Part of one of the founding missions of MediaRon is to raise awareness of the concept of Mental Health and Illness awareness.
According to the author writing this post, recognizing mental illness (a life-long chronic condition) is very important.
Mental Illness Rant Part 1
You can view the first tweet storm below:
Thread based on a tweet I read today that kinda pissed me off. I’ve had a chance to cool down.
Mental Illness != Mental Health. Mental Health you can control through various means including support and therapy. Mental Illness you control through meds, and also requires an understanding of the illness, support, and therapy.
Alcoholism is a sickness. It’s a symptom of trying to treat a mental illness or mental health. Quitting code-turkey is not recommended as it triggered immense depression when I did it. I often attribute it to an addictive personality, which requires meds, therapy, and rehab.
You’re born whatever way you want and no, you can’t change it. You don’t choose to be straight or gay. You just are. If you’re religious, God accepts you the way you are.
Mental Illness has cost me jobs, friends, and colleagues. Nobody understands true mania or depression unless they’ve experienced it personally or have friends who are bipolar. I’m diagnosed with bipolar with mild PTSD.
I’m also diabetic, which affects mental health if your sugars aren’t in check.
So yes, to an extent you can control your mental health, but controlling the rest is rubbish. You don’t choose to be an alcoholic. You just are. You don’t choose to be a drug addict. You just are. Both are often symptoms of trying to mask an illness or a traumatic event.
I’ll end this thread on a positive note. Get help. Like, right now. If you don’t want to be an alcoholic anymore, seek AA, go to your doctor, get some meds, and maybe go to rehab if it’s bad enough. Same with drug addiction.
If you’re mentally ill, get the appropriate treatment and keep close friends around you who know the symptoms. Many times my friends would tell me I’m manic or depressed, so I went to my psychiatrist with them and explained the situation.
If your mental health is out of whack, get support from friends and family. Maybe see a psychiatrist. You may have an undiagnosed mental illness.
And FFS, don’t self-harm yourself. Call 911 on yourself if you have to. That includes suicidal thoughts with a plan, and the desire to no longer live.Ronald Huereca
It was met with the lukewarm reception I expected, but this didn’t deter me.
I’m very thankful for the conference organizers. I fudged up and messed up my timezone, so I had basically 5 minutes to dump out 15 tweets (the goal was one tweet for every minute). The organizers contacted me and asked me if I was okay. I was mostly fine. I got to it right away with tweets I had prepared. Props to Bridget Willard who helped proofread them.
Anyways, here was my Twitter presentation:
Hello #HeyPresstoConf20, I will be talking about Mental Illness in tech and in general. Sorry I’m late 😀
For mental illness in tech, you are not alone.
In general, 1 in 5 people has a mental illness or a mental illness-related event. There are no sick days for us. It’s a sick week or sick month at least; yet we persist day-to-day.
Mental illness is really rough for the person experiencing it and is also tough for those who love and support the person going through a crisis.
The mentally ill are not sick in the same way others get sick. Our condition is not temporary.
For those new to this, stuck in in-patient, or even self-medicating, there is hope for you. Do not give up. Seek a therapist right away. Schedule that psych appointment. Psychs have 4-6 week backlogs. You can get in, but it’ll take time. Be patient. Meds take time to work.
For the veterans who now have some semblance of normal, I encourage you to share your story of hope. It took years for us to get to this point. Let others suffering, caregiving, and those unaware know that this silent illness affects us all in our own ways.
Here’s the hard part. Try to keep a daily journal. It can just be an old-school notebook. Write the dates, your mood, your anxiety level, and basically what happened to you that day. We often feel gaslit with others remembering stuff for us. This is your way of remembering.
For those with darker thoughts, it’s hard to see the light. Call someone you trust. Explain the thoughts. Try to find something to look forward to. Little wins.
If you do have darker thoughts and have a plan, be brave, and check yourself in. You don’t deserve to die in agony.
You will never find anyone who can relate to you fully. We all have unique struggles and what works for another person may not work for you.
Be patient with yourself. It takes a while, but you will eventually approach some semblance of what people consider “normal.”
For those stuck in in-patient, yes it seems worse than jail. Get your rest. Put down the damn phone. Try not to be scared; although I know that is difficult.
Try to get your diagnosis. Try to get started on meds. And stop counting the seconds on the clock.
Alright, enough pep-talk. Being mentally ill in tech is hard. It’s high-pressure, high-stress, long hours, and deadlines are a bitch. Our illness does not make things easier.
We take the leave when we can on our bad days. We forego vacations. We just are trying to live.
Unfortunately, I have learned not to trust employers with the details of my illness. Sometimes it’s a simple, “Let us know what we can do to help.”
But it’s hard to find an employer that really really understands. Our sick days are sick days. Our vacation days are sick days.
It’s taken me years, and I truly hope you find the same success, but I have finally found an employer who gets me. I’m able to work as much as I can without triggering me mentally.
It’s a sharp contrast to being demoted, fired, or having your reputation ruined in the industry.
I encourage you to speak up. Again, we are not alone. Everyone knows at least somebody struggling with a mental illness. We are not a silent minority. We are a silent majority. And don’t fall for those trolls who just say to you, “Go back on your meds.”
If you are an employer, please have a mental health plan. We are brilliant and qualified. We are motivated. We just need extra help. Maybe you can start insurance right away? Maybe you can help cover some of our bills? Maybe we can have a different leave or work schedule?
For employers, don’t dock our pay. Don’t reduce our hours without asking. Don’t require a doctor’s note where we have to pay out-of-pocket to see a psychiatrist. Don’t let us go because we are no longer a “culture fit.” Please work with us; we will be loyal.
And lastly, if you are mentally ill, I will end with something my therapist says about our condition:
Life is harder for you. Yet, you overcome. Be proud of your accomplishments. Recognize the greatness in you. Each day is a new day. Make the most of it.
Thanks @HeyPresstoConf for allowing me to present.
Mental Health/Illness Awareness is very important. The more people talk about it, the less of a stigma it is to society.
My plea: speak up. People need to hear your story.
Charities like Big Orange Heart help people in tech every day. Please consider donating.
Thanks for reading.