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How I managed after a panic attack – #032

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Today we hear from Tim Nash.

Tim works for 34SP, a hosting company based in the UK. Over the years Tim has been incredibly active in the WordPress community. He’s been involved in multiple ways online but has also been a regular attendee at WordCamps.

The podcast today focuses upon an episode in Tim’s life which occurred in 2017. He had a panic attack which changed his life considerably in the space of just a few minutes. He wrote an article about it entitled “I’m not okay, but that’s alright“.

We talk about the events that lead up to this moment and how Tim has adapted his life as a result. So this is a trigger warning that we will be touching upon the subjects of panic attacks.

It’s a wonderfully honest episode and you’ll get a real insight into what Tim went through. Perhaps this episode will be useful for someone that you know, and if that’s the case, please feel free to share it with them.

Interviewed by Nathan Wrigley.

We hope you enjoy the show, please do subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. We’re always looking for feedback, if you have any thoughts or comments, please do reach out.

And remember… Together we can #PressForward

Featured on this podcast:

Tim Nash

Tim Nash

Tim is a well known member of the WordPress community and a regular attendee of, and speaker at,…

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Nathan Wrigley: [00:00:00] Welcome to episode 32 of the PressForward podcast. I’m Nathan Wrigley, and I’d like to thank you again for joining us, and if this is your first time with us, I hope that you like it and that you find it useful. I should probably start by saying happy new year myself and the entire WP and UP team are wishing you a healthy and enjoyable.
Yeah. We released the PressForward podcast each week and we’d love it if you added it to your list of favorite podcasts, the ones that you consume regularly. You can do that by subscribing to us on your favorite podcast player. This can be done by going to WP and UP.org forward slash podcast dash feed.
Today we’re going to be talking to Tim Nash. But before that, let me tell you a little bit about why we’re making this podcast. The pressboard podcast is created by WP and UP. If you’ve heard this podcast before, then you’ll know about their mission, but if you’re new here, then let me take a little bit of time to explain.
WP and UP are a nonprofit working in the WordPress space. They are here to offer support and mentorship to anyone who feels that they may need it. The confines of that support are wider than you might expect along with supporting mental health related issues. You might not know that WP and UP. Also try to assist with other areas too.
Broadly speaking. We have four health hubs, mental health, as I just mentioned, physical health, business, health and skills, health. But what does all that mean. I think that the physical health is perhaps the most obvious, but what are business and skills health? Well, business is about supporting you and your business.
You might be facing a new challenge in your business too much or too little growth, working to create new processes. The list could be truly endless, but it’s likely that someone has been there before you. And worked through a similar problem, and then mentorship might be just what you need to get yourself back on the right path.
Skills health is about the specific skills that you need to carry out your job. That could be a specific WordPress issue. Oh, finding out about how to keep up with the ever moving world of technology. At its core, it’s about sharing and linking you up with people who can support you at a time that you need it.
This support is free to use, but I’m sure that you will understand that WP and UP have costs to bear. For that reason. We’re always on the lookout for people who are willing to donate to this important work. Your donations would be most welcome. If you’re able to help WP and UP, then please visit WP and UP.org forward slash donate. Thank you.
And so onto the podcast proper. Today. As I said, we hear from Tim Nash. Tim works for 34 SP a hosting company based in the United Kingdom. Over the years, Tim has been incredibly active in the WordPress community. He’s been involved in multiple ways online, but has also been a regular attendee at WordCamps.
The podcast today focuses upon an episode in Tim’s life, which occurred in 2017. He had a panic attack, which changed his life considerably. In the space of just a few minutes, we talk about the events that led up to that moment and how Tim has adapted his life as a result. So this is a trigger warning that we will be touching upon the subject of panic attacks throughout this episode.
It’s a wonderfully honest episode, and you’ll get a real insight into what Tim went through. Perhaps this episode will be useful for someone that you know. And if that’s the case, please feel free to share it with them. And so without further ado, here’s Tim Nash,
Tim Nash: [00:04:26] My name is Tim math. I am the workout’s only for a managed WordPress types pay for space.
