Greg Baugues is a software developer at Chicago-based consultancy, Table XI. Baugues speaks nationally about his own story of struggling with intermittent depression before being diagnosed and treated for Type II Bipolar Disorder and ADHD. The first time he presented on the topic was three weeks after losing a friend and co-worker, Caleb Cornman, to an accidental drug overdose that was the result of self-medicating an untreated mental illness. He has now given his talk more than twenty times around the country (videos of the talk have been viewed more than 20,000 times) and he has a book in development.
I had the honor of hearing Baugues speak to 65+ software developers at a meetup.com group hosted by Groupon in Chicago this past April. Baugues’ presentation was keenly insightful, humorous, and spot-on. He bravely shared his own story of mental illness and treatment through a combination of therapy and medication. Successful, intelligent, and charming; Baugues exemplifies the destigmatization of mental illness.
As a therapist married to a software developer, I share Baugues’ concern that the field attracts intelligent and introverted people who may be more prone to social anxiety, depression and ADD. His mission is to increase awareness of mental illness, facilitate access to treatment, and prevent the loss of lives in the field.
“I have a lot of illnesses. I don’t talk about it much, for a variety of reasons. I feel ashamed to have an illness. (It sounds absurd, but there still is an enormous stigma around being sick.) I don’t want to use being ill as an excuse.
Sadly, depression (like other mental illnesses, especially addiction) is not seen as “real” enough to deserve the investment and awareness of conditions like breast cancer (1 in 8) or AIDS (1 in 150). And there is, of course, the shame.”
Baugues emphases that, “The shame is why we don’t talk about it. It’s why Caleb could struggle for a decade in this industry, surrounded by peers suffering the same affliction, and still feel alone.”
He adds, “If I stood up in front of a crowd and said, ‘I have cancer,’ no one would tell me, ‘It’s all in your head.’ If I took insulin for diabetes, no one would ask ‘Aren’t you afraid you’ll become dependent on that?’ No one would think I was using it as a crutch. If I broke my leg, no one would say, ‘Just try harder.’ They’d say, ‘Go see a doctor!’ But we have different rules for how we treat illnesses of the brain than for anything that happens below the neck. Even though the brain is the most complicated organ in the human body, we are reluctant to use modern medical advances to treat it.”
Baugues encourages people to seek treatment and also to err on the side of caution if concerned about a friend or colleague and help them get professional assistance. Kudos to him and his efforts to raise awareness of depression and suicide prevention in the tech community!
If you or a friend are considering suicide please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273- (8255). It is free and confidential.
Help raise awareness by taking part in the Suicide Awareness Blog Carnival Campaign during the month of September, 2013.
For more information about Greg Baugues:
Click here to hear his complete talk on Devs & Depression.
Check out the blog for the book he is writing, called Developers and Depression: devsanddepression.com
Join his online forum for the tech community, Devpressed: http://www.devpressed.com
Follow on Twitter @greggyb
For more information about the author:
The Psychology of Success, Free Webinar via PsychCentral