As a number of my friends already know I suffer from mild depression and anxiety. The subject has come up a few times as work recently and one colleague said (paraphrase) that it’s one of the “dark secrets” of the IT industry that lots of people have these issues but it’s seldom, if ever, talked about.
I’ve been having issues for about 3 years. But I’ve very lucky in a number of ways:
- In a quantified self kind of way I’ve been keeping track of the “attacks” for the last 15 months and they average around once every couple of weeks but I often go several weeks without any problems at all.
- The gap between the “attacks” is getting longer.
- I find it relatively easy to realise “from the inside” when I’m having one of these “attacks” which helps me wok on disregarding the extremely negative thoughts that accompany the depression side.
- I have a wife, friends and colleagues who know I have this condition and are very understanding if I sometimes need to start work after lunch or just sit quiet all evening when everyone else is talking (very unlike my usual self!).
- I have people who are very willing to listen if I want to talk about things (at which I frequently suck).
- In my case the “attacks” are short, usually lasting anything from around 2-8 hours. The longest anxiety attack I’ve had has been around 6 hours and the longest depressive episode very rarely lasts overnight.
- I have very well understood triggers that I can work to avoid.
In short – I have a problem but it’s pretty much under control. I’m not having counselling or taking any medication and, while it looks like it will be a long-term thing, I think I’m very slowly getting better over time.
I don’t compare myself at all to people who have similar but far more serious whole-life affecting versions of these disorders. However, I think it is important to bring these things out into the open simply to raise awareness of how incredibly common this kind of thing is. According to Mind upwards to 10% of people with have “mixed anxiety and depression” at some point.
So, here’s to the day when mentioning this kind of thing in passing is as normal as bringing up a bad back or hay fever.