Feel like I'm not good enough anymore

I just found this site last night. It was a relief to see that I’m not the only developer that struggles with depression. It’s really interfering with my work life as well as my personal life.

I graduated from college in 2003, with a 4.0 GPA, top of my major. I chose user interfaces as my area of interest, and for the past ten years I’ve enjoyed a successful career. I have a very comfortable salary, a nice house and plenty in savings.

In the past few years, though, I’ve started to feel like my knowledge has been lagging behind the curve. It gave me such anxiety that I have a hard time learning new things now.

Then, back in July, I had somewhat of a breakdown and fell into a major depressive episode. Worst I’ve felt in my entire life. I went on short-term disability from work and went to an outpatient treatment program for six weeks.

I’ve been back at work for almost 3 months now, and things just haven’t been the same. I feel that my design, problem-solving, and coding skills just aren’t what they used to be and I am now in constant fear of falling behind and losing my job, losing my house, losing everything.

I’ve been on various meds for over 10 years, and I’ve been going to therapy now for about a year. So far I haven’t made much progress. I was on Paxil for about 10 years for my anxiety, then this year I switched to Celexa, which didn’t help. Switched to Prozac, which had some bad side effects, so then I switched to Zoloft which is what I’m on now. I’m not sure how much it’s really helping.

Has anyone else out there gone through anything similar? I feel like my career is at its end and I’m terrified. I just want to be a good coder again.

Sounds like you are experiencing something usually described as “imposter syndrome” which can be both a symptom and cause of depression, often forming a vicious circle.

You should definitely raise this topic in your sessions as cognitive behaviour therapy is the usual approach to finding both internal and external validation of your abilities and work on rejecting the negative thoughts or overreactions to adverse events.

Not only are you not alone, that feeling seems to be pretty normal for developers.

The technology and best practices change so quickly and so often that it’s impossible to keep up with it all. The higher your professional standards, the harder it is to feel like you’re able to still do your job to the standard you feel you should. Add to that the fact that the more you learn and understand, the more you discover how much you don’t know. As that list of don’t-have’s grows, it becomes more and more imposing to try to spend the rest of your life playing catch-up. It also starts to feel like such a waste as all the previous technology you worked so hard to learn become utterly useless and get abandoned.

You expect to feel like you don’t know what you’re doing when you’re starting out as a student. What you don’t expect is to still feel like that 10+ years into your career.

The key to remember is that we’re all there. I’ve spent my entire career wondering when they would realize that I don’t actually know what I’m doing and I’m just desperately improvising the entire time. We all feel it to some degree or another. You either narrowly specialize, or resign yourself to being merely competent at a bunch of things as a generalist. Either way, the best and most useful skill you will ever learn is how to find and utilize information you don’t already know on the fly. You’ll be spending you’re entire career doing that.

Definitely continue to get professional help in dealing with it, especially if it’s having such an impact on your life, but also keep in mind that you’re in good company and still well within the curve.


This is normal for all walks of life. It is definitely something to bring up to your doctor if you haven’t already as a possible side effect to what you’re already going through, but…

… that aside, it’s quite normal. The more you have, the more you are afraid to lose. The workforce is filled with people becoming meaner than their nature, driven by this exact fear of not being able to keep up and maintain the things they love. It’s practically the backbone of our working society, sadly.

As an artist, this is simply called writer’s block. Writer’s block isn’t actually a ceasing of production… you’re creating… you just think it all sucks. I would suspect your work is great. You’re experienced, you care about doing a good job, and you sound quite intelligent. I would practically guarantee that you’re not appreciating your true value.

Speaking with your doctor aside, I’d try to focus on appreciating your talents. You’re a smart guy - you’ll do the best you can, and you’ll make it work. I hope you can find peace in the process. You can do it! :sunny: