My story: I'm better now, but still getting stuck (really long)


#1

Hey. First time posting in the community (or a Discourse-based platform for that matter). Bear with me if I got some stuff wrong.

This is a really long post. TL;DR: after a lifetime of depression, I’ve got better and I almost have it but am crumbling weeks before getting my first job.


My background

Well… I’ve been struggling with depression for as long as I remember myself. I grew up in a functional family, more or less (a single mother, her parents and a younger brother) yet I spent my childhood in tears, self-injury and death-wishes: thinking about ending it all at the age of 6 would have warranted attention of a professionals but, alas, we are talking about '90s post-USSR country here – it seems the possibility of a mental illness or a risk of developing one later never ever has crossed anyone’s mind in the family, despite my father being an alcoholic paranoid schizophrenic, later ending his life in the summer of 2002. Very unfortunate.

Yet somehow it got better as I started going to school. Social anxiety, bullying, you name it - despite that, I adapted, eventually made friends, and while still being a social outcast due to my mother being a teacher in the same school, and by the time I started high school, things were bloody excellent - I had great grades, started making friends, won places in nation-wide competitions. I had also graduated from several years of art classes, which will be playing a role later for me. I loved working with technology, yet did not know anything about writing actual code back then, in the summer of 2009.

Soon after is when depression started coming back and hitting me hard - and the most ridiculous thing is, I did not recognize. All the symptoms were there, but I tried to stick to myself and soldier through it – during the next 5 years, I experienced suicide attempts, return of self-injury in more severe forms, loss of social life, loss of grades, transferring schools, being placed on medicine that barely works, gaining lots of weight due to said medicine, landing on a disability at age of 18 and graduating bloody high school two years late with absolute crap grades.

So without going even more into the details, the future was no looking that bright.

Less than a yer ago, however, a miracle happened:an obscure brand of tricyclic AD lifted the depression that has been setting in for 5+ years and made me start to believe I can actually make something out of this. Side-effects were mysterious and horrible; at times I thought the same medicine that made me see light will kill me. I had applied to studying Fine Arts at a university abroad last year, but it eventually hit me that even if I passe the entrance exams, I wouldn’t have prevailed. I had to do something about the disabling exhaustion from life itself.

So I took some steps to work on that. I’ve been seeing a lot of self-growth since since; I’m the best version of myself that I can be right now, or so I think. I can function socially. I moved out for a few months and lived on my own. I traveled abroad by myself. Heck, I even got an online a therapist (via Talkspace) who has been helping me tremendously.

I also finally gave programming a chance. It’s been an exciting but also a confusing journey since then… I’ve been going to local meet-ups, participated in events and gained plenty of experience - and also learned that there is so much I still don’t know well, and how limited my abilities really are.

So after years of imagining myself as a visual artist in my career, I decided to be a web developer.

My plan…

So I want to give web development my best shot now, using the time of feeling better than I’ve felt in years. I learned how to write code in JavaScript, Python, Lua and ventured some into doing the same with Dart, all within the last 1 year. The quality of correctness of said code is up to a debate, but I consider myself fairly fluent - even if not expressive and idiomatic with my patterns.

My idea for a while has been to develop a portfolio for myself - I had some job experience this summer, and it was awful: low pay, uncertain terms and conditions, no vision for the future growth whatsoever. I quit. It seems that there are two thresholds here: how good you must be to land a job at all, and how good you must be to land a job that is worth having.

I want to push myself to squeeze out at least 3-5 decent projects on GitHub, improve the quality of my code in the languages I already know, apply for a good job in web-development, work up from there, and learn as much as possible through whatever means possible all throughout this decade.

…and what’s happening to it.

It’s been a few months and I have a ton of started-but-unfinished projects that I can’t help but feel are too messy for public display - even if Git is used, I can’t bring myself to publish them. Lots of them get deleted. Idea generation has never been a problem, but pathalogic abandonment of projects in favor of the next shiny thing has always been. I feel good for the most part, but depression still is partly present. It probably will be for all of my life, I tell myself.

