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Keynote: Developers, Designers, and Depression - Greg Baugues34:04 with Greg Baugues
I am a developer, and I have Type II BiPolar and ADHD. It's not something we talk about, but BiPolar, depression, and ADHD runs rampant in the developer community - they tend to correlate with higher intelligence. Many of the symptoms of this conditions make for great developers, but also cause incredible damage. We recently lost one of our co-workers because of untreated mental illness. I want to share my story - and let people know that it's okay to talk about these things, that it's nothing to be ashamed of, and how to get help, and how to help those around them.
[Developers, Designers, and Depression] [Greg Baugues] [Blend Conference 2013] 0:00 [Greg Baugues] [Table XI] My name is Greg. 0:05 I am a developer. 0:07 I work at a company called Table XI, 0:10 which is about a 40-person Rails consultancy up in Chicago. 0:12 And I want to tell you guys a bit about my story. 0:15 I started programming when I was about 6 or 7 years old, 0:21 and my guess is that I got involved for the reason that a lot of you developers did or you designers did. 0:25 It was a great creative outlet for me. 0:31 This was my first computer, the TRS-80, 0:33 only my computer had a cassette drive instead of the floppies. 0:35 We had to upgrade to the floppies later. 0:38 And in the absence of the Internet or video games, 0:41 programming was about the best instant gratification you could get on one of these things. 0:45 You could type a couple lines, run the program, something happened. 0:49 Change it up, something else happened, 0:53 and it has continued to be a great outlet for me 0:55 going forward, and I've stuck with it all my life. 0:59 I also have type II bipolar and ADD, 1:04 and that's kind of a weird thing to say in front of a group of people. 1:08 It's actually a weird thing to say in front of 1 person, 1:11 and I think we need to change that. 1:15 I'm going to tell you guys my story, 1:17 and I'm going to tell you the story of a friend 1:19 and then tell you why we need to be talking about this stuff more at conferences and at meetups 1:23 and in our offices and with our friends. 1:28 Some of you guys might be familiar with type I bipolar. 1:33 It's also called manic depression. 1:36 You cycle between periods of mania, 1:38 which are considered by some to be the good parts, and depression. 1:41 If you could package up mania and sell it as a drug, they'd probably call it cocaine. 1:46 It feels euphoric. 1:51 A lot of people who have bipolar don't want to get treatment because they don't want that to go away, 1:54 but unfortunately, it can be incredibly destructive. 1:57 People make impulsive decisions. 2:00 They will ruin finances. 2:02 They will ruin relationships during that time. 2:06 It can be very, very difficult. 2:08 In type I bipolar you can cycle through the highs and the lows very quickly. 2:11 You can go through them in a day. 2:16 My bipolar, type II bipolar, is more subtle. 2:18 The lows are a little bit higher, 2:20 and the highs are a little bit lower, and the cycle is stretched out, 2:23 so for me what it would look like is 4-12 weeks 2:29 of a gradual slide down into depression. 2:33 It would feel like I was trying to climb up a steep gravel incline, 2:37 and no matter how hard I spun my wheels, I couldn't make any progress. 2:42 I would keep falling further and further down. 2:45 And then one day something would happen, 2:49 and sometimes it was triggered by something. 2:51 Sometimes for no apparent reason I'd get a huge burst of energy, 2:53 and I'd stay up all night, and I'd come up with all these great ideas 2:56 for these businesses and these websites that I needed to start. 3:00 And I had to do them all that night. 3:04 If you met me on those days, 3:07 I would have so much excitement and enthusiasm. 3:09 I would speak with lots of hope and optimism about the world, 3:12 and this would last for 3 or 4 days. 3:15 And then I'd start my gradual slide back down into depression again, 3:17 and though I felt more productive during those periods of what's called hypomania for type II bipolar, 3:22 3 or 4 days of productivity doesn't make up for 4-12 weeks of being crippled by depression, 3:28 and so I would slide further and further into a hole. 3:36 I had my first major bout of depression during my last year of college. 