are not aware of this, and tend to classify the "disorders of volition" under depression, because that is what they are most familiar with, and because when you have avolition it makes you depressed to not be able to accomplish anything at all. I have tried several meds and I only had a minor improvement with cariprazine, but it caused me unmanageable insomnia, so I had to quit it.


I can relate to a lot of what you just said, including the meditation retreat. I feel compelled to ask: have you ever felt like you’re just playing a game with yourself with all your problems? Like sometimes it feels like I’ve got all these problems that I can’t escape and I’m desperately trying to improve myself, but sometimes I can’t shake this feeling that I’m choosing to have these problems somehow and for some reason - as if there’re two of me, the experiencer and the designer. Some might say “ahah look, it’s just schizophrenia”, but I think there’s more to it than that. For me, it feels like I’m having an awakening. But when I look at my productivity it looks like I’m falling asleep.


Indeed, for many years I felt I was in control of what was happening to me, but that is of course an illusion. During my psychotic episode my sense of agency was disrupted, and it could be that the sense of agency is disrupted without having a psychotic episode. In the end free will is an illusion that manifests itself in different ways in each person. However, it is important to be grounded and have solid measures of mental health like productivity. Not all people are able to recognize that there is something wrong with them (anosognosia), however the metrics indicate if there is objectively something wrong.


I'm having the exact same thing right now. If I reflect on what happend last year I think I burned out after a particular hard issue with my last employee; I had no help from my co-workers and was doing it all by myself. The client was constantly breathing down my neck to ask when it's done and why it's taking so long and eventually I finished it, reduced the bundle size of the website by almost 2/3 and was really happy with the result. The client tho wasn't happy because a performance number from Pagespeed didn't increase as much as they hoped and they where unhappy because it cost soo much time and money. I was done with this shit and left seeking happiness elsewhere.

Started at a new company almost half a year ago thinking a smaller company without clients, without time registration and with a single application to focus on would fix all my problems. It did for the first few months, but now I'm having the exact same issue where I really don't have the motivation to do stuff... I do have to say I also moved in to another home a few months ago and spend a lot of time fixing stuff in our new home, maybe overdoing it a bit there, so it can also be that I'm just a bit exhausted right now. Also, I notice that winter time here in Western Europe is a bitch, so getting longer days again would do my mood a lot of good.

I think I have had these moments in the past as well and I think eventually they will pass again. I'm going to take a bit more care of myself by doing some more physical training, eating healthier and seeing friends more. It just sucks for now...


Sounds like burnout. Sticking around because you feel guilty you've been unproductive sounds like prolonging the problem. I'm not an expert, this isn't advice.


I have kids and have experienced the exact same thing. Root cause for me I think is I don't like working in tech but make to much money to leave. I'm trading brain cycles and life hours for money doing something I really don't enjoy. Anything I build is meaningless.

I'm taken to a line from fight club: "We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off"


Sounds like burnout. But also, tried Vitamin B Complex. I was in a similar state, helped instantly.


+1 on B vitamins, and also iron per case. Daily walks, hydration (water, not beverages), and good sleep patterns, are also fundamental wellbeing factors.

Personally, I’ve both strolled out of burnout with such combinations, and crawled into burnout without them.

It’s amazing how easily we neglect our most basic needs, and how quickly this backlashes.


Every time I've felt like this it's been time for a change of responsibilities. Are you stagnant?


That's a really good point, yes. More than a decade with the same employer.

But at the same time that employer provides such job security that it allows me to travel the world (which I just started) and still work.

So that's kinda keeping me there. That is also what is motivating me to get back on track because I have a goal now, to travel, and my job is financing that, and the freedom my employer provides is making it possible.

But yeah I have been dabbling in the job market to kickstart my motivation again. But it has to be a remote-only job of course.


It's tough hey - I'm in the exact situation you're in right now - got my resume open on the other screen. I think it's important to always remember (jobs, relationships, any situation really) that although it can be hard to see outside your own situation the world is inconceivably large and numerically it's super unlikely that you can't find a day job equal or better than the one you're in. Good luck with the hunt dude


> I have a goal now, to travel, and my job is financing that

Are you trying to fool your own emotions that way? That part of your brain is not that clueless not to recognize that the daily life did not change, only labels got rearranged. My hypothesis is that work is more important to you than travel. And my second hypothesis is that your goal was de facto (at the time you wrote the top post) to maintain stability, i.e. to change nothing about your job.


A decade at the same place sounds soul destroying. Try something different.


Yes I like a 4-5y rule. Highschool, college, jobs.. Enough time to really transform yourself, then move on.


That definitely sounds like burnout to me.

I was only able to get through it by completely shutting down the computer for a period, and ended up putting my mental energy into learning woodworking. After a month or two of that, I slowly reintroduced computer stuff (e.g. reading HN), then writing some quality of life scripts for myself, then finally getting back into actual "projects". In my experience, and it sounds like maybe yours as well, it was really important I didn't force the work otherwise I had a severe internal procrastination/aversion kick in.


> wtf are we working for when we could be living?

I try to find a balance. I computed based on diminishing returns of income wrt. life expectancy (possibly with a vast error) that the optimal amount I should be working is 2h/d (if I never retire).

Going over that means I'll be able to retire, and going too much (>4h/day) means my life is prolonged increasingly just for work. So only do this if you are crazy about work.

Going below means I'll have to make some sacrifices.

I am thankful for my employer accepting such terms (a variable number of few hours).


Interesting, I've also found 4h/day to be the a good average.

Key word there is average though, some days it feels more like doing 2h or none, other days with a (rare) interesting problem it can spiral to like 10h too. The typical full time job fixed work hours are just so too damn rigid.


I'd be interested in discussing what works for you, when and if you find it. I am in a similar position and I posit that it is because my work is just completely uninteresting. I just cannot give up the "golden handcuffs" as my pay right is great for the effort required of me, and the work/life balance is the best I've ever had. I honestly think WFH contributes to my laziness, but I'd be crazy to give that up as it benefits my family greatly.


> wtf are we working for when we could be living

I mean I have these thoughts too, then I remind myself that I need money to pay rent and food etc. (I try to avoid extravagance and devices, to save as much as possible, but I do still need somewhere to live and food.)

I mean maybe in some alternative universe I might know how to build a shelter in a forest and grow food myself (although tbh that also sounds like a lot of work, not necessarily better than sitting in front of a monitor coding something I don't care about), but in this universe I live in a city and studied computer science and do not know how to do any of those things.

So when I think why I am working and not living, I answer myself with "I am working because I need to buy food".


I've gone through that at the start of the pandemic. In hindsight it might've been my subconscious telling me that I should do something else. I had the financial means to work on stuff that I enjoyed and I didn't have to rely on employment but for.. reasons I didn't do those things. So I suggest taking a break from distractions and thinking really hard about your long term goals and how to achieve them. You might feel lethargic and not motivated precisely because you don't have a good purpose for your life. The standard "just go to work, save money, start a family" life course is not for everybody. I'm not saying you shouldn't start a family but if you have the financial means, creativity and skill to build a business of your own I believe your family life will be much better, you will have more time to spend with your kids if you have a stable source of income that doesn't require you to work 40 hours a week for and which is at risk of going away because of office politics or whatever.

If I don't feel I have control over my own life I feel exactly like you described but.. that might just be me.

Regarding your existential dread.. my philosophy as someone who is close to Ukraine and feared that the war would spill into my country, is that while it may all end tomorrow for some reason or another.. that possibility is not worth thinking about. If I really knew for certain I would die in 2 years then I'd become totally hedonistic, I'd spend all my resources to just have the most fun possible but we don't know that. Humanity has gone through worse periods than we're facing right now but it got through them so chances are we'll get through it too so why not plan for the future? I've been hedonistic for the past 7 years, it gets old. If you haven't lived your life fully until now and just dread that you've been working your ass off, not going out, not meeting people, not taking drugs or whatever other hedonistic activity you wish you had gone through then maybe go do that, get it out of your system but eventually you'll want to settle down, plan for the future and even though it's scary and your mind will throw a lot of roadblocks I feel you still have to do it to truly be fulfilled.


