August 15, 2013 • In web :: Features
Web coding & Anxiety
Erica Lenti discusses her personal journey with anxiety and the benefits of web coding.
It feels as if there is an anchor weighing down on my chest.
It starts with a sharp pain, a hitch in my breath. And then the anxiety washes over me, consumes me completely. My chest tightens. My jaw clenches, as if it were wired shut. My fists ball up and my stomach churns. The room spins. My breathing is uneven, heavy. My entire body shakes.
I am in full-blown panic mode.
It always happens suddenly, always throws me off my guard. It usually comes after a long day of work, when the pressures of deadlines, homework, being a people-pleaser and aiming for perfection mount. Stress culminates and moves from inside of my head to my lungs, to the tips of my fingers, finally resting in the pit of my stomach.
Everyone has their own suggestions to help me escape the anxiety: A therapist says relaxation methods – tensing all of my muscles and releasing my negative energy – will calm me. A former professor of mine swears by meditation. My doctor is quick to write me a prescription for the latest, greatest pick-me-up drug.
But there is usually only one fix that works for me.
I crack open the lid of my MacBook, find a quiet spot – usually, buried beneath the covers of my bed or on the floor in a blanket fort – and boot up Adobe Dreamweaver. I let my fingers glide along the now-worn, oil-stained keys of my laptop – and I code.
I don’t stop until my breathing is restored.
Indeed, it’s an unorthodox means of keeping my anxiety at bay. After all, self-identified cis women like me are in the minority: In 2010, women made up a mere 20 percent of programmers, and an even smaller 1.5 percent of open source developers in North America. For those who code for reasons beyond the technology, the numbers are even smaller.
Yet today, coding is an asset not only to fuel our society’s obsession with technology, but also to change our intrapersonal lives – one panic attack at a time.