A taste of my own medicine: My Mental Health, and My SSL Certificates

It's with a great deal of anxiety that I write this post, and more will be explained in due time - but I've had to take a few weeks out to deal with a mental health crisis. During this time, a lapsed SSL certificate on my personal site is far from a major concern.. but it's quite a potent analogy.

Today I discovered that my SSL certificate had expired for Fergus In London - i.e the site you're currently browsing. This isn't a huge deal, and was fixed within a minute or two; not only was it fixed, I also took steps to rectify the situation - in the form of auto-renewal via cron.

This is how easy that was:

$ ssh fergus.london
$ dokku letsencrypt:auto-renew
$ dokku letsencrypt:cron-job --add

I'm not entirely sure why the cron job didn't run, as configuring the task seems like a pretty basic (and trivial step) - although I'm not entirely sure if the command listed above is faulty. (perhaps this line?) Automation is clearly the key though, and I'll most likely manually configure the cron job myself now - so the benefits can be felt in June when the renewal is due once more.

Being able to renew the certificate with one command is brilliant though, and solves an otherwise painful experience. I can remember dreading SSL certificate configuration prior to the availability of Let's Encrypt!

So there's clearly a few lessons here:

  1. Automation is awesome, as I keep saying and practicing elsewhere.
  2. Simple steps can prevent complex problems, as I keep saying elsewhere.
  3. I don't listen to my own advice.

What's this got to do with your mental health?

I'm currently in my third week of treatment, and in essence I paid the toll for not confronting some longstanding mood issues (lasting approximately 3 years.) which had developed in severity over the past 6 months. I'm making progress, and I'm sure I'll be back to normality in good time.

I will most likely write some more indepth details about this episode, and perhaps post them elsewhere when the time is right. However, right now I'd like to highlight that the irony hasn't been lost on me: I've been focusing more recently on the importance of mental health in the tech industry, and that's perhaps been a projection of my own mindset.

Ultimately though, I failed to heed this advice - much as I avoided heeding my advice that could possibly have prevented the SSL certificates from expiring. Not only did I try and "power on through" the changes to my mental health, but I also ignored the simple step which would've prevented this complex problem: seeking help and treatment at any point during the last 3 years, with an emphasis on the last 6 months.

So in short: (a) my posting may have been intermittent - at best - of late, (b) I have ignored all social media over the past 3 weeks, (c) I have been dealing with my mental health and have needed the recovery time, but (d) I'm making progress, and normal service will most definitely be resumed.


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