Sharing

I just received an email informing me that I need to renew tchspprt.co.uk, which means it's nearly a year since I bought the domain. I've been doing some thinking, and I have realised that Tech Support isn't the best way that I can help raise awareness of mental health, and to help sufferers in my community.

The last 3 years have been... an experience. I can now confidently call myself a barely competent web developer. Our startup still hasn't crashed and burned. I have spoken at some amazing conferences. I have met some even more amazing people. And I married the love of my life.

But they have also taken their toll. Running a small business has exposed a lot about who I am-and how I think-that I am sure was always sitting under the surface, but I'd never been challenged enough to see it.

Over a year ago I visited my doctor, and had it confirmed that I showed signs of moderate depression. Six weeks ago I went back to my doctor in a much worse state, and agreed to start taking some medication and seek counselling. The last six weeks have been six of the most interesting, exciting, freeing, and positive weeks of my life.

The grandiose plan for Tech Support, conceived after my first visit to the doctor, was to create a safe event where people like me - struggling with the realities of being an introverted developer and founder - could share their struggles, and hopefully deal with them a little better.

But it hasn't really happened. Mental health is hard, and I'm still learning about it. I have a lot of fear about how to build the right event, one which is helpful and not harmful to it's attendees. Many people have offered suggestions and support (for which I am very grateful) but it still hasn't happened.

And I am not sure it ever will, in the short-term at least. It's a shame, because I would love for something like Tech Support to exist - but I think the reality is that now is not the right time for me to be trying to start something so formal, and it's not the best use of my time and energy. But the reasons for Tech Support's existence still stand: there is still stigma around mental health, many people in the tech industry are sufferers, and it's still something that's very hard to learn about and know how to seek treatment. What to do?

Over the last 6 weeks, I have shared a lot about my experiences so far: visiting my doctor, the good and bad effects of medication, how I felt about attending counselling. I was inspired to do so by @greggyb. Seeing Greg talk about his experiences at the Scottish Ruby Conference took away a lot of my fears about getting help, and prompted me to go back to the doctor. I am eternally grateful to Greg for that, and this is my way of passing it along. I am also in a privileged position of working with amazing people who aren't going to judge me for sharing my situation.

The response has been really positive. A number of people have started to share their stories too (which is great, as long as people are comfortable sharing them), and a few have talked to me about how to get started getting help, which is really heartwarming. I have come to realise, that right now the best thing I can do is to get better, and to share my experiences as much as I can.

So with that, Tech Support (as an event) is on hold, but it lives on in spirit. I am going to continue sharing my experience as it happens, and I intend to speak/write about the background of my depression up to this point.

What next?

As of now, my story is officially your story. If you want to know anything about my experience with depression so far I would love to share it with you. I will do my best to refrain from giving specific advice (as I am no doctor), but I am more than happy to share and discuss. Even if you are not a sufferer yourself, but want to discuss what it feels like, please just ask. I will not judge anyone for asking, and I will do my utmost best to keep anything we discuss between you and me.

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