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

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  • by HornWumpus (783565) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @01:41PM (#45760691)

    We understand, to some extent, why you are so difficult to work with. We can make some accommodation.

    But if your having a bad day, take your ass home. Don't get self righteous. ADA does not make you right.

  • Good luck (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 22, 2013 @01:42PM (#45760705)

    I think this is the first time I've posted anonymously to Slashdot in fifteen years...

    Yes, it's tricky. Working alone, if you have mental health issues, can lead to a number of problems. As you say, you're very isolated, and that's emotionally difficult. But more, there's no-one else there to notice when things start going wrong for you. I know from my own experience that I don't always have good insight into how poorly I'm performing. But working in a commercial setting - in an office, against deadlines - can be a considerable stress raiser, and may make your situation worse.

    This isn't always so. When I got my last job, I was seriously unwell and knew that I was. I very nearly didn't apply for the job because I thought I was too ill to do it. But when I actually got into the office, I found the work much easier than I expected and the team welcoming and generally good company, which boosted my self confidence and helped me towards a fairly rapid recovery.

    I'd avoid medication if you can. Apart from all their other lovely side effects, anti-psychotics and anti-depressants can make you substantially less sharp, which may make you less able to do the job. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, if you can get it, is helpful to many people (including me). Maintain a good relationship with your doctor and make sure he or she knows your situation and your anxieties. Try to have someone around you who can watch out for changes in your behaviour and let you know when you're looking shaky.

    And good luck!

  • by bstarrfield (761726) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @01:53PM (#45760783)

    Dang, forgot to add something. As a more senior manager who has hired folks with various mental maladies, I can state unequivocally that the ADA provides far less protection than you'd first assume. Try very hard not to make your illness a discussion matter when you're in the hiring process, at least not until an offer is present. Companies will look for any reason not to higher someone, and unfortunately the stigma of mental illness can make the hiring process difficult.

    Mental Health issues are just - unfair. It's ridiculous, it's unjust, it's reality that people with mental illness are often treated like crap. I wish I could change that, and when I hire folks I try to look past those issues. if someone is recovering from cancer, they're a hero. Someone with mental illness does not get that benefit. You must be smart, so try to play the game as it's presented to you, and understand that people are trying to improve the situation.

    Final thing - some firms will be much more understanding of mental illness issues than others. Stay way from anything related to defense, national security, and finance. Look to firms like Apple, Redhat, and other companies that will value you as an individual, not just a cog in a vast machine.

  • by dbc (135354) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @02:54PM (#45761183)

    I have some experience with this as a manager. I had an employee (good, productive, employee), who was, unknown to me, bipolar. Meds kept it pretty well under control. For some reason or another, he changed doctors -- first one moved away or whatever. Anyway, the new MD decided to tinker with the meds. It didn't work out well. Severely abridged version of story: after the worst 3 days of my life as a manager ever, plus 2 HR reps, plus company nurse, plus N other impacted idividuals, we finally got him help. He was on medical leave for several weeks after that before things got put right again.

    Here is the thing: he had plenty of friends in the company who would have been in the position to notice something going awry and heading off the trouble before it became a crisis. So, make a friend you can trust. One to whom you are not afraid to say: "My doctor is adjusting my medication. Watch for anything strange. If the wheels come off, here is my brother's phone number."

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