It’s only the third time this year I find myself job hunting (again). It was only back in June I found myself going through a break up from Campaign Monitor and in July I was starting a new role with a start up called Insight Timer that built a meditation app. I was just made redundant on Monday. I guess that’s #StartUpLife for you. Software Testers are expensive. I’m still fascinated that the CTO managed to convince the team they needed a software tester in the first place, even if it was just for 5 months. Redundancy is just another day in tech right?
I still want to do testing
This time last year I was thinking about becoming an Android Developer or a Product Manager. It seemed like the only way to progress my testing career was with Automation Testing or Management and I was not looking forward to any of those options. Over this year I have rediscovered my passion for testing and teaching. I want to combine the two. In a few years time I want to be running my own company where the focus is teaching testing skills. I’m not there yet but I’ve now got something I want to work towards. I’ll be looking for a position that has some strategic alignment with this goal. You can access an updated CV in PDF format here or as a Google Doc here. I’m hands on and very technical when it comes to my testing.
The goals I’ve set myself for next year do align with working towards my own company. I’d like to launch a wearable app, help my Nan with her digital marketing and continue to look after my health. You can read more about at at this blog post for my 2019 goals. Maybe I should add a goal, “Keep a job for 12 months?” 😭
I had a low day on Friday. I’ve had a persistent headache and fatigue for a few months now and a head cold on Friday brought out the worse of it. I’ve lived with depression for eight years now so I know when to have a day off to take it easy. Friday started with a 2 hour struggle to get out of bed. It was one of those days.
When I’m in these low moods my obsessive nature and harsh internal self critic can get completely hooked on little comments that people make. This blog is a reflection on this internal thought process to help you understand what might be going through a depressed person’s head.
In conversation someone mentioned something about, “… being a big girl”, it was related to me being able to look after myself. I responded with “I use to be a lot bigger” and someone else in the conversation added, “keep away from the pork and you’ll stay that way”. In the moment I didn’t think anything of it. But my obsessive nature got hooked and over the afternoon I couldn’t let it go.
I became completely obsessed over everything I had eaten recently infront of said company. I replayed the dinner we had recently over and over and over in my head. I counted every calorie, it came out to about 2000KJ and 10gm of protein. Then my internal harsh critic got on board. It starting saying to me, “you are fat, lazy good for nothing, completely worthless, you should just curl up and die”. So now there was a battle going on in my head, the obsessor just going over and over and the critic telling me I’m worthless. Normally these thoughts aren’t that loud but they get overwhelming on low days.
My obsessor wanted to figure out how to write a response to those comments. This blog post is an attempt at pleasing the obsessor because I am still thinking about it after 4 days.
I know those comments come from good intentions, people say these things because they care. The only nutritional goals I stick too (under the advice of my weight loss clinics nutritionist) is to get 60gm of protein a day and to take my daily multivitamin. I’ve had a lifetime of people commenting on my weight. I thought I had developed a thick skin for it, obviously I hadn’t. Or maybe it just hurts more the closer to home it is?
I’m at a stage now where I can try to practice self compassion (I try but it’s hard). I would catch these thoughts and tell myself, “that’s not a very nice thing to say Sam, you are one of most proactive people I know. You are so far from lazy and worthless it isn’t funny. Look, you even had lunch with someone who thanked you for your help with their CV recently and they are starting a new job soon because of you. Remember that Buddhist monk on youtube? Try and practice letting go.” Here is the youtube video I was thinking of:
How to be supportive
If someone has opened up about their mental health and they raise something like this with you, please don’t feel like you need to censor yourself. That is stressful and not healthy. Often when these things come up for me, I never raise them with the person who caused the trigger because I know deep down it’s just my mind overreacting. So being open and empathetic if someone does raise this is all I ask for.
Please be mindful of how your words can hurt. It reminds me of the common rhyme about sticks and stones I was told about as a kid. Here’s my new version:
Sticks and stones may break my bones
But harsh words from a loved one
Can make me wish I was dead
I’m grateful I’ve never been suicidal but I still live with this kind of depression on a fairly regular basis. My partner has probably seen me go through about 4 or 5 episodes now over a 2 year period.
I’m grateful I can be this open about this huge cause of internal stress. A lot of people who struggle with similar things aren’t as blunt as I am and keep the struggle to themselves.
I’m starting my goal setting early. I wrote this blog for goal setting for 2018. On reflection; I haven’t slipped back into obesity at least, which I was super concerned about as I spent the first six months of 2018 recovering from a broken ankle. Here’s my thinking behind my goal setting for 2019 and why I’m starting early.