Could it be that your job just bores you and you need to do something else?


This has been my last year.

I quit my job, went to doing something in a slightly different industry. Same thing. I can't explain it, I don't know what happened.


Username tells a lot!

No, really, thank you for sharing your story, it's maybe futile but an original reminder that we are all on the same kind of boat.


Having kids and a partner just helps to amplify the guilt by 10x because now your possibly destructive actions have impact on lives that are not your own. They also make it 10x harder to focus because not only you have to worry about delivering work, you have to help Johnny learn how to read, take Anne to the doctor, organize the birthday party, pay all these extra bills, etc, etc.


Classic burnout symptoms. You may need a break, or it may get progressively worse - as in transition from indifference/avoidance of work, to carelessness, or anger at the thought of work, or possibly subconsciously trying to get yourself fired (I'm being an armchair psychologist on the last one, but it's absolutely based on a true story)


Man, this describes me to a T (just that I'm a touch older). Recently I've begun therapy to try and drill to the center of the issue; in the meantime, I'm attempting to pivot my career away from e-commerce web development into something more "useful," like working for a utility, or something along those lines.


I think there are two possible ways to go from here. Either find a meaningful job, but how long will it last?

Or you come to terms with the fact that your job is only meant to facilitate your life, work/life balance in other words, and just keep doing it just well enough to continue living your best life on your own time.

I'm leaning towards option B.


Kids will not help this. Now that I have a kid, I have less time to focus on work and more distractions at home. There's a lot more pressure to provide and multiple family medical issues add even more pressure due to bills. Handling those issues also seems to have caused or accelerated burnout.


https://www.creativescreenwriting.com/write-vomit-draft-impo...

... once you're using your brain again, all these questions just melt away.


Kids keep you moving to some extent. But if you're lethargic already, kids will probably make it much, much worse and possibly throw you into a deep depression.

Unless you find out that you want to devote all of your life to being a SAHM/SAHD because it truly fullfills you.


even a wife and two kids cant save you from those thoughts.


Please tell me if you find a cure or a way out.

I have tried several types of supplements and could fix some of long-lasting energy problems.


I don't think it is an energy problem either. I can find energy for other things, just not my employment.

I think people were right that I am stagnating and I feel the need for new challenges.

The catch 22 is that my job is so amazing that it gives me the newfound (newly realized) freedom to see the world while working. So I either stay, find some motivation to avoid the shame of not working, and keep travelling to fulfill my work/life balance.

Or I find a new job with new motivation where I'll be putting in more hours, more commitment and perhaps have less time for travel.

But regarding the energy, I take daily supplements of vitamin D and all the B vitamins, and I do feel that it does help.


With respect to supplements... I can relate to what you describe and I tend to think it's not just based on chemistry. That being said, on different occasions, I felt a dramatic boost when taking magnesium + zinc + B cocktail. I guess it means I was deficient in those. Who know is you aren't...


Those are symptoms of depression


This sounds like burnout.


Yes, I have. No, it's not normal. Yes, it "just happens" to some people, where "some people" are the set of people with pre-existing undiagnosed problems.

I got treatment for it.

It means you've had an underlying issue. It probably wasn't entirely caused by the work-related stress.

After it happens, you know somethin's up, or could be up at any unpredictable time. My goal in therapy and with medication is to manage the episodes while being as much of myself as I can without a relapse.

To your point, I think psychological disorders are common in tech fields. PTSD or BPD, for example, frequently have "control compulsion" issues. Being compelled to control works very well if you are managing a fleet of 10,000 servers. It's been difficult to explain to my old friends why I would care about things like latency and GC STW events because a normal person without control issues doesn't find it emotionally appealing. Psychotic/hallucinatory/delusional features have short-term value in certain situations, like coming up with new product ideas or rapidly "pivoting" between market fits. I won't say it's normal, but I will say it's predictable.


While what you are saying may be 100% true, I think that basically everybody is capable of being driven over the edge by chronic stress. Everybody has a tipping point. That's normal. Perhaps the difference is what occurs after that point.


Yes and no. OP is drawing out a very important point that despite everyone having a tipping point, psychiatric illness is very real and very different from what most people's tipping point looks like, both in trigger and outcome. It's less like a linear scale and more like an on/off switch when it hits. Having an understanding of what it looks like, how to help manage it, and what can / cannot be controlled, can be the difference in having a good (recoverable) outcome vs a really bad one.

It's not to disparage stress and its impact on all of us, but what happens to folks w/ psychiatric illness is a whole other level of devastating.


I think it's also important to focus on what happens before that point. Learn to identify the chronic stress and change something. Quit jobs that are hurting you.


Yeah I think it also depends on other health factors - if OP was chronically sleep deprived that can make psychosis much more likely, and obviously it's also possible for recreational drug use to be a factor.


Stress is an emotional reaction.



I’ve had two breakdowns. The first was out of the blue and had no real immediate cause. It left me with a perennial feeling of anxiety, paranoia and depression that lasted almost 8 years. It was only fixed with medication - a 3 month course of SSRIs that miraculously brought my back to my old self almost immediately.

The second breakdown was precipitated by medication - withdrawals from Gabapentin, a medication prescribed for nerve pain. While seemingly benign, this medication causes some awful, awful withdrawals, including interdose withdrawals that are akin to benzo withdrawals. And I’m apparently hypersensitive to this stuff.

I spent two months depressed, anxious, suicidal, and feeling like I have no control over my mind.

It’s 1-1 for medication so far. One short course of SSRIs saved me. One short course of Gabapentin ruined my for months.


I was on Gabapentin for back/leg pain. The doctor warned that it was very important to ramp up the dose gradually, and ramp down gradually. I followed the advice carefully and had no issues. But it was tempting to think "I'm okay now, I won't need to take more pills".


My doctor was awful and gave me no such warnings. I was only able to get off it through help from Reddit.

If you look up Gabapentin on Google, the top results will make you think its a Nqyuil-tier drug with mild side effects. But there are entire subreddits dedicated to it, and all of them filled with horror stories of people struggling with withdrawals.

Glad to be off it, but that one month of withdrawals was not fun. I’m as such hypersensitive to most medication and Gabapentin kind of broke me.


Not to minimize the risks, because they are very real and I’ve had my own adverse interactions with Gabapentin (not anything as bad as others), but one reason there are so many stories about it is that it is extremely heavily prescribed.

It is off label prescribed for everything from headaches to arthritis relief to anxiety. It has a complicated instruction set and as you mentioned some people are more sensitive to that than others (I’m on a fairly high dose and can skip a day with no major effects other than the symptoms it’s treating coming back).

One thing I don’t think we as a society don’t do well enough is explain how important dosing protocols are to people. Acetaminophen for instance is an extremely dangerous drug, yet most people take it without thought.


Google is only a mall nowadays.

When I need information I can trust, I go straight to Wikipedia. If it's high-impact, I also check references - Sci-Hub is a game-changer.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabapentin#Withdrawal_and_depe...


Good on you for following his advice. An ex girlfriend of mine was on that stuff and ran out for a few days due to a fuckup at her pharmacy, and the abrupt stop caused a Grand Mal seizure which landed her in the hospital for two days. No previous history of epilepsy.


I was not told that you couldn't skip a dose or had to take it at the same time everyday. I had some family over and forgot to take my regular dose. Woke up at 5AM in the night with intense numbness all over my body, heart palpitations, an a feeling of dread. Legitimately thought I had a stroke.

Now I always wonder when I meet anyone who is acting "weird" or irrationally angry or irritable - how much of their behavior is caused by pharmaceuticals that they don't understand?


This is why I find videos on /r/publicfreakout and the like very hard to watch. It's not a nice feeling to gawk at somebody who is more likely than not under the influence of pharmacology - be it synthetic, or their brain's own neurochemistry.


