I started a post last week about depression. It’s something I suffer from and I think a lot of people in infosec do as well. I went to the InfosecBurnout panel, which I thought was a good panel and a great discussion topic, but it kind of fizzled out of it’s goal (http://www.secburnout.org/). I think now would be a good time to revive it. We drink, we party, we do drugs and we go out to Vegas every year and do all at once. Sometimes the stress of what we do causes us to take drastic action.
There was a forward in the latest issue of 2600 that struck me. It was a dedication to Aaron Swartz and a bit about depression (the signs, the dangers, how easily it is hidden from friends of someone who is depressed). I thought it was well done and it got me feeling like I should talk about my experiences.
Then Allie Brosh finally came out of it and explained it in a way I couldn’t: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2013/05/depression-part-two.html Hyperbole and a Half is one of my favorite comics to read online and lately I’ve been thinking alot about Allie. I remember when she would come on /b/’s draw threads back a while back and hang out; her comics expressed such range of emotions, despite her suffering. While her latest post didn’t click with me as what I experience, it really shows what people go through when they are depressed. Actually, an older post of her’s is on par with my experiences http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2011/10/adventures-in-depression.html
Listen. Depression sucks. It’s not always a “blue” feeling that will go away with some sunshine and good company. (though sometimes it is) It’s often a chemical imbalance in your brain and outside circumstances can exasperate. You hole yourself up, you don’t do much besides sleep and internet. You just function.
A lot of people ask me what to do if they feel they are suffering from depression and the answer is pretty easy: break the cycle. Sometimes this means getting help from a professional or a team of professionals. (therapist/psychiatrist combinations are your friend) This isn’t the only way, but this is probably the easiest and safest.
Breaking the cycle isn’t easy, it’s a lot of work. You may discover things about yourself you never knew, or tried to ignore. You may backslide, you may want to give up, but stick through.
Finally, if you are depressed and your are contemplating suicide, please don’t. It may not seem like it, but people do care about you a lot. Aaron taking his life affected me quite a bit and I never met the man. If you are feeling suicidal, please find help: http://www.reddit.com/r/SuicideWatch/
If you would like to talk to people about your depression or talk to people who are depressed, check out http://www.reddit.com/r/depression for resources. If you are worried about a friend who seems depressed, reach out to them. Pick up the phone, write an email, hop on IRC/AIM/Jabber/Gchat/Skype/etc, any other form of communication and get in touch. Ask them how they are and if there is anything you can do to help.
Finally, with Aaron’s death, a lot of people have started this conversation all over again. Here is a link dump with posts and resources:
Ben Horowitz’s experience: http://bhorowitz.com/2012/06/15/the-struggle/
Mayoclinic: Supporting family or friend: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/depression/MH00016
If you have no one to turn to, or can’t talk to your friends about this. I’m available via email, twitter or here on my blog. g3k at disillusion dot us or @geekevolved. Feel free to reach out.