Maybe I’m too much of a perfectionist. In one of the meet-ups I attend, the person I regard to as my mentor, has said that it’s time to throw the ego out of the process and just publish anything – and to not delete old, horrible stuff but instead produce more quality things in the future: there’s enough space on GitHub for everything. Makes sense.

I came up with the list of the last of things holding me back the other day.

  1. Short attention span. I can’t watch movies, I can’t watch TV shows, I can barely read books while just 3 years ago it posed no problem. Is it a problem of self-discipline? Or is it something that requires a diagnosis and further treatment? I suck at finishing things.
  2. Depression still lingers - particularly tiredness and lack of inner drive to push through the plain and boring stuff.
  3. Non-existent habits: I struggle with regular commitment.
  4. My sleep schedule is horrible. It seems my body can barely go if it hasn’t got 12 hours of sleep a night.
  5. Under stress, I seem to self-sabotage my own effort.
  6. I feel oddly tired.

Now I really need to give my best at landing a job I was invited to apply (I need to learn D3.js for that first, see how it goes, etc.), but I feel empty, tired and stuck. It’s the exact opposite of how I expected myself to be at this point, and the exact opposite of how it should be for me to land that job, which I need.


It’s probably a way too long ramble, and I might still be missing out a detail or two. Can anyone relate? Does anyone have a word of encouragement, constructive criticism or analysis and suggestion? I welcome everything and anything.

Thanks in advance. You people are awesome! <3*

P.S. Especially if you have managed to read this horrible wall of text.


#2

As a long time sufferer i have found the following effective in dealing with depression, try in addition to any medication you might be taking.

  • Exercise, especially stretching combined with aerobic exercises like cycling. I started with some good stretching books and am happy with the results.
  • Meditation twice a day without any expectations, just focusing on whatever is going inside with a view to understanding my self.
  • Realizing that depression might not be curable completely but it can be subdued enough by regular exercising and meditation to keep me going and sometimes thriving.
  • Taking care of myself shaving, taking a bath, brushing my teeth, exercising and meditating every day without a break.

#3

That’s gonna be a long shot, but:

Do you sometimes get very invested into something, making it very easy to focus on it (rarely what you should be concentrating on and usually only for a short time period, like a day or week)?
Would you describe your odd tiredness as “brain fog”, like you can’t direct your mind on what you want it to focus on?

I’m asking because it sounds a bit like ADD (ADHD-PI) (it doesn’t contradict being depressed at the same time ofc). Although I think doctors in post-USSR countries don’t believe it exists (yet?).


#4

Yes on both cases, though less so for the second bit. Brain fog used to be really bad just a year, two ago.

I tried to talk to my psychiatrist about it - she told me she thinks that’s anxiety, and wanted to put me on tranquilizers for that… eek, I know what anxiety feels like, and this is not that. So I guess I might not be getting help before I switch doctors (hard to do for me right now, while I live in the middle of nowhere).


Small update (okay it’s kinda long too)

I do also get really active when excited for the idea; can work like that for half a day straight, yet then I burn out and/or get the next thing to focus on (though chaining like that is better left to videogame button combos). I’ve been suspecting the same (ADD/ADHD) for a while now, as I feel that the depression lifting allows me to actually spend more time on working on things (and failing at producing the results). I sent my psychiatrist a letter now, at 1 AM – will be trying to get myself an appointment soon.

Last but not least, those Reddit topics on failing at high school at age 16 despite previously being good at tests and all - that’s me. That’s so spot on (anxiety to show up, self-hate, etc.), and I think it all makes sense now. I suspect the sudden worsening of symptoms at 16 also is likely the reason why I got so depressed in the first place.

Thank you a lot for the hint in that direction - I wouldn’t have looked up the details otherwise.


