Hi, sorry I haven't posted much to the internet in a while. I've been struggling. I'm slowly getting better I think, but it's a long process. I thought today I'd discuss a lot of what has been going on in my life in the hopes that maybe it helps someone else out in similar situations. Note that it isn't everything ("the beginning" isn't really the beginning, there was a lot more before this), I don't feel comfortable with releasing some things yet, but it is a lot of what has been going on in my life. This will touch on some very sensitive mental health issues, so if that is a problem for you, please do not read this blog post.
Start of university
The start of university was pretty great. I was excited to be living on my own in a place I could call my own. The first programming module was taught really well, we did a really nice module which included various low level technical details, and I really thought university was for me. I met a lot of really cool people (lots of whom are my friends to this day), and was still able to do my work. It was going so well that I even started doing additional contractual work with it and this was going fine.
My first alarm bells came when I realised I was losing motivation to write. I would always start everything really late, but things started getting to the wire even for my standards. I would get worried that I was going to fail. I started seeing a university councillor about various things including this. My grades started getting lower. My relational databases module was in my opinion invalidly scored low, and the lecturer said she "didn't want to pass me". This hurt me a lot. Anyone that knows a shred about me knows that I care deeply about optimisation, and this includes at a database level. I understand SQL, in fact she docked a lot of points from me for using functions that she didn't use but that did not have a performance impact.
I started to feel really lonely. It was a weird sense of loneliness. I know a lot of people on the internet, and I was always speaking to people socially at least weekly at DigitalOcean, but I just didn't know who I could speak to. Sometimes I would speak to people and they just wouldn't reply, sometimes I worried that my messages came across as attention seeking because I just needed to speak to someone so desperately. It was a hard period for me and I'm sure many people around me. Around this time my mood started to change, I tried to remain happy to other people, but in my head I was just getting sadder and sadder. I tried dating apps many times, every app you could imagine I had installed to no success. On top of that, I felt unproductive. Squeezing anything out of me was a complicated process.
My undiagnosed ADHD like symptoms
I have always felt this struggle to focus. I could never get my head down and focus on one project. My Go source folder has literally hundreds of started projects in it, and it's rare any of them see the light of day. I get this quick burst of energy and focus to start a new thing, but it curves really really quickly and it becomes hard for me to find anything where I can maintain this focus. This is why I am terrible at maintaining open source projects. I try, I really do, but I just cannot make myself focus on the project. I sometimes will sit there with a blank code editor just questioning what I am doing with my time but unable to actually make myself focus.
This hurts a lot. I feel stupid. I have things that I started for people and then never actually finished but really want to. I just cannot focus on anything and it genuinely makes me feel like complete crap.
It extends further than just starting things though, I commonly put off doing things. This might be "I'm definitely going to reply to X today" or "I'm going to pay for X today", but then I don't do it, and I feel bad at the end of the day. I schedule for the next day, but then I don't do it. The feeling of hurting people is something I really struggle with. This is probably partially autism related, but it hurts nonetheless.
Is university for me?
Around this time, I started questioning if university was even for me. It seemed to be going increasingly down hill. The main question that answered this in my head was a module called Systems Analysis.
The Systems Analysis module was essentially doing design documentation and quizzing around a specific use case. My team did a games website, and was awful. I was trying to architect the group, but you can only architect a group that won't listen so far. In the end, I knew it was a lost cause. I rated the group low and submitted a personal extenuating circumstances request. The university literally ignored this request. They did not approve or deny it, they ignored it.
I knew at this point that I had been bait and switched, and decided that university was not for me. On top of that, even though I met a lot of great people there (a lot of them are still my friends), I also met some people that really hurt me and did not have my best interests at heart.
My university accommodation
My university accommodation initially seemed great. The people I was with in my accommodation are great, and I was on amazing terms with all but one and they are my friends to this day.
We did catch Covid. My university made UK Twitter trending for the number of Covid cases and my flat was unfortunately one of the ones affected. There was a time when this happened where I genuinely thought my life was in danger. I phoned 119 (I don't know if this is still the case, but this was the Covid line), and they told me to phone back if I stopped breathing. I then phoned the university management who said I should have phoned 999 and got an ambulance. Needless to say, this wasn't the most fun period, and the person who caught it (the "but one" mentioned earlier) from partying left shortly after. But we made it through this and were close.
