Open Sourcing Mental Illness

Open Sourcing Mental IllnessAt PHP Tek 2014, I saw a set of talks organized by a guy named Ed Finkler. This included a talk by Greg Baugues and Paddy Foran. They really opened up and talked about their own mental health issues including anxiety, depression and more. There was not a dry eye in the house. I’m not going to tell their story. That’s their to share. What I am going to share is how it affected me and my story.

Reason I’m blogging about this now is that I recently had a chance to interview Ed and post that to Code to Live.

I’ve always joked about having ADHD but it was always just a joke. My wife, Phoebe, was talking to someone (I don’t remember who) and they recommended that I read a book called Delivered from Distraction.  The first thing that I did when the book came in was the self diagnosis and wow did I score highly on that. The one set of questions that I missed on were the ones about relationships. I got lucky and married a very supportive wife. One of the big things that I learned was that one of the dark sides of ADHD is that people with it suffer from low self-esteem and depression. While I’ve suffered from this myself, I had never attributed it to ADHD and while I joked about it, I hadn’t thought that I actually had it or had any idea how to deal with it until I read the book. And very importantly, I was making the biggest mistake that most people make here – I was trying to deal with it on my own rather than seeking help.

Shortly after this I went to a therapist who specializes in ADHD. He worked with a phycologist and between the two, I was officially diagnosed with ADHD in 2008. I was prescribed with Adderall. The good news is that I knew what that was because I had read about it and the upsides and the side affects. There are two basic types of ADHD meds, anti-depressants and stimulants. They work very differently and sometimes one works better for one person than the other. If you suffer from ADHD, you should work with your mental health professional(s) to figure out what’s going to work for you.

This happened in 2008 but the reality is that I didn’t talk to people other than good friends until 2014 because I was ashamed about it. Ed, Greg and Paddy showed me that we need to talk about mental illness and take away the stigmas. That’s the only way that we can actually create a supportive and healthy environment. The worst thing that we can do is try to suffer in silence and not seek help.

If you want to learn more, if you’re suffering or are not sure if you’re suffering a mental health issue, there are resources up on Ed’s site at