Depression, entrepreneurs & software developers

So this is a big thing for us all I think even if we can pretend it isn’t.

Big black dog

Not every visit from a big black dog is unwelcome.

Greg Baugues is a developer who has Type II Biploar and ADHD. He applied to do a Lightning Talk last year but it wasn’t picked to present. It was an interesting talk about how to overcome natural shyness and learn how to talk to people. We offered Greg a ‘semi-final’ slot but in the event, he wasn’t able to make it to BoS last year. He applied to speak again this year on the subject of, ‘Depression, entrepreneurs and software developers’.

He made a brilliant pitch about a subject that he cares passionately about and is one of those topics that just doesn’t get enough airtime. Brad Feld wrote an interesting piece – are entrepreneurs more prone to depression and divorce earlier in the year though I am not aware of any clinical studies that have made the link between depression and entrepreneurship even if I, along with others have long suspected that there is one. (There is much more information about the link between ‘madness’ and ‘genius’ – this Independent piece being an example.

Greg’s talk was a shoe in for a Lightning Talk and when we shared the entries with our advisers for feedback, almost every one of them came back with two comments along the lines of,

“That talk was my favourite, it made me cry”

and,

“I am so glad someone has had the courage to talk about this, I haven’t discussed this before but my experience has been…”

and then a description of either their own personal struggles with something similar or an account of a situation where a colleague, partner, friend has struggled with a mental illness where they did not feel able to understand or help.

Having spoken to Greg, we decided that this wouldn’t be a Lightning Talk at Business of Software Conference. Rather, he should be given a speaking slot of his own to talk about how he has been able to manage his own illness in the hope that this will be helpful to those people who suffer too but also offer some pointers to people with colleagues and loved ones about how we can support people in the software community.

By the way, if this is something that has affected you personally, Greg co-founded Devpressed, a community where techies can discuss mental illness.

Welcome on board as a valued member of the Business of Software speaking family Greg.

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