A lot of doctors seem to be unaware of the dangers or don't take them seriously. Months later she met with another doctor for reasons unrelated to the seizure episode. The doctor wanted to take her off of Gabapentin (she was taking it on a permanent basis due to some chronic health issues) and told her to just go cold turkey. When asked if that was safe, the doctor said "Yeah, it's Gabapentin!", like there was obviously no issue.

I unfortunately met a lot of doctors through her that really opened my eyes to how many of them just don't give a fuck.


Yeah my doctor completely refused to acknolwedge that this stuff even had any withdrawals. Ascribed my symptoms to everything from heart issues to multiple sclerosis. Even though he knew I had zero symptoms before starting this medication, all my tests were clean, and I was on no medication at all.

At the very least, its ensured that I will never take any prescription medication without self-studying its side effects.


I was prescribed pregabalin, a similar drug to gabapentin, for nerve pain resulting in a bad accident and amazingly had no issues coming off. That said, I moved country during the time of the prescription and the doctor in the destination country was amazed that I was prescribed it, and recommended stopping as soon as possible.

Anyway, I'm sorry you've had such a hard time, hoping all is well.


When you understand how our chemistry, our diet & our environment influences our conscious self including past experiences you may have forgotten, you'll probably have a better understanding of why things occur. If you look at the Tryptophan pathway, SSRI's can be viewed like some sort of (SQL, XSS, Code) injection attack, influencing your chemistry and your emotions in other ways which may have given you a short term boost, but may not have addressed the underlying cause.

Monotherapy's are simple to use much like A/B testing, but time consuming, a type of resource burn for intelligence gathering, but its the best on offer for most.

Keeping a diary, paying attention to your diet, your life, identifying what you like and dont like, what you want to achieve can help but be mindful your chemistry will influence those thoughts. Think back to when you were a child and the things you wanted then and what you want now, they will be different because your chemistry has changed.

The medical profession recognise how chemistry influences our thoughts because SSRI's exist as have MAOI's as a first generation anti depressant, but their primary application as an anti depressant may not always be the intended purpose as the tryptophan pathway can highlight.

You see this with Gabapentin, nerve pain, could be a symptom of diabetic neuropathy. Only the Germans use alpha-lipoic acid as a medicine for diabetic neuropathy according to some online sources. The only sugar the immune system does not attack is starch. Manganese is also related to diabetes. Likewise too much B6 can cause auto immune diseases as can sodium (Th 17 cells) and highlight weaknesses in your body which need addressing, which could be your nervous system, the myelin sheath (histidine).

You dont say if you are male or female, but histidine is concentrated in the chest of males, religions have identified this as the missionary position for enjoyable exercise, which is why we don't eat Roosters, only feminised meat with the exception of beef in the West unless that's also come from dairy stock. From a meta data point of view, males strutting their chest are exhibiting their histidine levels in plain sight, just like grey hair can exhibit tyrosine deficiency and freckles on a kids face exhibits a healthy tyrosine balance amongst other things.

The body is a complex chemical reaction and whilst science attempts to understand it, its limited in a number of ways and shouldn't be seen as a panacea, when history and religion also has much metadata to offer.

For example diabetes, first documented 600 years bc in Persia (Iran), still not addressed in any meaningful way, a useful stealth weapon operating in plain sight, the sugar in a can of coke can reduce testosterone levels by 25% in teenage males as one example to control known threats in society. Religions also use their teachings to control populations, Ramadan, no food or fluids during daylight hours, lack of fluid increase blood sugar levels, increases the chances of followers developing pre-diabetes or diabetes, ergo males controlled as their intelligence increases.

Every system of control, beit religion, govt have stealth ways to control people and using health is just one of those ways which is why I say keep a diary and have an open mind. No one chemical does one thing in the body.


> If you look at the Tryptophan pathway, SSRI's can be viewed like some sort of (SQL, XSS, Code) injection attack, influencing your chemistry and your emotions in other ways which may have given you a short term boost, but may not have addressed the underlying cause.

They can actually address the underlying cause. Studies have shown that there may be an overdensity of post-synaptic 5-HT2A receptors in people with depression, and SSRIs causes a downregulation of those receptors.

There are similar systems in the body that can be targeted in this way - adding a GnRH agonist causes the body to downregulate GnRH receptors, making it paradoxically a good hormone blocker.


> They can actually address the underlying cause.

Unless the underlying cause is too much meat eating where some amino acids block or crowd out the uptake of tryptophan into the brain at the blood brain barrier, where carbs and tryptophan see the highest increase into the brain and CSF.

Vegetarians live longer than meat eaters.

Do you think Agrarian society's had a supermarket off to one side?

Besides, has any person prescribed SSRI's that you know of had their serum metabolites 5 HIAA measured?

Have they had a fMRI to back up your claims?

Has their blue light exposure and intensity been measured and quantified?

Was a simple blood test conducted to measure the markers related to GnRH to obtain meta data to enhance diagnosis?

Unless of course the state already has access to the meta data, like our supermarket purchases, besides its 24hr surveillance using common tech like smart phones, in order for a GP to make an accurate diagnosis and prescribe said SSRI's?


[flagged]


grow up. This is such a moronic comment and I hope at some point in the future you reach a level of maturity in your life where you'll understand why it is. someone opens up with a touching and personal story and you nitpick them with a trivial detail for no gain


I think the parent comment was misinterpreted, it sounds like they are highlighting that gabapentin is related to the neurotransmitter GABA (indeed it is a structural analogue). GABAergic drugs (benzos, alcohol) are notorious for causing horrendous and potentially lethal withdrawals.

To me, that comment reads as though it's in agreement with the GP post, although it could probably have benefited from some context for the vast majority of people who are unfamiliar with the nature of neurotransmitters.


Normalising talking about it, is good. This needs to be something people can say, water cooler or no.

I had two episodes like this 40+ years ago. I sought mental health advice and have never regretted it. In my own situation CBT worked fine so I have a strong bias toward it, as does my continuing mental health professional.

Non-CBT therapy especially, but really any mental health treatment should be something you discuss with a health professional. Not that you can't discuss it otherwise, (see first paragraph) but it's important you do seek professional advice for treatment.


> Normalising talking about it, is good

100% agree with this. This was, I think, the number 1 thing I did NOT want to do when I was in the midst of suicidal depression (i.e. talk about it) and the biggest reason why it got worse and worse and spiralled out of control.

If I had advice for past-me, it would be:

* It's okay to say "I'm a frikkin' mess. Please help me". To anyone. If they're no help, fine. If they can help, excellent.

* Other people are NOT waiting to use any weakness you tell them about against you to fire you, leave you, disown you, or anything else. They are MOST likely to have empathy and want to help. When you're depressed, that's hard to believe, but it's true. But if they DO, then maybe they're the part of the problem?

* You don't have to have some "justifiable reason" for being in the state you are. The constant self-talk in my head was "I have no excuse to be depressed because my life is relatively easy and other people have it way worse than me". No: you experience what you experience and you want/need to fix it.


I'm glad that CBT worked for you :)

To anyone who has tried CBT and felt like it wasn't working for you, know that there are other types of therapy that might be more appropriate for your situation. Personally, I went through multiple CBT therapists before happening across someone who does internal family systems (IFS) work, and have found that to be immensely more helpful for my situation.

In the process of going through therapists, I got to progressively darker places, because each bad experience with a therapist would make me feel that much more broken and unfixable. So, I really want to emphasize to anybody that's been through this, that there are dozens of different approaches to therapy and every therapist applies a particular type of therapy differently.

So, if you're struggling and have had bad therapists in the past, look up your past therapists to see what their approach was, read about different approaches to therapy, and intentionally look for someone orthogonal to what you've been through before. You might find a different approach clicks better with your situation.

And stay away from talkspace and betterhelp.


Interesting to hear from someone with psychotherapy experience from 40+ years ago. I wonder how much the core of professional mental help has changed over that many decades. There must have been a lot of stigma surrounding it back in those days; then again, since the "industry" must have been smaller, too, it was probably somewhat easier to find a really good therapist?

