How to get a career as a developer when depressed?

Hello all im so happy to have found devdepressed!

Im 28 years old an aspiring programmer from the San Franscico Bay Area who has struggled with moderate (dysithmia) depression for ten years. I graduated from a UC school in 2012 with a natural science degree. Fast forward to today its been nothing but frustration and regret in search of work. I decided to go with my passion which is software development and leave my natural science degree behind.
Its been a year and now Im still at home with my parents. Embarassed and ashamed.

Ive currently been studying hard everyday in the hope I could attend a coding bootcamp but realistically knowing the cost I dont think i could afford it. Ive been turned away from a lot of developer jobs and jobs in general due to my lack of experience. And when it comes down to knuckling down and learning code, im all over the place easily distracted, an indecisive mess and questioning my own intellect as I struggle trying to solve programming problems. I know its going to take time to get started in web development and I just started getting treatment for my depression two months ago. Im now on 150mg of sertraline and things are up and down but im determined to be consistent with my meds.

My question is how did you make it in this field? And what advice would you reccomend to somebody who is recovering fom depression and is just starting out in the field. Programming is the only thing I can see myself doing long term, the only thing I see as fun and not a job. But im afraid im going to squander my chances and revert to my old self. Im afraid I wont be able to make the funds to attend a boot camp and that ill struggle if I try to learn the material on my own.

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I’m the exact same way when it comes to trying to learn how to code. I’ve sort of been winging it and flying by the seat of my pants and I managed to get good enough with really simple things like HTML, CSS and Wordpress themeing to get a few jobs, but I was always running up against actual development things I couldn’t do because I didn’t know any real programming and it stressed me out. I’ve tried taking a few distance courses or doing things like Udemy/Code academy, but I just cannot focus, I’m not disciplined enough.

I’m in the same boat (unemployed, 27, living with parents) and what I’m going to try to do is enroll in in person classes in my local community college for programming. I’m hoping the structure of actually going to class and facing the humiliation of not turning in assignments will drive me to work in a way online/self paced courses just can’t. Community college should be a lot cheaper than a bootcamp and you can probably get loans for it, and they can have a surprising amount of programming courses. I live out in podunk nowhere Virginia and even my local community college has a web programming trac, a *nix administration trac, info security, etc.

Another thing I’m thinking of exploring is treatment for adult ADHD. A lot of the symptoms for ‘inattentive’ adhd fit what I go through (and sounds like what you go through to some extent) and I’ve read that it’s often comorbid with depression. It, depression and anxiety form this horrible perfect storm that’s really hard to escape or overcome.

hey hugeguts,

I actually went down the community college cs route, i was enrolled at a local community college taking c++ programming and intended to transfer initially to a MS CS degree before I decided to drop and continue programming on m own. While I love what i learned in c++ and realized that i really really like programming, I wasn’t getting enough exposure on learning how to build real world applications that i wanted. The professors assignments took all of my time away and I had nothing left in the tank to do my own personal projects (he gave us a LOT of brain teaser problems).

The professor was also a pompous dick who loved to divide his class based on those “who could and couldnt program”, the A’s and F students as he explicitly called us even sometimes by name. And made the class especially hard since he wanted to test and see “who can abstract”. He was just a bad teacher period and the only professor teaching CS in the whole damn college! However I did enjoy what i was learning and I hate to be a quitter but I dropped the class, because I need to move on in my life and being in school forever is not something im looking forward to.

About discipline, structure etc, I think those are lifestyle changes we all have to make at some point. My last employer at my environmental consulting job used to tell me all the time that I was "so fucking brilliant and smart " but that I was just absent minded and that I always lost in my head with the gears turning. He fired me when I took half a day to do some data entry on excel. He knew I hated the job and I think just was doing me a favor.

Ive come a long way in terms of visualizing who I want to be despite struggling with my depression. The passion and drive is there inside of me. The only conclusion I have realized is that there is no helping hand, your going to have to pull yourself up by your bootstraps take a chance and work much harder than others to get to half of where you want to be. ADHD is probably a silent killer for me that I never knew about and clearly my executive functioning skills are suffering because of it.

Nothing in my life was given to me and If I want to change it im going to have to fight for it. My danger and pitfalls are those periods where I let go, say screw everything and curl up in my blanket, I cant afford to do those things anymore. Learning CBT methods and meditation combined with the meds really helped sharpen this focus for me. Although I have to be consistent on that end the meds are only bringing me so far. I still am far from the finished product but im slowly getting there if sometimes non linearly.