Been around since 2000 I joined them in 2015 that would have been my first work count with them, but I’ve been involved with WordPress since. Many, many years. I’ve been the organizing WordPress leads for over 10 years, so it’s been a long time. I remember WordPress before there were feeds.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:04:51] I’ve met Tim in real life, albeit very briefly. It’s a couple of WordCamps in the U K he’s a terrific public speaker. On both the occasions that I’ve seen his talks, it was internet security that he chose as his preferred subject. I assume therefore that security was the hat that he normally wears at 34 SP, but perhaps he has more hats. Perhaps there’s greater depth to his role there.
Tim Nash: [00:05:19] It is one of the many, it’s probably the one that I’m most known for within the WordPress community, particularly here in the UK, because I tends to be my pet subject to word camps and my day to day job is leads an awful lots of security, but it’s not exclusively, I’m ultimately responsible for the managed platform as a whole, but i see. It’s always the way with these things. Any sort of posting security is the number one concern these days. Performance and then making everything nice and simple coming up right behind it.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:05:48] Although this podcast could get into the fascinating subject of internet security. And I for one, would have loved to have had that conversation with Tim. We had a different agenda for this episode, and so that’s where we’re heading. Now, if you want to fully embrace this topic and you have a few spare minutes, it might be worth your while pausing this podcast and had anything over to a blog post that Tim published early in 2019. You can find this at WP and UP .org forward slash tim, that post is called, I’m not. Okay. But that’s all right. And it deals with the subject of Tim’s mental health, and particularly a specific moment in the recent past where his life took a dramatic turn due to a panic attack.
Tim Nash: [00:06:35] That article whilst published in February, probably was written closer to October, maybe even September the previous year. It was written in its first form as a, an explanation to friends and colleagues as to why things had happened in the way that they did. And then it changed. The more focal time are the original points. It was going to be pushed out or mental health. Mum and I saw, Oh, did this launch at the same time?
And I got sort of pushed back and then other things happen. But then I went ahead and we were doing. And mental health clinic, WordPress leads, and I gave a talk and for, well, that talk was really based on this article though. They got published in the other order and I thought, well, I’ve done the talk now let’s do the article.
And it’s a bit of a rip off the bandage. And then you’ve got almost said, look, I’ve done this article, but it should be taken in isolation. It shouldn’t be me. And tried very hard to almost not disseminate because it is still follow me, but. So they’re pretty to one side, and like I’d say, I’m moving on now.
It succeeded so well, but I’m running a mental health podcast.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:07:47] We’ll get into the story from that article in a short while, but I was curious as to whether Tim has stories about his journey with mental health going back further in time.
Tim Nash: [00:07:59] As a sort of human being. I am quite a up and down sort of person anyway.
That doesn’t mean that I’m a manic. I, it’s just I have good days. I had bad days and I always pretend towards moody days if I, I didn’t pay attention to it over the years. I just put that down to, Hey, you’re human. This is what people do. These people have bad days, people have good days. So I never had anything that would be considered a panic attack or anxiety, though.
Whenever I went to do anything with great levels of stress, obviously I had a quite a large buildup of anxiety, but I always considered that to be normal. And I think it still genuinely think Diddy, but obviously there’s no such thing as actually normal human beings are a range of things. And if one person’s intense and us are stress, and.
Can be somebody else’s. I can take this in my stride for exactly the same activity yet that person who took something in there, strike that moment 20 minutes later us something simple it to somebody else. Became completely unobtainable because it was just too much for them. So it’s worth always keeping that sort of in mind.
