Engineering/programming ruined my life


#1

Hey everyone.

I have no idea how I found this site honestly. I was just going through search engines and I was looking up something after what has been a nastier anxiety attack than normal (probably because of Christmas blues), but I’ve felt the need to talk about this.

I was always seen as good with computers, and I loved programming from when I was a kid. I was seen as one of those super-intelligent types, you know, skipped a grade, etc. My parents expected good grades out of me, and yeah, emotionally and sometimes physically abused me when I didn’t. I wanted to get into a career within video games once I graduated from high school, but instead my parents kinda pushed me into software engineering.

College was alright. Better than high school. Couldn’t find a date to save my life because girls didn’t like dating engineers in my town (Las Vegas). They were more prone to wanting to spend time with the poker player/gambler types. First year or so was rough, but managed to pull through with 2 Bachelor’s degrees (Computer Engineering/Computer Science), magna cum laude, Department and University Honors and a 3.52 GPA. Got better in my Master’s degree with a 3.83 GPA in Electrical/Computer Engineering. So while my love life wasn’t looking all that great due to this career, hey, at least I could get the big money job my parents expected me to get, right?

Then the economy hit. It hit especially hard in Vegas. We got it worse than anywhere else in the U.S. but Detroit and even that was questionable. No jobs anywhere. There were few jobs in engineering when I graduated with my Master’s, and those that were were contracted. I got involved with an employment agency, Robert Half, and that was a mistake. First job offer I got was for $25k/yr. which I had to turn down because I was making almost that much with my graduate assistantship and I was working part-time!

6 months later I did find a job at this one small company. It was a miserable 6 months. I hated every moment of it. The CEO of the company constantly attacked our IT department, telling us that she can replace us with 2 Indian guys like that and told us how grateful we were to have our shitty jobs. Morale was bad all around. Expectations were high, and the pay wasn’t good enough to compensate it. Eventually, our manager was begging us to put increasingly more and more time into it, up to the point I was working 70-75 hours a week on a consistent basis. I was laid off, they were laying off the entire IT crew, but I felt it was more a mercy killing than anything else. I never felt so relieved to be laid off in my life.

A few months later, I got a job with the government. One of the few programming jobs I actually liked to do, but personal issues in my life was getting in the way. I developed a bad case of depression and PTSD due to constant bullying by family and people who hated me in high school and college which I won’t go into detail here because this is not the place for it. On top of that office politics got so bad that they were trying to push me from project to project because one of the guys who was there was trying to break me.

I had to take several months off in 2014 because of nearly dying in the hospital due to complications from an illness I had seven years beforehand, but didn’t know about until then: Crohn’s Disease. That complication was severe anemia in case anyone wanted to know. Again, I’ll leave out all the personal stuff regarding my parents with more emotional abuse while taking care of me on top of all that, and to make matters worse I couldn’t defend myself because I was in no condition to do anything about it. After recovering, I went back to work around the end of that year, and everything changed. Everyone knew about my illness because word kinda spread around from the few people I trusted in the workplace (kinda needed help) and I could tell that they couldn’t wait to get rid of me. And I couldn’t wait to get out of Las Vegas. I saw Vegas as techie hell. There were no jobs there, and the few that were were paying little more than a fast-food manager, so there’d be no point.

So starting last January, I searched for jobs anywhere but Las Vegas. I had a pretty good resume so I thought I’d be out of Vegas by March. It took until May before I got hired for a job here in Atlanta, where I now reside. I thought it was going to be the light at the end of the tunnel, the one job that would catapult me to the career I had dreamed would come out of the years of studying this profession.

Wow… was I wrong. The years I spent in the government did not prepare me for this. The programming world has changed massively. I could barely keep up with what they wanted me to do. All the things I had to learn had kept me isolated and away from other hobbies I wanted to do. I had time for nothing else. I spent 80 hours a week programming and another 10-15 learning new stuff so I could keep myself going because it was demanded of me. The expectations that were given to me were just too high for me to handle.

I was fired two months later because of underperformance. At that point, I was just burnt out. My long-distance girlfriend at the time had invited me to go up to Montreal to see her for a few weeks so I could clear my head and that was what I did. I hoped that recruiters would help me find something there.

Two months later, I didn’t get a single call back. I’m still waiting on that call. It’s December. Five months later. And nothing. During that time, I thought I would take the time to build up on a dream of mine too and I found myself getting better and better at Youtubing and film production, and I’m finding myself liking it more than programming now. I can’t stand programming anymore. After a month of not hearing back from recruiters, I decided to follow my dream instead and do some tutoring on the side, though I’m still open to hear from recruiters.

On top of that, I think I’m burnt out from programming. Going from shitty job after shitty job, feeling like I sacrificed my social and love life in college in vain is just depressing to me, and it’s making me feel worse by the day, especially during Christmas.

