sunday, 30 march 2008

posted at 20:57

Hi, I'm back.

It would appear that there's a problem with the old grey matter. This is not news to me, I've suspected as much for a while now. Its only just now got to the point where I've been able to admit that whatever is up is not something I can fix on my own, and so the time has come to enlist some help and to make a few changes so I don't completely explode.

"Depression" would probably be the proper term to use here, except that there's about as many varieties of depression as there are sufferers, and since I haven't actually seen a medical professional yet it probably wouldn't be prudent to add labels just yet. Besides which, I don't really care what you want to call it. I'm more interested in fixing it.

Since Beth was born (six months ago) I've found the various pressures on me increasingly difficult to cope with. There's the obvious work involved with a new baby, wanting to make sure that she has everything she needs all the time and also making sure that her mother, my wife, have all the time and space they need to concentrate on the job at hand.

Then there's the existing kid, who at three is fiercely independent and doesn't know when to shut the hell up. Don't get me wrong, she is funny, kind, generous and compassionate, and I know her determination will serve her wonderfully well in the future and so I wouldn't change a single thing about her. But some days its all I can do to not lock her up under the house.

Then there's work. We've spent the last two years working on replacing everything that I've spent the previous six years building, and although I understand (and generally agree) with the rationale, its hard to let go. After so long its hard to find motivation to continue working on it. More recently, I've accepted a promotion to a team leader position, so I've moved away from the metal a little and am now responsible for the general well being of a group of people. This is unfamiliar territory for me and I'm eager to learn and do a good job, but that of course means additional pressure.

Next up is my personal time, those precious two-three hours of bus travel plus another hour or so in the evening. That time has been spent on AROS for just over a year. I've written at length about my increasing frustrations with the project, which has greatly reduced my interest and motivation, yet at the same time I'm still committed to a major project within it. So I have a lot of pressure and not a lot of fulfillment coming from that quarter.

I do all of this stuff without a great deal of support or guidance. I have friends, of course, and my wife is the most awesome person of all, whom I could not function without, but what I really need is an older bloke who has already done the family/work/personal life juggling dance and come out the other side. Ideally this would be my father, but for various reasons that I'm not willing to talk about right now he's unavailable, so I'm feeling a little stranded. My walk with God is in a pretty sorry state as well, so there's not a lot of help coming from there either.

I thought I could fix this myself. All I needed was more sleep, or to better manage my time, or to reduce the number of tasks I'd taken on, or to spend my time at home with my kids doing meaningful activities, etc. These are all things I've tried to change, with varying degrees of success, but it hasn't been enough. Not least of the problems is that in many cases they conflict with each other.

In the lead up to Easter I carried a dark cloud around with me, until on Sunday that I finally broke down. I hadn't slept much overnight as Beth had a difficult time, so I was tired. I screamed at Francesca a couple of times, both of which were very much overreactions. Once the girls were in bed at lunchtime I ended up talking to Gub in tears, telling her this whole story. Of course she knew, having had some experience with this sort of thing herself, as well as having lived with me. We talked about it more while on holiday and I finally started to get a little hope as we figured out a plan.

Thursday will be a big day for me. I'm going to take the day off and visit my doctor, looking for one or more of drugs or a recommendation of a counsellor who can help me talk some of this stuff through. Next after that is a visit to my minister for a chat. I want to talk to him about finding someone who would be willing to act in some sort of mentoring role for me, someone outside of my life who will take an interest in it and be available if I'm in an explosive mood. I also want to discuss practical ways to get my ailing faith back on track. All these things are intertwined.

I have to refocus my home life and remember what it is that I like about it. The last week away has been good. Being on holiday with nothing that has to be done gave me the opportunity to play with my daughters without feeling guilty about all the other ways I could be spending my time. This weekend back at home has been interesting, as I've tried to continue that without feeling the pressure from various chores around the house. I'm doing all right so far.

Finally on the personal time, some stuff just has to move. I talked about whether or not I'd fork AROS after WebKit is done, or just leave entirely. I think the answer is pretty clear. Trying to lead a major project at this point in time would be a very bad thing for my own sanity. I've learnt enough about operating systems while working on AROS to make it not particularly interesting anymore. I will get Traveller out because I've made a committment and such things are important to me, but after that my time with AROS will be over. I'll have more to say about plans for Traveller this week, and probably more to say about leaving AROS as the time approaches.

I have a vision for what I want my life to look like. I want to enjoy every part of it, and not feel like some parts are more important than others, but simply be happy with and accept the balance I've made because I know I've done it right. I don't want to be wishing that everything and everyone would just disappear so that I could sleep and not have to think about them. This is my life. I made the choices that I have got me here. I'm sure I made some mistakes, but the big things, the things that form my identity - husband, father, programmer, child of God - are there because I deliberately chose them. I want to want to be those things.

I don't know if I'll write any more here about this as I progress. I thought I should write something for anyone wondering about my standoffish attitude and general flakiness in the last couple of months. Don't feel like you have to tread lightly around this, I'm still the same person. If you don't care or aren't comfortable with it, then say nothing. If you're interested or curious about everything, ask away.