Reflection on Talking at SQLSaturday Charlotte About Mental Health

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On December 7, I did a session on mental illness and mental health problems being more common in IT than you think. Before the event the PASS WIT Virtual Chapter tweeted out about the session and I already had people that weren’t going to be at the event wishing they could hear this talk.  I took that as a good sign as  I was nervous giving this talk because it is highly personal for me but still a much needed topic to be discussed. So hopefully I’ll be able to see those people who were interested in an event later in the year with this talk.

People with IT careers suffer from mental health issues at twice the rate of the general population in the US at a staggering 42% of us.  With anxiety and depression being number one due to stress and burnout.  People are afraid due to stigma to receive help and talk to employers about these issues.  Then there are the mental illnesses that people chronically suffer from such as bipolar.

The reason this topic is personal to me is last year starting in June I had one stressful event happen at work.  I started a new job (which could be considered a stressor in of itself) with the small company I went to laying off over half it staff.  Then people that were not laid off slowly started trickling out of the of the company.  You top that with some personal stressors, my LA trip to a SQL Saturday had me totally a rental car with a big box car running a red light.  Helping a friend in crisis.  Then just keeping my pace of two SQLSaturdays a month along with doing my advocacy work requiring me at minimum to do three visits to kids on the weekends I was home.  I also had issues getting in touch with my doctor to get an adjustment with my medication to prevent what would come next.  I managed to maintain all these things but hit a manic phase with my bipolar and ended up a hospital due to suicidal ideation (if only they knew me years ago, to think of how many times that would have happened).  I managed to get a job with less stress (no layoffs and no call) after the hospital stay.

So back to SQLSaturday Charlotte, I shared some of personal experience from last year and previous years where work as caused issues with my mental health and things people can do to prevent themselves from having issues.  I was surprised to pull in about 10% of the attendees into the room and I’m looking forward to continue to develop this talk and give hopefully at every event I go to this year (preference will be given to any event that wishes to have this as a topic).  The audience was very interactive and a few people approached me afterwards one ev3en giving me a hug for being so vulnerable.  I just wish I had a session that was right before lunch at the end of the day because some people had asked to talk to me after the next session they went to see and was unable to find them later.  Hopefully, they will reach via Twitter or email, I’ll be more than happy to hop on a phone call with anybody and or web call to have a more one on one talk about any issues they are facing.

Next stops for this talk is SQLSaturday Austin BI in Feb and SQLSaturday Cincinnati.  Their is a lot of Twitter buzz about this talk on my Twitter feed if anybody cares to take look and add any thoughts to it.

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