I have a friend (girl) who met her boyfriend by something she admits wouldn’t have been a good thing to do by most people’s standards, but at least it got her a 3-year relationship. She also has a family to go back to for Christmas, her boyfriend (of course), and a major she can actually look forward to. My parents have disowned me because I didn’t reach their goals for me, my girlfriend left me because I spent time pursuing my dream (and she says I wouldn’t have any time for her, but she thinks I don’t have time for her now, imagine what it’d be like if I went back to work…), and I’m in the only major where experience is considered a bad thing, because companies want to hire younger people due to them having more knowledge in the architecture and modules that change every couple of years!

So I feel like developing/engineering has ruined my life. I grow more depressed every day, and I really don’t know what left to do with my life. I feel if I were in a more stable major like business, I wouldn’t need to take this huge risk that I am taking in my life and do this Youtube + tutor route in order to make ends meet. Meds don’t help me. My psychologist doesn’t help me either. Honestly, they don’t care. It’s been 5 months since I’ve typed a line of code. The only thing that keeps me going is the “potential” that everyone tells me I have with my Youtube channel, and I dunno how long that’s going to last either… it might screw up like everything else does in my life. Hell, that’s the reason why I’m alone for Christmas for the 4th year in a row, 5th of the last 6. Why I’ve only had 1 real relationship in my life, and she left me for trying to find an alternate way out other than staying at this miserable careeer field but stayed with her first boyfriend even after finding out he was a pedophile (don’t ask for that story, please).

I feel like I was meant to be put on this earth as a warning to anyone who wants to go into developing/programming/software engineering, whatever you wanna call it, to not be one, even if you once loved it like I did. I’m growing increasingly more depressed by the day, from loneliness, from feeling useless, from feeling so far behind what everyone said I should’ve been by now, including my parents, from feeling disgraced because my parents disowned me… and while I’m not suicidal yet, I’m pretty sure it won’t be long before I go back to those tendencies. I can feel it already. I just had my first anxiety attack tonight since 2013, meaning that I am already getting worse. I could drink my problems away, but my Crohn’s with alcohol doesn’t mix especially for my type, and any alcohol could potentially put me in the hospital, though right now that might not sound like a bad idea, since it’s not like anyone’s going to notice I’m gone anyway…

I still play the emotional abuse in my head, not just from parents, or from family, from friends, or from girls who have made my life a living hell, but former supervisors. The constant reminder of this job and them telling you that you are disposable after all the years of work you put into this, and how expensive you are even though you’re making a third to half as much as that business major who partied his ass off during Spring Break while you were studying for a midterm… these are the things I cannot get out of my head. But what hurts the most, is realizing that this is one huge mistake, and if I could have a time machine to take me back 10 years to make myself drop out and be a business major, I would do it in a heartbeat. I would give anything for that… I feel like a failure. Worse than a failure. I’m a complete abomination. I should’ve told my parents to f off and I’d follow my dream after high school, but I didn’t have the monetary or social means to do it, and thus I was put into this situation thanks to their coercing. Now I’m 29, loveless, almost friendless, jobless, and relying on a one-in-a-million chance to work in order to scrounge up anything resembling a life for me.

Anyway, thanks for hearing me out. And thanks to whoever made this site. Just mentioning it all, even in a nutshell like this, makes me feel better.


#2

Have you been seeing a psychiatrist or therapist? It sounds like if that’s at all possible that’s where you should start. As you mentioned you have PTSD and depression, which aren’t going to help your current situation at all. And listen, it’s perfectly fine if programming turned out not to be for you. At least you have found another passion (I’m even a bit jealous as I have l don’t have a passion). It’s just as important in life to find out what you don’t want to do as it is to find out what you do. And you’re only 29! I have friends in their mid 30s going back to school to find a new career. You’ve got a lot ahead of you! But I highly recommend you pursue help. It sounds like you do not have a solid support system and your familys part of the problems.


#3

Yeah, I am seeing a psychologist. Hasn’t really helped much. He’s not telling me what I didn’t know back in Vegas. And I don’t really respond well to the whole “just deal with it” thing.


#4

If he’s telling you to “just deal with it”, I would definitely find a new psychologist. That sounds terrible. To be honest, I’ve found more empathy with female therapists and psychiatrists than male ones. I don’t know if that’s a result of our culture or society. But that is purely anecdotal.


#5

He’s not. That was my female psychologist back in Vegas.


#6

Oh gotcha.

Don’t be afraid to switch around psychologists/therapists/etc. My first one didnt work out after a month or so. The one I am currently with is going well but I could very well switch later on.


#7

That’s so true. My experiences with psychologists has been very frustrating.

I’ve seen like 5 or 6 different ones. Some were very passive, so I felt like I was paying someone to listen to me.