I can still remember periods of my life before I was 18 how happy I was playing video games, reading sci fi books and skateboarding wondering what exciting things life would bring me as an adult. Even at this stage of troubling times currently, I still like to see myself as that same person capable of living and enjoying life doing things that I like to do. Becoming a developer is always something I have dreamed about becoming and im going to do whatever it takes to get there. Unfortunately while depressed.

Hey all, in terms of payment and affording the tuition, some bootcamps will take a % of your first-year salary in lieu of tuition. App Academy in SF and NYC and Hacker School in NYC (which is actually free, since their revenue comes from companies which recruit their students) comes to mind. See here for full details:

Also, there are online Rails mentoring courses available at a rate significantly cheaper than what bootcamps charge, and offer a comparable curriculum. Actually, I recently got a job as a mentor with Thinkful, which is one of these programs. Others include AirPair, Ruby Off Rails, and Rails Mentors (Google ‘online Rails mentoring’ or any of these companies for more info). They’re able to offer lower prices because the classes are virtual (lower overhead) and you get a set # of mentoring hours per week with their instructors. It’s actually a really good option, I wish I had done a course like this prior to joining Dev Bootcamp.

I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this site that I suffer from ADD (and went unmedicated throughout my attendance at Dev Bootcamp). I won’t sugar-coat it, I had a super-tough time keeping up with the DBC curriculum. I think if I had done one of the above online programs, I would have had a SIGNIFICANTLY easier time at DBC, since the online courses let you learn at your own pace, and since I would have entered DBC having been exposed to 80% of the curriculum already. I highly recommend this as your best route if you likewise suffer from a learning disability.

Hey JohnnyUtah, thanks so much for replying.

One question, do you think that the online mentoring programs can ever substitute for a bootcamp? I notice the cost seems way more reasonable and the learning a little more accomodating, but just how well will you be prepared to enter the job market, say if one takes the ruby on rails route. An unbiased answer will be much apreciated hehe :wink:

I do eventually plan to attend a bootcamp (and eventually a masters degree) but right now I really need a mentor someone to show me the ropes as I know it will be an uphill battle jumping in a bootcamp trying to mesh with programmers who are smarter and more seasoned than I am.

Im asking this because im in a really dark place right now and really need to inform my family about what I want to do with my life. I have been stagnating at home for far too long and the temptation to just get up and go and move somewhere on my own without a financial safety net is getting far too strong.

In other words, I really need to make a move quick towards some kind of financial independence as I try to transition into an entry level developer role.

Also, I have noticed that I really do have ADD, most people tell me it is common with people who develop depression. I developed depression and ADD naturally, really out of nowhere. My mom and several of her brothers had it so I know its some kind of family thing.

I tried to shrug it off for so long, but I feel like im at a great disadvantage being a step slower at digesting complex information than most of my peers, however oddly enough I am able to articulate and communicate much better than most people ive met in class (strange lol?) but when it comes to taking tests and exams its always a struggle.

Is there anything I can do to start improving my add? Should I go the meds route or are there other holisitc approaches I can take.



Unfortunately I’m not qualified to give you advice on mental health issues. That’s definitely something you should talk to a professional about. I can only speak about my experience and what did and didn’t work for me vis-a-vis the programming courses I’ve participated in. One other relevant point is that there was another student in my class (actually in my final project group) who may have suffered from depression as well. He actually had an episode a few days before graduation and couldn’t complete the course. So I would strongly suggest you talk to a professional before (and during) your programming course, and make sure you’re emotionally (as well as intellectually) prepared for what will be a gruelling process (think 90-100 hour workweeks). Dev Bootcamp offers free counselling sessions twice a week as part of the course, and the entire process emphasizes empathy and emotional support, so that’s something to consider as well. Talk to DBC reps for more info about that.

I do think that there is an added benefit to attending a bootcamp course after having completed an online mentoring course. Specifically, the job placement assistance and networking opportunities with instructors, mentors and speakers was a huge leg-up in my job search process. I was able to learn a lot about many of the companies I was interviewing at before even applying. Added to which, a bootcamp education will (or should) put you to work on assignments that will build up your portfolio, which you’ll then use to show employers what you can do. This is something that companies care much more about than they do your CV/resume.

So if your goal is to get an entry-level job as a developer, it’s my opinion that bootcamps are the way to go. It’s also my opinion that, in order to prepare adequately beforehand and ‘hit the ground running’ once your bootcamp starts, an online mentorship program is an excellent idea.