From my research, and understanding from some friends, talking about certain occurrences and feelings in your life is quite a good idea, and can lead to vastly improved recovery and self-discovery. So, despite my lingering feelings of shame and embarrassment, I have a story for you, my dear readers:
Last Tuesday, November 26th, 2013, while driving home from a particularly populated and frenetic Hackerspace meeting, I had what was ultimately determined to be a “nervous breakdown,” or as my BFF/blogmistress Jane calls it, a “modern mental health crisis.” It felt, driving on the highway, like I was utterly out of control and might literally hurt myself or someone else, accidentally, on purpose, for reasons I wouldn’t even be able to comprehend.
It is suspected to have been caused in no small part by stress and paranoia. It resulted in a trip to the Emergency Room, and an EKG, CAT scan and MRI. The only medication I received, ultimately, was Ativan for claustrophobia in the MRI machine. All indications came back perfectly normal.
To forestall the obvious question: I am fine, perfectly okay, and in fact, I feel much better now that an MRI and CAT scan have shown that my brain is, at least, structurally sound.
From “official” medical recommendations, I will be following up on the what I’ll be calling “the incident” with both my primary care physician and likely a psychiatrist. I hope to avoid psychotropic medications, but, if something like Xanax will save me from terrible panic and confusion, I will consider it, at least for awhile.
In my thinking about this since the incident, something occurred to me. As far as I can tell, the information security industry is kind of unique in that it takes the smartest people it can find, and then encourages them to think in as paranoid (and likely negatively self-serving) a fashion as possible.
I have some suspicions that somewhere in the government, especially the military, this has been thought about seriously. Despite of, or in addition to that, it occurs to me that I’d really like to see programs developed along this line in the civilian world. Programs specifically designed to help what I feel, again, to be a relatively unique situation in the world of employment. Programs designed to help separate us in the Infosec field from that paranoia and stress when we’re not at work.
This may be a conversation that is already ongoing somewhere on the Interwebs of which I wasn’t previously aware. I’ll be googling it soon. Nevertheless, I wanted this out of my head into words that could be read by other people, and to perhaps add to the conversation, if it exists.
Admittedly, this post is written in such a way as to incite some humor in the reader. This is because this is often how I, and a lot of people I know, process this sort of thing. Despite that, I’m quite serious, I want to assure you. I’d really just like to see some work down to slow down the deaths, either from our own hands, or from our stress.
Also, for those of us in the profession, I just want to say this in a loud clear voice: It turns out to be okay to ask for help, and, in fact, it’s important, if you think you might need it.
I hope to be made aware, also, of anything anyone knows about the possible existence of this conversation, as well as if this post helps, or even means anything to anyone.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for reading this far.
(Editor’s Note: I am doing it here, instead of someplace like Facebook for two reasons. First, I’d like an easy link, on a domain I own, to send to people who want to read it. Second, I don’t entirely trust, like many people, how Facebook is deciding what to show my friends.)