Raw thoughs about the last year or so.
Before you read further, this isn't a post about Elixir. This isn't a post about tech at all. I'm writing this for myself. Feel free to skip it and continue with your life, you probably don't need to waste your time on the venting from some random in the internet.
For the people that had the fortune or misfortune to know me IRL over the last year, if you stumble upon this post, these are the things after all this time I'm still too much of a coward to say to your face.
This last year was an absolute rollercoaster, and at times I feel I've experience the most extremes of lucks, both good and bad, and all that carries over.
When I started this blog I never expected to be using it to write a piece like this one. The idea was rather simple: there's people learning Elixir and there are questions that are super common, so I wanted to create a resource with in-depth explanations about the language, even for things as mundane as a list. And it seems I succeeded at that so some extent. There's only two meaningful posts in this blog today, and apparently they have become a reference in the community. I guess it's something I should be proud of, I finally did something, and that something is useful.
A few months after the blog creation I wrote Sourceror, which is what I consider the piece of work that put me on the radar for a bunch of people besides the Elixir Discord, where I'm the most active. But after that my activity here stalled. My last post here is from July 2021, shortly after I released that library. A bunch of things happened in that time period. I got featured in the Thinking Elixir podcast; being the very first time I actually spoke english, and I was nervous about hundreds of people hearing my broken engrish and low quality audio from a pair of $1 headphones. I didn't have any money for something better back then, my family was broke but we were still thriving. Shortly after, what was probalby one of the luckiest moments on my life happens: out of the blue I receive an offer to start working full time for a US based Elixir shop. Needless to say that I accepted: after years of frustration and resignation trying to find a tech job in the local industries, I finally get to not only work in the field I always wanted to, but with the tech that I wanted. It also meant that I had a good job that allowed me to have enough income to maintain my family and not have to worry about economical security ever again.
I could use the fact that I had a new job was putting too much of a burden on me to also maintain a blog as an excuse, but truth be told that was never the case. Even if I finally got what I always wanted, I didn't feel any better, and from here things start to go downhill.
As I mentioned, my family was broke. I don't have a partner, let alone children, so my family is essentially my parents and an older brother. While this new job allowed me to provide a relief for them, reality started to hit me in the face harder and harder every day that passed: none of the real struggles I was facing were economical. Sure, not having to worry about making it to the end of the month sure is relieving, but when that immediate problem went away, all the other things that were lurking started to surface one after the other. This is kinda like that cliche phrase "money doesn't buy happiness", but I think I learnt it the worst possible way.
One of the first things I realized was that I spent too much of my time reading and writing code as a way to escape the reality I lived in. That paid off in the end, but it also meant that I was neglecting my friends and ignoring the obvious signs of what was to come. I didn't want to hang out with friends, I constantly made up excuses to not participate in whatever my friends were up to, and I slowly started to isolate myself. And when you do that, people eventually give up: they already know your answer.
On the other hand, my family has a... complicated story. I'll only summarize that the house as a toxic environment and we weren't living in decent conditions. I've been having frequent nightly panic attacks for almost 10 years now due to that, but never got the courage to go to a doctor and get help. It's too much to share in a single post, let alone somewhere public for the whole internet to judge.
The worst part was that in late 2018, right before the first covid outbreak, my mother was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer. This is one of the worst news you can get, and it took a very long time for me to process. You always hang on to what little hope there is that she will recover, but deep down you know she'll die anytime soon. Maybe next month. Maybe next year. We begged for help to get her a treatment, but even living in a country with "free healthcare" that was pretty much impossible, until we finally got a non-profit organization to mediate with Pfizer to get a treatment that was impossible for us to pay otherwise.
There was also this new feeling that I started to develop: I started to feel it just wasn't fair that me, that during most of my life was trying to escape from reality, had the privilege of getting his dream job and be well paid, while my older brother that always both worked long hours and studying, essentially trying his best to do "the right thing", was struggling to make a living. I started to believe that maybe he resented me for having better luck at that without all the effort, and just pretended to be happy for me.
