Programmers Put Down The Keyboard

Author: Steven Neiland

Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

Only my wife has known this but for the last few months I have been struggling with depression. Some days I'd be fine and the next day it would take everything I had just to get up. Well this last month I did something about it.

Looking back now its not surprising. In the space of a year and a half, I've left all my friends and family behind to come live in a country where everyone speaks (and even spells) differently to me, where the food is different and nobody gets my humour.

At the same time I have been and continue to worry about how my family is doing back home in Ireland. Many Americans dont know this but Ireland and Europe in general seems to be falling apart at the seams. On top of that I am not the most outgoing person to begin with so I tend to spend my weekends either reading or programming.

Turning The Corner

This all came to a head a few weeks ago when my wife looked me in the eye and told me if I did not get out and meet some people and get some fresh air I was going to go insane. Truth be told she was right. It's sad but after a year and a half of living in Florida I'm still as pale as when I lived in Ireland a country that only really gets a few hours of pale sunshine most of the year.

For me this was the kick in the head I needed so I decided to go out and try something I have always wanted to do ... go sailing. Its strange (or maybe its not) but for a guy who dismantled and re-assembled his first computer at the age of 15 and now has 5 machines plus tablet in his office, the ideal hobby is an activity that is older than electricity and uses only ropes and wind.

It turns out that I really love sailing. Its gets me out in the sun and fresh air, there is zero options for technology to make its way in.. no laptop, no cell phone, nothing except wind, water and sun. I have taken beginners class's and joined a sailing club and I have been out several times including single handing the boat. It really is an activity I recommend to anyone, but especially folks in IT.

Where I am Today

I wont say that taking up sailing has fixed everything for me. I still worry about my friends and family back home, but at least now I have an alternative to sitting inside staring at a book or a computer screen. This has helped to balance out my life and I think will make me a more rounded person, and may even make me a better developer.

Why I'm Sharing This

So finally why am I sharing all this. Well I don't know how many other developers/IT folks out there are in a similar situation, but if when reading this you think you have something in common with me, then please do yourself a favour. Go out and do something that has nothing to do with technology.

It does not have to be sailing. Take up cycling, or walking or anything that takes you away from the computer and gets you out in the fresh air. You owe it to yourself and those you love to take care of yourself. After all if you don't, who will?

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