Therefore, my perfectly normal might’ve been terrible and I just don’t know. It’s, I don’t think it was, I think it was a normal, perfectly normal person. And then I got, you know, I have no scary childhood. There’s no sort of tracking things back. It’s not the sort of exercise where you, you’re talking to a counselor or a therapist. Yeah. More medical based.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:09:32] If you had a chance to pause and read Tim’s article, great. If not, I’m going to paraphrase it very briefly. In 2017 Tim was taking some medication for arthritis. This medication had begun to work and had seemingly restored Tim’s depleted energy levels. WordCamp Edinburgh was taking place at this time and 34 Espy were in attendance.
Tim was, as he describes it, bouncing off the wall. After the event ended and the team were waiting at the train station, things took a very sudden turn. I asked him to share with us the details leading up to that moment.
Tim Nash: [00:10:16] Yes. Before I had been thinking the exact opposite. I constantly felt like I had a cold.
I constantly felt like I was down and I just couldn’t recover. Every time there was about anything coming along, I got it to the point that I went to the doctors multiple times in. You may yet. I know Chris coughing up blood is a normal, perfectly normal thing to happen, which is weird for somebody, you know, I’ll lose that otherwise healthy.
But I was run down and I was not feeling well. It took a long time and at another work camp, oddly enough, so we’re camping London in 2015 the week before WordCamp London, my hands swelled up and when I’m in the swelled up, both of my hands became balloons. And I couldn’t move my arm above my shoulder. I was just, you know, I had a cold, but my arms would not go above my shoulder.
I couldn’t drive, which was very awkward because I was bringing down the fan full of stuff and then on a mini basketball of people. Which I couldn’t do. So one of my colleagues had who had never driven a large vehicle with multiple people in it had to do instead. She did not enjoy that experience. I felt so sorry for her as as I had to sit in the passenger seat and basically just tell her it’s going to be okay.
It’s just driving up in the dark. Terrified. She did a brilliant job. I was at that work and we have non-functioning hands. That’s weird and strange and unusual. So I managed to convince the doctor that this is definitely more than just flavor. And that’s, so, this is 2015 this is several years earlier, and I got told I had something called viral arthritis, which is basically after you have a cold, you get arthritis like symptoms and best that it will go away.
And it did over the next year and a half to two years. Random joints would get inflamed and I would spill really poorly. Eventually, I managed to convince somebody to actually let me see rheumatologists who are people who specialize in sort of joints, and I was diagnosed with something called palindromic arthritis, which is fairly rare.
It’s the best outward kind of operators. Most people who suffer arthritis, it continues to get worse. And it’s permanent. You know, it swells up your, you get off writers in your fingers and you have good days and bad days, but the arthritis is always there in your fingers. Palindromic arthritis. It chooses its joints at random.
It will then inflame and seize them up. you get all the fun of the pain and all the bits, and then, sometimes hours. Normally days later the inflammation goes and there’s no visible signs of it. And your joints work again. But it can be any joints. When they can be Italian. The next it can be a jaw.
The next it can be your fingers, a shoulder, even your hip. So while it’s the best in the terms that it doesn’t leave longterm damage, it’s much slower to build up that damage. You’re talking many years, not just months to years. It is the most awkward because sometimes you have to wake up and try to explain to somebody your jaw is not working, which this is an interesting conversation to not have.
The good news is palindromic arthritis is normally, there’s a really high success rate in curing it by cause basically both rheumatoid arthritis, palindrome and cough fractions, they don’t also mean disease. So basically your immune system has gone on the warpath and EDS. Sort of just ready to fight something.
Only probably originally started fighting a cold or something. I mean, it doesn’t, no, it stopped. It’s got no way of turning that off. So carried on fighting ultimately with itself. It’s why you have the lethargy feeling ill because it turns out that he constantly running around trying to fight things.
Your body naturally just starts to neglect itself and to bits. So the solution, the normal course of action is to give you a course of steroids. This basically pushes everything up and tries to resettle your immune system and sort of even the playing field. This is what they gave me just before we’re at cam Edinburgh.
So this was my sort of first course of steroids and it was amazing. You’ve got to bear in mind that for four years for us. I had been rundown, the far GKIC guess, most people in the WordPress community had met me as this sort of person who was trying to be friendly and energetic. But obviously most of my time when I was there going, I’m tired.