3:42 It was my 5th year, my victory lap, as I like to call it. 3:48 But it wasn't particularly victorious for me. 3:52 I had just broken up with a girlfriend. 3:56 I was on my way to failing out of school. 3:58 I moved into an apartment. 4:00 It was my first time living alone without any roommates. 4:03 Most of my friends graduated without much trouble in 4 years, 4:06 and I was having a really rough time. 4:09 I was never a very good student, 4:13 but I was always smart enough that I could fake my way through it, 4:15 and I could cram the night before the final, 4:17 and that shit caught up to me once I got into the 300 level math classes. 4:20 It turns out you can't learn linear algebra at 2 AM the night before the final. 4:25 I tried twice, and it just doesn't work, 4:30 and I had friends who would say, "Greg is one of the smartest people I know. 4:34 But he's also the laziest person I know." 4:38 And I believed that. 4:40 I didn't have any other excuse for it. 4:42 I slept all day. I didn't go to class. 4:44 I didn't do my homework. 4:46 It sounds like laziness to me. 4:49 When I'm depressed, I sleep a lot. 4:53 Back then I was sleeping 12-16 hours a day. 4:56 Life was pretty hard, 5:00 and the best parts of my day were when I was unconscious 5:02 and I didn't have to deal with reality. 5:06 I had stopped going to class. I had stopped going to work. 5:08 I had this part-time job with flexible hours, 5:10 and it took them a little while to realize that I had stopped coming in. 5:13 But I had a friend who noticed. He was a very good friend. 5:17 And he had sent me a couple emails saying, "Hey, Greg, we haven't seen you for a while. 5:20 What's going on? Is everything okay?" 5:23 And I ignored them, because I didn't know what to tell him. 5:26 And then one day it was about 2 o'clock on a Tuesday, 5:31 and I was still in bed, 5:36 and I got a call from Bill, 5:39 and I ignored it, 5:41 and then he called me again, and I ignored it again. 5:44 And then I heard a knock on my door. 5:49 He goes, "Hey, Greg, it's Bill. Are you in there?" 5:52 And when you're forgetful like I am, there are certain life maintenance things that you accept aren't going to happen, 5:55 and back then locking my doors was one of them. 6:00 So I hear the doorknob turn, and I hear the door start to open, 6:05 and at the time I was sleeping on a pretty cheap mattress. 6:09 It was on one of those metal frames that has the castors on it. 6:12 There was a gap about this big between the bed and the wall, 6:15 so I very slowly pulled the covers over my head, 6:19 and I slid down into that gap, 6:23 and I held my breath as Bill walked into my apartment, 6:27 and he poked his head into my bedroom 6:30 and then in my office, and then he left. 6:33 That's what shame feels like. 6:37 I failed out. 6:42 I moved back home with my parents. 6:44 I didn't know how to tell them, so I lied to them and told them that I graduated. 6:46 We even went to Benihana's to celebrate. 6:50 I started doing freelance web work. 6:54 I thought maybe if I was doing something I was really into, and I was really into programming, 6:56 then it would be a little different, but I was having all of the same problems I was having before. 7:01 I was dodging calls from clients. 7:05 I couldn't start on the work unless it was 2 AM the night before 7:07 I was supposed to talk to him in the morning. 7:10 And no matter how many times I said, "This time is going to be different, 7:13 this time I'm going to keep my word, I'm going to try harder," 7:16 the same shit kept happening over and over and over again. 7:20 There's this verse in the bible that says, "I do not understand what I do, 7:24 "for what I want to do I do not do. 7:28 But instead, that which I hate I do." 7:31 And I hated what I was doing. 7:34 And so I did what you do when you have a question about life 7:38 and you don't know where to find the answer. 7:45 I googled it. 7:48 I googled chronic procrastination, 7:51 and it wasn't long before I was reading about adult attention deficit disorder, ADD. 7:55 I'd always joked that I had ADD, but I never meant it, 8:01 because ADD is what lazy people say they have when they don't want to try hard, and that's not me. 8:06 But I read this book by a guy named Thom Hartmann called "The Edison Gene," 8:12 and he had a theory that made it a little more palatable for me. 8:15 Thom Hartmann said that 10,000 years ago we had hunters, and we had farmers. 