Brainstorm everything I want to do
As an exercise, I listed everything I want to do and then asked myself, What do I have time to do? What is more important? What aligns the most with my personal values? I’ve had to eliminate a lot of extra curricular ideas and I still feel like I have a lot on my plate 🙁 .
I then came up with the following list of things that are really important to me. They are themed around personal, career, family and financial goals:
Beat the overweight label (personal)
Maintain a daily meditation practice
Write a book (career)
Teach my Nan digital marketing (career and family)
Launch an app
Pay off half of my credit card debt (financial)
Speak at one international conference and take my Mum
Brew two whole grain beers
Keep Sydney Testers going
Create enough content to run a 3 day workshop
Why start the goal setting early?
I’m going to focus on developing my morning habit for the rest of this year. I’m going to get up early, meditate and write before heading off to work. If I can do this for the rest of the year, I’ll be in a good place to expand it come 2019. The green in the following table is this minimum commitment:
I’ve put together an idea of what my ideal morning and ideal week looks like. If I do not put aside time to do things that are important to me, it’ll never get done. I reflected on what I could squeeze in. Unfortunately things like studying Japanese just don’t fit in financially and time wise. So here’s my ideal week to work towards in 2019:
There are some goals that I haven’t put aside any weekly or morning time for but they can’t easily be chipped away with a daily/weekly habit.
Keep goals measurable but hard to achieve
Everyone seems to be talking about Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) for goal setting these days. One of the important things with OKRs is that they are hard to achieve. When you reflect back on your goals you should be able to say you hit up to 80% of your objective. If you hit 100% you actually set your goals to easy. For example, I’m going to work towards beating the overweight label but I’m not going to consider myself a failure if I only get halfway there. By listing up my ideal morning/week it gives me an ideal to work towards but by highlighting my minimum commitments I won’t beat myself up if I have a bad week or two.
There’s no point in setting vague goals that you don’t tell anyone about. To ensure external accountability with my goals I’m going to;
Pay for a personal trainer for a twice a week weight lifting session
Go climbing with my partner every Wednesday and Saturday
Pay for a publisher’s time to help keep me focused on writing
How will you go about goal setting for next year? What measures will you take to ensure accountability? Please let me know.
I was first diagnosed with chronic depression back in 2010. I had just spent a year on exchange in Sweden and coming back just broke me. My boyfriend at the time kicked me out of home and I felt disconnected from all of my uni friends because my studies were no longer on par with them. So I fell into despair and couldn’t function with life anymore. I went to a psychologist; we did cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness training. I’m grateful for not having a major relapse since then but I can’t remember experiencing a large amount of time since where I didn’t feel some mild symptoms of depression. So this blog post is a reflection of living with depression for 8 years.
There have been ups
Don’t get me wrong. It hasn’t been 8 years of constant depression. Generally I’ll have something new or a change happen that will fill me with hope and energy for up to 3 months. Things like; starting a new relationship, moving houses, getting a new job, speaking overseas and having weight loss surgery. These are all amazing things. However I find myself coming back to a mildly depressed state. It feels like depression is my default rather than the exception. I can’t keep looking for external changes to increase my mood. It’s just not sustainable.
I have tried lots of things
Antidepressants, loosing weight, exercise, meditation, improving sleep and reducing commute to work. Anything that’s had a mild correlation in improving mood I’ve tried. Sometimes it helps in the short term but I’ve never been able to make any long lasting improvements. If it was as simple as “think happy thoughts” then I’d have been cured a long time ago. I’m going to have a chat to my gp next week to see if there’s anything in my diet that’s impacting me this time.
Impacts on day to day
Being depressed impacts my performance and engagement at work, my finances (I can’t easily control my impulsive nature when I feel like crap and just want any comfort), my health and my satisfaction with life. It’s a real downer. I withdraw from friends and family more.
I probably do too much
I’ve always had a tendency to look for external stimulation to make me feel good. Volunteering and getting involved with the community are really important to me. These things have a tendency to create burn out though. I really don’t know how to reduce this because everything I do is important to me. I can’t really attend hackathons anymore because I’m just so tired by the end of the week and when I don’t have that rest and recoup, by Monday I just want to curl up into a ball and have the earth swallow me up so I don’t have to deal with life anymore. I have an all or nothing approach, I don’t know what “sustainable pace” looks like.
So, what to do? I’m a little sick of feeling shit for no real reason. I know sleep is one the most important things for me to keep on top of but even that isn’t working. What works for you?