I need to rest, I need, I don’t really. So I must’ve come across very grumpy mood. And so I, my personality probably changed quite dramatically. Because the first time in years I was happy and had lots of energy and could do things and my joints were not hurting because the steroids worked so well. Yet when it came to working on Vandenberg itself, I was bouncing around the walls.
So that combination of that, it’s probably the, I just had lots of energy, but I was also going climbing up to the top towards the top of a cliff. And hindsight’s nice and easy. You always know that when somebody reaches the top of the cliff where they’re going next. But. I mean, that’s at the time, as far as I was concerned, I was in a good place.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:15:35] I wondered if the doctor who Tim had seen had warned him about the possibility that he might begin to feel this way and that he ought to be mindful about possible changes he could experience.
Tim Nash: [00:15:48] To be fair to them. They gave some warning, perhaps not quite, Hey, by the way, you’re about to go and get all this energy.
Happy days from their perspective, this was ivory. It will fix you or it will not. It was no, and if it doesn’t, we’ll find another problem. We’ve never solution anything just makes you, I will never see you again other than told probably not. Good idea to mix alcohol with that lot. That was probably the biggest warning and good news.
I didn’t mix alcohol with it very fast. But you can imagine if I’m adding alcohol to the mix in a very, I was going to say it’s taping, but probably not sense detaining the actions wasn’t running loops around the place. It’s not, it’s not like I was constantly moving, but I was a lot more freer with my reactions as I was then.
I was smiling a lot more though, was a lot more interaction with people. I didn’t, I wasn’t saying I’m off to bed an hour, half past eight. That side of thing was theirs. Cause most people, I was probably just normal. That’s ultimately what I was, but I was slowly but surely building up more exciting, sizable, energetic, like six blog posts in our Airbnb while everybody else was asleep past him, like the normal thing that I could use to do.
Obviously the reality is I never could do that, but that’s not how your brain works. Your brain just goes, Oh, this must be the new normal.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:17:03] As Tim said, with the benefits of hindsight, he might’ve seen what was about to happen. But that’s not the way life works. The word camp was over and it was time to go home. His new normal was anything but
Tim Nash: [00:17:20] we just walked down from the Airbnb. myself and several of my colleagues, we had bags. we were splitting, cause I live in North Yorkshire, they live in Manchester. So we were splitting parting ways cause we’re getting different trains back. And they will literally looking at the big boards that tell you what time trains are, and I was just leaning against some rails listening, but I started to realize I wasn’t listening.
The everything was starting to feel like it was coming in and crushing inwards. The station was still there. People were still doing things, but I was both simultaneously. They’re not there. I’m feeling very anxious about the fact that there were lots of voices and lots of noise and I was becoming hyper sensitive to everything that was around.
And I started to notice my breathing had gone from a normal sort of breathing, passing to hyperventilating, and then I started phasing properly out where I knew stuff was happening around me, but no longer could tell you what individual people or things was happening. And I knew that I couldn’t move my hands or arms or anything, that I just was stuck inside me for a little while.
From the outside. My colleagues obviously turned round to find me, not talking to them and communicating. It’s all and I’d gone completely rigid as it happens. I was leaning against something, so had slipped to the floor and they did the right thing and. Grabbed, I think then, I think it was a police women, but it might’ve been one of the paramedics that go round large stations, but they, they grabbed someone quite quickly and said, he’s not, he’s not doing so well over, I don’t know what the period of time was, but it was, it was minutes into, we were getting to the point where they were talking about the person who was dealing with him.
He was very much at the stage of, look, I’m going to have to get an ambulance to. Getting jealous was, Oh cause he was completely not responsive. When I started to come background. And by background, I just mean that throughout all of this I was conscious. I knew what was happening. I mean distantly, but I knew what was happening.
I could see what was happening. It wasn’t clear in focus. It was like when you wake up in the morning and you know your eyes were a bit fuzzy, it was still there. I still knew what was going on and I slowly but surely came back ground. And then came out of it and within sort of 10 15 minutes and while I was shaken as anything and my heart was completely racing, I was back to being.
