Leaving the tech industry, for real this time

In the first week of 2017 I went to my GP for my regular mental health check-in and broke down, and after some semi-coherent rambling was given the firm advice to fire myself from my work as a tech consultant.

I have been depressed for nearly 20 years. It would be careless to attribute to a single cause, but doing work that I don’t believe in for 15 years isn’t making it any better. For most of those 15 years – working across data science and web development – I have frequently felt anxiety, depression and occasional suicidal impulses when trying to work or thinking about work. Work is bad for my mental health and could realistically kill me if I continue it for much longer. Being self-employed has made harder to avoid this problem: I can’t sell my services if I dread doing the work.

My plan now is to explore the possibility of starting a PhD in history or a related field. There are hundreds or thousands of people in Melbourne who can clean data files or build websites. There are perhaps a few dozen in Australia who share my experience and inclinations for serious conversations about the intersections and conflicts between LGBTIQ identity and religious identity, and the way these are (mis-)represented in mainstream media. This will be my focus for the next few months, if not years. It’s unlikely that I will turn into a complete Luddite overnight, but the last two weeks – spending less time wrestling with computers and more time reading books and thinking about history – have already brought me peace of mind.