After this happened, I randomly had an anxiety building and it was getting worse by the day. Weirdly it stopped me from using the kitchen when others were in it. I don't know why my head did this because I was on great terms with the people in my flat, but it did and this became a huge issue for me. My anxiety was getting dangerous. It was getting to the extent where I was not eating due to not being able to go into the kitchen. I phoned 111 and they suggested that I went to the shops and got milk and vegetables. This was great except that my anxiety also made going outside a struggle.
At this point, I started on anti-depressants since I needed them to eat. They worked amazing, and my dosage was half a tablet for a week and then one tablet a day. One day, however, I stopped taking my medication. This was because I missed a days dosage and I was worried I would overdose if I took 1 tablet. In heinsight, I should have spoke to my doctor. My higher mood stuck until my housing struggle, but this did lead to it eventually sinking.
To add to this, one day I was asleep, and my door starts getting unlocked whilst I am asleep. I exclaim to wait a second as I am getting out of bed, I get changed, and I go to the door. It was the university security. They asked if I was <previous tenant's name> to which I said I was not. The security guard then asked to see my ID. In the process of getting my ID I was mumbling to myself "where's my ID". The security guard heard me saying this, reached into my flat and turned on my light, and then said he was going to search the premises for another person because he heard me speaking to someone. I protested because I did nothing wrong, and he kept fighting me and asking why I was acting like that. He kept saying he had a bodycam and was in the right My room was untidy at the time and I am autistic, so I told him that and he said "my daughter is autistic and she doesn't act like this". I eventually grudgingly said I'd let him in to which he said "thank you have a nice day" and walked away. I immediately filed a GDPR request for all communications/bodycam footage relating to the incident and told reception who came up and took a statement.
A few days later I was taken into a meeting with a friend, head of university security, and head of the accommodation. I was apologised to and told that it will never happen again. I was also told they were responding to a serious welfare incident. I thought however much this incident shook me up that maybe it was justified in this case. However, a few days later I got the GDPR data which proved that internally they said it was just to deliver a letter and they also blatantly lied internally about the contents of the bodycam footage and falsely said some of my accusations were false.
This whole incident had huge affects on me and caused me pretty serious PTSD. There are times where I get wake up feeling like someone is in my flat to this day, scared to move. This was even worse in this room where it now was a realistic possibility, so I couldn't even just tell my brain it was being stupid.
Burnout, leaving DigitalOcean, and joining Krystal
Alongside everything at university, I was also getting burned out with work. I was doing very similar things regularly which didn't help with my ADHD like symptoms, and I just felt like the weakest tool in the shed. This isn't DigitalOcean's fault, but I was just really sick at the time and was also not coping well with handling an increasing amount of styling. It was a great ride at DigitalOcean, but I decided I was too sick to be able to continue working on their projects.
My housing struggle
Around this time, the tenancy on my flat ended. This was a massive issue for me since due to the ADHD like symptoms discussed earlier, I did not plan for this. 2 days before my tenancy ended, I went ahead and booked some self storage and moved my items there. At this point I knew it was going to be a bumpy few weeks. Initially I lived in a hotel room for a bit. This was horrible. The hotel room itself didn't help, but my laptop was connected to a small plasma TV which registered at 1366x768. Doing my work was difficult here. I then moved into a temporary house that cost a ton of money for 2 weeks, whilst nice (like genuinely the nicest house I've stayed in), it was also way too expensive for me in the long run.
Around this time I decided I should move to Portsmouth. Since I had no good reason to do university anymore and I have friends here, I decided to take the plunge over to here. I lived in hotels for a bit whilst things were sorted, and then I found a flat. I immediately took the plunge and paid for the deposit/first months rent on this flat. I am really happy with my decision since I love this area.
Going full time at Krystal
Now that I was in a house and that was all sorted, I decided to go full time at Krystal. After some speaking to people, I became a full time software engineer. I am really happy with this decision. University was clearly never going to work out for me, and even if I did go back to university, I don't think I ever would have enjoyed it as much considering everything that institution had put me through. Krystal allows me to work with amazing people on amazing varied things, and I am really happy with the work I do.
Where I am now
Now I was at Krystal and my work life was sorted, I realised I should handle my low mood that is cropping up again and started anti-depressants a second time. I am hoping this time they will work and I will be in a much better position.
Overall, apologies if I went inactive/didn't reply to you on something, I am trying to do better and will catch up with things in my life, I will try and do so as quick as possible. I'm sorry, and I hope this explains a lot about why I have not been as active on the internet recently.