Normal leash, but that incident sort of triggered and started the change in life since in many ways, and that’s the first time I can go bump there. That’s the point where things change.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:20:20] The narrative that we’ve been through seems to lead to the conclusion that steroids were the main culprit in Tim’s panic attack, and I want to clear that up. So I asked whether this was in fact the case where the steroids, unquestionably, the reason that all this happened.
Tim Nash: [00:20:39] No. So most people, when they think of steroids and steroids abuse, the common thing that they refer to is something called Cushing’s syndrome, which is basically, that’s whenever you hit to hear about weightlifters taking steroids and then ending up not being able to lift their weights.
And, having panic attacks. That particular thing is called Cushing syndrome. which I’m not an expert on beyond very difficult for them to lick things. And you struggle with, Oh, lots of strength aspects. I was tested for Cushing’s syndrome a long time later and didn’t show signs of it, but it’s more likely that it was a reaction as it was explained to me by the rheumatologists.
It was more like it was a reaction to the fat my body. That wasn’t just chemically, all things suddenly became unbalanced on diver rebound in a certain way, and that was the most likely response. The short term version of that was everywhere. Well, guess what? We’re going to not prescribe you any more steroids for the time being that didn’t go so well.
Let’s take you off those and not try that again. So I was taken off the steroids. I was near the end of the course anyway. And the hope is you don’t, you can’t stay on steroids for long periods of time. So the hope was that that one course would fix me. It was a joke to try and rebalance my body, and it works normally.
So one of the things I think in that post, I’ve very much pushes that if you’re in a scenario and anybody comes across that post who reads, Oh, I described a palindromic contract is, Oh, I’m not going to take steroids. The answer in that very clear, you take them because it was such a rare and unusual thing, even if it was the steroids that you should still take them.
Because in so many cases they almost certainly will fix it. It’s just in my case, they didn’t.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:22:25] As we have heard, this was a very significant moment in Tim’s life, the way he describes the actual event. Sounds like he was able to behave in his usual way within a matter of minutes, but I wanted to know if this moment was more of a watershed for him than that has it had a longer impact upon him.
Tim Nash: [00:22:46] I would say so, yeah. A change in attitude very much happened at that moment anyway. The steroids were the kicking in and say, okay, that didn’t work. We’re going to have to deal with the fact that I have this condition for want of a better word, and that has to be dealt with anyway. But obviously when the sirens didn’t work, that project state came back, that fight, body fighting, hang back, and that was really hard to accept because.
I just had this OB, we have a bad evening, great period where everything was fine and then it wasn’t, again, it’s back to the old normal now. I knew that the old normal wasn’t right. I couldn’t then jump back, if that makes sense. So I, I’m, I’m a lot better on today from where I was then and I’m on medication.
That helps significantly now. But that sort of bashing around with the head. That, Hey, no, actually you can’t have that happy steroid life. You can’t be in that happy place. Sort of triggered bit. So it’s probably the aftereffects and the realization that, no, I’m not going to be instantly fixed. That was the real trigger for a lot of the.
Depression of side that came afterwards. I started getting nightmares. They started struggling to sleep. And when people talk about nightmares, most people don’t sort of explain what they want. A nightmare is to them. But I’m, I have a small child. I was perfectly healthy and normal and I was having nightmares about going to her funeral over and over and over.
So things like that then start to build out and it cascades. If you have a bad night’s sleep. You’re not alert, you’re not awake, then you get scared about going to sleep, so you stay up. Even this whole past, I started getting what you might call more traditional panic attacks where I would suddenly not be able to do something where I would have to, I just, I wouldn’t go phase out completely, but I, I’d start hyperventilating.
I would start just really struggling to be able to move forward and that whole sort of nature. It became normal and yeah, I just started. Withdrawing myself, I was got worried about, obviously it was a lot harder to be with friends and family and just genuinely, I pulled myself completely away. I am much more into myself, for a long period of time and it’s taken a long time.