8:20 And to be a good hunter, you need to go out into new territory every day. 8:25 You need to scan the horizon, 8:29 and you have to be able to switch your attention from this thing 8:32 to whatever comes into your peripheral vision, and you're doing this constantly. 8:34 To be a good farmer, you need to be meticulous. 8:39 You need to do the same thing day after day after day, 8:42 and so it's not that one of these 2 traits is inherently better or worse than the other, 8:47 but over time, we had more use for farmers 8:52 than we did for hunters because you could support larger populations off of agriculture. 8:56 And whenever we would go to war, it would be the hunters who were our first warriors, 9:02 so they would get killed off, and their genes would be removed from the population. 9:06 And over time, the part of the population that had that genetic trait just dropped, 9:09 and so this was comforting, because he said it wasn't necessarily ADD or not ADD. 9:13 He said it's the difference between linear thinkers and non-linear thinkers, 9:19 and what I found most encouraging was he said if you take these traits that non-linear thinkers have, 9:22 so things like inability to make a decision, 9:28 procrastination, lack of focus, 9:31 drop them into a high pressure situation, and those traits disappear. 9:35 Two AM the night before the final. 9:39 Take a linear thinker. Put them into a crisis situation. 9:42 Drop them into, say, a car crash. 9:46 They will have a hard time focusing. 9:48 They will have a hard time making decisions, 9:50 and so it's not that I'm broken. 9:54 It's just that our society today is set up in such a way 9:56 that we've eliminated most of the high pressure situations, 10:00 especially if you work in an office. 10:03 That said, if there's ever a zombie apocalypse, 10:06 I want a whole bunch of people with ADD on my side, 10:10 because we're going to be the ones who don't get eaten. 10:12 But in the absence of a zombie apocalypse, 10:17 you've got to be good today at doing things like paying bills, 10:20 showing up to work on time, balancing your checkbook. 10:24 Actually, I have no idea what that means. 10:27 I just say it because it sounds like something responsible people do. 10:29 [laughter] 10:31 I think in 10 years no one is actually going to know what a checkbook is anymore. 10:34 It took me a while. 10:38 It took me still about a year after self-diagnosing myself with ADD 10:41 to go see someone. 10:44 I still wanted to just try harder. 10:46 But eventually I did. I saw a therapist. 10:49 And she said, "You definitely have ADD. 10:51 No question about that. You're off the charts." 10:55 And I said, "Yes!" 10:57 But then she said, "I think you might also have type II bipolar." 11:00 And I said, "No. 11:04 "No, I'll take the ADD, 11:10 and you can keep the bipolar." 11:14 That's what crazy people have, and I'm not crazy, 11:18 and so I pretty much lived my life like that for the next 2 years. 11:21 I went to a doctor. I was reluctant to go on meds. 11:24 But I decided, "You know what? I'll try it for 30 days. 11:27 If life is better, I'll stay on. If it's not, I'll go off." 11:30 The doctor gave me stimulants. 11:33 He said, "Try these. Fifteen minutes later you'll notice a difference," and he was right. 11:35 Fifteen minutes after I took them my life went from out here to right here. 11:39 It was like putting blinders on to prevent me from seeing all the distractions of the world. 11:44 And it made a huge difference. 11:49 Within a couple weeks, my boss noticed a difference. 11:52 He said, "Hey, Greg, what's going on? What's changed?" 11:55 It was the first time in my life I could make a list of A, B, and C 11:58 and actually do A, B, and C and in that order. 12:01 But the depression remained, 12:05 and in fact, it got worse, because the meds helped me focus, 12:07 and so if the thing that I was thinking about 12:10 was how shitty life was, 12:13 then I would hyperfocus on how shitty life was. 12:15 And the pattern throughout my life had been that because I was unwilling to consider that my unhappiness 12:18 was due to internal circumstances, 12:24 I would look to external circumstances, 12:26 and the 2 most influential circumstances in your life 12:29 are where you live and where you work. 12:33 When I'm in college, I say, "Screw college." 