One dude I’ve seen was charging like 100$ per hour and sometimes he would cut the session short at 45 minutes…

My insurance pays 500$ a year for sessions. So at 80-100$ per hour, that’s not much.


#8

My insurance covers one single medical office of psychiatrists for like 60 miles, and that office is known to be terrible (all about volume).

I’ve had to go outside the network of my insurance, so its 260 a month for CBT and 150 for psych visits. And my out of network deductible is $7500. So I’m dropping alot per month for who knows how long and I’ll probably never meet that deductible.

That sucks, my therapist has actually let sessions go way over the 50 minute slot sometimes when she doesn’t have another patient waiting. I’m still not sure about my psychiatrist though. My initial consultation with my psych was $350 though. Idk how people are supposed to do this without significant savings or budgeting.


#9

I think I understand what you’re feeling because I’ve had similar thoughts about my life choices. I feel that I’ve been in ‘survival mode’ a long time… doing whatever I think is necessary to keep the pay checks coming and not focusing on my goals and passions.

Love life ? Mine is a complete disaster.

Try not to dwell on those thoughts. Whatever is done is done. Tomorrow is another day and other opportunities will come up.

Lots of people change careers multiple times. I’ve read somewhere that you need 10 years to become an expert in a field. At 29, you probably have at least 3 careers ahead of you. I know it’s hard, I’m currently in the same process of figuring out what my next step is.

I hope you find help for your depression. Good luck.


#10

IMO if you can’t handle office politics then you’ll have a harder time working when you’re in a business related field

anyway have you seen office space? TBH I find you guys lucky a plumber there could probably have his own home in here its not possible, have you ever considered going for a trade?

On my mind if I were only living in a first world country where I could live decently just by doing manual labor that would really be great but I’m stuck here and competing with a hundred million population just to get a decent living, I’d love to leave tech too, my gf left me, dating seems not an option and I’m seeing friends who immigrated somewhere else living an easier life than me.

Anyway I hope you can find something better out there, hey las vegas is probably near SF or austin


#11

What kind of jobs are you trying to get bro? Do you have a solid portfolio? Do you choke on technical interviews?

I have no degree in CS and basically dick around in Python / Ruby web dev at work and am making 120k/yr

Do you need help finding a better job? I have tons of hookups everywhere…


#12

I have no idea how you manage to do that. Outside of one guy who works in Silicon Valley, no one I know who is in this field is making that much. Most are making about half that.

I got involved with PHP, so Python/Ruby means I’d have to learn two whole new languages which will take at least 6 months to learn before I could even think about doing it professionally. I do have a short part-time gig that will pay most of the bills to start and hopefully pay it all by the time it’s done, but I’m not too sure about that either…

When I was in my senior year in high school, I had 3 possible paths I could take. Business major, engineering major or going pro in Magic: The Gathering (I was really good at it back then). I couldn’t have imagined that what everyone told me was the most practical solution turned out to be the worst possible solution for me socially, in love, and financially…


#13

hi…is it possible for you to apply as a faculty in college/university since you have work experience? teaching is relatively less stressful and peaceful.


#14

I thought about it, but I have no idea where to even begin. I have a friend in Orlando who somehow became an associate professor with just a Master’s and I’m trying to figure out how since I only have a Master’s (with some Ph.D credits). Otherwise, I’d have to consider returning to school to get my Ph.D.

It’s been several months since I first wrote this on here and not much has changed. I’ve started a tutoring business to somewhat sustain me (but not completely), my new girlfriend has an idea for a game for us to create that she thinks should take off quite well (as she is insanely good at graphics, and that was the one thing I’ve been missing this whole time that’s kept me from going into business for myself), and I’ve left Youtubing on a regular basis but have become CTO of a startup Youtube network in hopes that it will eventually take off.

Yeah, I’ve gone back to developing… the first month or so was kind of rough. I couldn’t code without having some kind of flashback. It’s gotten easier as I go into my third month back (second month back in full).

But times like now, at 3:30am on a Friday morning, I can’t help but think to myself that I’m only delaying the inevitability of my failure.


#15

Hey there. I’m just popping in to ask for an update. How’s it going since this last post? I’m really sorry that things worked out this way for you, friend.

Also, what sort of dev work were you involved in? Have you considered just going into IT instead of dev work?


#16

Here’s an update.

The job at the Youtube MCN I had turned south very quick, much like other dev jobs, only this time I was barely getting paid $20 a month (6% of profits), and I was working upwards of 10-12 hours a day to try to get their dashboard done. Pressure became too much, my girl convinced me to quit so we can put more focus into my tutoring gig and our game because it looked like the network wasn’t going anywhere.

