/ Wellbeing

One Year On: Mental Health and a New Job

In the past year I wrote the hardest blog post I've ever written; an intimate look at the situation that led to me recieving intensive psychiatric treatment. I left that blog post with quite a lot of optimism, and on a positive tone - but how exactly have things changed in the past year?

First of all, do I still view the team who helped me through that time as "miracle workers who saved my life"? Yes, I do. Undoubtedly. Those men and women set me on a path of stability, and one that I had long since thought was unattainable; even during the more stable times I was living largely for the "now", and that was because I could - quite literally - never picture a future. That's changed, the mood stabilisers work, and I will forever be indebted to the effort of the entire team that pushed me back on to this path.

That's not to say that things have been easy: there's been a lot of "clawing back normality". Many rather large messes to fix, and quite a few overwhelming times where anxiety was high and challenges seemed impossible to conquer. Slowly though, those challenges have been conquered (or are being conquered), and the anxiety is continually subsiding. Short of a few administrative tasks, I'm feeling better than I have in years.. quite possibly than I ever have.

... Work?

Over the past 12 months I've had the pleasure of working with some great people, and for some great companies too: as I have over the entirety of my career to date. That said, with my new found stability I decided I wanted to do something different: I wanted to work permanently somewhere. This had been on my mind for a few months, but the correct opportunity never really popped up.

In a peculiar set of circumstances though, the last contract I was working on had me overseeing a DevOps roll-out for quite a large organisation... that was subsequently cancelled with no notice. It wasn't great seeing redundencies in that office, and it wasn't great to know that nearly 6 months of work was all but rendered pointless.

Yet that same week I was approached about a permanent role in a very interesting fintech company, using some great technologies, and with some incredibly brainy people. I put my interest in, and within 6 weeks I was starting there. I've now been there a month - and the people are great, the work is interesting, and there seems to be quite a few technical challenges to get stuck in to too. Needless to say, this should've put a spring in my step - and don't get me wrong, it has! But...

... Mental Health?

I've entered the new job annnddddd.... had to seek help for an attention/concentration issue: it actually appears very similar (i.e identical.) to ADD. I. Literally. Cannot. Concentrate. On. One. Task This is something that has always been there - upon discussing it with various people we've estabilished that it's actually been there for around 20 years. Twenty. Years. Unfortunately though, I always put down concentration and attention issues to my mood; I knew no better.

I always felt unable to concentrate apart from for short-sharp-bursts: and I simply understood that as part of the mood issues. In conjunction with a lack of motivation and enthusiasm, that was just being low. Alas, I now have bundles of motivation and enthusiasm, yet I am still unable to stay focussed. This is now a major source of anxiety.

Naturally with a new workplace - and one that I genuinely do feel excited about - it's been to difficult to consider whether I should step back, or continue to struggle and hope for the best. In practice I've written a few "red lines", and if they are crossed I'll step down. Doing this has underlined what's at stake, and actually given me hunger to rectify the situation though.

Combined with fighting off the usual "winter lurgies", this had led to a bizarre few weeks where I've had a peculiar sleep pattern, ended up doing chunks of work and reading at odd times, and generally done a whole host of things not ideal for optimal mental wellbeing!

I'm aware that as this isn't an "emergency" in medical terms - unlike last year, and that going via the NHS would likely lead to a lengthy process of months: which simply isn't an option. As such I've reached out to a private clinic and expect a diagnosis to be wrapped up at the initial assessment, and medication tritation to begin immediately thereafter - i.e days rather than months.

So at the moment I'd suggest mental health is a solid 7/10, compared to last year's 3/10. Within the next couple of weeks I'm expecting that to hit a 9 though.

Life, Hobbies and Fulfilment.

Outside of work I've actually began playing a sport: shock horror. Since November I've been playing rugby, and it's really given me a motivation to sort my fitness out. I have a mixture of 5Ks and 10Ks (inc. for Macmillan Cancer, and MIND) in the next few months, building up to a 10 mile Tough Mudder in October.

Fitness aside though, the rugby also provides a bit of a social advantage - ensuring that I drag myself out to training on a Wednesday evening, to the match on a Saturday afternoon, and have options for nights out too. This is pretty important, especially considering I now work from my home office for most of the week!

These social benefits coincide with another area that I've made progress in: I've began to keep an eye on who I need to catch up with, and who I need to reach out and reconnect with. Combined with slowly working my way back on to different forms of social media, I'm actually beginning to feel quite fulfilled in many areas that I never thought I would.

So, in 12 months...?

If I were to write a list for what I'd like to achieve in the next year, then it would largely revolve around staying on the current path, and: (a) getting these attention issues sorted (nearly there), (b) cementing myself in to a new role with some continuity (nearly there.) and (c) keep up with the sports and socialising. Fingers crossed!


Fergus

Contract Software Developer and DevSecOps Consultant, based out of London in England. Interests include information security, current affairs, and photography.