12:36 So I go and I move home with my parents, and I start doing web work. 12:38 Then about a year later life is pretty rough again, 12:42 so living with my parents sucks, so I save up a little bit of money, 12:44 and I move to Chicago, and I get a job with a small software company. 12:48 I've got to do a mix of sales and development, which is what I still do today. 12:52 It was great. 12:56 And about a year later, "Well, this place sucks." 12:58 Maybe I'm just burned out on technology, so I quit programming for a little while. 13:02 I go get a job in real estate showing apartments, 13:07 and I was our best performer for the first few months. 13:10 I was really good at it. 13:13 And then sure enough, 6 months, 8 months later 13:15 things started getting pretty bad again. 13:18 Right around this time I met a guy named Josh Golden, 13:24 who is the CEO of the company that I work at Table XI. 13:26 And I met him playing poker, which I was doing a ton of at the time. 13:30 People with bipolar have slightly higher risk tolerances than your general population. 13:34 And we became pretty good friends over the course of a year. 13:40 We were playing poker a lot. He was living right down the street from me. 13:44 He found a background in development and sales interesting. 13:47 He said, "Hey, whenever you get tired doing what you're doing, let me know," 13:51 and so one day I quit my job, 13:54 and I sent him a text, and I said, "Hey, if you're still interested, I'm available." 13:58 And about 6 weeks later I started working at Table XI. 14:04 On that day, I had exactly $1 in my pocket and 70 cents in my bank account. 14:07 I had been pretty much non-functional for the last few months, 14:15 and my real estate job was 100% commission. 14:18 I showed up to the office on my first day 14:22 not knowing how I was going to eat lunch. 14:24 That was the day I found out Table XI provides lunch for its employees every day. 14:28 Today we have a chef, but on that day he said, "Hey, send me your Jimmy Johns order." 14:34 Table XI was great. We had 6 people. 14:41 We had this awesome loft office. 14:43 I was working with really smart people. 14:46 There were a lot of days I felt like the dumbest guy in the room. 14:48 We were solving really interesting problems. 14:51 I was doing really well. 14:53 And then sure enough, 6 months later things started getting bad. 14:55 After about a year, I had gotten to the point where I was dropping the ball 14:59 every time it was put in my hands. 15:04 I went through weeks where I didn't show up at the office until 2 o'clock. 15:06 And then one day, things came to a head. 15:12 I had this project that it was my job to get it done for a client. 15:15 It was a pretty big project. I'd been trying to work on it all week. 15:18 I left the office at 2 AM defeated. 15:22 I went home. It was due on Friday. 15:26 I went home and said I'd wake up early and work on it. 15:28 I overslept my alarm like I did every day, 15:30 and Josh was leaving later on that afternoon to fly to Italy 15:33 to propose to the woman who is now his wife. 15:37 And I still don't lock my doors, 15:40 and so once again, I wake up to somebody coming in my apartment in the afternoon 15:44 saying, "Hey, Greg, are you in here?" 15:49 And I couldn't hide this time. 15:52 I had told myself I don't know how to fix this. 15:55 But I'm going to isolate the damage to myself. 16:00 Even if I'm hurting, I'm going to make sure nobody else gets hurt. 16:03 But you can't do that. 16:06 If you have friends, if you have co-workers, 16:08 everybody around you is affected by this stuff. 16:10 I set up an appointment with a psychiatrist that day, 16:14 told my story. 16:20 He said, "Yeah, type II bipolar. 16:22 Sounds exactly like what you have." 16:25 He said, "Actually, you're really fortunate. 16:27 "We've got some pretty good meds for this stuff. 16:29 "They work quite often. 16:31 "There's a side effect every once in a while. 16:33 "It's in very, very small cases, but every once in a while 16:35 you'll get this life-threatening rash inside your anus." 16:38 [laughter] 16:40 And I said, "Well, I'm pretty sure that if I get a life-threatening rash inside my anus 16:44 I'm still going to be depressed." 