Just thinking out loud out of curiosity -- as a person with mild but very successful mental help experience (in a tiny European country).


Actually CBT isn't much different now from then. It's a continuing model. Drug treatment is radically different. Views on ECT have swung full circle. To some extent the stigma has mellowed, it was always a bit edgy to state you were seeking or receiving help. But that said, problems like bulimia and anxiety were common at university.

Group therapy was offered as an alternative. I have no idea if that's still done. I did not find it attractive.

Because being gay was illegal a lot of gays were in mental health because of both concerns for their mental health and as a pathway out of stigmatisation. (This didn't apply to me but was an observation made to me)

I had mental health treatment in the UK as crisis health management on the NHS and now have a continuing mental health program, in Australia which is a similar model in many ways.

Perhaps the biggest chapter in mental health is the normalisation of PTSD as a real thing, and the re-emergence of MDMA and psychedelics as treatment paths. It always was a thing with mental health professionals but was treated with scepticism in the wider world. Drug addiction mental health is the other thing to look at but I have little experience there.


Sorry that happened to you. It sounds scary, but you sound like you're doing much better. I hope you are.

In the interest of openly sharing, I've had inklings of psychosis in the past while also being an absolute top performer at work. It's damaged my relationships, but never to the point of a psychotic break. A combination of getting way too focused on work for months/years, burning out, stopping exercising to try and "claw back time" for more work, way too much caffeine to push further, weed to chill and push creativity, and exploring various dosages of modafinil/adderall without a prescription. Turns out that's not something you can do to your brain for all too long, but it was also "easy" to get back to my old self once I stopped pretending I was somehow special and could cheat the system and instead focused on being as healthy of a human as I could muster. My direct boss at work and I have a very strong relationship and so he had awareness of where I was at, but nobody else.

Again, not trying to steal any limelight. Your scenario sounds more extreme and you have my deepest condolences. You're not completely alone in fighting demons.


What a coincidence, I am also somehow special and think I can beat the system. So that is encouraging to hear, thank you.


i mean, a lot of people think that (me included).


(CW OCD) Twice in my life I've become helplessly obsessed with a given topic to the point that nearly everything I saw, heard, or thought about would build a new association back to the topic, forming a feedback loop. The first time it lasted a year. No one could tell because I was just acting like a weird teenager to them, but it was hugely debilitating. I couldn't get off the ride. The second time, maybe fifteen years later, I had since researched the condition. I recognized it was recurring with a new topic and managed to stop it over several straight days of deliberate, flashy distraction. By that time I had sought and found professional help, from which I learned quite a lot more. As far as my coworkers knew, I just took a few sick days. They didn't know I was struggling for sanity. I've been in good mental health for many years now, and I'm prepared.

There are things no one can do for us and we must face ourselves. Only you can take a first step to seek help, or step back onto a known healthy path. Thanks for starting this conversation.


Interesting. What condition was this? Its psychology intrigues me.


Here it is. To me it's like a demon you can beat by knowing its name. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limerence


Fascinating. But is Limerence only when the obsession is targeted towards a person, rather than idea/object?

I've noticed strong feelings of obsession towards an idea/goal, particularly when it's not achievable.


I've only experienced it as described in the article, with a person as the limerent object. The limerent state is sustained by uncertainty, the small and tantalizing chance it could work out the way you want and the undeniable chance it could fail. One way out of the situation is to make success impossible (say, by a breakup) and therefore reach certainty of the outcome. This is of course the last thing most people would do, but to end what feels like permanent madness, you take that deal.

I think if this article really described you, you would stop dead in your tracks reading it. There is what the general public casually calls OCD and intrusive thoughts, and then there are many horrifying flavors of the real deal.


Obsessive compulsive disorder.


I was like you, held a great paying job, worked with ambitious people and was happily in a long term relationship. However I had a breakdown which was triggered before COVID started and lasted for about two years.

I lost my job because the company closed, then my relationship fell apart after 10 years, I somehow managed to find another job but then this company _also_ shutdown, then immediately after COVID hit and during that extreme period of anxiety and loneliness I found out my dad is gravely ill..

I eventually manage to dig myself out but it required a lot of hard work and mental discipline.

There was a Church near my house which remained opened during COVID due to it being empty 90% of the time. One day I was driving and passed by it and for some reason decided to go in (I always considered myself a rational Atheist) and just sitting there looking at the Altar gave me peace. After a while of doing this, I noticed a shift in my mentality.

I started reading and researching things I had never interest in: religious texts, philosophy, history and art. This helped me expand my mind, I realized that instead of licking my wounds, I could focus on my neighbors and those in need and that people in history had gone though harsher times and survived for me to be here, so I owe it to them to keep going.

I finally I made a decision to start exercising, eating healthy, sleeping, setting a routine and slowly recover.

As a side note, I eventually ended up converting to Catholicism but that is unrelated to above, in fact my conversion didn't even start until a year after and it took a lot of effort and convincing.

If you are reading this and are struggling, know that you are not alone. My heart beats for you as a stranger and if anything, I need you to keep going because our survival depends on each other.


Yes, I have. Sadly, it's more common than it should be.

I'll say this is even more acute if you're a man. We can't _really_ complain about work. We have to suffer in silence.

Startup. I'm a technical cofounder with a non-technical cofounder (guy with money who wants to build something) and another less technical cofounder (PHD research type, not a builder). Working from home, I did everything. Built, hired, managed, designed product, assisted the ML team with their shit, managed the ever increasing grandiose scope of the business guy.

In the process, I lost my GF, it affected my health (both mental and physical), family things happened in life and I was royally burnt out. I'm back to work now (somewhere much more steady), but there was a 3 month period where things were _really_ touch and go.

It gets better. Focus on you. To hell with everything else. You can't be great (whatever that means to you), or get better, if you don't cultivate yourself first. Everyone outside of yourself with keep taking until you say no.


Ah yeah I totally lost it in 2019. Difficult to describe what happened but I just stopped functioning completely for about 6 months. I managed to hide it from everyone successfully which I don’t recommend. Fortunately something went click just as covid kicked off and I managed to sort it out. I’d go as far as saying that covid might have actually saved me because it brought most people down to where I was so it was easier to evaluate myself.


Back in 1980 I moved into a shared house in Sydney and one night I was woken up by commotion in the adjoining back yard. A man was sitting naked on top of the Hills Hoist hosing himself with cold water in the middle of winter and shouting "You're all as plastic as my little red guitar". Police and ambulance arrived and he was carted off. Neighbours told me that he was a computer programmer. Somehow I wiped this memory from my mind and took up a career as a coder. Fast forward 20 years and I was seeking medical advice for symptoms of "burn out". Thankfully not as severe as that poor chap in 1980.


“Plastic as my little red guitar” is a savage burn though. :) I hope he got to a better place too.


I think it is worth probably talking with a mental health professional about your experience. Even if you feel normal, you may not be the best person to judge whether you are actually behaving normally now or not. It is good to arm yourself with facts and opinions from experts, even if you choose not to act on the information now. And it can be useful to share the professional diagnosis with trusted friends or family members so they can help intervene and get you help if it happens again, so that next time it doesn't go on unchecked for years and leave your whole life in ruins.

That said, the most brilliant people I know all have some kind of mental illness or substance abuse issue they seem to be managing. So you are not alone in that respect.

I never had a psychotic episode, but there was an 18 month period where I strongly considered suicide almost every day despite outwardly exhibiting success and normalcy. I made many elaborate plans but never quite worked up the nerve to carry them out. Nobody had any idea at the time, and if I had killed myself I am certain it would have been one of those news stories where everybody says they never saw it coming. You never know what people are going through in their minds.


I’ve always wondered how suicide becomes a viable option in the human mind, like at some point in life did we learn about it or is it a more natural mental progression?

Like I wonder if someone raised in isolation would ever come up with the idea of killing yourself on their own or if it has to come from some outside influence.

