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Tom Deneire
8 min readOct 29, 2020

Dealing with Mental Health Issues as a Software Engineer

A few weeks ago I went back to work after going through a mental health crisis. It might sound strange, but I’m actually really grateful for this experience. It has definitely taught me a lot about myself. This post is an attempt to write out what I have learned from hitting rock bottom…

Stop trying so hard!

One evening in June my wife gave me a proverbial smack in the face.

“I can’t deal with this anymore,” she said. “I’m thinking of leaving you”. My response was actually quite rational. We had argued before about the tension around the house, about having lost our connection, about me being stressed out a lot. So I suggested couples therapy, changing my habits, taking up dancing lessons together — anything. But I couldn’t get through. It seemed to me she had already given up.

Later that night I went for my weekly walk with my CTO, who lives nearby. I didn’t tell him about what happened, but by the end of our walk he hit me with a second smack in the face. “You’re having a rough time, aren’t you?” I tried to wave it off, but I couldn’t fool him.

When I came home, I turned to my wife again. By now, she was angry, growing more irate with every one of my supposedly helpful suggestions…