16:51 But I didn't. Not yet, at least. 16:56 It's been about 5 years, and every time I get an itch I'm like, "Shit." 16:58 [laughter] 17:03 I am incredibly fortunate. 17:08 I got on the right meds. They worked the first time. 17:12 I met my wife 4 hours after I set up an appointment with the doctor, 17:15 and she helped me climb out of my hole. 17:18 Table XI didn't fire me, 17:21 even though they had lots of good reasons to. 17:23 And they gave me health insurance, so there wasn't a huge financial barrier between me seeing someone. 17:26 A lot of people who have what I have 17:32 are not nearly as fortunate. 17:34 It's estimated that bipolar occurs in about 5% of the population. 17:37 One in 3 people who have it will attempt suicide at some point in their life, 17:41 and 10-20% will die from it. 17:47 It actually has a higher mortality rate than some forms of cancer. 17:50 Why am I here? 17:56 These are some cherry picked symptoms of ADD and bipolar. 18:00 Hyperfocusing. 18:04 Sure, it's hard to get started on something, but once you do, 18:06 once you get started, you lock in on it. 18:10 You can work for 10 hours at a time. 18:12 The whole world blurs away. You might even forget to eat or go to the bathroom. 18:14 Racing thoughts is exactly what it sounds like. 18:18 Pressured speech is when those racing thoughts try to escape through the small hole in your mouth. 18:21 Social isolation, irregular sleep patterns, 18:25 especially onset insomnia where it's difficult to fall asleep at night, 18:29 impossible to wake up in the morning. 18:33 Grandiosity, 18:35 thinking that the rules don't apply to you. 18:37 Thinking that you can solve problems that nobody else has ever been able to solve. 18:39 If you are a young adult or an adolescent 18:46 and you have these symptoms, 18:50 finding the world of software development 18:53 probably feels a little bit like coming home to you. 18:55 We will tolerate irregular sleep patterns. 18:59 You want to show up to work at noon? That's fine. 19:02 We accept the socially isolated. 19:05 Everyone who works in our field is a little bit weird, right? 19:07 We actually will tolerate irregular bursts of productivity, 19:12 and we actually seek out people who have grandiose thoughts. 19:16 A lot of you guys probably know this quote from an Apple commercial. 19:22 It says, "Here's the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, 19:26 "the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square hole, 19:30 "the ones who see things differently. 19:34 "They're not fond of the rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. 19:36 "You can quote them, disagree with them, 19:40 glorify or vilify them." 19:42 "About the only thing you can't do is ignore them, because they change things. 19:44 "They push the human race forward. 19:48 "And while some may see them as the crazy ones, 19:50 "we see genius, because the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world 19:53 are the ones who do." 19:58 We had a guy like that come work for us last year. 20:05 His name was Caleb Comman. 20:08 And Caleb came. He interviewed with us. 20:11 I was one of the guys who interviewed him, 20:15 and his resume was very impressive. 20:17 He was a developer. 20:19 He'd worked for 4 of the best Rail shops in the city, 20:21 and he had only spent about a year or so at each one, 20:26 so that raised some red flags, but he was so bright, 20:30 and so we hired him on, and I was a junior Rails developer last year, 20:33 and so I got to pair with him. 20:38 And he was so smart. 20:40 He had that rare combination of being so good at what he does 20:44 but also be an incredibly patient and compassionate teacher. 20:46 Very rarely is there a day when I'm programming now that I don't think of something that he had taught me. 20:51 But a couple weeks after he started working for us 20:58 he started calling in sick, and he started showing up late, 21:00 and the excuse was a little different every time. 21:03 And it felt too familiar for me, 21:07 so I had told him my story, 21:12 because when I suspect someone has something like what I have 21:15 I've found the best way to bring it up is to do what I'm doing here 21:18 and tell my story, and sometimes the person says, "Yeah, me too." 21:24 And he did. 21:28 He said, "I've wondered for a while if maybe I've had something like that. 21:30 But what am I going to do? It's not like I'm going to cold call a bunch of psychiatrists from the Yellow Pages." 