Building, and rebuilding myself

Jesse ++
Jesse ++
Apr 12 · 5 min read

I announced last year I’d be working on a new social network… and then I mostly ghosted. I gave a little update on my progress a few months in, but I didn’t really communicate much else. That’s because this last year has been extremely difficult for me. In the process of trying to build something new, I came to realize that I was in dire need of repair before I threw myself headfirst into another huge project.

It wasn’t something I wanted to admit at first. I had already spent almost 9 months recovering from burnout from my last job. I thought ‘that should be enough.’ But that was only enough to start repairing my mental health; my physical health was still worse than I realized.

I was diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia at the end of 2017. It was a diagnosis I should have gotten decades ago. I had been struggling with the symptoms my whole life, but didn’t realize there was something wrong. I also came from a long line of women who don’t know how the fuck to take care of themselves, and I absorbed that same lack of care for my own health. I started taking iron supplements and noticed my energy increasing, so I thought I was better. It’s only now — almost a year and 3 different iron supplements later — that I truly feel like a human with normal energy again. And I’m no longer as pale as a ghost (yay!). I wrote more about that here if you’re interested.

I was also recovering from a nasty wrist sprain I got when I landed on my outstretched hand during a fall snowboarding. I know, I know, you’re not supposed to do that! It’s the #1 rule! But I thought I could be slick and catch myself and push myself back up and keep going — which I did 😂 — but I paid for it soon afterward. Because of my anemia, the recovery was extremely slow. I couldn’t touch anything with the sprained side’s hand without yelping in pain, and I couldn’t type. Boo! There went my plans for coding and taking a nice roadtrip and literally everything else in life that requires the use of 2 hands.

Once I recovered enough to be able to use my hands again, I dove into the project. It was so much fun to be thinking about product and design things that I haven’t been able to participate in during my career as an engineer. Rediscovering javascript, and seeing all of the improvements that have happened in the last 6+ years since I had touched it was amazing! And I loved the amount of tools available for building now — not just AWS, but react, firebase, etc., etc. I was enjoying coding and building in a way I honestly wasn’t sure I ever would again after my burnout.

But my health issues reared their ugly head again. After a solid month or so of working on frequency, I started to get pain in my wrist and fingers. At first it was just when I was typing, so I cut back on the amount of time I worked on the project. But it continued, and eventually the pain was just always there, even when I wasn’t typing. As much as I was excited about my project, I had made a commitment to myself not to sacrifice my health for any project again, so I decided to take a break until my pain went away.

Six weeks later, I finally felt better and started working again. But again the pain returned. So I took another break. Each time, the amount of time I could work before the pain came seemed shorter and the time it took for it to go away seemed longer. Not only was this delaying my project, but it was really starting to kill my morale, too. I was glad at least that I wasn’t working with anyone else yet, so there was no one to let down or leave hanging when I took the time off to take care of myself.

I realized I needed to go get my wrist checked out and figure out what I needed to do to heal permanently. I was in the middle of moving out of the Bay Area to a new location and buying a house, so everything was in a bit of chaos for a few months. But once I was settled in my new place, I started physical therapy. It only took about 8 weeks of physical therapy to get me back in shape. I’m so glad I finally did it. I can type and do normal everyday activities again with no pain, and whenever I do start to feel a little flareup, I know what exercise to do to work it out.

Towards the end of my physical therapy, in January of this year, my dad’s health started deteriorating rapidly. He was diagnosed with stage IV stomach cancer. It took so long to get the final diagnosis, that he only lived about a week after that. I was lucky enough to be there at his side the last night of his life.

Although my dad was fairly old and had been declining in health the last year of his life, how quickly he passed still left me breathless. It felt like I had just finally pulled all of the pieces of my life back together, only to be blindsided by this. I took some time to grieve, to celebrate his life, to learn more about the dark parts, and to travel and do a few things for myself.

Although I’ve been doing some research and taking some design classes recently, I haven’t touched frequency’s codebase in weeks now — and I’m okay with that. I’ve had so much thrown at me this past year, and I’ve battled it all and come out stronger for it. I finally feel ready to team up and bring someone along on this journey. So I’m starting my co-founder search this month! I’m so glad I didn’t try (too much) to do so before. The timing just wasn’t right. I know I’m ready now. I have been rebuilt! 💪🏻💪🏻😎

Jesse ++

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Jesse ++

Engineer. Aspiring Entrepreneur. HSP. Building a better social network: