Back in 2014 I wrote a blog post about a new package I’ve created for Umbraco called “Create magic with APE“, that was my last post I did before this one. And here is why.
Please note, this is not a technical post, this is a very personal one so if you don’t like that, please move along.
In school I was, like so many other skinny pale nerds with a vocabulary of an adult, bullied. A lot. So much in fact that even the teachers either wouldn’t or couldn’t help. I was alone in school, I was alone at home.
The bullying presented it self in many ways. The usually “You’re ugly” and “You’re a nerd”, the later I’ve learned to embrace as a positive thing, was a mostly daily routine. But the occasional someone-tells-a-joke thing, was probably some of the worst. It would go like this: Some one tells a joke, everybody laughs, me included. Everybody turns to me and shouts “Why are you laughing”. Those things hit me the hardest, and has stuck with me ever since.
November ’98, 20 years ago, snow had fallen and the entire schoolyard and football field was covered in 10+ cm of snow. Btw. I love snow, always have, always will. And this story hasn’t changed that fact! For some reason, the school had decided that all pupils were not allowed to be indoors in the breaks, so we where all to go outside. There where one rule though: No snow tossing in the schoolyard, only on the football field. So, naturally, knowing my fellow students, I decided to stay in the schoolyard. For safety.
But, it didn’t take long before people came to me and started tossing snow at me. And it wasn’t even people from my own class, not even my year. It was people from the classes below AND above, that joined in on this fun game of covering the crying nerd in as much snow as possible. That was it. The teachers shrugged it away as “hormones” and “children will be children”. Less than one week after, on november 25th 1998, I started in the school where my grandmother and mother went to.
It was a private school, few pupils, looong waiting line. This being an emergency, and my family’s history with the school, it took one phone call and a I was out of hell!
I loved it there, no bullying, great teachers and awesome environment. Even though it took 2 hours a day on a bus just to get to school, I loved it there. Best 2½ years of my life at that point.
After that, not much happened. Experienced a bit of bullying later on, but as time went on I found my self in great company among other nerds and geeks making the bullying bearable. But the damage was still there.
At 18, I went to a psychologist for a few sessions because my then-girlfriends mother told me to, so I indulged her. The psychologist and I talked for a few sessions and in one of them he looked at me and told me these words exactly, well, he did say them in Danish, and it was 13 years ago:
I have never met, or heard of, one that has gone through so much hardship and still be alive to talk about it. You are the, mentally, strongest person I have ever met.
Those words has ever since been imprinted into my mind and to this day, has helped me a lot.
The years went on, and other than me having a few trust issues and some problems connecting to people and taking contact to people, I managed getting an education and a job. Yeah! I even bought my self a house!
Everything went OK, I began blogging quasi-seriously, stirring the Umbraco-pond on more than one occasion. I went to CodeGarden, became more and more active in my professional field as well as a volunteer at Odense Filmfestival. Everything was going the right way for me.
Bang! 2015 came along. I loathe 2015. This is the worst year of my adult life.
My company had just landed two major orders in Copenhagen, that meant that 4 developers was to go to Copenhagen every week for 6 months. That meant, back at the office we had: 1 full time designer, 2 or 3 interns and me.
As the senior, the only senior, everything went through me. Every small support task, every single task, went directly through me. No one else had the skillset that I had, so I had to coordinate a lot of things, on top of my own projects.
At first, I didn’t really notice it, but the projects I worked on began to fail. I almost couldn’t write a single line of code without it having bugs. This meant, frustrated customers, and a frustrated boss. When I began to notice this trend, I told my boss and colleagues, that I couldn’t handle anyting else. I could not work on more projects, I had reached my limit. I fact, I realized, I had crossed my limit. What was the reaction? “Just work longer”.
It became so bad at one point, that I have lost whole weeks that I cannot remember. I have no recollection of what I was doing or why. All I knew was I was at work, I could the se commits in our source control, but I could not remember ever doing them. I you haven’t tried it, that shit is scary as hell. What else had I forgotten?!
Summer 2015. I broke down. I, a grown ass man, was sitting in my chair in the office in front of my boss and colleagues, crying. At that point, it dawned on everyone what they had put me through. It also dawned on me, that I have been overworked for so long that something inside me has broken.
I began noticing something was off, I wasn’t myself anymore. I wasn’t normal. It was pointed out to me, unrelated, that I had som characteristics in common with Sheldon Cooper from the sitcom “The Big Bang Theory”. I knew, because I’m a nerd, that Sheldon is being portrayed as having Asperger’s Syndrome, a type of autism. So, I decided to see a psychiatrist.
We talked, for 5 hours, spread over 2 sessions, and he concluded that I did not have Asperger’s. Yeah f-ing yeah! I did, however, have semi-severe social anxiety with a mild depression caused by the massive bullying in school, buried for years and violently pulled back to the surface by the massive stress I’ve endured for 6-8 months.
But that didn’t mean the end of things. As I refuse to take any “mind altering drugs” like anti-depressives, I went to see a psychologist instead. We talked for 6-7 session, maybe more, can’t remember. And she gave me some tools and some guiding on “mindfulness” and meditation, that I have since done to some extend on a semi-regular basis whenever I feel stressed out.
It’s noteworthy, that through all of this, I had my company backing me up. They pulled people back from Copenhagen and accepted that I, at this point, still cannot work after hours. When I’m off, I’m off, and they support me 100%. Today, the slightest sign of stress, on anyone, is being handled up front. People are now, more than ever, encouraged to not work more than needed.
That year, 2015, caused so much havoc to my mind that I have ever since struggled doing what healthy people would do in a heartbeat. It can take anything from ½ an hour to several weeks for me to call someone on the phone. Sending an email, a text, even a comment takes a lot of effort for me to do. I cannot participate in online games without matchmaking, because I then have to engage with strangers. Doing tasks like calling for a plumber to fix the pipes in my house, also takes a lot of effort. Almost every socializing or interaction with other people is a struggle. Even writing this post.
I have so many posts in my head, and so many things I want to do but it takes a lot of effort for me to do at this point. But, as this post shows, I’m going in the right direction. One step at a time.
If you have been, or are, bullied as a kid or an adult. Talk to someone. Anyone. It will come back and do a lot of harm, just a matter of time. If you know someone that gets bullied, be that someone to talk to. You may save a life.
This is a long, personal, post that has taken 4 years to write, well 3 hours of actual writing, and is meant for me as a beginning to start blogging again and as a test of the changes I’ve made to my hosting environment, but more on that later.
Feel free to leave a comment, it should work, share on twitter, facebook, linkedin or whatever.
PSA: I am NOT in anyway, trying to harm myself. At all! Just to make sure you guys know that. After all this shit I’ve been through, I love my life, and I love living it. So don’t worry about me.