21:33 So I gave him a couple names, and he called around 21:40 and put in the work, and he found someone, and he set up an appointment for a couple weeks out. 21:42 His appointment was set up for a Friday, 21:49 and we were working on a team that was rebuilding the site for Roger Ebert at the time, 21:52 and on the day before his appointment he sent an email to the team 21:58 saying that he wasn't going to make it to work, and then he sent me this email. 22:02 And he said, "Right now I'm struggling with a lot of things in my head, in my emotions. 22:06 "It's kept me up the last 2 nights, and that in turn has taken a toll on my mental and physical capacity this morning. 22:10 "I'm scared that if I come in to work I'm going to make a fool of myself with our guests today. 22:16 I think it would be better if I wait it out and focus on making it to my appointment tomorrow." 22:21 He didn't make it to his appointment. 22:27 We found out later that he had run out of money, 22:29 and then he died the next day of an unintentional drug overdose. 22:32 His roommate, who was the first one back to his apartment, 22:38 said it was set up just like he was settling in for a Saturday night. 22:41 He had a game controller on one side of the couch and an open can of Dr. Pepper and a bag of Oreos on the other. 22:46 We know he called 911 from his phone and that he died in the hospital, 22:53 and his friends who knew about his struggles with addiction 22:56 said that the problem with Caleb is he was so damn smart, 23:00 and he was really good at making it seem like it wasn't a big deal. 23:04 The part about this that pisses me off the most 23:09 is that Caleb died from an overdose on speed, 23:11 and speed is an amphetamine. 23:15 And the meds that I use to treat my ADD is dextroamphetamine. 23:18 My guess is that Caleb started taking speed for the same reason that I did, 23:23 because it helped. 23:27 I think Caleb died self-medicating 23:30 an untreated mental illness. 23:32 Our industry is plagued with tragedies like this. 23:36 This is Alan Turing. He's considered the father of modern computer science. 23:41 And he committed suicide after facing years of persecution 23:46 from his government. 23:49 And earlier this year, we lost a developer named Aaron Swartz 23:51 to similar circumstances. 23:56 In 2007, Aaron Swartz wrote this. 23:59 He said, "I have a lot of illnesses. 24:02 "I don't talk about it much for a variety of reasons. 24:04 "I feel ashamed to have an illness. 24:06 "It sounds absurd, but there is still enormous stigma around being sick. 24:09 "I don't want to use being ill as an excuse, although sometimes I wonder how much more productive 24:13 "I'd be if I wasn't so sick. 24:18 "Surely there have been times when you've been sad. 24:21 "Perhaps a loved one has abandoned you, 24:23 "or a plan has gone horribly awry. 24:25 "Your face falls. Perhaps you cry. 24:28 "You feel worthless. You wonder why it's worth going on. 24:31 "Everything you think about feels bleak, 24:34 "the things you've done, the things you hope to do, the people around you. 24:37 "You lie in bed and want to keep the lights off. 24:41 "Depressed mood is like that, only it doesn't come for any reason, 24:43 "and it doesn't go for any either. 24:48 "Go outside and get some fresh air or cuddle with a loved one, 24:50 "and you don't feel any better, 24:52 only more upset at being unable to feel the joy that everyone else seems to feel." 24:54 Depression causes nearly half of all disabilities. 24:58 If affects 1 in 6 and explains more current unhappiness than poverty. 25:04 Sadly, depression, like other mental illnesses, 25:08 especially addiction, is not seen as real enough to deserve the investment 25:11 and awareness of conditions like breast cancer, 25:15 which affects 1 in 8, or AIDS, which affects 1 in 150. 25:17 And there is, of course, the shame. 25:22 The shame is what's killing us. 25:30 The shame and the stigma around mental illness 25:35 are the reasons why people are not getting the help that's out there. 25:37 If I stood up here and I told you guys that I had cancer, 25:44 I wouldn't be afraid that anyone would say, "Oh, it's just all in his head." 25:47 If I broke my leg, no one would say, "Oh, just try harder." 