So all these things were happening at the same time, and it was a time bomb waiting to explode. I was isolating myself from the few friends I had, I was escaping from the reality of what my mother and my family were going through, and when I finally got a job that I could use to help them, I realized that these were issues I couldn't fix anyways. You can't magically buy a cure just because you have the money, and you can't magically fix the toxic environment you live in by throwing cash at it. I started to feel more impotent every day that passed, and started to hate myself for not being able to do anything. And all of this I kept to myself, and talked with nobody about it. It's my issue, I don't want to bother someone else with it and show how much of a mess I am.
Near the end of 2021, one of my friends reached out and invited me to hang out with a group. I didn't want to, but I was starting to realize I was isolating myself so I forced myself and accepted the invitation. As usual, I was the same slightly soft spoken person, joking around and such. I don't have issues socializing in groups, though it's always super taxing when all I'm doing is masking how I'm really feeling. Who wants to hang out with the depressed guy and brings down the mood of everyone else? Anyways, it was overall a pleasant experience, and I met a few people that would eventually become some of my closest friends.
I couldn't help the heavier issues I was facing, but at least it felt like a step in the right direction to help myself, so I continued hanging out with them, some times in person, most of the time in Discord group calls. Sadly, when there's so many people it's almost unavoidable for something bad to happen, and it did. So the group of people fractured. Still, I continued to hang out with some of them, a smaller group of friends that would eventually move to a different city and go to college. These few people were the first persons that I trusted enough to share a little bit of what was going on with me.
Fast forward to March of 2022, the month of my birthday, the situation at my home was getting out of hands. Not only the place was still toxic, but my mother's cancer reached a new stage and it compromised her bones. She couldn't walk anymore. It was unbearable for me to see, and I didn't want to celebrate; there was nothing for me to celebrate. My friend proposed me to spend my birthday with them in this other city where they were studying, and I accepted. I made a trip to their place and spent the night with them. It was definitely better than staying at home, the change of air was good, but I still had a feeling of guilt because of leaving my home on that day, deep down I knew this may have been the last birthday I could spent with my mother, and I spent it elsewhere, with my new group of friends.
On early April my mother was hospitalized in high complexity hospital in a neighboring city. I couldn't visit her; visits were restricted and someone had to stay at home to take care of the pets. She was there 4 days and recovered, but the whole time I was trembling thinking that she wouldn't make it. The only person I could talk to was my friend that by chance came back to my city during that weekend, and he's the reason I didn't had a breakdown that day. This was an obvious sign: there wasn't much time left. And as usual, I ended up ignoring it.
A month later the whole frustration and home situation became unbearable to the point I finally gave up, and had one of the worst breakdowns of my life. I spent almost a week constantly trembling and unable to speak. I needed to get out of there, it was my own mental health at risk. If I couldn't help until that point, I would be even less able to help if I was even more mentally exhausted. I also worked as a software engineer now, and I wasn't able to work in that condition.
My friend already offered me to go live with them for a while a number of times in the past, and now it was my own brother suggesting me to do the same. It was one of the hardest choices I had to make in my life, but it ultimately was the correct one, I needed to take care of myself. Most of the times the right choice to make is the hardest one. I told my mother about my decision, and she agreed with it. "Go away, you need time away from here to get better". During that whole week I was constantly reconsidering my choice: I didn't even know what was right anymore, and I was still suffering the effects of the breakdown. I spoke with two of my friends and told them I wanted to go live with them for a while. Not only they agreed to that, they also were a strong emotional support at a time when I started to feel I was losing my mind. As if all this weren't enough, the company I now worked for was acquired and my own job was at risk because the system I worked on became reduntant and it was on it's way to be removed.
So I moved with them. We were quite a number of people in the same department, but it was a nice place with people that were important to me. For the first time in years, I felt like I had a home. Everything was pretty much improvised, so we would take turns with another of my friends to sleep in the bed or in the couch. If you're reading this you know who you are, and I still feel bad for you having to sleep in the couch all that time even if you told me it wasn't a problem.
