013: When Mental Illness Affects Your Coding Goals

Web development is a highly volatile industry at times. But if you're also doing it as one of the millions of Americans living with mental illness—specifically, generalized anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder or mood disorders—it may seem damn near impossible!

In this episode, Nicole discusses some never before shared details of her very own mental health status and her personal career transition story. She will be sharing some of the tips that she finds work for taking the steps to overcome anxiety and depression and how to get into a healthy routine of coding. If you’re feeling isolated, unmotivated and riddled with low self-esteem, know that you are not alone and there is a way to get back into that positive feedback loop.

Mental illness is a really real—and really serious—issue affecting the tech industry. Especially when we're not even technically in the tech industry yet, just trying to even get into it. Learning environments, no matter how relaxed (like your kitchen table) can still be stressful when your mind is full of self-deprecating thoughts.

“Why can't I do this?” echoes in my head virtually every time I sit down to code and run into a small bug or setback. And I hate to to be the bearer of bad news… but it doesn't stop when you get your first job or begin freelancing. In fact, it can actually exacerbate your mental illness, and put you at risk of keeping the job you worked so hard to get.

In this episode, I share with you all my experience of learning to code while fighting anxiety and depression. I want you to know that you're not alone, not weird (only in the best of ways), and there are actually ways to help work your coding education around your energy levels and mood.

I couldn't hold a 9-5 job during my customer service days. I had issues with previous jobs all of my life, because no matter how hard I tried, my mental illness trifecta always had other plans. My performance was exceptional when I had good days, and I was usually entirely absent when I didn't. Everything seemed incredibly hopeless, and nobody was to blame but myself.

When I decided to code and change my career, I knew that I had to make some major changes if I was going to be successful. I started making the universe work for me, as opposed to the other way around, which was requiring way too much precious energy from me. And I'm still making these changes, every day. However, now I'm also applying them to starting my own business centered around new self-taught coders. That's yet another thing I never thought I'd be capable of while living with mental illness.

With the right support and connections, you can make it through this sometimes absolute crap experience of learning to code and changing your career—even with the burden of mental illness around your shoulders. Learning and navigating the tech world might also just seem a little less daunting, and give you a little more motivation.

Question of the Episode

If you are teaching yourself to code through mental illness, how have you adjusted or customized your approach to fit your needs?

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below! And if you're considering posting, but your anxiety is telling you not to because <insert excuse here>, tell it to go fly a kite. You have some important healing to do, and it has no place here. 🙂

Offer of the Episode

Don't have a therapist, but want to see one?
I'll help you find someone around your area who accepts your insurance (if applicable).
You're worth it. We all are!

Show Links

10 Things You NEED To Know Before Learning to Code

Free PDF eBook discussing things like managing your family's expectations and communicating before embarking on your coding journey.

Greg Baugues' Codeland Talk on Mental Illness (via CodeNewbie Podcast)

I was present in the room for this talk, I almost had to walk out of the room after Greg started opening up. It was too real for me. When he asked how many people in the room had ever been depressed or anxious, most in attendance raised their hands.

Forum Comments

“I'm afraid I'll never find a job” on freeCodeCamp forums

“Sources of Motivation” on freeCodeCamp forums

Get my learning preparation tips in eBook format100% FREE!

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What you'll learn

  • Figuring out your personal mental health status
  • Know that mental illness is not logical!
  • Normalizing discussions about mental illness
  • Why so many people are suffering in silence
  • Teaching yourself to code with a mental illness
  • How to push through, keep motivated and achieve your goals

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Just one more step to download 10 Things You Need to Learn BEFORE Learning to Code!

Total transparency: You’ll get your guide, and also be subscribed to my dope weekly newsletter, Life in Code.

You can always unsubscribe (but I don’t think you’ll want to). :)

Just one more step to download 5 Steps to Solving Code Challenges!

Total transparency: You’ll get your guide, and also be subscribed to my dope weekly newsletter, Life in Code.

You can always unsubscribe (but I don’t think you’ll want to). :)