Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Medicine Programming

Ask Slashdot: Working With Others, As a Schizophrenic Developer? 218

Posted by timothy
from the brains-play-tricks-sometimes dept.
An anonymous reader writes: "I hope there are a few open source developers on Slashdot who understand this. As a developer who works alone and remotely (while living with my own family) — and is schizophrenic — there would be times I would feel very high (a surge of uncontrollable thoughts), or low because of the kind of failures that some patients with mental illness would have, and because of the emotional difficulty of being physically alone for 8 hours a day. This led me to decide to work physically together with my co-workers. Have you been in this situation before? If you have, how well did you manage it? (Medications are a part of the therapy as well.)"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Ask Slashdot: Working With Others, As a Schizophrenic Developer?

Comments Filter:
  • Build trust (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 22, 2013 @01:31PM (#45760605)

    Your ability to be productive and stay on the "happy path" will come from the ability to trust your team, trust yourself, and have your team trust you. I'd start with setting and achieving goals, and asking for help early in the process if you feel things start to slip.

  • by jddj (1085169) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @01:32PM (#45760615) Journal
    What with the usual tenor of Slashdot comments, wanted to say early: awesome that you're working, doing it, trying to live in the "normal" world, where the normals don't often understand. My heart and thoughts are with you.
  • One suggestion... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by floobedy (3470583) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @01:42PM (#45760701)

    You might try telling any new co-workers right away that you have schizophrenia. That way, there will be less confusion and misunderstanding by others. You could just mention it in a matter-of-fact sort of way, by talking about schizophrenia as just a chronic illness like so many others. That might de-mystify it for some people.

    I worked with someone who had schizophrenia, and she simply told new co-workers right away. I thought it was a good way of handling it.

    Best of luck.

  • by bstarrfield (761726) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @01:45PM (#45760729)

    First, I really understand what you're saying. This is a tough situation, but I'm certain you can make it through.

    You're being really wise not to isolate yourself. Spending time with people will make a very substantial difference in both how you feel and your general recovery. Isolation, even with caring family will hurt you. Please keep on trying to interact with people.

    In terms of mental health... what you're describing sounds more like bipolar and less like schizophrenia. Schizophrenia can be medicated, if you're serious about it, carefully monitored, and have a good support system. Bipolar is a bit rougher, and you'll have to recognize what's happening to you yourself, and with the help of family and friends. Be very careful when you're manic - I know it can feel awesome, but the code you produce can be pretty damn awful. Depressed code is less of an issue as you'll likely not write that much.

    You'll find that folks in CS tend to be very understanding of mental health issues. Very, very understanding. We're in an industry filled with intelligent and generally caring people, and you'll find support. Just be honest with your colleagues about how you're doing, and most importantly, make sure your first priority is taking care of yourself.

  • Re:Good luck (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dmr001 (103373) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @02:02PM (#45760847)
    Attempting to treat an honest-to-goodness thought disorder like schizophrenia without medication is akin to treating near-sightedness with counseling. There's a place for cognitive therapy in schizophrenia but it's considered adjunctive treatment (among mainstream practitioners). There are a smattering of schizophrenics who can ignore auditory and visual hallucinations that are the hallmark of the disease, and anti-psychotics may indeed make some people feel less sharp (though that isn't universal). I'd wager that most people with schizophrenia are more capable of getting things done when they aren't beset by what are typically very vivid and often intrusive hallucinations. There are, of course alternative viewpoints [cmu.edu], such as that of the Church of Scientology.
  • by QilessQi (2044624) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @02:04PM (#45760869)

    That was pretty courageous of her... mental health issues still carry a stigma above and beyond other types of disorders, at least in the United States. If the OP isn't comfortable with revealing his/her schizophrenia, a possible middle ground would be to say: "I have a chronic illness that I have to be on medication for, and my moods can be unpredictable at times. Please don't take anything personally." Most people would attribute behavior fluctuations to side-effects of the meds, and that would be that.

    And to the OP:

    I really applaud the decision of getting out of the house and interacting with people. I was a full-time telecommuter once, and the isolation really does take its toll. I don't even like dead-quiet workspaces: I prefer going to work in an environment full of professional interaction and conversation. But if I were you, I would ease into it. Start with half-time: either 5 half-days or 2.5 full days a week (e.g., all Monday, all Wednesday, and Friday morning). Then adjust your schedule in a way that makes sense. If you work a full day, give yourself the lunch hour as alone-time to help you mentally regroup for the second half of the day.

    Best of luck!

  • Re:Good luck (Score:3, Insightful)

    by floobedy (3470583) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @02:36PM (#45761085)

    I'd avoid medication if you can.

    Don't advise people with schizophrenia to discontinue their medications! For many schizophrenics, it's important that they take their meds consistently. Many schizophrenics do not notice when they are getting worse.

    Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, if you can get it, is helpful to many people (including me).

    It's possible that you have a mental condition which is different from the poster's. What works for you might not be good advice for him.

