TL;DR help me help you get the best open-source software and hardware there is; help me live with my condition. I try my best to contribute to society, doing open-source hardware and software, promoting new technologies, doing lectures,... but it's no easy task when Bipolar Type I with Psychotic Features; I've been out of luck this year and depleted all my emergency fund and have no money to move to Australia where I am supposed to start a new job in January.
Ever since primary school I have been involved with open-source software, contributing towards translations, development and packaging mainly of openSUSE packages. Till about 4 years ago life has been relatively good to me, I have got free education as it's common in Europe, got a good job, moving to Finland, and UK along the way, but even during my teens I started to feel the symptoms; which in the beginning I managed somehow.
Symptoms of mental illness; Bipolar Type I, at age of 19 I started working in IT for an international company moving to Finland, social isolation from all my friends and family made me deeply depressed, but that didn't last long; I became manic shortly afterwards. Somehow I managed to stick with this job for little over two years shifting between depression, mania and short period of "stability" called hypomania.
Trying to be contributing member of the society I moved to UK, where I worked for one of the best companies to work for, I worked for them for little over three years, until I became so exhausted and burned out. Although they made many accommodations to help me cope with my, at the time undiagnosed, illness which they just considered them my personality trait. But all the stress, long hours and unpredictable working schedule led to another, even more severe burn-out syndrome and deep depression.
I took some time to rest, but ran out of money after a while and got a new job as an IT consultant for Fortune 500 BigPharma, my target has been clear, save as much money as I can, invest it and build a strong safety net to help me thru life when times get bad. Being under constant stress, working projects across three different time-zones, lack of sleep and unhealthy habits such as after work drinking with work mates led to a total mental breakdown after year and a half. I got hospitalized!
Involuntarily may I add as I have been deemed to be a danger to myself and others due to strong manic episode with psychotic features, leaving the hospital some month and a half later I left with a schizophrenia stamp on my back. I started to visit a psychiatrist regularly, but the side-effects of my medication made me gain some 30 kg of weight, I've been tired like never before, sleeping 12 hours a day, still drowsy and unable to do anything. So I stopped, I stopped taking my medication hoping it'll get better, but I didn't. I've been on different anti-depressants on and off before, but this was the first time I was on anti-psychotic medication. Weight gain, drowsiness, suicidal thoughts are among many of the side effects of atypical anti-psychotics, whats worse I lost interest in everything including being a contributing member of the open-source community.
There I was, out of job, slowly running out of savings, I did it! I attempted suicide, I picked a painful, but if executed correctly sure method of suicide - paracetamol overdose, I took couple packs of Paralen which have paracetamol as an active ingredient, ate my favorite sandwich at Subway, went to movies, bought popcorn, some Sprite and cinema ticket to see a movie, I don't remember anymore, but it must've been some sci-fi, because they're my favorite. Due to lack of job, I was living with my parents at a time, trying to extend the period I can live on my savings, that was late 2015. Knowing in one or two weeks time, the pain will be gone forever.
After the movies I went home and the paracetamol started to do it's magic; my liver started failing. I started to vomit, I we've been unable to hold any liquid or food in my stomach, I held, I held for about a week, and then, then I went to an ER, because of unimaginable pain and dehydration. I described my symptoms, kept my little guarded secret to myself, got a shot to help me with vomiting and a med prescription. My dad drove me around, I picked the prescription - and I need to say the drugs I got prescribed have been manufactured by the BigPharma I used to work for.
Thinking it was some special designer drug, keeping in mind hallucination and delusions about my last face to face conversation with my BigPharma boss Ash who I til this day consider to be the kindest person even I didn't take them, drank some water, threw it up few minutes later, and went to sleep in agonizing pain of failing liver hoping it will be over soon, and I won't wake up the next day. But I did. I did wake up, and I fainted due to dehydration, so they took me to a real emergency room, not just the one you go by yourself when you feel ill.
They did some blood work and shortly realized I am dying and my liver is failing, they've been faced with two decisions either a liver transplant, or making an attempt to save my liver, they decided for option number two and put me on lot of different IVs and kept for observation for little over a week. The treatment worked, and I got involuntary hospitalized in a mental hospital for the second time; this time because of a suicide attempt which I haven't regretted, I haven't regretted it because I considered myself a burden on society.