And after that shell, I became very good at hiding that in public because correct all of this, I was a fairly public figure within the WordPress community. I was still giving talks. I was still at this point. My job was going wasn’t, it’s going rag . So I was going into user groups. I was engaging with people.
I watch this, it’s had someone describe me as the loudest introvert. They have a new, and because my natural instinct is very, particularly during that time was very introverted, but I was still doing an extrovert’s job, but that just made me very good. At. Lying to myself and to others because I get asked, how are you?
And I would go fine, fine. Which is okay, it’s just somebody in the street. Maybe. But I’ll do that to everyone. Yeah, of course I did. Why do you think I did that? That even though that doesn’t sound like a bad thing cause you’re just sparing people meant that that is compounded. And so when I was ratty and Rumpy and angry.
With the world. It came out to the blue and make no sense. So people just sort of went, well, what’s wrong with him? Why is he suddenly acting like that?
Nathan Wrigley: [00:26:21] I found what Tim just said, really fascinating, and I’m sure that many of us can really identify with what teacher said he was taking the approach that in order to protect others and himself.
It was simply easier to say that everything was okay when really it’s not adopting. This tactic has a few consequences. It protects you from having to face further questions and also in a sense, it’s trying to shield all the people around you, trying to not burden them with the worries that you’re carrying around.
I asked him if this was a tactic which he still adopts.
Tim Nash: [00:27:03] I’ve very much now adopted a new plan, a new new world view, which is very much the, I’m not okay. That’s okay. I need I, that’s what, all right, and I can talk to you about it if you need me to, but you can just know that I’m not always going to be okay.
If I keep telling everybody I’m fine, then the response is always, it’s just going to come back and I need to occasionally tell somebody, yeah, I see I’m not fine, but that’s okay. You don’t need to be the person that I have to burden this on. But just know that I’m, I’m not fine today, which is worse. I’ve come up with ways to handle my situation better as they am also on my medication.
Works quite well. One in four people with arthritis suffer some sort of mental health disorder. The vast majority is depression.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:27:52] So Tim has changed the way that he talks to others about how he’s doing. It’s a more honest approach and one that appears to be working well. I wondered though, if there were any other parts of his life that he’s amended.
Tim Nash: [00:28:07] I’ve managed to get myself a safety net group of friends, family who know what I’m going through. I can help out. I belong to a small group of people. We showed Matt actually for . We meet every couple of weeks and chat through things and that’s been a massive benefit. That’s not in the base cause I can much later.
But yeah, I took some sort of evaluating of life and how I could deal with things based on sort of priorities, which was my daughter, and then working our way out with. And also took the view that, okay, just cause the illness triggered this. It’s got to be my lifestyle that’s causing it. So if I can make changes and do the right changes, then I can have everything that I want and be normal inverse eCommerce.
So I have two terrible times when I went to publish that post. The weekend before I, I had it, I crashed. We were meant to record a podcast in may. On this and I couldn’t do it. Literally again. They, before I crashed. It’s a, I’m not the, not the a guru who’s fixed this all the pre se, but I have managed to do some things and change some things.
One of which was to change my work life balance. My job is good at pays the bills. This is impossible. The thing I’m actually, my employee has been really great, not just as employees, but as friends to make sure that I am okay. But that say I used to sit on Slack quite happily into the evening or weekends and I would dive off and do things and I would take everything is a priority and so now it’s very much, okay, I work set hours and I prioritize based on to do lists and not necessarily what somebody asked me to do this very second.
And so that sounds really obvious and really simple, but actually saying, Nope, I choose the priority and things get done. Obviously my boss says, do this now. Then that gets done now cause you know, he pays my bills and I quite like it to continue to do so. But on the whole much more structured saying, no, not everybody has the right to just say, do this, do this, do this, and push it for it.
