A reader asked:
I don’t know what exactly is wrong with me (as a child, i was forbidden to even mention mental health or autism, and now it’s prolly too late to bother). But I find a lot of useful and relatable in this blog (that was thanks). Thing is, I end up just cutting all connections with society (aside from parents). Not leaving my home, being happy only in solitude. But I still need to provide for myself, so I do some coding. Except often I just can’t force myself to work for unknown reason. Any advice?
First of all, it’s not too late to bother. Understanding yourself better is always helpful. It’s a lot easier to manage unusual things about yourself if you have the right words to describe them. Among other things, having the right words allows you to connect with others like you and learn about things that work for them.
Also, some mental health or neurological issues are treatable, even in adulthood. (For instance, many adults with depression, ADHD or OCD find that medication improves their lives).
Most of us spend most of our lives as adults. This stuff doesn’t go away when we grow up, and it doesn’t stop mattering, either. So – it’s not too late, and if you think that you have a mental health or neurological condition, it is worth taking that seriously, whether or not you pursue formal diagnosis or medical treatment.
I can’t tell you why you’re having trouble working. There could be any number of reasons. Some include:
Do you like your work?
- If your work requires a lot of intense focus, and you find it intensely dull, it’s likely to be hard to make yourself do it, particularly if no one else is around
- If you’re so bored with your work that you regularly can’t force yourself to do it, it’s probably time to start trying to find different work
- Which might still be coding if that’s your skillset – not all programming projects are the same
- There’s only so long you can work against yourself by brute force
Is being alone all the time bad for your work?
- Some people need to work with or alongside other people in order to get stuff done consistently
- Not everyone is like this, but some people are, even many people who enjoy solitude
- If that’s part of your problem, it might be important to work on ways to have company that you can stand
- This could be virtual, like one person you’re on IM with while you code
- Or physical, like working out of an office or hackerspace
- It doesn’t necessarily need to be intensely social
- This might not be a problem you have, but it is a problem some people have
Are you depressed?
- If being unable to force yourself to code is a new problem, it’s possible that you’re depressed
- Particularly if you’re also *generally* disinterested in most things you used to like
- For some people, depression is a treatable medical problem
- If that sounds likely to be part of your problem, and if you can go to a doctor safely, it might be worth bringing up the possibility that you’re depressed
Do you need better cognitive cues for work?
- For some people who work alone from home, it can be really hard to *tell* when you should be working
- I have this problem and I don’t have a great solution to it, so I’m not sure how much I can suggest
- For some people, making a schedule helps
- For some people, always working early in the day helps
- For some people, using LeechBlock makes it easier to focus
- Some people find that HabitRPG helps them to keep track of tasks and stay motivated
Are you ok physically?
- It’s hard to work when you feel horrible physically
- And a lot of neurodivergent people have trouble telling when something is wrong physically
- Do you eat enough? Do you get your nutritional needs met? Going without sufficient protein or iron can quickly make everything difficult.
- Do you remember to drink liquids?
- Are you in pain?
- Is your working environment comfortable? (eg: are the lights bothering you? is your chair painful to sit in? is your keyboard at a comfortable or uncomfortable height?)