Postmortem: May 2022 emotional outage
(Never-finished) Evaluating the contributing factors both positive and negative, direct and indirect, that culminated in a depressive episode in late May 2022.
Intermittently in late April 2022 and May 2022, for periods spanning April 25-May 1, May 9-11, May 17-20, Mari experienced severe outages of mental and physical state.
These outages included respiratory symptoms (ear pressure, coughing/nasal drip, sneezes/congestion, sinus headaches), heavy fatigue, aches and pains, elevated levels of anger, and loss of interest in normally pleasant activities.
Persistent problems with required task completion (likely due to ADHD or another disorder affecting executive function) often triggered scolding or disappointment from authority figures (teachers, parents, managers) in early parts of her life and in a previous job. As a result, Mari had come to associate incompleteness of task(s) with "not trying hard enough" to get the task(s) done.
Weak skills with time estimation (a symptom of ADHD) and flitty focus (also a symptom of ADHD) led several personal projects to come "very close" to completion but never get completed. This was a problem at a previous job as well, where the constant emergence of new problems to deal with led to projects frequently being close to completion for a long time.
Early in April 2022, problems with a broadly-used system manifested due to a change made by the vendor providing the system. The tech lead who was managing the recovery project was going on vacation soon after, and seeing an opportunity to help the team out and get some familiarity with the tool in question, Mari volunteered to take on the project. She initially imagined that it would only take a week or so to complete.
Due to the one-off nature of the script used to help recover from the situation, the urgency of the situation it was intended to solve, and lack of feasible options for testing the API calls, Mari opted not to write tests for the project. This led to several unexpected delays and false starts where the script would fail to run, and a lot of extra time debugging and implementing observability features to work out what was going wrong.
At the end of the day on Friday, April 22nd, having missed a few of her own estimates for when the script would be done due to difficult-to-diagnose glitches in the code, Mari began to repeat a negative narrative about herself, both internally and aloud/in Discord.
This is the story of my life
"I'm almost done" until I cry, die, and explode
Stress from this self-loathing narrative and a looming sense that the long-ongoing project would not end combined with the onset of spring allergy season and increased contact with the world (due to driving more) were likely contributing factors to the illness that spanned from Monday-Sunday, April 25-May 1. This illness consisted of heavy fatigue, ear pressure, coughing, sneezing and congestion, as well as heavy sinus headaches.