I’m Out of Steam

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For the first time since I started grad school, I’ve decided to take a bit of a break from writing. As a result, this will be my last article for the year. See y’all in 2021!

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Struggling with Mental Health

For those of you that might not know the history of The Renegade Coder, I started blogging pretty much right out of college in 2016. Back then, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, but I knew one thing: I could never work for anyone.

That realization has allowed one thing to stay completely constant: The Renegade Coder. No matter what’s going on in my life, The Renegade Coder has always served as a medium where I had full control. Because of that, I’ve always been able to give it my all. In fact, ever since I started grad school in 2018, I’ve consistently published twice a week: every Monday and Friday at 10 AM EST.

Unfortunately, life has consumed me to the point of needing a therapist. In fact, earlier this year I picked one up for myself. Back then, I noticed a lot of issues that were preventing me from succeeding in my PhD program like a lack of memory and attention. This led me to believe that I had some latent ADHD diagnosis worth inquiring about. After all, I am the type of person to make a lot of noise and jitter about.

When I inevitably got tested, the results came back inconclusive. This didn’t really startle me all that much because I’ve never had a diagnosis. Why would I suddenly have one now at 26? That said, I was given an adjustment disorder diagnosis which is more or less a fancy way of saying “your life has changed and you’re struggling to change with it.”

Despite that underwhelming diagnosis, my therapist agreed to continue working with me as I’m generally unhappy with my life. Pretty much every time I’ve made a change, I’ve been unhappy with the result. And each time I’ve been disappointed, I’ve grown more upset with myself.

Of course, if you know me, this probably comes as a complete surprise. After all, I have more or less been conditioned for stoicism, so everyone always sees me with a smile on my face. And while that has allowed me to maintain a positive persona, it has been absolutely terrible for my mental health.

Hitting a New Low

This reality had never been more true until Thanksgiving rolled around. Earlier in the week, I had earned my Master’s degree, and the reality that 2.5 years boiled down to one of the most anticlimactic experiences of my life had been weighing on me.

At the same time, my wife and I were finishing up two weeks of quarantining in preparation for a trip back home. Normally, I wouldn’t be very excited for a trip like this, but the stress had built up to the point that literally any change of scenery was seen as a massive relief.

Then, I went home and had an absolute blast of a time doing literally nothing. For instance, while I was at my parents house, I had dinner and watched three movies. Then, when I went to my in-laws house, I spent the evening watching football. Hell, I even got to meet my baby nephew for the first time.

When we got home Friday evening, a major feeling of dread began taking me over. Between the realization that I’m in the worst shape of my life and the fact that grad school has sucked out whatever energy I’d need to rectify that, I completely shut down.

To be fair, I don’t really care about body image. The problem was that work had completely stolen any willingness I had to do anything. By Saturday, I had become a lifeless form wandering a grocery store. By that evening, I couldn’t sleep. The next day, I sat around sulking while I completed a few tasks interspersed with video games. In fact, as I write this, I’m peering down an absolutely dreadful Monday where work picks right back up again.

The realization that work never stops is what completely crushes me, and the sad part is that all this hopelessness has sapped any sort of energy to do the things I actually enjoy like writing and teaching. As a result, I’ve decided to postpone them until the end of the year. As of today, I won’t be writing for The Renegade Coder until the start of 2021. In the meantime, I’ll be taking the rest of the year to catch up on school work and relax.

Hope for the Future

On the plus side, I did get a chance to meet with my therapist earlier this week, and she’s been helping me out quite a bit. I think taking some time off to focus on my mental health will be a good move in the long term.

Beyond that, I appreciate all your support as always. If you want to reach out to me to chat, you’re welcome to! I’m easy to find on Twitter—though I might take some time away from that as well.

Otherwise, take care! And, I hope to see you back around next year.

Jeremy Grifski

Jeremy grew up in a small town where he enjoyed playing soccer and video games, practicing taekwondo, and trading Pokémon cards. Once out of the nest, he pursued a Bachelors in Computer Engineering with a minor in Game Design. After college, he spent about two years writing software for a major engineering company. Then, he earned a master's in Computer Science and Engineering. Today, he pursues a PhD in Engineering Education in order to ultimately land a teaching gig. In his spare time, Jeremy enjoys spending time with his wife, playing Overwatch and Phantasy Star Online 2, practicing trombone, watching Penguins hockey, and traveling the world.

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