#5

I’m in a kind-of similar spot. My psychiatrist thinks I might have ADHD, but she referred me to psychologist for diagnosis, and that psychologist doesn’t believe into “ADHD without hyperactivity”, and I don’t have money for another one (I mean, I could take credit or something if I knew it would work, but it probably wouldn’t anyway). Psychiatrist put me on wellbutrin (it’s an antidepressant, so no need for ADHD diagnosis, but sometimes used as a 2nd line treatment for ADHD), and it helps a lot (the first month was great, like I could be working and stuff, but later on it’s not enough - but still better than other antidepressants, which usually makes focus even worse, since they make me less stressed about deadlines). I guess at my country (Poland) I won’t get anything better.

Apart from that, caffeine (pills) and low doses of nicotine (chewing gum) helps a bit, but I’m not comfortable recommending those.

I guess it’s not that relevant, and I wrote it in a really chaotic manner, but… yeah. I don’t want to say it is the same thing, but maybe it’s worth considering.

Oh, and by the way, there’s that ADHD specialist, Dr. Russell Barkley, that made this theory about SCT ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sluggish_cognitive_tempo ), which sounds a bit like what you described. You can find some videos with him on youtube giving lectures about it. But, this one is considered controversial (“symptom cluster”) and stuff.

P.S. what roundthecorner wrote is relevant to ADHD as well, I read that exercise is supposed to help a lot, and some people believe meditation is good for ADHD.


#6

I’m on Wellbutrin as well; it’s been part of my mixture of meds for a while now. I’ve also been abusing caffeine more than I probably should (sticking to coffee, although pills would be nice) and sometimes it’s making it better, sometimes worse. I think I need a few decaf days here and there or in a few weeks of daily consumption I get completely trashed and unable to work on anything.

I’d like to think that there’s always some exception and it’s possible to land in the office of someone who actually gets the nature of the problem and can prescribe the right things. My own experience with my psychiatrist - I’m from Latvia, for the record - has been less than amazing, but I recognize it could have been worse as well. I’m not sure how others compare, as she’s my first and only, considering I’m from a region without any bigger cities nearby.

So if this doesn’t work out and she’s not going to help me out in some way, I think of cashing out and seeking either transfer or a series of appointments with someone in the capital. Consider reading up on reviews on online forums about professionals there, but that’s jumping ahead of myself.


I’ll keep you updated on how that goes, I think. It shouldn’t be worse in Poland than in Latvia, but what do I know. Things usually vary. Meanwhile, definitely exercise and meditation for me, for all the good reasons.


#7

Yeah, coffeine doesn’t help me much when taken daily for a longer time, and I think it’s positive effect is marginal when I’m taking wellbutrin (it’s like wellbutrin already does what coffeine would do, and adding coffeine is just too much).

My current plan is actually to just save some money, and make an appointment in London with some adult-ADHD specialist. I think it will be easier, and if then I won’t get diagnosed, at least I will be sure it’s really not that.

In Poland ADHD medicines should only be prescribed to hyperactive children, in special cases it can be continued after 18 yo, but only if it was started in childhood. At least officially, there are some ways around it apparently, but not many doctors are willing to do it.

Anyway, good luck!


#8

Thank you for sharing! I can strongly identify with your list of 5 things that are holding you back - I too cannot watch TV shows and struggle to read books (but Ive been forcing myself more). I have started going out to the cinema by myself to watch movies so I have some improvement there.

I too lack discipline and consistent regular habits due to depression. I have a diagnosis of masochistic personality/borderline with depression. I do wonder about ADHD sometimes.

I wish I could offer some advice but I’m going to bring my issues to my psych too. I am starting group therapy soon (Dialectical Behavior Therapy)


#9

@merwin - seems it’s a similar situation with me too; my psychiatrist never even brought up the possibility of ADHD upon hearing my complaints, not did she ask me more direct questions or gave me any tests. I’m disappointed. I was prescribed Piracetam and Phenibut and told to come back in 40 days. I don’t know what to make out of this. Got to love those comments on Reddit saying Phenibut can easily introduce chemical addiction.

I feel lost. I’ve been wanting to spend my days working on a single project that would finally land me a job, but alas, today I’ve been working on 4 different things entirely and got none of them done. It can’t go on like this. I’m trying to not develop hate for myself, but it’s hard.