I spent about a month in a closed clinic of the mental hospital, after which I got released; starting to feel desperate again, blessing came and I got an offer to join my very first employer in my home town as an external consultant for a big Finnish bank project taking care of their data storage solution. I took it, and worked for the company for 9 months, I got a great puppy named Jarvis who is the one person that keeps me going every day.
During these 9 months, although trying to keep the stress levels low, eating healthy diet and doing lot's of exercise my sleep patterns became irregular, I became agitated and started to feel that a second psychotic episode is coming. So I sent a text to my manager at a time, that I need couple days of holidays, that I am starting to feel burned out, but the next day morning she called me if I could come to the office... well I have got dismissed, even though she must've clearly know something health-wise is not fine with me, being an external consultant she could've do it... But that's OK, even that the access to the time reporting system has been cut before I got to the office so I could not fill my last week time sheet so basically they screw me off money, that's also OK, whatever...
What bugs me, is the reason she told me for my dismissal, instead of saying Mark I see you're not in the right state of mind and this is a controlled environment with critical systems of many customers; she simply said the budget has ran out... what a bullshit... Yesterday we had thousands of euros, and today the budget ran out?
But lets get back to the before-mentioned psychotic episode, it was an interesting one, I went from a feeling of a great euphoria, I felt I need to go away, I packed few necessities and started to go away from my home, everything felt like a big plan of The They (you know the people, behind the people who control the world order; the term introduced to me by my BigPharma boss Ash during our last face to face conversation - we didn't have many of those, he was based in US and I was based in Prague).
As I was walking further and further away from my home, it felt like a computer program implanted by subliminal messaging has triggered, and I've a message recorded by my client at a time apologizing for what they've done to me 5 years ago. But of course it was all in my head, bursted out in tears of joy and texted my manager at a time that I need the said holidays which she did't reply to, but called me the next day to dismiss me.
So there I was, out of job again, luckily I had saved quite some money at a time, so I had money to live on, went back to my psychiatrist office, and got set of medications prescribed again, with primary being the evil Olanzapine again, two weeks later I haven't felt any symptoms of psychosis or mania anymore, and I followed the medication regimen, I started to look for a new job. When I started to take the medication, I was some 78 kg of weight, few months in, I found I nice job offer from Huawei, I went thru three rounds of a Skype job-interview, and all went fine; until the last face to face, with the country manager has been scheduled. I agreed to the meeting, even though I felt drowsy I woke up and took a train from my home town to Prague, but already being at some 90 kg of weight, my shirt not fitting, feeling ugly, gross and afraid that the relocation costs would be more than I would make before getting dismissed due to under-performance I left the train one hour later (out of three of entire journey), waited for the train back and went home.
Not even a week later I found an offer from a global logistics company, also from Prague, which I was a great fit for, I sent my CV over, got accepted over the phone and started the job about two weeks later. I managed to stick with the job for three months, I got dismissed the last day of my probation period. I can't blame them, I was taking my medication as I have supposed to, but the job included on-call service for emergencies, so sometimes they woke me up before the medication half-life have passed at which point I had blurred vision, slow reaction times, and even once I told them I can't do it and went back to sleep.
Although allowed two days of home-office per week I usually worked from home more than officially allowed, but my manager never told me anything regarding this. When I got to the office, I typically got into the office late because as mentioned earlier, the medication made me very tired and drowsy; but again, never have I heard a complaint from my manager about this, thus not getting an opportunity to explain myself, but they (at least the HR) knew I was somehow sick, because I was legally obliged to hand-over some documents that clearly indicate I have level three disability (so they can claim tax credits for employing the disabled).
I don't know how heavy I was at a time of dismissal, but shortly after I hit 101 kg, which I considered a breaking point, I quit the medication again, but continued to see my psychiatrist, acting like I am taking it, slowly convincing him to bring me down from 15mg to 5mg dose daily.
By exercise and healthy eating I lost 20 kg in just two months. 30 kg in total, but the last 10 took me almost three months, I started to drink coffee again (I take it with soy-milk so that's some extra calories) and relaxed about the eating a little bit, allowing myself more than just cooked rice, beans, lentils,... the most healthy and nutritious staples basically.