I spent a week with them, and during that time I barely texted my family. I didn't feel ready to do it. And they didn't text me either, probably to let me alone. Exactly a week after I left my home, I felt I was feeling good enough to text them, and maybe even go back home. I sent a message to my mom early in the morning. She didn't reply. Later that day I receive a message from my brother. She was hospitalized again. They already made the choice to ease her pain instead of using some invasive operation. I knew this was going to happen, and I knew it was going to happen soon, but I always thought I would have more time. But no, all of a sudden, just when for the first time I try to do something for myself, the day finally comes. It was almost like the Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo movie, in which the phrase "time waits for no one" constantly foreshadows what's about to happen, but you don't realize until it's already too late. Casually, I watched that movie a few days before, so that resonates with me all the more today.
I was not only completely broken by the news, it was also invaded by the feeling that the last image she would have of myself would be that of a mentally broken son leaving the house because he could no longer stand to live with them. I asked my friend to get me a ticket for the first bus to the hospital and went there to spent her last moments with her. It was the last chance to speak with her, and I think nobody can ever be prepared for such moment. One of the topics we talked about was my time with my friends in that other city. She didn't know many of them, I never spoke too much about my friends at home, and she wanted to see a photo. I also don't like taking photos, but coincidentally three of us spent some time together the night before and they took a photo of us, so I asked them if they could share it with me. I texted one of my friends... and got no response. I didn't have too much time, and I wanted to show her the photo, so I texted my other friend. She replied instantly and remained available through the whole night to support me. I showed the photo to my mother, she seemed to be happy that I found a good group of friends and to see I was looking healthier. Hours alter, well after the visits time was over, I get a reply from the first "friend" asked for the photo: "sory I was drunk hahaha". I don't like to put expectations on people, I prefer to think everyone is doing whatever they think is best, but honestly I can't help but think that was one of the shittiest thing to say at that moment.
She passed away two nights later, on June 1.
The weeks, and months that followed were hard. I was grieving, and I was constantly moving between my home and my friends department hoping to find a place where I could find some inner peace, to no avail. I couldn't stand myself, I wanted to just not be anywhere. To just not be. My home was still the same toxic place as always, and there were issues happening at the department again: the friends group was fracturing again, and I felt my very presence was somehow the catalyst for it all.
Eventually, I stopepd going to that department and just stayed at my home, going back to isolate myself from everything, silently chiming through tickets at work, helping the new company transition away from our old system, essentially digging my own grave, job wise. I just didn't have the energy to do anything else.
Everything that happened this whole year almost felt like constantly going downhill. I lost a loved one, my social circles were fractured to the point I no longer know if I can hang out with them anymore except for the occassional walk with one of them, my job security was at risk, and all the progress I managed to make to help myself was essentially reversed. I was back to square one and worse.
I didn't stand too still though, over the months I tried to get psychiatric help, but that only helps so much without proper therapy, which I'm struggling to get due to lack of availability. Such are the downsides of living on a small city. At least I learned that what I've been going through all these years is an anxiety crisis. It's not a huge revelation, but oddly enough, knowing there's a name for it somehow is helping me notice some patterns in my behavior and I can at least make an effort to address them.
Now it's December 2022, it's almost Christmas, and once again I'm having something that I still don't know if it's well deserved or just another lucky event. I have a new job with a team full of talented and overall excellent people, building something new and exciting, and I'm finally closer to rent a place for myself after literal months struggling to find one.
Looking back, this last year I lived both the best and the absolute worst moments in my life. It's hard for me to be optimistic when I consider everything that happened and my overall tendency to expect the worst, but at the same time I want to convince myself there's enough in my life to keep going and that things can only get better from now on.
If the people that cared about me somehow see this post, all I can say right now is thank you. Sometimes there's more that I'd like to tell you, but only so many words come out, and I don't know if my actions compensate the lack of words or just made it worse.