To be clear I’ve had thoughts like that too but I just can’t recall if I came up with it on my own or if it was a concept I learned elsewhere and then sort of leaned into in the darkest moments. I just can’t imagine my innate “child self” ever going there.


I personally felt like I was self-culling from the herd, like some kind of evolutionary group damage-control program was activated. A switch flipped and I wanted to be as far away from everyone as possible. I don’t know if that’s a real thing though.


People choose suicide when their pain exceeds their resources for coping with pain. I think if I lived my entire existence on a desert island, I’d still have no trouble coming up with the idea to suicide if I was sufficiently miserable.


This is easily provable by looking at instances of other species committing suicide.


Not exactly like that, no, but severe depression in combination with a divorce means I have "holes" too. That is common, at least.

These days, I don't care so much. I know I have useful if not spectacular skills, and I know if my current employer won't appreciate it or use them, then I'll find something else soon enough. Economic desperation is far enough away that it will hopefully stay far enough away, come what may. Up to a point obviously. The curveballs life can throw at you is infinite, as an old American friend said.

Long walks in the woods are still a great way to stay sane, or at least sane-ish. Don't know about imaginary fossils, but wild mushrooms of the culinary sort is great as a goal for one's wandering.


My mother went through a psychotic attack. I think she would have kept it secret, if not for the police finding and sectioning her.

Roughly 3% of people in the U.S. are reported to experience psychosis at some point in their lives. Those are only the ones that report it.


The US is incredibly brutal and ineffective in handling psychotic episodes when the police gets involved.


Yeah, get a lawyer and prepare to lose your job.


I had a really messed up couple of years from 2019 to 2021. At the end of 2019, the company I had spent 2 years at as a software dev (blockchain sector) turned out not to be what I thought. The direction started not to make any sense and so I quit (in quite a dramatic way). It was weird. Looking back, a lot of things didn't make any sense.

Then thanks to a lot of luck, I was able to secure some passive income which allowed me to just sustain myself for the next 3 years through the COVID19 pandemic. It was exactly what I needed to sustain myself down to the dollar. I could probably write a book about what happened to me over the past 5 years or so but I still can't quite make sense of things...

Basically, many people from the blockchain community I was a member of turned against me for no good reason, then COVID19 happened and the government response to it fed into a sense of increasing paranoia. Once you know that a small/medium group of people are conspiring against you (e.g. actively working together to see you fail), it doesn't take much to start believing that maybe a larger group... Maybe the government is also working against you or people like you (though at least with lockdowns and vax mandates I didn't feel like a lone target).

Once you've worked in blockchain sector, all those crazy conspiracy theories about government agencies manipulating people and politicians through psyops don't seem so far fetched. I guess it makes sense. Cryptocurrencies are kind of like foreign states in a way... The sector is probably overrun with government agents.

It's good I distanced myself, it was a real brainf***.


I did. And when I went open with it, I did find out that plenty of people whom I know had breakdowns too.

The hardest thing was to admit I needed help (used to be a high performer: I solve my own problems!). It was very late, and by then it took a couple years, therapy and medication to recover. My doctor was very optimistic though. These sort of breakdowns happens to be very typical, and he was convinced that I would do a full recovery. I was skeptical. He was right.

The second hardest thing for me was to understand that it wasn't my fault. Athletes break their muscles often due to overwork. Brains can also break. In both cases recovery requires time, and often some treatment.

Don't be hard on yourself. I wish you the best!


You probably are an outlier. Most people haven't experienced a complete detachment from reality. However, you are not alone. I lost my marbles in 2020.

Covid isolation, lack of separation between remote work and personal life and a having a 2-year at home at all times without family help led me to two consecutive visits to a mental hospital. I had never experienced any signs of mental illness other than some mild depression and anxiety. I was well into my 30s. However, with my mental break, I was fully gone for about a month and half.

It wasn't fossils for me, At various points, I believed that:

- I was dead

- Water is the only thing needed to sustain human life and we're all being poisoned

- My daughter was dead

- I was in hell

- I was abducted by aliens

- I was in a real life version of the Simpsons (where I was Bart Simpson and the other mental hospital patients were other characters)

- I had perfect pitch and could harmonize better than Brian Wilson

- I was a genius

- My mom and dad were trying to kill me

- I was the spiritual successor to Daniel Johnston

- I could travel through time

I had to go through 14+ ECT procedures to come back to reality and the transition back reality was the most difficult experience of my life as I felt broken was deeply, deeply depressed and suicidal and that I was failure to my family. It was and has been very isolating to not have an outlet to talk about this experience with anyone. This is a throwaway account, but I have an email if in my profile if you (or anyone else) wants to discuss mental health issues honestly and not feel so alone or judged.


> Most people haven't experienced a complete detachment from reality

I don't know, anecdotally I suspect more people have weird issues than you'd think. We're just pretty good at hiding them until we can't.


Fair enough, being a patient in mental hospital during Covid (when everyone was at their wit's end) did reveal that were a lot of people struggling at that time. More than I would expect.


Not my situation, but I think I have several friends going through this. Any suggestions you would have in getting someone in that situation to seek help, and what the right kind of help looks like?


For me, I did not enter into the hospital by getting encouragement from a friend. It was kind of a clean break from reality overnight where I was driving around aimlessly looking for a police station to report a "crime" (just one of my delusions). Once I found an officer, I couldn't really conjure coherent sentences and he took me to the hospital at my request.

I think the best thing to do for friends experiencing an episode is to do what you can to help them get near their closest family and friends and be supportive and encouraging of them in seeking mental help from professionals.


Yes - I think I'm currently going through it.

Throughout my career I've constantly felt like I've failed upwards. I'm now 1 rung down from CTO and frankly if it wasn't for my anxiety I could probably fill that role, but lately i've found myself saying repeatedly to my wife "I just want to be a small cog again".

I left enterprise IT 5 years ago for reasons I can no longer quite remember - I think most of it was because I felt like I had nowhere to go and I couldn't engage with the work I was doing. In retrospect, maybe I didn't try hard enough to find fulfilling work within that company? I loved my colleagues and it turns out the corporate structure actually worked for me - I like the relative safety of 25 levels of beaurocracy and middle management as long as I get left to do some problem-solving.

Now I work in startups, It feels like I'm constantly about to collapse from the anxiety of the unknown. As a grown-ass adult, I've had awful experiences of people shouting in my face because some unimportant task has not been completed, which is not something I should have to tolerate.

I keep telling myself that "they need you, you don't need them" and looking for ways out, but my anxiety around stability for my family means I can't just bin it off and go for something else in this current job market.

I've done CBT but it doesn't really work for me. I need to engage direct therapy at this point I think. I also try to find hobbies that are completely detached from what I do for a day job.


It's okay, it's totally legitimate to feel overwhelmed. You're right, no one should be shouting at you. And you're also right that you can find another job. It's also fine to go ahead and work for an enterprise if you feel it could ease the tension for you or you just feel like it. I often miss being an IC as well - it's so much simpler and the mental barriers are comforting.

Do try psychotherapy. At the very least, talking about things you're going through can bring you relief and possibly actionable insights.

I strongly recommend some kind of sport as a hobby. There's something powerful about routinely choosing to be uncomfortable (to a tolerable level) and seeing your body and mind transform as a result. Not to mention it becomes really (oddly?) fun at some point.


I am Bipolar 1 and usually in remission for about 5 years after these I go mad for 1-2 years. It's always a struggle to go back to work in the beginning I told lies like I was backpacking in xyz or just a work and travel year here and it usually worked. After enough rodeos I just was open about it and it worked out better than expected. The biggest part is to get over your nostalgia in Greek the literal translation is returning pain. You have to forgive yourself or it will always come back haunting you.

PS: I am not a pdoc but experienced with psychosis myself, it sounds like you experienced a Grandeur Delusion with hallucinations get that checked out.


Never had psychosis but have had a few major depression episodes (sleep all day, lose a bunch of weight, get stuck in a cycle of negative thoughts, etc).