People can certainly ask and I can put on the list and prioritize it, but it gives me that control. Likewise, I, I used to do, try and do lots of things for lots of people. I used, particularly even the WordPress community. I was active. Moderator on wordpress.org helped order and still moderate the incae Slack channel.
I was doing X. I was going to use the groups. I was running user groups. It all got a little bit too much. So now I’ve very much stepped back a lot and just say, I’m always hit help, but I can’t be for one. I think I used the term, I can’t be champion for everyone. So I very much now go when someone says, this is a great idea, I go, yes, go do some, tell me how you’d like me to help you fix it.
Which I guess is a huge change just in general. But the biggest sort of thing for me was that I realized that if I could build routines and build my life into sets of routines, then I would survive it. And sometimes when you’re crashing, that’s all you need to do. We need to just survive. And then once you’ve survived it, you can get back and get back to it.
And then it can be treated as something in isolation that you can control and maintain. And when I’m talking about surviving in, in simple routines, I have a, a morning routine. List that is, I have two. I have one which is my normal morning routine, which has all sorts of things on it, and then I have the your, you’re not having a good time.
You’re crashing routine, which I can switch to. I have a, an app called to do this and I can set it up so that it’s basically, this is going to bug me every 15 minutes until I tell it that, yes, I’ve done this, I’ve done this, I’ve done this, and when I’m crashing, my morning routine is as simple as get up, which is a feeling that I have to say yes, I got up.
Yes. I went into the shower. Yes, I brushed my teeth. That sounds trivial. Do you not know how hard that is? Something like that could be until you in that sort of say, yes, I got dressed in brackets, maybe in clean clothes. That’s a, that’s an optional extra, but it was a good, it’s a good, good idea. Take medication because you’re getting your meds.
Is something that seems to happen far more when you’re, when you’re not paying attention to things. And it just, it sounds such a simple thing to build on, but having that little routine in blades, and then when I’m going outside of that, I really adopted this whole, everything’s in us to do list. If I want something, if I want to do something that I will add it to a to do list.
I have spaces in there for how to time to myself and a lot of, if you go on sort of YouTube and look around for productivity bits, a lot of what I’ve done is just to optimize for productivity, but it’s more about building in safety, safety nets and control mechanisms that ultimately I still control, but I then can have that structure and organization that I perhaps didn’t have before.
Even if it’s just structure over my own life, which I think I important thing, but it can often be mistaken to being being a control freak or. Having, not being flexible, but when you’re midway through having a bad period, the last thing you want to do is give up some control to somebody else, and sometimes I need something to tell me, get out of bed.
One of the things I have done is made sure that. Other people can sort of give enough input to say, you should be able to a bad day, not a good day list as well. So that there is a little bit of feedback there to say, you know, you’re not doing so well. Especially when it comes to things like mood tracking and journaling.
It’s whether or not you use all well and good. Me putting those things down, but sometimes I can think I’m doing brilliantly. People around me are going. Well, it’s going wrong with Tim today. It’s making sure that everybody is in sync because if everybody’s in sync, then it doesn’t really matter. If somebody thinks I’m doing brilliantly, when I’m having a really bad day, something’s gone wrong with communication between us.
And likewise, if I’m having a good day and everything’s behind your back, then I’m portraying something wrong, or there really is something I perhaps not recognizing. So getting that communication has been. Perhaps the hardest because it means people have to be honest with me as much as others. So the phrase, how , how are you feeling when I say I’m not doing great?
That’s got to be honest, and I can’t get away with just saying, Oh, I’m okay, but don’t. So in return they have to be honest and say, no, we don’t think you’re doing great and it’s affecting us. And that’s a much harder conversations to have and requires much more from people around you who are willing to do that.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:35:01] So Tim’s approach is to have structure and systems in place so that he can direct himself down different pathways based upon how he’s feeling in the morning. The process of checking things off in the phone app provides a framework upon which the day can be built around somewhat counter-intuitively.
The app is not in control here. Tim Mays during moments of clarity. It was Tim who wrote the instructions to his future self instructions that he knew he was going to need. The app is just a container for his own instructions, a vessel to remember what it is that he knows he needs to tell himself.