I did't quit the medication entirely, I was taking the pills from time to time, as I felt mild symptoms of my illness showing up, and every time I did, I could feel the side effects, after being at minimal dose of 5mg, and trying to take them for a month, still gaining 3 kg although eating healthy and doing a lot of exercise I spoke with my psychiatrist about switching the medication due to weight gain (I am sure he knew I wasn't taking the original medication, seeing me loose so much weight this quick while studies show that due to impact of the medication on lipid and glucose metabolism weight-loss is almost impossible while taking it).
Anyway, I got switched to newer, more advanced medication with less side affects, extended release Invega, which I need to say work much better for me, I don't feel the drowsiness anymore, my weight is almost in check, and the changes in weight I encounter I blame on a life-style changes (I started going to the gym, eating more because of the gym as I want to build some muscle and I am still in so-called bulking phase, haven't done my cut phase yet). Anyway, I am up 10 kg after about 6 months, but holding at 76kg for almost three months now.
The problem is, that there is no generic Invega, and the health insurance does cover it only partially, being job-less, focusing on my health, contributing to open-source, it makes quite a hole in my budget, but what's worse, this year has been a hellish year for me. Not only I didn't manage to get any of the 6 jobs I interviewed for - I wasn't exact fit for any of them, I was always missing some "key" knowledge and I guess they didn't believe I am a quick learner. But not only that, more things ruining my finances happened this year:
- In April 2018, I borrowed a friend my DSLR camera with all the lenses and her place gut robbed among with about 10 different places by the same couple in just a few days - so no inside job. Screw the camera it was an old Canon 450D without support for video, so no use for my YouTube, but the lenses were perfect, I had very good zoom, ultra-zoom and fixed 50 mm lenses which of-course got stolen as well; the thieves got caught, but considering is's not their first time, they'll be serving time I doubt I even see the monetary compensation granted by the court.
- Having a three year old, Huawei Mate 8 phone with semi-broken screen, I thought it would be a good idea to buy a new phone, perhaps even compensate for the camera, so I bought a brand new Huawei P20 Pro in April 2018 (the camera was great! not a DSLR but I could live without a separate camera for year or two, save the money), not even month in I got mugged when waiting for a train so my backpack together with a phone and all personal documents such as national ID,... got stolen as well; although the area is filled with cameras and the phone had tracking on, the thief wasn't caught so I am out of luck here. I switched back to old, slow and semi-broken Huawei Mate 8.
- But then in October 2018, my Mate 8 fell to the ground one more time, and the screen broke so much that it was not worth fixing anymore, trying to save money and looking for best value phone, I got new Xiaomi Mi 8 128GB which thanks god works perfectly, but the camera just isn't it...
- In November, my four years old Mac Book Air 13" got broken, so I also had to get a new laptop, not for playing games, but to continue contributing to the open-source world, doing research, helping people on forums and lot's of other useful stuff, so I got a brand new ASUS ZenBook S, the lowest tier, but with 16GB of memory, because it enables me to do more things... I just wasn't planning on buying a new laptop this year, I wanted to buy a new one close to end of next year! Christmas 2019 maybe...
- My FitBit Blaze is almost failing, the charging does not work well anymore, so I will have to get a new FitBit device, because it's critical for me to track my sleep, my heart rate and my calories, so I can maintain my weight together with my physical health, since my mental health is already gone... So I'll have to get a new FitBit which isn't going to be cheap either, and switching to a different brand would make me loose all my data including writing-off the investment into the FitBit Aria scale which I use daily to monitor my weight and body-fat content
So as you can see, 2018 has been tough on me, I managed to find a job, but it's in Australia, having to spend all the money on a new laptop, I barely have enough money for the flight ticket, because I had to pay the visa application fee twice (fingers crossed, I may get a refund on the first visa application fee), long story short the process of applying for Czech residents has changed from paper to online on 17th of November, when my paper application has already been in a mail and they don't have any grace period, so I had to fill (and pay) the on-line application once again because my application arrived on the 19th via post.
Between the personal unfortunates and my medication costs, I am quite financially constraint right now, and it's already certain that anyone except for Jarvis won't be getting any gifts from me this year, but please, help me at least pay a flight ticket and first month of accommodation in Australia, so I can verify, that with the new medication I can not only contribute my free time towards open-source, but also make some money to pay for my medication and the tools required for my open-source creative works.
I calculated that I will need 1 500 EUR for my one-way flight ticket and month rent of a room I have picked close to the office where I will be working, and that does not include the costs of a medical check I don't know how much will cost yet.,