25:51 They'd say, "Go see a doctor." 25:56 If I told you that I took insulin for diabetes 26:00 no one would say, "Aren't you afraid you're going to be dependent on that for the rest of your life?" 26:03 No one would think I was using it as a crutch. 26:08 Even that phrase, "using it as a crutch," 26:12 is a curious phrase to me. 26:14 Crutches are actually pretty fucking useful. 26:16 [laughter] 26:18 No one ever says, "Bob broke his leg, but I think he's just using that weight-bearing pole as a crutch." 26:22 Crutches get you out of the house. 26:29 They let you live your life when your body is not healthy. 26:32 And anyone who has actually used crutches will tell you it's way easier to keep your ass on the couch 26:35 than it is to go live your life with crutches. 26:40 As someone tweeted the other day, "Mental illness is all in your head 26:43 in the exact same way that a broken leg is all in your femur." 26:47 The problem is we have different rules for how we think about illnesses 26:52 that affect the brain than we do for anything that happens from the neck on down. 26:56 We won't seek out modern medical advances and treatments 27:01 to work on things that are in the brain. 27:06 And this is ironic, because the brain is actually the most complicated organ in the body. 27:09 It's just it's subject to everything else that's going on in the chemicals, 27:13 and it can get unhealthy too. 27:16 And I think this reluctance to seek treatment is particularly true in our industry. 27:19 We've spent our entire lives being praised for how well our brain works. 27:24 You're here in this conference, you're in this profession 27:29 because you know your brain works a little bit differently than most people's does. 27:32 It's not normal to be able to do the things that you guys can do, 27:36 and my guess is there wasn't a whole lot of you who were trying to decide between being a designer 27:40 or a developer or going into, say, accounting. 27:44 We're praised. 27:49 Our identity, our livelihood, everything, it's based on our brain. 27:51 And if we, A, start to consider that possibly 27:53 our brain is malfunctioning, that can chip away at the foundation of our identity 27:57 and our self-worth. 28:04 And B, we're afraid that if our brain stops working the way it does 28:06 then we're going to be different. 28:11 We're going to lose our edge. 28:13 I totally get that. 28:15 It took me a year after self-diagnosing myself with ADD 28:17 to see a professional. 28:21 It took 2 years after that professional told me that I had bipolar 28:23 to accept that and go get treatment. 28:27 I totally get that. 28:30 I was afraid that getting treatment would change the way my brain works. 28:32 I was afraid that it would rob me of my creativity. 28:35 And my brain works differently today. 28:39 Five years ago I'd have those hyper manic phases, 28:42 and I'd have all these great ideas, and I'd be totally consumed by them, 28:45 and I'd stop everything I was doing, and I'd chase after them. 28:49 I still have lots of ideas. 28:52 The difference today is that when the ideas come, I have control over them. 28:54 They don't derail me anymore. 28:58 I can write them down. 29:00 I can come back to them later when I'm in the mood to objectively evaluate them. 29:02 If I want to pursue them, I can put them in the queue, 29:05 finish the thing I'm working on now and go to the next thing. 29:08 If you measure creativity by one's ability to create, 29:12 I am an order of magnitude more creative today 29:15 than I was 5 years ago. 29:19 Today I ship. 29:21 Today, for the first time in my life, the folder of projects 29:23 that have shipped is actually larger than the folder of projects that have been started and abandoned. 29:27 I am much more like the tortoise today than I am like the hare. 29:33 I don't have to do everything on Monday, 29:37 because I'm no longer afraid that on a Friday I'm going to be crippled. 29:40 I can put in a little bit of effort 29:43 every single day, and I know that eventually I'm going to get there. 29:45 And most importantly, I'm now dependable. 29:49 I can keep a calendar. I can show up on time. 29:51 Most of the time. 29:54 I can tell friends I'm going to do something and not be afraid I'm going to let them down 29:56 over and over and over again, 29:58 and that's not something I was ever able to tell friends before. 