I did end up in the hospital once for a week. I found myself repeating the same actions over and over again because I couldn’t remember doing them, I had a hard time speaking (everything came out in slow motion and stuttering), and I think I had a bout of depersonalization. The DRs thought I was drunk or on something. I wasn’t. Never did figure out what happened.

It was probably all stress related. I had to quit my job and move closer to family. Ended up costing me $$$ due to bad timing (lost options that weren’t fully vested) I have to be very careful about work.

I tried therapy and medication. Maybe it helped. Maybe it’s just something you learn to cope with. Recognize it for what it is. You’re a person who’s somewhat fragile. You might have a breakdown. If you can recognize warning signs try to catch it early. I have a lot of respect for people who have grit and endurance - I want to be the kind of person who can do big things and work hard and accomplish the seemingly impossible - but at least in my experience, mental health doesn’t always play well with that and it takes a long time to recover.

Personally work was the “main” thing I put energy into for a long time. And it’s not anymore. And that makes me sad. But at least I’m not losing my marbles anymore (knock on wood).


I wouldn't call it loosing my marbles, but I was in pretty bad shape between the second half of 2020 and pretty much the whole of 2021.

The isolation from the pandemic, combined with being a recent immigrant in a country whose language I didn't speak, and seasonal depression from shorter days and colder weather than I had ever experienced before, hit me like a ton of bricks.

I was deeply depressed, it impacted my job, which sent my anxiety through the roof, making the depression worse, in a feedback cycle from hell.

I tried medication and therapy. The medication was honestly useless, and the therapy only helped in perhaps preventing things getting worse.

What really worked was changing what I could. The pandemic was getting better already, so I worked on the rest. I moved to a country where I spoke the native language, with longer days on winter, and a hybrid job, so I'd be around people at least some of the time.

I'm still sad, and lonely, and often ansious. But it's all back to a level with which I can deal, so life goes on.

I still had to dance around the last job only lasting 6 months, when I was interviewing for this one, though. Mumbling some bullshit about "things not working out" seemed to do the trick.


> I’ll never forgive myself

This I don't quite get. Why are you blaming yourself for what ex-post seems to have been a medical condition? Do you feel you somehow caused it or that it was within your powers to handle it better?

In any case its in the past. What is important is to understand causes to prevent possible recurrence, or manage it better if its unavoidable


Not OP, but perhaps the regret is about putting too much pressure on themselves, not the aftermath. We owe it to our loved ones as much as to ourselves to keep a healthy balance in the things we do.


There is that, but I also don’t feel like “I was crazy” entirely absolves me. I could have made some better decisions for sure.


No-one ever gets every decision right. My fuckups have been lucky and haven't impacted my life too much. Your fuckups were unlucky in that they've interacted with an existing condition and thrown your life around a heap. That doesn't mean you're inferior to anyone, or have any worse/better judgement, it just means you drew a short straw. :(


Sure, we all make mistakes. But I think it's healthy to look back on those with regret rather than just shrugging it off. It's hard (even harder) to change otherwise.


Doing better doesn't mean you have to regret things. You can just accept you weren't perfect, understand you now know better (but still not perfect), and move on.


but that's like saying we owe it to our loved ones to never get sick. Mental illness is illness, it's not something you are doing to yourself.


There are different types of illness. Some can happen, and there's nothing we can do about it. That's not the same as engaging in behaviour that causes illness. Self-destructive behaviour chips away at our physical and mental soundness. If we fail to regulate our actions in time we invite illness. We certainly owe it to our loved ones to avoid that.


Yes in my case it was caused by ideas from a shitty self help book that i was trying out whilst a politcal battle was going on at work. Need to trace the origins which can only be done by talking to trusted people, ie family and probably not friends (which i got burnt by). Getting proffessional help was also not useful at all as they cared more about managing symptoms with meds rather than tracing the root cause.


I'm sorry if this is autistically inappropriate but what was the book?


Sorry not OP/answer, but IMO I don't think your question is inappropriate; I too would like to read that particular book while holding it at arm's length.


But don't overly focus on a root cause to the detriment of getting help. Some people respond really well to the therapy of determining where they went wrong, how they were hurt, etc. Other people respond well to a day-to-day plan of being aware of your thoughts, challenging intrusive thoughts, etc. And medication works wonders for some, and is not great or sometimes detrimental to others.


Mental health is a serious issue. The past few years I have been putting family and work before my own care and it caught up to me. 10xing is great, but if you have a mental condition the slightest thing can really set you back if you don't put your own health first. I am taking some time away from computer next few weeks last minute. Management seems fine with it and is offering any help they can. Though I didn't lose my marbles 100% slipping into depression is very real and can be scary. Don't hesitate to go to the ER or any other service if you need it. Take care of yourself.


Yes, though long ago, before graduating college. Put a big damper on my life. Went from attending a Top 5 CS school to graduating 3 years late from a state school. I thought the government was going to assassinate me, that people everywhere I went knew who I was and were whispering about me, etc. Just severe psychosis.

You do not need to forgive yourself. You should be thankful that you (presumably) have a loving and caring family that helped you through it and that you were eventually able to regain a measure of mental health and sanity. I certainly am immensely grateful for those things.


I just want to reply to OP that I remember bursting into tears once at my first job back around 2006, and it was clearly burnout.

It was my first burnout so it wasn't so clear back then, but in hindsight I had been working until midnight just because I was so eager. I was 18 when I got the job in 2004, dropped out of school, suddenly had access to all the bandwidth and servers I ever dreamed of.

So I thought I was staying late for me, but it was wearing on me. One day the boss and my mentor were fighting and I just ran out the door because I felt these feelings well up inside me, sat in the stairwell crying.


My wife went through psychosis in december for the first time and is still recovering. As you can imagine it has been a rough few months and I really want to know, in your experience, do you go back to normal afterwards? How long does it take? She is on antipsychotics and is way out of the acute phase, but she still has unusual behaviour like last week she covered up the TV with a towel and says she doesn't like phones or screens around her. She is not as loving as she was, wants a lot of alone time and she has changed some habits for no apparent reason and when I ask her about it she just replies she likes it like that and to stop bugging her. I'd say overall she's like 80-90% back to her old self but still has some weird changes to her personality. Does that fade as well or is this just the way she will be now?


I'm not a doctor but, that sounds like schizophrenia to me. It's treatable, but with some downsides:

- takes a little while to get the drug regimen right

- side effects aren't wonderful (twitching is the main bummer)

Maybe someone with more direct knowledge can chime in (or, yeah maybe this isn't schizophrenia), but this is my understanding.


She probably wants alone time to indulge her conspiracies and stuff. The stuff is addictively fascinating to unravel. Is she doing any drugs like stimulants? Is she getting enough sleep?

I had drug induced psychosis about 6 years ago. It lasted roughly 9 months with a 3 month ramp up where I didn’t notice it and then the remaining 6 months was absolutely wild. Lost job and was almost arrested numerous times.

I will say that I went to rehab right as it was dying down (the end of the final month) and I had two months of summer after that before I got back to school and work. I was pretty much good after the month of rehab.

Oddly enough AI research is what really kicked it off, then it went into the whole everything is connected, predictive programming, cognitive dissonance is the source of schizophrenia etc

The beliefs I had come up with during this period, which sounded very profound at the time, have mostly faded away, I still think there was some good nuggets I came up with but it was surrounded by so much jibberish I could never make anything of it. She may retain some of the stuff she discovered but it’s not gonna be anything serious. There are little nuggets of profound knowledge that people discover on a psychosis journey that are hard to forget (for example - I realized how much of man’s intentions were towards money power or fame - and learned to identify people who operate with those motivators.


I don’t know if my situation has any overlap with your wife’s, but it took me 2-3 years after the incident above before I could say I felt normal-ish again. But I’ll never be entirely the same. I hope she gets there, it sounds like you’re taking good care of her!


