in Prose

S02E16: The week after the week before

Slowly getting there

Mental health update

Andy Samberg giving a big thumbs down

I am going through some stuff, so I’m going to mention mental health for the remainder of this season. It’s not sufficient, and I’m casting around for a therapist, but I want to get some of this stuff in front of me. Skip it if it makes you feel uncomfortable.

This week it’s been odd, seemingly trivial things that have triggered a drop in my mental health. At other times I feel like I’m doing better, until I catch myself feeling okay and worry that it means I’m a bad person.

I am trying to remind myself that bad people don’t generally worry if they’re bad people, because they think they’re good people. So I’m hoping that by virtue of the fact that I’m worrying that I’m a bad person, something bad people don’t do, I’m actually a good person. More or less.

Helena Bonham-Carter looking very confused

Eating has been better: I’m doing three meals a day again. I’m eating out more than I should, but it’ll be okay in the short term. And it’s for a good reason, good people have been rallying around me and encouraging me to do stuff and talk to them. Thank you good people. You are people and you are good, and you know who you are.

The week in brief

Monday was mucking around⁰ in a language called bash, with an aim to automating some of the tools we use.

Image result for automate all the things
AUTOMATE ALL THE THINGS

I’m getting more comfortable in the team, and where I fit in. A good day.

On Tuesday I was working from home and did some remote pairing. Pairing is a process where two people work on the same thing at the same time. I was worried that it would be harder to pair without people able to see my pair’s face, but it actually worked out really well. My pair was really patient and helpful and I think I’ve now got a handle on how to solve a particular class of problem I’m working on.² I took the afternoon off to help a friend out.

London is the black hole into which all regional hopes and dreams tumble. The upshot of that is that on Wednesday I was asked by an old friend from uni — who now works for the same organisation as me! — to do a little video interview type thing. I hope I did well; everyone involved seemed happy. It was a nice little five minute session of being outgoing, which I do less of now that I mostly wrestle with computers. I don’t know if it’ll ever be published. If it is, I’ll put it in here somewhere.

On Thursday the community of technologists at GDS got together to look at the stuff we’re doing and where it sits on a spectrum of “we need to start doing this” and “we need to stop doing this”. It’s a “Liberating Structure” exercise, and looking at the page it looks corny as heck. That’s not to say it wasn’t valuable and effective, and I think the way it was adapted to the group helped. It gave us some good actions and reflections, and it’s certainly structured my thinking on where I want to start agitating for change³.

John Oliver waving a Pride flag. This symbolises my desire to agitate for change.

This sounds too aggressive, but it’s a fact that we always need to be changing. Deciding where to focus that is a necessary strategic decision because we can’t change everything.

I also saw fellow #weeknote-r Dan on Thursday. Dan is open in a way that aggressively breaks down typical masculinity, and I have a lot of love for him for that.³ It was helpful for me to listen to things he’s thinking/feeling/doing in a work context. We shared problems. I feel like I learned things.

Chris and Ben, characters from Parks and Rec, hugging

I also saw the ~secret~ underground passage from 1 Parliament Street to Westminster Palace, which was exceedingly cool. Thanks Dan.

Friday at last, and I had a brief objective setting meeting with my manager to talk about how we do things in my new organisation. I’ve got rough outlines and I’m immensely excited about all of them. I like objectives, or at least some structure around what I’m aiming for. It helps me keep my head up and prioritise my work.

In the evening I had an incredibly good dinner at Rosa’s Thai Café. Go, I entreat you. It’s absolutely delicious. In particular, try the ice tea: I’ve never had it before and it was a taste sensation. I was dining with a friend after doing interview prep; as before, my job was to ask tricky questions and imbue her with confidence. I hope it worked. She’d be excellent.


⁰ “Mucking around” diminishes and minimises what I do, and if I heard any of my peers or mentees talking like that I’d tell them off. I should do better at living my own advice.¹

¹ This was an extremely stream-of-consciousness sidebar. It’s meta, but I’m going to leave the original wording and this commend in for people to point to and remind me. And for me to point to and remind me.

² As an example of the mental health section above, I wrote “partner” instead of “pair” first. When I did that, it triggered lots of really unhappy connotations. So I changed it, and then I went for a walk.

³ I was nervous about using the word love, but fuck it. Loving your friends is a thing, a positive thing, and it’s a thing I feel we men should be more comfortable saying.

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