Tim Nash: [00:35:46] That this is free will to accept that I’m going to obey an AI overlord.
Hey, my phone for that. That’s my opportunity to do my own little bit of freewill before I’m forced into it. It gets tweaked. It gets changed. Stuff still happens around it. It is very much the equivalent of a, I know some people who have dementia put a little video together that basically says, hi, you’re
You don’t realize it now, but you’ve suffered from dementia and here’s your day and this is what the person next to you is your husband and that sort of thing. And this is pretty much the equivalent. This is how I, this is Tim from the past and future telling you it’s going to be okay. Just do this list.
We’ll deal with the rest of it later. We’ll get you through this bit and then you can proceed to fix the problem, whatever that might be. On good days, everything is macro masks are still there. The to do list is still there. Just the to do list is more macro on good days and it’s more micro on.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:36:45] One of the things that Tim mentions in his article is his approach to getting enough rest.
He’s become very keen to get into a good routine in which he rises early and turns in early too.
Tim Nash: [00:36:59] I made a conscious decision. I get up at half five partly because there’s this reasoning. I’m a morning person anyway. I’ve always like the morning, but I also don’t like the evening. And this way I get the maximum time with people.
And so I get to do my stuff in the morning and I’m much more productive, better spending during that period. I get schedule work and do the social interactions, come back, have tea, do bedtime routines and things, and then head to bed fairly soon afterwards. So I’m with a lot more time of, my active part of my day is with people and there’s not much time.
At the end of the day, it’s dwell. so for me that works really well. It also happens that that does mean that if you wake up at the same time every day, not just Monday through Friday, that’s Saturday and Sunday as well. Your body goes, Oh, you probably getting tired now. And if you try to go beyond sort of 10 half ass 10, well, when you’re getting up at half past five, if you’re just not good, you gotta be tired.
The next day you’re going to do midnight, you’re going to be very tired the next day. If you go to bed at one in the morning, they knew that hate yourself the next time, but he only takes a few of those for you to start or your body to go that you are going to.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:38:18] To end our conversation. I asked him if he was going to get to a stage where all the ups and downs were smoothed out a life free of concerns or is it more a case of taking the days one at a time.
Tim Nash: [00:38:34] There will always be ups and downs. I think the, the key points is that there is no real normal. I mean, that’s right at the star.
So you know, I cry that, that normality that I thought existed that didn’t really exist and I’m not, I’m never going to be there. Life isn’t perfect. Life is always going to throw you curve balls that you hate. Life is always going to throw you things that are unpredictable and sometimes can be absolutely fantastic.
I have no idea where I’m going to be in five years time. I mean, I have generic plans that I hope to end targets switchy but achieving those targets doesn’t make me perfect. It doesn’t make me any more normal. It just means that I’ve made the goal of being more comfortable and happier with the world by hitting.
I don’t think there is a destination that you could ever send me to that would actually make the answer be. That’s it. Cause then I’ll do some sort of drive at the best I guess I can hope for is I want to get up every morning. And I know that sounds silly, but I actually do, most mornings want to get up and while I’m doing that I’m doing okay.
Nathan Wrigley: [00:40:03] One of the purposes of the PressForward podcast is to lift the lid on topics that don’t get talked about often enough to allow people to share their stories so that others might listen. And by listening, they may gain an understanding that they’re not alone. There are other people out there who have faced the same situations that you are facing.
They have found a way through and can offer support to you on your journey. Maybe that person is already in your life, but they might not be. And that’s what WP and UP is here for, to connect you with the support that you need. So. If you’re able to please help us so that we can continue to support the WordPress community.
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That’s it for this week. Please let us know if you’re enjoying the podcast, if you’re finding it useful or helpful. You can reach out to [email protected] forward. Slash contact. Please spread the word about this podcast. Tell your friends and subscribe on your favorite podcast player and remember that together we can hashtag PressForward.

Nathan Wrigley
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