I had a ~two years setback at work due to covid. It was not due a psychotic episode, but probably the effects felt similarly bad [to my coworkers]: my thoughts were all over the place, I could not carry a deep tech conversation as I would jump on a tangent and carry on different seemingly unrelated topics, I appeared confused and distracted all the time. I had compounding effects of brain fog and, then undiagnosed, ADHD: to the level that going out to get groceries was a struggle.

I have a great manager at work, but we were relatively new then: I had just transferred into the team before the virus broke loose. He was stellar and very supportive. My whole team was, so much that I shared my story as I recovered instead of hiding my diagnosis.

Nonetheless, It took me almost a year to recover from brain fog and rebuild the trust to work at my level. It was really hard to remain focused and get through working on simple things that I could have done 10y ago. It felt like quicksand for my brain. I almost left the company because of it.

Now, with all the layoffs, I wonder if I did the right thing. Am I at risk due to lower than expected performance [my performance had recovered since then, but who knows]? Is it better this way anyway, for a fatter severance package? Would the sparkle of new challenges in a new company gave me a faster personal trajectory?

TBH, I don't really care that much about career for the money. I just need the innovation of a different level of work to keep me motivated.


I've heard a lot about brain fog, concentration issues, and lack of focus in the past 3 years. Could some of it be long-Covid after an asymptomatic infection?


They’re also all symptoms of depression, which many people experienced as a result of the isolation and stress of the pandemic.


I graduated from a top uni in 2019 less than a year before the world changed. I was enjoying my first look at real life and my first time having money, meeting girls I was interested in, developing friendships, and traveling. Then COVID hit and I couldn’t do much of any of this. Everyone I knew retreated to their hometowns with family and I was left alone. I never had any family, but I had been able to mostly mask that feeling during normal times with everything else going on in my life. But it really hit me hard then, and I started going stir-crazy and getting panic attacks about being alone forever. I started thinking about ending it because I’d never belong and I felt like I started to see everyone’s true colors.

This coincided with a couple physical traumas I experienced during COVID. I went to an ENT doctor because I thought I had sudden hearing loss in one ear. She prescribed a high-dose steroid for a couple weeks. She then conducted a hearing exam a few days into it and said I didn’t have hearing loss and she didn’t see a need for me to continue the steroid. It didn’t sound like a big deal if I did continue, so I did but I later learned they are extremely serious after I suddenly developed tinnitus. This obviously exacerbated my frustrations and depressive feelings. Secondly, I went to a dermatologist for acne scars. He prescribed a laser that he burned my entire face with, and above everything else this is the worst experience of my life.

It’s been a bit over two years I’ve been dealing with all this. A lot of times I wish for an end. I am not a direct casualty of COVID, but I do feel like it brought about the conditions that made it clear I was never going to survive in this world without family support. It just happened to be COVID that showed this, but any other adversity that came my way would have likely done the same. I have also been delving deeper into my psyche and discovered I fit various diagnoses for things like autism, ADHD, bipolar disorder, body dysmorphia, highly sensitive personality, and so on. I don’t know how much of these are nature vs nurture given my extensive trauma, but to answer your question, yes, I’ve lost my marbles and I don’t know if I’ll ever find them given the absolute clusterfuck I’m in.


You definitely aren't alone in feeling like this. For what little it's worth, hang tight and I hope things pick up for you. Life's a bit of a chaotic rollercoaster at times, and these last few years that has been dialled up to 11, but we are stronger than we think we are.


Yes sure, but I don't categorise these episodes as losing the plot.

Per my perception I've gone "missing in action" for some months or even a few years during my life. Did not check any inboxes or report to anyone. For me, these episodes have been valuable, but yes, I am guilty of neglecting my family and friends during these periods.

Summa summarum I think in some situations it is the only rational option.

As Bertrand Russell said in The Conquest of Happiness

"One should respect public opinion insofar as is necessary to avoid starvation and keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny."


Thank you, and what a great quote that is


I'm sorry for what you went through. That sounds rough.

That said, I'm (perhaps morbidly) curious about the experience. Were you having fun finding fossils?


I had a fucking blast. It felt like an adventure.


Maybe that was some kind of self-preservation "GTFO and touch grass" ripcord.

Edit: ok! I read some of your other posts about that time. You definitely need help. Glad you're feeling better.


Yes, a couple of years ago. The story bears close resemblance to yours. Layers of stress at work and in personal life. No drugs were involved. I'm still recovering emotionally, mentally and financially. It was life-threatening.

I now dread taking on resposibilities or even reaching out to people I lost contact with, fearing a relapse of sorts. Therapy wasn't particularly useful, maybe because I got myself to go after I was already snapping out of it. My guess is that it sort of "just happens" to some people under the "right" circumstances.


I'm not going to add more 'noise' with my story but I would like to share some insights that I've come across intentionally and unintentionally. A lot of this isn't good advice. But if you're feeling incredibly overwhelmed and under a lot of pressure then the advice is good enough. The goal is to immediately remove yourself from any stressful or negative situations and to prevent you from saying or doing something harmful.

1. If you're okay with burning bridges with your coworkers. It's fine to just ghost them for a few weeks to a month. This immediately removes you from the source of stress and can give you the time to decompress. You'll either be fired or you'll have to quit (don't give a notice) after you feel a bit better. In either case reach out to your manager on your personal email or text. Apologize and give a short message that you are dealing with personal issues.

2. It's okay to withdraw from personal responsibilities. Obviously you can't ignore your friends and family like you can your coworkers but cancelling events or withdrawing from things you used to do is a perfectly valid strategy.

3. Engaging in escapism is a perfectly valid way to handle these negative emotions. Anything is fine as long as it takes your mind of off this issue.

4. Avoid mentally strenuous activities. You want to do things that are passive and low effort. If it's easy and it can give you a self esteem boost then it's worth it.

5. Find an easy job with laid back coworkers and a good work life balance. There's nothing wrong with being a big fish in a small pond. Find fulfillment outside of work.

6. Try your best to avoid coping with drugs or alcohol but if it helps in the short term then go ahead. Indulge yourself. Just make sure that you avoid getting addicted. Set rules for yourself no matter how arbitrary and stick with them.

Obviously try asking for help, therapy, medication, medical leave, meditating, getting new hobbies and other perfectly reasonable things first. It's harder to do but it also gives the most benefits. However, if like me, you felt truly trapped. If the thought of talking to someone (therapist, manager, family, friends, acquaintances) is incredibly daunting and makes you sick to your stomach. If the thought of leaving it all behind sounds appealing, try the advice posted above. Then, once you're ready, you can take the actually good advice and build yourself up.


Yes sure, but I don't categorise these episodes as losing the plot. Per my perception I've gone "missing in action" for some months or even a few years during my life. Did not check any inboxes or report to anyone. For me, these episodes have been valuable, but yes, I am guilty of neglecting my family and friends during these periods.

Summa summarum I think in some situations it is the only rational option.


I fell into depression for half a decade and withdrew myself from society. Eventually I found my way into 6 months of therapy and went back to tech. No one in my daily life cares or knows about it. I don't think people want to know about these things, so it would definitely make for a horrible water cooler conversation.

Tech is full of people's bad coping mechanisms - cynicism, denial, escapism, self-medication, maladaptive humour, dissociation, procrastination, rumination, anxious avoidance, etc. I think that many people are one life event from losing their marbles, especially in ambitious and stressful roles. And many probably have stories about mental health crises they will never share.


You had a psychotic break. No that's not normal. I hope you got treatment.


I lost my marbles too. I don't think it's anything to be ashamed about.

My coworkers started talking about me behind my back. I shared a wall with my boss's office and she would just constantly talk about me and I could hear our best engineer through the vents critiquing every little commit I made. I blew up on them and was fired and became completely isolated.

Then I slowly discovered that my neighbors had started listening in to me talking to myself. They installed cameras in my house and a speaker and microphone on my dog's collar so they could talk to me while I was walking him. Every little thing I did they talked about. They started streaming me and it was like I was on a TV show and everybody thought I was in on it and having fun. But I wasn't. I started pulling out my hair to show the audience I was not happy with the situation because the audience knew how much I loved my hair. Then I started cutting and they just kept thinking it was all part of the show. I was absolutely desperate why would they not just leave me alone? I downed a bottle of benadryl and tylenol to get them to come and show themselves because I was serious.

