What follows is the standard set of questions I sent back to all the respondants of my Twitter post. I will be sharing all of them over the coming weeks but I thought it only fitting that I made mine the first one.
Do you wish to remain anon?
No. I’ve tried to tough this out for too long and it’s gotten me pretty much nowhere. I want others to know what I’m going through so maybe it’s not so scary for them.
Are you suffereing from a mental illness or supporting someone who is?
I was recently diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. I haven’t actually done the leg work on this to find out how it’s different from just being depressed but at least now I have a name for it.
What is your gender? Male
What is the nature of your illness?
So, the catalyst for finally seeking help came just after Defcon 2016. I finally hit a wall. A wall that was familiar. I knew what it looked like but it seemed to be a moving a target. I never knew where it would pop up, how fast I’d be going when I hit it, or how long it would take me get back up. But the things that used to work to remedy the situation had suddenly lost their sway. In his Derbycon 2015 Keynote, Jayson Street likened this kind of feeling to a “whirlpool” and it’s probably the best metaphor I’ve heard for how this feels every.single.time.
What area of technology/security are you in?
Has your issue affected your work?
Absolutely. I’m not at my best when the whirlpool sucks me under again. This awareness will in turn suck me even deeper into my depression. It’s a never ending cycle.
How has your illness/issue affected your work?
Lack of concentration, fear of being thought of as less than. Difficult to get out of bed in the middle of an episode. Knowing I’m better than this but knowing the pillows are just more comfortable.
Have any co-workers that were aware been generally supportive of you with this issue?
This will be the first time any of my current coworkers read this but I’ve no doubt they would be supportive. I work with some pretty rad people.
Have your friends been generally supportive of you with this issue?
Yes. They are the ones who encourgaged me to seek out help. They recoginized that I’ve not been myself more often and i’ve recieved nothing but love and support from them.
Has your family been generally supportive of you with this issue?
Those that are aware yes. Making time for any appointments I need to take, increased patience when I’m an insufferable ass. More than the usual giant ass anyway.
How long have you had this issue?
If I really think back, these kinds of “episodes” have been occuring for at least the past 5 years. Starting slow, convincing myself I just had bad habits.
How long have you recognized that you were affected by this issue?
To the point where I started to activley investigate professional therapy, about a year.
Does your family have a history of being affected by this issue? Yes.
Do you see a therapist?
Yes, it’s a very recent edition and not without its own challenges. Who’s the right person to talk to? Psychologist vs Psychiatrist? Do I need meds? How do I find someone in my insurance network? It’s a daunting task to get started.
If seeing a therapist, how long after you recognized you had an issue did you realize that you needed to seek professional help?
About a year. I fought long and hard with remedies that had worked before but I finaly realized my old ammo was misfiring more often than it was hitting the mark.
What was the hardest thing about seeking help?
An abject feeling of failure that I am not strong enough to beat this with sheer force of will.
If you don’t have professional help, how do you cope?
Stress eating is my drug of choice, as my blood pressure meds can attest to. You’d think doctors results would be the real deal wake up call. The tempura I had 3 nights in a row says otherwise.
Do you self medicate/use substances?
Unless Baked Ziti is a scheduled narcotic now.
What are you most afraid of?
Not being smart enough to take the advice I’m paying good money to get. I’m afaid it’s too late.
What makes you hopeful?
My friends and my family. I don’t know what I did to earn the faith they have in me, even through my worst downturns. I am a very lucky man.
I couldn’t very well ask other people to share their stories if I wasn’t going to offer up mine as the first entry. This fight is an old one for me, but the process of healing is brand new. I want people to know, it’s okay to ask for help. It’s scary but maybe just taking a first step, like reading a blog filled with other peoples stories, makes a little less frightening.
As Mubix says, we are all #HackingTogether.