We have a Kickstarter coming out October for a card game I created over the last several months. I gotta make the Prefundia for it this week. I’m going to conventions in Orlando and Charlotte over the next month and a half for it. This creation of the game (and comic that she’s making) has been a dream of hers for years and it was weird how that worked out for us. I’m nervous about the conventions though.

I have a friend who is trying to re-teach me Java and get me away from the PHP I was working on. So I’m trying to get caught up with everything with Java over the next few months while I still have a savings left. But who knows, if the Kickstarter takes off, we might not have to worry. I do want to make software for my company I’ve created however, but I’m needing to get caught up with everything first.

To summarize, I’ve found a way to at least hold off going broke temporarily with online tutoring. I have a Kickstarter for a card game something my girlfriend and I have worked on for several months and if it doesn’t take off, I’m hoping I’ll have learned enough about Java to try to find contract work to “prove myself” in the meantime en route to a full time job, or worse comes to worse try to make something of my own (an app idea?), and worse comes to worse there’s online tutoring/private tutoring (once I move closer to my gf in FL).

So life is getting a little better, but my future is still somewhat shaky.


#17

I found your perseverance inspiring. Please keep us updated on progress with everything, including the card game. So cool!

Working 10-12 hour days is not conducive to good mental health for anyone, so congratulations on being able to find a better situation.


#18

Some updates from my Facebook:

Last Wednesday
Today a person I thought was the love of my life not only left me but took a project I helped work with for six months for herself. I am unsure if I still have rights to the trademark. I will have to check. She left me stranded in tampa at 1.30 am last night, spent a day and a half worried to death about her all to get back at me over something I did when she said she was gonna break up with me before and because of my constant negativity and my aspergers issues.
And people wonder why I’m so negative. That’s why. I’ve had the rug pulled out from under me more times than I can count. I’m returning to Atlanta alone, loveless, and having the start over again as what was left of a 10 year game I had in my head has been stolen from me.

Today
Normally, I have a solution or a backup plan for everything I do. After having 20+ years of nothing but continuous disappointments and having the rug pulled out from under you, it does that to you. But the way Cynthia tried to make me rethink stuff so that I stayed only on our track for Beast Domes to be a success, quitting Eternal, giving up on certain friends… her pulling out the rug from under me, leaving me stranded in Tampa last week, I don’t know how I get out of this one honestly. I think this is it. I don’t get up from this one.
Like I said, normally I have a solution or a backup plan. But I don’t see it this time. Tutoring is inconsistent and won’t help me pay the bills for long. Software dev is worthless for me. Businesses have proven that college degrees are worthless, maybe even worse than never having a degree at all. I need an artist to get my project going. I’m at the end of my rope. Not having a girlfriend is the least of my problems now. When I lost Cynthia, I didn’t just lose a person I thought I was gonna spend my life with, I lost what was my last hope to make anything of myself.
I can’t go back to my field because I’ve been out a year-plus since my last job and my Crohn’s makes sure I can’t physically handle the demanding hours a dev brings. I can’t stay a tutor for long because it’s oversaturated. I can’t continue my business without an artist. I really think this is it…


#19

Well, if you really are planning on leaving dev work, then I’d suggest maybe looking into a blue collar job. They pay well, and the job satisfaction seems to be pretty high, which may be something you need right now. Also, being able to work outdoors may be good for your mental condition. Again, take my advice with a grain of salt. I haven’t had professional work as a developer, so I’m just speculating. But from what I know, blue collar life does seem to have an appeal to it.

Also, I urge you to read. Please READ. Specifically The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s one of my favorite books and offered a new perspective on life.

I really hope things get better for you, and for anyone going through something similar.


#20

That would be even worse for me. I can’t do physically demanding work because of my condition without straining myself. I have found a part-time job as a tutor that is holding me off for a little bit, or at least will in a couple of months. I’m thinking about going back to school to get a PhD but I’m unsure in what subject yet. I’m eligible to go for Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, or Mathematics, and I’m considering the latter just because it would be easier for me.

Other than that, same old same old I guess. Losing friends. Feeling kinda meh. You know? People say depression is a chemical imbalance. Are they sure? It seems like whenever bad things happen to me I get depressed. Whenever good things happen to me, I’m suddenly normal or cured of depression. Chemical imbalance my ass. Well, that’s not entirely true. I’m sure for some it is, but for me that clearly isn’t the case.

So yeah, update: Found a part-time tutoring job. I’m slowly getting back into development for myself, I have a couple apps I have in mind I want to make, but I’m having a new issue. 10-15 minutes into coding a voice in my head reminds me that coding is the reason why I’m 30 and single, and I need to stop doing it, and I just can’t do it anymore. It might sound weird to some, but back in college, I had a ton of people who wouldn’t date me or be friends with me because of my major, and I think that’s starting to take a toll on me as well, especially now that I’m older and I’ve been pretty much chained to my apartment the last couple months (that should change with my tutoring job though).