I woke up a day later with my 70lb dog lying on top of me trying to wake me up and in a very groggy moment of clarity realized what had happened and called my mom to pick me up immediately. This was 8 years ago and I haven't had another real break.


Stress induced psychosis maybe? Were you using any chemicals? Feel like I understand the need to escape to the woods but not so sure about the fossils thing. Hope you are doing better now mate


Thank you, and yes, I was taking dexedrine for ADHD, and I’m sure that was a factor here, or at least it didn’t help!


ADHD even without medication can make you hyperfixate on something for so long (usually if it's encouraged by environment) that you end up literally having not to think of it for a time if you want to recover your skill. Autism, excessive routines, isolation, lack of play and chaos helps make this happen too.


Dexedrine is powerful. I took that when I was a teenager for ADHD and I lost tons of weight down to maybe 140 and it drove a strong compulsion for more drug seeking. I also got straight A's and started my own website business, but I also would have terrible fights with my mom and got kicked out of my house.

I think you may be able to attribute a lot of your experience to that drug.

When I switched to Adderall, my entire life changed and things started feeling normal again.


Stimulants, and in particular sleep deprivation from stims (not implying that was you, it's just a common pattern), compounds delusions really hard. Make sure if you continue to take stims you eat good, sleep a lot & drink a healthy amount of water


I‘d actually suspect the Dexedrine as the root cause of the psychosis.


Why?


Not to that degree but I do have to watch my mental health. Prolonged unhappiness while pushing hard to perform at work tends to undo me.

I have to have a good attitude about what I'm doing or I'll burn out. Stop sleeping properly and just turn into a wreck. While external factors play their part I've learned a lot is my internal response to the external.

I think everyone is vulnerable to some sort of snap if they're under too much stress for too long.

I'm glad to hear things are looking better for you.


"Step One. Assume that whatever distress you might be experiencing has been triggered and is related to the childhood past.

Step Two. Connect that distress to its roots in the traumatic past by fast-forwarding through your childhood history and noticing where the feelings and body sensations you notice right now best fit. [“Fast-forward” means no more than 20–30 seconds! Focusing on or thinking about the past for more than that short time risks activating the trauma responses.]

Step Three. Identify the internalized old belief that developed as a result of that experience. [Ask yourself: “What would any human being come to believe about themselves in that situation?” Or think about the negative beliefs that most trouble you day to day and identify them as related to the past, not to you personally.]

Step Four. Find a way to challenge that old belief so that you can begin to develop new beliefs that better fit your life today. [You are already challenging those beliefs the moment you label them as “old.” That is the first sub-step. The next sub-step is to create a new possible belief, such as “I had to believe this in order to survive” or “This belief helped me to survive because it made me more ________.”] It is not necessary to come up with a new positive belief or to expect yourself to believe it. It is only necessary to challenge the old beliefs.

Without repeated practice of new reactions and new beliefs, the same responses that helped you survive will continue to be triggered over and over again. It appears that the brain and body are slower to let go of responses associated with survival under threat, and the only way to combat that phenomenon is to keep practicing the new responses until they become increasingly automatic."

-- Janina Fisher: Transforming the Living Legacy of Trauma


While I never experienced as major a break as you did, I have been completely burned out before. I would spend hours sitting at my desk looking at the screen and really only deliver 15 - 20 minutes of work. This went on for a year. I was just unable to focus on my job. Eventually I started getting debilitating migraines before or during work. Those lasted for months. Sitting at my desk everyday felt like strapping on a backpack filled with a ten ton weight made out of depression.

Im still not 100% recovered but 90% of the way. I just really don't like working in tech but have some how risen to a very high level and the golden handcuffs prevent me from leaving.

How did I get passed this? I don't recommend this. I was lying in bed with a migraine. I smoked a bunch of pot, told myself I was done with this nonsense and it was all in my head. Things were not that bad. Forced myself out of bed and to move around. Said no more. I have not had a migraine in over a year. I essentially patched myself in a moment of drug induced clarity.

I think the reason is I am trading hours of my life for money doing work I really don't like. It's essentially an existential crisis.


My relative gone through schizophrenia and never recovered fully to normal life. You're happy that you did. Don't blame yourself, you have no control over it, it just happens. Be careful with your work-life balance and keep visiting doctors as long as needed. You can never be sure that it won't get back some day but treating this situation before it gets dire makes everything easier.


Can you elaborate on "never recovered fully to normal life". My wife went through her first episode psychosis and it's likely schizophrenia. Did they ever realize that the delusions weren't true? Do they still have unusual behavior? Are they on maintenance meds?

Sorry for the questions, I know there's a lot of stories the internet already, but I trust NH users opinions more than reddit and I'd really like an idea of how things might turn out in the long term.


She couldn't return to work despite her attempts, she has issues communicating with other people, she acts weird sometimes. She definitely realized everything after she got treatment and meds and she mostly normal but still not quite. She's on maintenance meds for few years already.

I think that every case is unique so don't take it for given. I live in poor country and our doctors might not be the best in the world (altough I think that they're competent enough), so here's that.


I recall this from Lex Fridman's podcast, maybe it will help address some of your questions https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hk6mo-BCkzg

I hope your wife gets better.


It happens to the best of us. For those of you who have friends going through something like this, your friend still needs you. Reach out. Have faith in them. You might be the reason they land on their feet.


I don't know if I would describe it as "losing my marbles". But I had some extreme OCD-like symptoms right after dropping out of university. I attribute it to my brain trying to cope with failure and uncertainty. The symptoms were gone after a few months, but looking back it's scary how unaware I was of what was going on in my head.


So, this never happened to me but I did definitely screw up in other ways that left a similar (read: way longer) gap of meaningful progress in my life. It took me a long time to get over the pure regret this caused. You can make up the lost time, by being wiser, happier, and if you can, more successful. Your life isn't over yet.


You are not alone. A close friend of mine has bipolar disorder, but was able to keep it from friends and colleagues due to a combination of a happy life, strong family support and great personal charisma. No one knew, or even suspected it.

During Covid lockdowns, his business went under, and his marriage began to suffer. Pretty soon he was experiencing manic episodes brought on by the grief/stress of losing his livelhood, and he wasn't taking any treatment because it was in his manic phase that he was coming up with ideas for a new business. He'd be up all hours of the night and completely worn out and depressed during the days.

His marriage ended, he moved out into a working farm which he bought, changed his phone number, and I haven't seen or heard anything about him since.


I'm sorry that happened to you. I hope someone has told this to you already but - please don't blame yourself. It obviously wasn't your intention to have a psychotic break. I hope you have the support to stay happy and healthy, I don't doubt you deserve it.


Mental stuff is hard; I've had my fair share of problems with depression and anxiety and it's no picnic.

I'm a huge believer in therapy. I don't think it's only for people with mental or emotional health issues; I think everyone should do it (like physical activity or eating salads). If you haven't already, I strongly recommend you do the work to find a therapist you trust and like and start working through your experience.

Also, though I'm not a therapist myself, I think a critical part of your recovery will be letting go of your guilt and forgiving yourself. There's no shame in what you went through: you got sick. That's the end of it.


This only happened once to me as a kid, and only for a few hours. I can still remember being in tears, inconsolable, trying to explain to my father that “the train” was missing an important part, and that if I didn’t find the part, the train wouldn’t be able to go. I don’t remember what the part was supposed to do. I only remember that it was shaped like a cube. I looked through my bedroom for it, convinced that it was on one of my shelves somewhere. When it didn’t turn up, I had another breakdown.

I still wonder from time to time whether that episode was an indicator of something wrong with my brain that will only reveal itself later in life.


Interesting, this actually sounds a lot like one of those typical dreams where you have to do something specific, and a lot depends on it, and for various reasons, it can't happen or goes haywire..


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