30:01 There's a lot of stigma around seeing a therapist, 30:04 and I don't get that. 30:07 Michael Jordan had a coach. 30:10 Tiger Woods had a coach. 30:13 Why would you not want an objective 3rd party whose job is to look down the road at where you want to go 30:16 and help you get there? 30:22 And just as an aside, if any of you are married, 30:24 I highly recommend going and getting marital counseling, 30:27 even if you have no acute issues. 30:30 It's like you get to fight with a referee in the room. 30:33 It's amazing. 30:35 We've been doing it for probably 2 years now, 30:38 and it's totally transformed our marriage. 30:41 Seeing a therapist is hard. 30:45 They are kind of technophobic. 30:47 They prefer phone over email, 30:49 and it's hard to find them. 30:51 If you go to the resources tab here on DevAndDepression 30:53 there's 3 directories online where you can go through and you can read reviews, etc. 30:56 There's also a website called prompt.engineyard.com. 31:03 This is an initiative that Engine Yard has launched just a few weeks ago, 31:06 and they want to get more people doing what I'm doing here. 31:11 They just want to prompt a conversation about this stuff, 31:13 so if you have any interest in sharing your stories, 31:16 go there, let us know. 31:19 My hope is that in a year 31:21 you won't be able to go to a conference without someone saying, 31:25 "Are we going to hear another fucking talk about depression again?" 31:28 Because then we've won. Then it's safe to talk about this stuff. 31:30 I've been giving this talk for about 6 months now. 31:36 A lot of people have emailed me, and they're like, "I don't have anyone to talk to." 31:38 I'm like, "That's funny, because I have emails from about 100 other people who have the same story," 31:42 so we started devpressed as a way to connect people who want to start this stuff. 31:46 Table XI helped me launch it. 31:50 It's just a forum for people in our industry 31:52 who want to share their stories and get support from others. 31:54 If you're not ready to see a therapist, 31:58 you don't have anyone else to talk to, 32:01 then talk to me. 32:03 If you've never talked to anyone about this before, 32:05 right before you start talking to someone 32:08 you're going to hear this little voice in the back of your head, 32:10 and it's going to say, "Don't do it. 32:13 "Don't tell them. Don't burden them with your problems. 32:15 "They will shun you. 32:18 They don't want to hear this." 32:20 I still hear that voice every time right before I get up on stage. 32:22 It's getting quieter, but it still pops up. 32:25 It's a lie. 32:29 I've found the response is the exact opposite. 32:31 It takes strength to admit weakness. 32:35 It's a demonstration of courage 32:38 to talk about the things that you're scared about. 32:40 And it might not be depression 32:43 or anxiety or mental illness for everyone. 32:45 Maybe it's an eating disorder. 32:47 Maybe it's insecurities about their job, but everyone has something that causes them shame, 32:49 and if you go first, you create a safe place 32:54 for them to share their story with you. 32:58 This is my email. 33:01 This is my Twitter. 33:03 Email me if you have any questions. I'm around for the rest of the night. 33:05 And there's probably some of you out there 33:07 for whom things feel pretty bleak right now, 33:11 and maybe you're in the spot where Aaron Swartz was talking about 33:15 where everything is colored by the sadness. 33:19 Just know that 10 years ago I was lying in bed at college. 33:22 I was praying that God wouldn't wake me up. 33:25 Six years ago when I started at Table XI I had $1 in my pocket. 33:29 The day I set that appointment with the psychiatrist 33:32 I hadn't had hot water in 3 months 33:35 because we didn't have enough money to turn our gas back on. 33:38 Now I've been married for 3 years to a beautiful woman. 33:41 I just celebrated by 6-year anniversary at Table XI, 33:44 and I get to do cool things like fly to Charlotte and talk to you guys. 33:47 Things get better. 33:52 We just need to start talking about it more. 33:54 Thank you guys very much. 33:56 [applause] 33:58
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