  • by floobedy (3470583) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @02:45PM (#45761131)

    That was pretty courageous of her... mental health issues still carry a stigma above and beyond other types of disorders, at least in the United States. If the OP isn't comfortable with revealing his/her schizophrenia, a possible middle ground would be to say: "I have a chronic illness that I have to be on medication for, and my moods can be unpredictable at times. Please don't take anything personally." Most people would attribute behavior fluctuations to side-effects of the meds, and that would be that.

    I disagree with you about this. The problem is, if he says to others "I have some kind of illness", without specifying that it's schizophrenia, then that's treating it like a mystery or a stigma, not to be spoken about. That's treating it in hushed tones, once again, which causes the kind of rumors which the poster might prefer to avoid. Also mentioning "moods" will seem like an attempt at concealment or understatement, like he's depressed or moody.

    If the poster has schizophrenia, then his co-workers are going to find out about it, sooner or later. It may as well be on the poster's terms.

    Just treat it in a very matter-of-fact way. He could mention that he has schizophrenia in the same way you'd mention that you have diabetes and need to take an injection every once in awhile. It's a simple fact, like any other medical condition. It's out on the table right away--no need to be hidden or spoken about in hushed tones. That de-mystifies it.

  • by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Sunday December 22, 2013 @02:54PM (#45761185)

    Many people working in professional fields suffer from mental illness. Just because someone has a mental illness doesn't mean they can only flip burgers or pick up trash. Also, based on the tone of your comment it seems likely you should seek treatment as well, since you sound more like a "raving psychopath" than the person you are replying to.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 22, 2013 @03:29PM (#45761397)

    Tone is important and yours seems far more aggressive than the parent's. Schizo is a contraction which is used by some schizophrenics and their friends/family when referring to the condition. Yes, some find it offensive, but the words "nerd" and "geek" can also carry negative connotations, and the word "nigger" is frequently used by coloured people without the offensive connotations that if would have coming from a KKK member.

    Your use of "bigoted, intolerant fuck" takes what could have been a reasoned semantic/lexocogical argument and turns it into a big pile of hoisting from your own petard. (Petard is an old explosive weapon for breaking through castle walls incidentally, not a really stupid dog, just in case you take offence.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 22, 2013 @03:42PM (#45761507)

    Every worker has or has had a "wacko" boss. Most noticeable among my "wacko" bosses have been a bi-polar, a narcissist, and a lot of dysfunctional control freaks. Some have had behavioral/environmental problems and some have had physiological problems. If they are honest and share this, the work group will accept them and everyone thrives. It like, this "wacko" is My "wacko". Those that try to hide that they are "wacko" are unacceptable bosses and nobody likes them.

    I would suggest that honest is the best policy in the long run. Some people will back off but may start interacting as co-workers later. Some will never interact. Some will accept you and your limitation--these make you "their wacko". With these colleagues, the work group will grow better--better able to be honest, to accept your limitations, to function like groups of people do. The embracing of "wacko" people is quite liberating and fulfills some of our basic human desires.

    To anyone who thinks the use of "wacko" is inappropriate, I really don't care. I'm not using it a professional sense as a therapist would use it but as a layman. I work and live with "wacko" people and I come from a family full of "wacko" people. Everyone has the ability to like and love "wacko". If fact you either already do or you are the "wacko" that needs (and hopefully has) community.

  • by shadowofwind (1209890) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @04:26PM (#45761785)

    I think your advice was reasonable, based on your experience, and it was reasonable for you to offer it.

    I do have a partial disagreement with it though. Medications have side effects, often significantly undesirable, and there isn't a clear, universally applicable line which distinguishes all schizophrenics from all non-schizophrenics. I have had symptoms which meet the definition of schizophrenia, and I had them a lot more for a couple of years before they went away again. Suppose I had decided it was a problem worth getting medication for. Then I could never stop the medications again? That would seem like a good reason to be very cautious about ever starting treatment.

    My sister is a doctor in a big city ER, so I can imagine what your experience is like. But that's a skewed sample. It doesn't include the much larger number of mild schizophrenics who never wind up in the ER. Also, many doctors are not very interested in understanding the more subtle tradeoffs with medications and their significance, and they prescribe drugs casually if the patient seems to be asking for it, or for the sake of doing some kind of treatment to cover their own liability or to justify the visit. How large a portion of doctors have that kind of arrogance I don't know, because I've encountered both. But the percentage who went into medicine because of some combination of attraction to money, having power over people, and vicarious sadism is not small. Particularly in the more difficult areas like mental health and ER work.

  • by ArbitraryName (3391191) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @04:35PM (#45761837)
    I don't really think "follow the treatment plan of your medical professionals" qualifies as medical advice, and certainly not some one should be loath to take.

"Card readers? We don't need no stinking card readers." -- Peter da Silva (at the National Academy of Sciencies, 1965, in a particularly vivid fantasy)

Working...